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Spanish and Portuguese Studies

Department Overview

C104 Padelford

Undergraduate Program

C104 Padelford

The educational philosophy of Spanish and Portuguese studies is that knowledge and understanding of other cultures is fundamental in an increasingly global world, and that competence in the languages of those cultures is an indispensable gateway to them. Spanish studies provides students with the four basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) in increasing levels of sophistication so that they may read and analyze works of literature written in Spanish as well as understand complex cultural structures and artifacts from Spain, Latin America, and the Latino populations of the United States. The UW offers beginning and intermediate Portuguese and all levels of Spanish.

Humanities Academic Services
A-002 Padelford, Box 354330

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies offers the following programs of study:

  • The Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Spanish
  • A minor in Spanish

Bachelor of Arts

Suggested First- and Second-Year College Courses: SPAN 101, SPAN 102, SPAN 103, or SPAN 121, SPAN 122, SPAN 123, or SPAN 134; SPAN 201, SPAN 202 (or SPAN 210), SPAN 203. Spanish, Latin American, and Chicano literature. Courses related to history and culture. Courses in English literature and comparative literature

Department Admission Requirements

  1. Completion of SPAN 203, with a minimum cumulative 2.70 GPA for all Spanish coursework completed and a minimum 2.5 grade in each Spanish course
  2. Completion of at least 5 credits of English composition with a minimum 2.5 grade
  3. Change-of-major forms, available online and outside C-104F Padelford Hall, are processed autumn, winter, and spring quarters only. Forms and unofficial transcripts must be turned in by the end of the third week of the quarter to assure registration priority for the following quarter. Paperwork turned in after the third week of the quarter is processed during the following admission cycle.

Major Requirements

58 credits beyond SPAN 203 as follows:

  1. SPAN 301, SPAN 302, SPAN 303 (or equivalents, SPAN 314, SPAN 315, SPAN 316; SPAN 310; SPAN 330)
  2. SPAN 321, SPAN 322, SPAN 323
  3. One 300-level literature elective: See department website for list of eligible courses.
  4. Five 400-level courses
  5. Participation in an approved Study Abroad program (one quarter minimum, any level) or one or more experiential learning projects (minimum 2 credits of SPAN 392) which involve significant engagement with the Spanish-speaking community. Students are strongly encouraged to do both.
  6. Other than SPAN 400 through SPAN 406, only one course whose instructional materials are primarily in English may apply to the major.


Minor Requirements: Minimum 27 credits above SPAN 203 level to include the following:

  1. One of the following sequences: SPAN 301, SPAN 302, and either SPAN 303 or SPAN 330; SPAN 314, SPAN 315, and either SPAN 316 or SPAN 330; SPAN 310 and either SPAN 303, SPAN 316, or SPAN 330
  2. Four 300- or 400-level electives
  3. Only one course in which instructional materials are primarily in English may apply to the minor. SPAN 327 may not apply to the minor and is not open to heritage/native speakers.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The study of Spanish and Portuguese is both skills- and content-based, i.e., it has practical and cognitive elements. Students learn to communicate in Spanish or Portuguese, refining their language skills as they acquire a body of knowledge about the literary and cultural history of Spain, Latin America, and the Spanish-speaking populations of the United States. Graduates have found these skills extremely useful as they pursue careers in teaching, business, NGOs and human rights organizations, law, and politics.
  • Instructional and Research Facilities: Departmental facilities include a Writing Center for students registered in third-year Spanish. The Center for Spanish Studies, housed in the department, is a joint initiative of the University of Washington, the Education Office of the Embassy of Spain, and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. This center provides services that include workshops for K-12 teachers of Spanish, sponsorship of cultural events, and a lending library of books as well as audio and visual materials. A branch of the Spanish government sponsored Cervantes Institute, also housed in the department, offers linguistic and cultural resources to the university and the general community as well.

    The department directs three study abroad programs, in León (Spain), Oaxaca (Mexico) and Cádiz (Spain). These programs are "living laboratories." Approximately 100 students participate each year.

  • Honors Options Available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors). With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
  • Research, Internships, and Experiential Learning: Internship opportunities are posted on the department website as they become available. Also, students may participate in experiential learning (which may include service learning), in which they combine study with service to the community. Students must volunteer two-to-five hours per week (a minimum of 30 hours per quarter) in organizations that provide services primarily, although not exclusively, to Spanish speakers. Alternatively, they may volunteer in public schools as tutors of different academic themes. Some of the organizations and schools involved include CASA Latina, The Mexican Consulate, El Centro de la Raza, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Cascade People's Center, Center for Spanish Studies, John Stanford International School, Bryant Elementary School, John Hay Elementary School, Hamilton Middle School, Nathan Hale High School, the Pipeline Project, and the East Side Literacy program. Students apply and increase their knowledge of the Spanish language in a real context. They are exposed to Hispanic multiculturalism and become active agents of social change in the community.
  • Department Scholarships: An annual scholarship, the Susan B. Johnson Memorial Endowment Fund, is awarded to a student of Spanish for foreign study in Spain.
  • Student Organizations/Associations: None.

