If you'd like to make Spanish a significant part of your undergraduate education, you might consider the B.A. offered by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. The department is known as one of the top Spanish language programs in the country, with faculty who produce cutting-edge research and integrate this into their teaching.
The Spanish major offers studies at all levels in the language, literature, linguistics, film, and culture of Latin America and Spain (including Catalonia). The Spanish major will deepen your understanding of how people communicate and how language works and varies across the Spanish-speaking world, including the United States.
In addition to the major and minor in Spanish, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese offers a major and a minor in Portuguese as well as two semesters of Catalan.
Your starting point with a Spanish major is determining your first course of study. Students with prior knowledge of the language will take the online placement exam unless they already have Spanish credits on their transcript from AP/IB or previously taken college courses.
Tracks and concentrations
Students majoring in Spanish must complete one of three tracks:
- The Hispanic Linguistics track prepares students in the primary fields of linguistic study, to include syntax, sociolinguistics, and second-language acquisition. It also provides training in Hispanic literatures and cultures.
- The Hispanic Literature track prepares students in the study of literature and other representations of the cultural contexts of Spain, Latin America, and the Hispanic world. It also provides training in linguistic study.
- The Hispanic Studies track combines training in fields of linguistics with preparation in the areas of Hispanic and Latin American literatures and cultures.
Contact the academic advisor to discuss these options.
Upper level coursework
Upper level curriculum in the major is designed to offer a broad range of course offerings in relevant fields and approaches to the study of linguistics, literature, and cultures of the Hispanic world, from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century.
All students will take three introductory courses to the different fields of study within the discipline. These courses are designed to help students determine which track within the major is best suited to their interests.
- HISP-S324 Introduction to Hispanic Cultures - Through the examination of a variety of texts, this course explores Spanish, Latin American, and U.S. Latino culture from historical, social, artistic, and political perspectives.
- HISP-S326 Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics - Introduces the basic concepts of Hispanic linguistics and establishes the background for the future application of linguistic principles. The course surveys linguistic properties in Spanish, including phonology, morphology, and syntax.
- HISP-S328 Introduction to Hispanic Literature - This course offers an introduction to the critical reading of Hispanic literature through the analysis of selected literary texts, including poetry, narrative, and theater, from Spain and Spanish America. This course highlights the importance of the cultural and historical context of literary works, encourages students to reflect on a variety of literary topics on the human condition and to relate them to their own cultural contexts.
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.
The eight most common majors paired with Spanish are International Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Linguistics, Criminal Justice, History, Sociology, and Psychology.
Frequently completed minors are Latino Studies, Psychology, Business, Linguistics, Portuguese, and minors in the Arts. Check your bulletin for more information about these minors.
The department also works with the School of Education to prepare students who wish to qualify for teacher certification.
- Enhance your major
Working with faculty
When pursuing a Spanish B.A. degree, 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 first year. Many incoming first-year students 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 department faculty. Talk with the academic advisor or your instructors about this possibility.
Campus resources that can enhance your independent study and research interests include:
- Latino Studies
- Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
- Chicano Riqueño Studies
- Institute for European Studies
- La Casa Latino Cultural Center
The Spanish Honors Programs is designed for students who wish to take advantage of an academic challenge beyond the requirements of the major. It provides highly motivated students with the opportunity for tutorial instruction and independent research during their junior and senior years.
Students may apply directly to the program by contacting the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Spanish. To be eligible for honors, a student must have an overall 3.35 grade-point average with a 3.5 average in Spanish.
High achieving students may 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
The Department of Spanish and Portuguese offers five scholarship opportunities to Spanish undergraduate students:
- Dorf Scholarship
- The Ashley Crouse Memorial Scholarship
- Rachel DiPietro-James Scholarship
- Pedro Diaz Seijas Memorial Scholarship
- Dr. Andrew Thieneman Scholarship
Other options for pursuing scholarships and awards include:
- Boren Awards for International Study
- Cindy Simon Skojdt Study Abroad Scholarship
- Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowships
- Hutton International Experiences Program
- Office of Overseas Study Scholarships
- Service-Learning Student Travel Scholarship
- Fulbright U.S. Student Program
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 first year.
Opportunities relevant to the Spanish Department can be found at these and other organizations:
- Associated Press Global News Internship Program
- Center for Global Development
- Global Gifts
- SOS Children's Villages International
- U.S. Department of State
- Woodrow Wilson Center
Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you’ll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.
