More than 572 million people speak Spanish around the world and over 50 million in the United States, where it is the second language of business and communication. The Spanish program at Lawrence educates students to reach a high level of academic achievement, linguistic and cultural competence, and preparation for success. Spanish majors and minors graduate from Lawrence with an advanced level of proficiency in intercultural communication in Spanish. They benefit personally and intellectually from four years of interdisciplinary study and international experience, often in combination with another major or minor. Learning about different cultural perspectives and becoming expert communicators in Spanish prepares students to succeed in a diverse society and become versatile participants in the job market.

Spanish faculty from Spain, Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rico, and the United States offer a wide range of courses on the Spanish language and the cultures of Latin America, Spain, and the Latinx communities of the United States. All materials, discussions, and assignments are in Spanish unless specified otherwise. In courses numbered at the 300, 400, and 500 levels students examine significant topics on the cultural products, practices and perspectives of multiple Spanish-speaking countries and communities. Students take interdisciplinary courses on literature, film and television, art history, urban and national spaces, linguistics and translation. Along the way, they become independent thinkers, expert analysts, and bilingual communicators who are well prepared for lives of achievement after Lawrence.

Learning goals

The Spanish program's goals focus on the national standards for 21st century skills and the 5 C's in World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities. Students who graduate with a major or minor in Spanish acquire the following skills and knowledge:

  • Advanced communicative ability in Spanish.
  • Deep knowledge of different countries and communities through their cultural products, practices and perspectives.
  • The capability to establish advanced connections with additional bodies of knowledge, cultures and peoples.
  • The ability to make sophisticated cross-cultural comparisons between Spanish and their native language, as well as between various Spanish-speaking cultures and their own.
  • In short, the capacity to communicate expertly in both English and Spanish, and to participate critically in multilingual communities.


Interested students should start taking Spanish in their first term (or year) at Lawrence. The SPAN 101, 102 and 201 sequence of courses is only offered once a year (fall, winter and spring). SPAN 201 is also offered in the fall. New students should take the placement exam immediately and check prerequisites for each course on Voyager before registering.

Meeting the language competency general education requirement

As part of its general education requirements, Lawrence requires all students to attain competency in a language other than English at the minimum level equivalent to three college terms of study (i.e. equivalent to successful completion of SPAN 201 or 203). Students can satisfy this requirement with one of the following options:

  • Passing a SPAN 200-level class. Beginners can take SPAN 101, 102 and 201 in sequence. Heritage speakers can take SPAN 203 and 204 in sequence. Students must follow the recommendation for their online placement scores.
  • Taking a written and oral competency examination in Spanish. Contact the Spanish department for scheduling this exam.
  • A score equivalent to the second-year level on the CLEP examination in Spanish (63 and above). A CLEP score at the one-year level of competency is sufficient for Bachelor of Music students (52-63).
  • A score of 630 or higher on the SAT Subject Spanish or Spanish with Listening exam.
  • A score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) examination in Spanish Language and Culture exam. Credit equivalent to one 6-unit course at the SPAN 202 level.
  • A score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) examination in Spanish Literature. Credit equivalent to one 6-unit course at the SPAN 300 level and it fulfills one course requirement toward the Spanish major or minor.
  • A score of 6 or higher on the Spanish International Baccalaureate Examination at the advanced level. Carries credit equivalent to one 6-unit course at the SPAN 202 level.
  • Providing documented proof (e.g., high school diploma) that the student’s high school program was conducted in Spanish. This option satisfies the language requirement but carries no academic credit.

Note: Lawrence University does not conduct the AP, IB, SAT II, or CLEP examinations. They can be taken at authorized test centers on a fee basis.

More information about meeting the language competency requirement can be found under Academic Procedures & Regulations.

