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Spanish for Undergraduates

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Introduction

Are you new to Spanish, or have you spoken it all your life? Is your imagination sparked by the bustling cities of Spain and Latin America, or are you drawn to the vast vistas of those continents? Do you find yourself curious to know more about the cinema, poetry, and fiction that centuries of Spanish speakers have bequeathed to us? Do you dream of exploring the streets of Havana, or Sevilla, or Mexico City, or Madrid? Spanish courses at Cornell will give you a wide variety of opportunities to practice your speaking, writing, and critical thinking skills, encouraging you to explore, as far as you’re able, the unparalleled diversity of the Spanish-speaking world.

Inquiries About the Major or Minor

Inquiries of a general nature can first be directed to the Undergraduate Coordinator, Cal Hile.  Students who wish to major or minor in Spanish are advised to consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Cecelia Lawless, who admits students into the major and assigns a faculty adviser after taking into account a student’s interest, preparation, and career goals.

Cecelia Lawless is available on Wednesdays 1:30pm - 4:00pm or by appointment in K112 Klarman Hall.

Placement and Transfer of Credit

For information about placement, testing, and transfer of credit, please consult our placement page.

Major Requirements

The Spanish major prepares students to engage with Hispanic literary, philosophical, and visual cultures. Along the way, students will develop proficiency in oral, aural, and written Spanish, while becoming astute critical readers and thinkers in Spanish.

Required for the major are four courses and fifteen credits (including one senior seminar, offered each semester) focusing on the Hispanic world: 

  1. SPAN 2140 – Modern Spanish Survey (4 credits), or SPAN 2235 – Perspectives on Spain in Spanish (4 credits, offered in the Fall only)

  2. SPAN 2150 – Contemporary Latin American Survey (4 credits), or SPAN 2205 – Perspectives on Latin America in Spanish (4 credits, offered in the Spring only)

  3. SPAN 2170 – Early Modern Iberian Survey (4 credits)

  4. SPAN 2180 – Advanced Spanish Writing Workshop

Please note that:

  • Students may declare the major any time after completing SPAN 2095, or after placing into a more advanced Spanish course).

  • Students are also encouraged to study abroad: courses from an institution other than Cornell University may be counted toward the Spanish major, provided that 50% of the content of these courses deals directly with Hispanophone (Spanish-speaking) parts of the world. (Merely being taught in Spanish is not, on its own, a sufficient criterion for a course taken abroad to count for the Spanish major.) Remember that you cannot apply more than three courses taken abroad to the Major.

  • The minimum grade for a course to be applied to the Spanish major is B-.

  • S/U grades are not allowed in courses applied to the Spanish major.   

Minor Requirements

The Spanish minor is designed to give students pursuing other majors the opportunity to engage with and reflect upon Hispanic literary, philosophical, and visual cultures.

Required for the minor are five courses (minimum 3 credits each) focusing on the Hispanic world. 

Please note that:

  • Required courses: one advanced language course (2130 or 2180) and one Perspectives course.

  • Students may apply up to two courses from abroad or from another institution toward a Spanish minor. Courses from an institution other than Cornell University may be counted toward the Spanish minor, provided that 50% of the content of these courses, again, deals directly with the Hispanic world (Merely being taught in Spanish is not, on its own, a sufficient criterion for a course taken abroad to count for the Spanish minor.) Remember that you cannot apply more than two courses taken abroad to the Minor.

  • The minimum grade for a course to be applied to the Spanish minor is B-.  

Course Descriptions

Please refer to the Spanish section of the Romance Studies Course Offerings list. See our departmental course roster here.

Honors

  • The honors program encourages well-qualified students majoring in Spanish literature and culture to do independent work in Spanish beyond the required course work for the major. The preparation of the senior honors essay, generally spread over two semesters, provides a unique learning opportunity, since it allows for wide reading and extensive rewriting to a degree not possible in the case of course papers.

  • To be eligible for honors, students must have a general grade point average of at least 3.00 and a grade point average of at least 3.5 in the Spanish major.

  • No special seminars or courses are required of honors students, but they will have regular meetings with the faculty advisors who have agreed to supervise their work. They may receive course credit by enrolling in SPAN 4290–SPAN 4300, but these independent study courses must be taken in addition to the courses that meet the minimum requirements for the major. The senior essay is to be made available for reading by the jury on or before April 15. The awarding of honors is determined by the student’s grades in the major and the quality of the honors essay.

Study Abroad

For inquiries about study abroad programs, please visit this page.