Spanish Majors: Degree Programs to Become Fluent in Spanish

Get information on Spanish degree programs and majors at the associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Read on to learn about prerequisites, curriculum and career options.

Essential Information

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. Graduates with a bachelor's degree should 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. These programs take two years and may require a thesis. 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. There is usually a teaching requirement.

Associate Degree in Spanish

An Associate of Arts in Spanish program provides a foundation for students to become fluent Spanish speakers. Associate degree students 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.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants to an associate degree program in Spanish must have a high school diploma or GED. Interested students must typically complete a college placement test. Additionally, a background is Spanish is helpful but not required.

Program Coursework

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

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

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.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants must have a GED or high school diploma and submit either SAT or ACT scores. Typically, a minimum GPA of 2.0 is required for admissions. Students must also participate in an orientation or advising session before enrolling in classes.

Program Coursework

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

Popular Career Options

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

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

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.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants to a master's degree program in Spanish generally need an undergraduate degree in linguistics or Spanish. Interested individuals may have to submit a written work in Spanish in addition to a personal essay and reference letters. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are typically required.

Program Coursework

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

Popular Career Options

Fluent Spanish speakers are often sought by military sectors and government agencies. Graduates of a Spanish program can work as:

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

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.

Educational Prerequisites

Students generally have to submit either a writing sample or audio recording demonstrating proficiency in the Spanish language. Additional critical-writing pieces may also be required. A personal essay and reference letters are necessary as well as submission of GRE scores.

Program Coursework

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

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 17% between 2010 and 2020, 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 $58,670 as of May 2012.

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