Required for the major in Spanish

Students who complete the major will develop the following abilities in Spanish:

  • Communication: Use information from written and aural sources to present a synthesis and express opinions, in writing and orally. Participate in interpersonal and presentational communication, both in writing and orally. Use language that is semantically and grammatically accurate according to a given context.
  • Culture: Know and understand different cultures through their literatures, visual arts , films, and other cultural artifacts. Recognize cultural elements implicit in oral and written texts; demonstrate understanding of practices, perspectives, and products of the cultures studied.
  • Connections, comparisons, and communities: Make comparisons between Spanish and the student's native language and between the cultures in Spanish-speaking countries and the student's own culture, and participate critically in multilingual communities.

The major in Spanish requires sixty units, distributed as follows:

  1. Spanish 202, 204, or a higher level class, depending on placement
  2. At most twelve units in Spanish courses numbered at the 300 level
  3. At least twelve units in Spanish courses numbered at the 400 level
  4. At least twelve units in Spanish courses numbered at the 500 level
  5. At most six units in an approved elective from another department (see department list) or internship.

Also required:

  1. Completion of at least forty-eight units in the major that have Spanish as the sole or primary language of instruction, communication, and coursework.
  2. Completion of at least thirty units for the major on campus, including twelve units in Spanish at the 500-level. (See "Off-campus study" section for equivalence of off-campus courses.)
  3. Approval of the completed Senior Experience: Spanish multimedia portfolio (see Canvas for detailed information).

Senior Experience in Spanish

The Spanish department's Senior Experience consists of a multimedia portfolio that provides measurable evidence of the academic work, cultural competence, and communication skills required of Spanish majors. The portfolio is a requirement for completion of the major. It presents a collection of evidence that demonstrates a student's attainment of the learning goals established by the program. 

Spanish majors are required to submit their multimedia portfolio in the required electronic format to the Spanish department by the end of the sixth week of their final term at Lawrence. Spanish faculty evaluators will assess the portfolio and communicate the outcome of their evaluation to the students before the end of the term. Unapproved portfolios must be revised and resubmitted before the last day of classes in order for students to graduate.

Important: Students must register to take an Independent Study (SPAN 699) for one (1) unit (S/U) with their assigned faculty evaluator(s) during their final term at Lawrence.

Required for the minor in Spanish

The minor in Spanish requires thirty-six units, distributed as follows:

  1. Spanish 202, 204 or a higher-level class, depending on placement.
  2. At most twelve units in Spanish courses numbered at the 300 level.
  3. At least six units in Spanish courses numbered at the 400 level.
  4. At least six units in Spanish courses numbered at the 500 level.
  5. At most six units in an approved elective from another department or an internship.

Also required:

  1. Completion of at least thirty-six units, at least thirty of which have Spanish as the sole or primary language of instruction, communication, and coursework.
  2. Completion of at least eighteen units for the minor on campus. (See "Off-campus study" section for equivalence of off-campus courses.)


Teacher certification in Spanish (K-12)

Spanish majors can seek certification to teach Spanish at the elementary and secondary levels. To be certified, students must study in a Spanish-speaking country for one term, and they must also pass an oral and writing proficiency test. Students can add an endorsement for a second area (such as another language or English as a second language) by completing the appropriate minor. Students who plan to seek teacher certification should review the requirements in the Education section of the catalog and meet with the director of teacher education before the end of their second year.

Course numbering

Courses numbered SPAN 101-204 are standards-based, proficiency-oriented Spanish language and culture classes. Their goal is to have students achieve an intermediate level of linguistic and cultural proficiency in accordance with the 5 Cs in national standards: Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons and Communities. Any SPAN 200-level class satisfies the general education requirement in language competency (SPAN 201, 202, 203, or 204). Courses numbered 202/ 204 and above can satisfy requirements for a minor or major in Spanish.

SPAN 202 is a high-intermediate proficiency course that provides continued development of language learners' written and oral expression in Spanish, as well as knowledge and analysis of pertinent cultural and linguistic topics. SPAN 204 does the same for heritage speakers of Spanish. 

