Course Major in Spanish

The Spanish major consists of eight courses and a culminating senior exercise. The Spanish major seeks to provide training in literary and cultural analysis, as it enables students to acquire linguistic proficiency.


  1. Students majoring in Spanish must spend one semester in a Spanish-speaking country enrolled in a program approved by the Section. Only two courses taken abroad that pertain to the curriculum of the section may count toward fulfillment of the major. For full immersion, all courses taken abroad must be taken in Spanish. Only advanced language courses taken abroad may receive Spanish credit but will not count toward the major. Exceptions to the study abroad requirement: In special cases, depending on the student’s language proficiency, this requirement may be waived or fulfilled with a summer-long study abroad program identified and approved by the Spanish Section. (For summer programs, only one relevant course taken abroad may count towards fulfillment of the major.) The requirement will be waived for students who have recently arrived in the US and/or have had extensive schooling in Spanish in Spanish-speaking countries. Depending on their linguistic proficiency, as evaluated by the Spanish faculty, Spanish/English bilingual students who have grown up in Spanish-speaking environments in the United States may petition to have the requirement waived or fulfilled with a summer-long study abroad program. The Spanish faculty will evaluate each case individually.
  2. Upon returning from abroad, students must enroll in a one-credit advanced course in the Section.
  3. Students must complete a minimum of eight credits of work in courses numbered 008 and above. One of these courses must be SPAN 022 or 023, except in special cases when the section waives this requirement or approves a similar course taken abroad.
  4. Students may count only one of these courses toward the major: 008, 010 or 011. Note that neither AP nor IB credits will count towards the major.
  5. One of the eight credits of advanced work may be taken in English from the courses listed in the catalog under “Literatures in Translation: Spanish” (LITRS) offered by the section.
  6. All majors are encouraged to take at least one seminar in the section. Students can take a seminar after one advanced course (numbered 040 to 089) or with permission of the instructor. Only one seminar in the major will count for two credits.
  7. In the spring semester of their senior year, Spanish majors will register in SPAN095 (0.5 credits) to prepare their Spanish final paper.

  8. A minimum of four of the eight courses must be taken at Swarthmore College. Only two courses taken abroad may count toward the major.
  9. Majors must maintain a balance in their overall program, taking advanced work in different historical periods from Spain and Latin America.

Culminating Exercise/Final Examination

Along with development of analytical literary and cultural abilities, majors are expected to reach an advanced level of linguistic proficiency. The Spanish Final Exam has oral and written components, both entirely in Spanish.

In the Spring semester of their senior year, Spanish majors will register in SPAN095 to develop their Spanish final paper and prepare for their oral examination. Spanish majors will re-write one of the best term papers they wrote for courses in the section. The new research paper will: a) deepen the original analysis; b) enhance the critical work on which it is based to include ample documentation; and c) increase the paper’s length to at least 20 pages, plus bibliography.

Once the student has selected the paper to be revised, he/she needs to meet with the specific Spanish faculty member to agree on a timeline to turn in drafts, and discuss changes and revisions.  

The oral examination is based on the content of the written essay and on overall course preparation. This essay—and the student’s overall course preparation—will provide the basis for the oral examination in May, conducted exclusively in Spanish. The Spanish language ability of majors, revealed in this paper and the oral examination, will be part of the final evaluation.

Acceptance Criteria

For admission to the Course Major, the student needs a minimum of “B” level work in courses taken at Swarthmore taught in Spanish or the required introductory-level literature course (SPAN 022 or 023), demonstrated ability and interest in language and literature, and a minimum “C” average in course work outside the Department.

Prerequisite: SPAN 004 or its equivalent is the language prerequisite for entering the Spanish major. It does not count as one of the 8 credits required for the major.

Application Process Notes

In addition to the process described by the Dean's Office and the Registrar's Office for how to apply for a major/minor, please complete the Spanish major application form available in the menu.

If after applying you are denied admission to the major/minor, you may apply again once you have addressed the recommendations made by the Spanish section. If your application is deferred, the Spanish section will make a decision immediately after you have taken the necessary steps to address the reasons for being deferred.