Portuguese B.A.

Portuguese is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, spoken on four continents. When pursuing a major in Portuguese you work with faculty who have lived, traveled and studied in Brazil, Portugal, and Lusophone Africa, giving you access to some of the latest research in the field. Established in the 1960s, the Portuguese program at Indiana University is one of the oldest in the nation.

A major in Portuguese offers students an in-depth encounter with the rich and diverse realm of Portuguese, Brazilian and Lusophone African literature and culture, while focusing on the study of the Portuguese language. Students can explore topics such as race, ethnicity, national cinemas, and womens' writing. The study of language, literature, and culture gives special emphasis to issues of historical and political importance that cut across geographic boundaries in the Portuguese-speaking world.

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese also offers an undergraduate minor in Portuguese, a major and minor in Spanish and two semesters of Catalan.


Getting started

Your starting point with the Portuguese major is an introductory level Portuguese course. If you have previous experience with another Romance language such as Spanish or Italian, then you begin with our Intensive Introductory Portuguese course, HISP-P 135. If you're new to Portuguese, you can start with Introductory Portuguese,  HISP-P 100. If you have extensive previous experience with Portuguese, a conversation with our Portuguese Director will give you an idea of what course is right for you.

Contact the academic advisor to discuss your options within the Portuguese major.

Tracks and concentrations

Students majoring in Portuguese have a variety of courses to choose from for the major, but no official tracks or concentrations. With careful planning you can create an unofficial concentration on Brazil, Portugal or Lusophone Africa as areas of study.

Contact the academic advisor to discuss your options within the Portuguese major.

Upper level coursework

Upper level courses in the major focus on linguistics, cinema, narrative, poetry, theatre, and other cultural expressions across the Lusophone world.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major represents about one quarter of your degree requirements. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates.

Common majors paired with Portuguese are Spanish, Biology, NeuroscienceInternational Studies, History, Italian, and French.

Frequently completed minors are Spanish, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, International Studies, History, and Business. Check your bulletin for more information about these minors.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in Portuguese you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

You can get involved in research as early as your freshman year. Many incoming freshmen apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker. 

As your interests develop, you might want to take an independent readings course under the guidance of faculty. Talk with the academic advisor or your instructors about this possibility.

Additional resources and opportunities may be found through special programs, including:


The Portuguese Honors Programs is designed for students who wish to take advantage of an academic challenge beyond the requirements of the departmental major. It provides highly motivated students with the opportunity for tutorial instruction and independent research during the junior and senior years of their undergraduate study.

Students may apply directly to the program by contacting the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Portuguese. To be eligible, you must typically have an overall 3.35 grade-point average with a 3.5 average in Portuguese.

High-achieving students may also be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Options for Portuguese majors pursuing scholarships and awards include:


Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Opportunities relevant to the Spanish/ Portuguese Department can be found at these and other organizations:

Learn more about internships through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships. Portuguese majors can earn credit for an internship by enrolling in ASCS-X 373.

Foreign language study

To practice language skills outside the classroom, consider participating in Cafezinho, a Portuguese table that meets weekly for casual conversation. 

Many Portuguese majors study a second language. As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages.

Here are a few foreign language resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. Portuguese students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following exchange programs:


  • Lisbon-CIEE semester program

The College of Arts and Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Portuguese faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Becoming a member of a student group is a good way to make connections between your coursework and co-curricular activities. Some options include: 

The Global Living Learning Center is one of several Living Learning Centers on campus. It integrates formal and informal residential learning for motivated undergraduates with international interests, regardless of academic discipline or major.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The Portuguese major provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Regional expertise: Understand and describe several features of Lusophone society and their variations in relation to cultures, literature, cinema, and linguistic variations
  • Language competence: Speak, read, listen, and write in the Portuguese language at the intermediate /high level
  • Methods of analysis: Gain the ability to interpret information about and from Portuguese-speaking countries through multiple disciplinary lenses
  • Research synthesis: Gain skills to develop evidence-based arguments, assess the strengths of the analyses of others, and defend your own position
  • Communication and leadership: Inform and interact, both orally and in writing, with experts and non-specialists

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after College.


Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach. 

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Portuguese majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Arts and Humanities provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!

The job market

Economic development in Brazil and other Portuguese-speaking countries generates a positive employment outlook for students with a degree in Portuguese. Students with the Portuguese B.A. take their knowledge into a variety of career fields. 

Portuguese graduates are well-prepared to work in a wide array of career fields, including government, non-profit organizations, industry and commerce, tourism, education, or as interpreters/translators.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include many different positions, such as government intelligence agents, journalists, linguists, interpreters/translators, consultants, and human resources managers and educators, among other careers.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with Portuguese faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these: 

Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as:

Using these and other resources, your career coach can help you craft a unique post-graduate short-term experience, whether in the United States or abroad.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Portuguese major will also prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as area studies, foreign languages and literatures, history, anthropology, politics, religious studies, international studies, or business, among others.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Students who pursue graduate studies in Portuguese have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, the United Nations, World Bank, non-governmental organizations, media, tourism, education, private entrepreneurship, and the military and intelligence communities.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

Talk with Portuguese faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.

Take a look at the alumni newsletter for Portuguese, La Gaceta Internacional.

Join the IU Department of Spanish and Portuguese Facebook group to connect with alumni and see current events.

The College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts +Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.

Is it for you?

The Portuguese major attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically possess some of the following qualities:

  • Desire to develop proficiency in Portuguese
  • Interest in the countries and cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world
  • Appreciation for the diversity of world cultures
  • Affinity for learning new languages
  • Desire to make overseas study a significant part of their undergraduate education
  • Intellectual curiosity and imagination
  • Interests in soccer, international business, and renewable energy

Learn more

Contact the Portuguese academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address