Foreign language study
Many Spanish majors study more than one foreign 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 is a partial list of foreign language resources available to students at IU Bloomington:
- Arabic Flagship Program
- Center for Language Technology
- Chinese Flagship Program
- Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
- IU Language Workshop
- Language Tables
- Project GO
- Russian Flagship Program
Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly interconnected world. Spanish students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following abroad programs through the Office of Overseas Study:
- Alcala, Spain (summer)
- Barcelona, Spain (summer, semester)
- Madrid, Spain (semester, academic year)
- Salamanca, Spain (summer)
- Seville, Spain (semester)
- Buenos Aires, Argentina (summer, semester)
- Santiago, Chile (summer, semester)
- Santiago, Dominican Republic (summer, semester)
- Quito, Ecuador (summer, semester)
- Lima, Peru (semester, academic year)
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 Spanish faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.
Becoming a member of a student group is a good way to make connections between your coursework and co-curricular activities.
To practice language skills outside the classroom, consider participating in Café Hispano, a Spanish table that meets weekly in the Indiana Memorial Union for casual conversation.
Grupo Ñ Spanish Club is a student-run group where students can connect to Spanish-learners and speakers both at the university and in the community.
VIDA is the Spanish-language performance group for both native and non-native speakers. The aim is to produce plays that foster cultural understanding and promote the richness of Hispanic culture and expression through live theatre in Bloomington.
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.
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:
- IU Corps
- Bridges: Children, Languages, World
- Student Involvement and Leadership Center
- VITAL- Volunteers in Tutoring Adult Learners
Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and 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 Spanish 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 Spanish society and their variations in relation to cultures, literature, cinema, and linguistic variations
- Language competence: Speak, read, listen, and write in the Spanish language at the intermediate /high level
- Methods of analysis: Interpret information about and from Spanish-speaking countries through multiple disciplinary lenses
- Critical thinking and source analysis: utilize both primary and secondary sources, evaluating cultural artifacts and texts in their historical contexts
- 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. Spanish 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
The significance of Spanish in the United States has been expanding for some time due to a growing domestic Hispanic population, increased trade and cultural relations with Latin America, and Spain's growing role in the European Union. It is no wonder that many U.S. students have come to view Spanish as an almost indispensable tool for their future.
The employment outlook for students with the Spanish major is generally positive. Students studying Spanish typically gain an understanding of not only the language, but also the history, religion, art, literature, politics, and economics of specific Spanish-speaking cultures.
Spanish majors cultivate a global perspective that enables them to make analogies, respect cultural preferences, and organize detailed relevant information. Using your Spanish language skills to communicate and adjust to new environments allows you to build bridges and be competitive in business, education, social and government services, and other fields.
Spanish majors take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies. Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: federal and state government, industry and commerce, non-governmental organizations, non-profits, education, travel/tourism, interpretation/translation, medical, law, business, and arts/entertainment.
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 Spanish faculty, the academic advisor, career coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates from 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:
- Cultural Vistas
- Global Experiences
- Go Abroad
- IES Abroad
- Peace Corps
- Teach for America
Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as:
- Center for International Education Exchange
- Institute of International Education
- Language Corps
- Cultural Ambassadors Language and Culture Assistant Program: Embassy of Spain's Education Office
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.
Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:
- Boren Awards for International Study
- Cultural Vistas Professional Fellowships
- Fulbright Programs
- Woodrow Wilson National Fellowships
Graduate and professional study
When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll 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 Spanish 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.
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 Spanish have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, the United Nations, World Bank, non-governmental organizations, media, private entrepreneurship, and the military and intelligence communities.
Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:
- College + Kelley Program
- Hispanic Literatures (M.A. and Ph.D.)
- Hispanic Linguistics (M.A. and Ph.D.)
- Latin American and Caribbean Studies
- Master of Public Affairs
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Information Science
- Mauer School of Law
- Portuguese (M.A. and Ph.D.)
- School of Medicine
- Second Language Studies
- Speech and Hearing Sciences STEPS Bilingual (Spanish/English) Track
- Transition to Teaching
Keep in touch through the Spanish department's alumni newsletter, 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 Spanish major attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically possess some of the following qualities:
- Desire to develop proficiency in Spanish
- Interest in the countries and cultures of the Spanish-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
Contact the Spanish 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