Of Special Note: 100- and 200-level Spanish courses do not count toward major/minor requirements.

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Adviser
C104F Padelford, Box 354360
(206) 543-2020

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies offers a program of graduate study leading to the Master of Arts degree.

The Master of Arts degree program in Hispanic Literary and Cultural Studies was reformed and updated in 2001 to foster study of Hispanic culture, literature, and language together. The program calls attention to the rich diversity of Hispanic cultural texts and to their interdisciplinary study while also promoting broad understanding of Spanish and Latin American literature. The program gives careful attention to acquainting students with the traditions of scholarship in the field as well as a range of current textual theory, criticism, and research methods.

Study of Portuguese and other Romance literatures and cultures, comparative literature, Romance and Spanish linguistics, and other related disciplines may be included in the master's degree program. The degree is earned normally in six academic quarters.

Students who wish to pursue advanced study in Spanish and Portuguese in a post-master's degree program may do so by entering the doctoral studies programs in Hispanic Studies of Comparative Literature or other departments of the University.

Master of Arts

Admission Requirements

  1. Application for admission to the Graduate School
  2. Three letters of recommendation
  3. Unofficial transcripts. International applicants must also submit official transcripts to the Graduate School.
  4. Academic autobiographical statement composed by the applicant in Spanish
  5. A sample of the applicant's written work in Spanish in some area of Hispanic literature and culture. This may be a copy of a paper written for a course in the area of the applicant's major. An analytical or critical writing sample is preferred.
  6. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required from applicants whose first language is English, and from applicants whose first language is not English who hold a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited university in one of the countries noted in Memo 8 from the Graduate School Memoranda. The GRE requirement is waived for applicants whose first language is not English, if they do not hold a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited university in one of the countries noted in Memo 8 from the Graduate School Memoranda.
  7. Foreign students: Applicants whose native language is not English should note that the Graduate School requires proof of proficiency in the English language in one of the ways described in detail in Memo 8 of the Graduate School Memoranda. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or its computerized version (TOEFLC) or the Michigan Test and also the TSE (Test of Spoken English). A TOEFL score of 500 (or a TOEFLC score of 173) is required for admission, and a score of 580 (or 237 on the computerized form) is required for teaching assistant eligibility. Alternatively a Michigan Test score of 80 is required for admission and 90 for teaching assistantship eligibility. A minimum score of 55 is required on the TSE.8. Complete and upload Assistantship and Fellowship Application regardless of whether or not applicant is applying for a TA position.
  8. Complete and upload Assistantship and Fellowship Application regardless of whether or not applicant is applying for a TA position. If applying for a Teaching Assistant position, the following is also required.
    • A digital voice recording (mp3 file format preferred) in which the applicant summarizes his/her reasons for applying to the graduate program and explains his/her interest in the TA position. Only spontaneous speech is considered. The recording must be in English for native Spanish speakers, and in Spanish for all other applicants.
    • Resume or Curriculum Vitae

Degree Requirements

  1. A total of 60 applicable credits (500 level and above). To remain in good standing the student must maintain a 3.00 cumulative GPA. The minimum acceptable grade for any given course is 2.7.
  2. Either SPAN 577, or an alternate graduate-level literary theory course which must be pre-approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator
  3. SPAN 510 is required of all teaching assistants and is taken during or before a student's first quarter of teaching.
  4. Distribution requirement: Minimum 5 credits (normally one course) must be earned in five of the six: Medieval Spain, "Golden Age" Spain; Spain of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; twentieth-century Spain; colonial and nineteenth-century Latin America; and twentieth-century Latin America.
  5. MA candidates must pass an MA examination: During the first quarter of graduate study, students must select one area in which to be examined from the six areas of study specified above. They then have a year to prepare that field. Students may not write their MA thesis in the field they have chosen for their examination. The MA examination is written at the beginning of the fourth quarter of study (ordinarily fall quarter). The examination consists of one question, and the student has five hours to answer his/her question, with only a dictionary available for consultation. The examination in the chosen area is based on the MA reading list, available on this website:
  6. MA candidates must complete an MA Thesis: Students must take ten credits of MA thesis (SPAN 700) in their second year of study (5 credits in the fall quarter and 5 credits in the winter quarter). The MA thesis (minimum 45 pages of text, plus bibliography) is directed by a graduate faculty member and submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee for its approval by the end of the fifth quarter of study.
  7. Admission to the Graduate School allows students to continue graduate study and research at University of Washington only as long as they maintain satisfactory performance and progress toward completion of their degree program. Details can be found here:

Financial Aid

The department awards annually a number of teaching assistantships. The assistant normally participates in teaching three classes during the academic year. Each class is limited to approximately 25 students and meets five hours a week for the ten weeks of the quarter.

Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency in one of the ways described in the Graduate School's Memorandum 15 to be considered for a TA position. For more information see:;