Spanish Majors: Degree Programs to Become Fluent in Spanish

Degrees in Spanish are offered at all levels - associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral. The undergraduate degree programs give students a solid foundation in writing and speaking Spanish, while graduate-level programs expand students' knowledge and proficiency of the Spanish language and culture.

Essential Information

An Associate of Arts in Spanish program provides a foundation for students to become fluent Spanish speakers. Graduates with a bachelor's degree should also be fluent in Spanish and can pursue careers in a variety of fields, including teaching and human resources. At the master's level, students can often choose a concentration, such as literature, translation or intercultural communication. Doctoral students usually have a bachelor's degree in Spanish and are preparing to become college professors. These programs emphasize research and bilingual critical thinking.

  • Program Levels in Spanish: Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED and satisfactory scores on a college placement test or ACT/SAT for undergraduate degree programs; bachelor's degree in linguistics or Spanish, satisfactory GRE scores and writing samples or audio recordings for graduate degree programs
  • Program Length: 2 years for associate's degrees, 4 years for bachelor's degrees, 2 years for master's degrees; length of doctoral degree programs vary
  • Graduation Requirements: Senior project and study abroad for bachelor's degree programs; thesis or dissertation and teaching requirements for graduate degrees
  • Program Specializations Include: Literature, translation, linguistics, intercultural communication

Associate Degree in Spanish

Students in Spanish associate degree programs learn basic language concepts, language patterns and listening skills. Different associate degree options may be available for native and non-native Spanish speakers. These degree programs are generally intended for individuals who wish to continue toward a 4-year degree and satisfy most colleges' second language requirement.

Spanish students participate in language labs where they learn through computer programs and visual and audio aids. Students take general education courses and specific classes in:

  • Spanish language fundamentals
  • Writing Spanish
  • Speaking Spanish
  • Business Spanish
  • Hispanic cultures

Bachelor's Degree in Spanish

Bachelor's degree programs in Spanish are designed to produce fluent Spanish speakers. Students majoring in Spanish can select from concentrations, such as translation, history, teaching and literature. Furthermore, academic minors can be chosen in virtually any area, expanding a graduate's career opportunities.

Students learning Spanish at the bachelor's degree level are often required to spend a semester at a Spanish-speaking college. They usually complete a senior project and take classes in:

  • Spanish history
  • Spanish literature
  • Ancient Latin American civilizations
  • Techniques for translation
  • Linguistics

Master's Degree in Spanish

Students majoring in Spanish at the master's level are often fluent Spanish speakers pursuing advanced studies of the Spanish language from a linguistic and multicultural perspective. A 2-year master's degree program typically culminates in a Master of Arts in Spanish or a Master of Arts in Applied Spanish Linguistics. Spanish degree seekers can often concentrate in translation studies, Spanish language, literature and culture or intercultural communication. Thesis and non-thesis degree options are available. Spanish students gain a comprehensive study of:

  • Sociolinguistics
  • Skills for acquiring a foreign language
  • Spanish diction and syntax
  • Ancient and contemporary Spanish literature
  • Research methods

Doctoral Degree in Spanish

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in Spanish generally require an additional 90 credits beyond a 4-year degree. Concentrations may be available in specific periods of Spanish literature or in Spanish linguistics. Programs are research-intensive and participants develop advanced bilingual critical-thinking, writing and speaking abilities.

Graduate students must pass a verbal and written exam before they can begin preparing their dissertation defense, a requirement for graduation. They often participate in teaching assistantships and study graduate topics, such as:

  • Techniques for teaching Spanish
  • Spanish literary theory and criticism
  • Advanced interpretation methods
  • Alternate foreign language proficiency
  • Alternate foreign language literature

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a 2-year Spanish degree program can work in public or private sectors. Specific job opportunities for fluent Spanish speakers often include:

  • Translator
  • Tutor
  • Spanish writer
  • Salesperson
  • International business professional

Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in Spanish can also pursue employment opportunities in a variety of areas. These include:

  • Global business
  • Publishing and communications
  • Human resources
  • Sales
  • Social work

Fluent Spanish speakers are often sought by military sectors and government agencies. Students who complete graduate Spanish programs can work as:

  • Educators
  • Business professionals
  • Public service specialists
  • International relations experts
  • Cultural studies experts

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Students who earn a doctoral degree in Spanish can pursue work as college professors. The number of jobs for all postsecondary teachers was expected to increase 19% between 2012 and 2022, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also notes that foreign language and literature teachers at the postsecondary level earned a median salary of $59,490 as of May 2014.

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