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Course Major

The Spanish major seeks to provide training in literary and cultural analysis while enabling students to acquire linguistic proficiency.


  1. Students must complete a minimum of 8.5 credits of work in courses numbered 008 and above. One of these courses must be SPAN 022 or SPAN 023, except in special cases when the department waives this requirement.
  2. Majors must maintain a curricular balance in their overall program. Students are encouraged to choose courses representing each one of the following areas: Caribbean, Mexico/Central America, South America, and Spain.
  3. Students may count only one of these courses toward the major: SPAN 008 or SPAN 012. Note that neither AP nor IB credits will count towards the major.
  4. One of the 8.5 credits of advanced work may be taken in English from the courses listed in the catalog under “Spanish Courses Taught in English” (LITR.S) offered by the department.
  5. All majors are encouraged to take at least one seminar in the department. Students can take a seminar after they have completed one advanced course (numbered 040 to 089). Only one seminar in the major will count for two credits. (A seminar can also be taken for 1 credit depending on student’s needs.)
  6. In the spring semester of their senior year, Spanish majors will register in SPAN 097 (0.5 credits) to prepare their Spanish final paper.
  7. A minimum of four of the eight courses must be taken at Swarthmore.
  8. Students majoring in Spanish must spend one semester in a Spanish-speaking country enrolled in a program approved by the Department of Spanish. Only two courses taken abroad that pertain to the curriculum of the department 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. 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 Department of Spanish. (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. 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.
  9. Upon returning from abroad, students must enroll in a one-credit advanced course in the department.
  10. To graduate with a major in Spanish, a student must maintain a minimum grade of B in the discipline, and a C average in course work outside the department.

Review Spanish academic requirements chart.

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 SPAN 097 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 department. 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 SPAN 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 8.5 credits required for the major.

Application Process Notes

In addition to the process described by the Student Affairs Division  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 Department of Spanish. If your application is deferred, the department will make a decision immediately after you have taken the necessary steps to address the reasons for being deferred.