The content of 300/400/500 courses and seminars is connected to the research interests and areas of expertise of each faculty member. Courses numbered in the 300s provide communicative and intellectual development through the introductory study of specific areas of knowledge (literature, film, news media, linguistics, etc.) 400-level courses allow a more advanced exploration of cultural, socio-political, artistic, filmic and literary areas. Courses at the 500 level are seminars for advanced majors and minors, and they delve into very specific academic topics. In all courses, students are expected to actively participate in academic discussions and produce scholarly work appropriate for each stage in their education.

Tutorial studies and independent projects can be pursued in courses numbered in the 390s and 590s, subject to faculty availability. Spanish does not offer tutorials or directed studies below the 300 level. Some internships are eligible to become a 595 course, subject to approval by the chair of the department and the availability of a faculty supervisor. 

The Senior Experience requires registration for a one-unit independent study with the assigned evaluator(s) (SPAN 699 Spanish Multimedia Portfolio). This project allows students to connect, reflect on, and demonstrate different areas of knowledge and proficiency achieved in the major. SPAN 699 is graded S/U.

All learners of Spanish as a second language, as well as native and heritage speakers of Spanish, are required to take the online placement exam and enroll in Spanish courses at the recommended level. 

Off-campus study

The Spanish department strongly advises its majors and minors to participate in sponsored academic programs in Spain or Latin America, although off-campus study is not required for completion of a Spanish major or minor. Other students are also encouraged to participate.

Transferring off-campus credits to complete major or minor requirements in Spanish

Conversion of semester credits to Lawrence units:

  • 3 credit hours = 5 units
  • 4 credit hours = 7 units

Lawrence course levels and types of equivalent classes off campus:

A detailed chart of specific off-campus courses and their corresponding course level at Lawrence can be on the advising section of the Spanish website. Below are the general guidelines for these equivalencies:

Spanish 202 or 204

  • A high-intermediate Spanish language and culture course (i.e. courses solely focused on improving communicative proficiency in Spanish and general knowledge of cultural products, practices and perspectives in Spanish-speaking communities). Similar in difficulty to Spanish 202 or 204.

Spanish 300-level

  • A low-advanced Spanish course focused on introductory linguistic analysis (e.g. advanced grammar). It generally includes short writing assignments (1-2 pages) and brief oral presentations. Similar in difficulty to Spanish 300-level courses on campus. 
  • A low-advanced Spanish course focused on basic literary, artistic, filmic and/or cultural analysis, narrative writing or similar. It generally includes short writing assignments (1-2 pages) and/or brief oral presentations. Similar in difficulty to 300-level courses on campus.

Spanish 400-level

  • An advanced Spanish class with a focus on the history, political system, music, art, environment or society of the host country or region. It generally includes medium-length writing assignments (3-5 pages) and/or more specialized oral presentations. Similar in difficulty to 400-level courses on campus.
  • A course taught in Spanish in a discipline other than Hispanic Studies (e.g. GOVT, ECON, PSYC, ENST, BIOL, ARHI, HIST, EDUC, etc.) Important: Contact the appropriate department in advance if you want these credits to satisfy requirements in a program other than Spanish.
  • An interdisciplinary course with an internship, volunteering, professional shadowing or field study component that requires a significant amount of oral and written communication in Spanish outside of class, as well as reporting and research work in Spanish, as appropriate.

Spanish 500-level

  • A seminar-type Spanish class with an advanced focus on a specific topic or time period in the cultural production (e.g. literature, cinema  television or similar cultural narratives) of Latin America, Spain or other Latinx communities. Readings and assignments have a strong theoretical component and must be equivalent in length and difficulty to those in Spanish 500-level classes on campus.
  • A seminar-type Spanish class in advanced linguistics. Readings and assignments must be equivalent in difficulty to those in Spanish 500-level classes on campus.

IMPORTANT: If students take off-campus courses that do not fit any of the categories above (e.g. courses with a primary focus on pre-professional training or recreational activities), these credits may transfer as general Lawrence units, but they cannot fulfill major or minor requirements in Spanish. Students must always obtain the approval of their Spanish advisor or the Spanish chair for applying off-campus credit to the completion of requirements for the major or minor.