Spanish Majors: Degree Programs to Become Fluent in Spanish

Degrees in Spanish are offered at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Read on to learn about the different program requirements, as well as career prospects for those fluent in Spanish.

Essential Information

A 2-year Associate of Arts in Spanish program provides a foundation for students to become fluent 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. Bachelor's programs are often more extensive and may include study abroad opportunities and final projects.

At the master's level, students can usually choose a concentration, and they may be required to complete a thesis paper. Doctoral programs emphasize research and bilingual critical thinking - graduates are prepared for work as college professors.

Prerequisites at the undergraduate level include a high school diploma or GED and satisfactory scores on a college placement test or ACT/SAT. A bachelor's degree in linguistics or Spanish, satisfactory GRE scores and writing samples or audio recordings are required for admission to graduate degree programs.

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.

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 13% between 2014 and 2024, 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 $61,380 as of May 2015.

Undergraduate degree programs give students a solid foundation in writing and speaking Spanish, while graduate programs expand students' knowledge through independent research and advanced coursework. Depending on the degree earned, graduates of Spanish programs may be prepared for careers in business, education, translation, sales and more.

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