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Study Abroad

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Clockwise from top left:  Iguazú Falls (Misiones, Argentina);  Alcázar (Seville, Spain);
 Temple of the Inscriptions (Palenque, Mexico);  Santo Domingo Church (San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico).

Academic Benefits of Study Abroad

Studying abroad is an enriching intellectual experience when it is fully integrated into the student’s overall academic experience at Swarthmore. Since the principal educational advantages of study abroad are in-depth cross-cultural exposure and language learning, the best study abroad programs are those that maximize these benefits by fully immersing students in the host country’s culture and society. This goal can only be effectively achieved by choosing full immersion study abroad programs. Pursuing academic coursework in English in a Spanish-speaking country does not comply with the academic goals and mission of the Department of Spanish.

All Spanish majors and minors are required to complete a study abroad program in a Spanish-speaking country. The Department of Spanish recommends students interested in studying abroad several programs listed here.

Waiver of the study abroad requirement for students of Spanish: Majors and minors of Spanish who cannot go abroad for one semester due to academic or other constraints should speak to the chair of the department to discuss their circumstances. In special cases, depending on the student’s language proficiency, the study abroad requirement may be waived or fulfilled with a summer-long study abroad program identified and approved by the department. (For summer programs, only one relevant course taken abroad may count towards fulfillment of the minor or major.) Please contact the department chair if you have any questions. 

Upon returning from abroad, majors or minors must enroll in an advanced course in the department.


We strongly suggest that majors and minors as well as non-specialists meet with a Spanish faculty member to discuss the possibilities and find the program that best suits their academic needs and interests.

Our primary role in study abroad advising is to help students choose an international experience that complements their intellectual pursuits and their Swarthmore education. We help students frame their goals for study abroad as they prepare for living and studying while immersed in a foreign culture. Many students in our department who succeed in obtaining post-graduate fellowships, such as the Fulbright, have studied abroad.

Students on financial aid may apply that aid to designated programs of study abroad.

The Department of Spanish encourages students to choose programs that build on previous language study. In order to be better prepared for academic work in Spanish, we recommend students take a writing course in Spanish (SPAN 008SPAN 012SPAN 022, or SPAN 023) at Swarthmore prior to going abroad.

Pre-Estimation and Final Credit Review

By College regulation, to receive credit for college level work done elsewhere, domestic or abroad, it must be pre-approved and evaluated upon completion by the appropriate Swarthmore academic department to determine how much Swarthmore credit it may receive. (Technically, Swarthmore doesn't transfer credit. We award credit for work done elsewhere, and we casually call this transfer credit.) 

Students enrolled at the college may, at the department's discretion, receive transfer credit for Spanish courses taken at comparable universities during the summer or semester on leave. Under no circumstances will students be given credit for a college class taken prior to enrolling at Swarthmore. Generally, study-abroad courses in Spanish do not fulfill the College's Language Requirement.

See the Global Engagement office for details on how to apply to study abroad programs. Once you have been admitted to a program, you must get credit pre-approval for the courses you intend to take abroad, using the Credit Evaluation System from the Global Engagement office. The amount of credit granted for each Spanish course will be determined by them following the department’s recommendation.

Students are encouraged to take courses that do not duplicate those offered in the Spanish department. Neither vocational-technical courses nor orientation sessions can receive academic credit.

Before departure, you must consult with the department's transfer credit advisor to get your proposed Spanish courses pre-estimated for credit. Pre-approved courses will not receive credit until a final evaluation of the coursework completed is done, which must correspond to what was pre-approved. (It is important you keep all notebooks, assignments, and exams from the class, and upload them to Credit Evaluation System for final review.)

For additional information please consult the Global Engagement website.