If you’re interested in languages and the people who speak them, consider a major in Spanish. You will become skilled at understanding one of the world’s most widely spoken languages as well as reading, writing, and speaking it. You’ll also learn about Hispanic or Luso-Brazilian literature and culture.

Why Iowa?

Iowa’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese has a highly flexible undergraduate program. You'll be encouraged to combine your major in Spanish with other University of Iowa majors, minors, or certificates in order to maximize your career options and other opportunities. You'll also have the option to participate in a wide range of study abroad programs.

The department’s faculty includes many native speakers. Faculty members have attracted wide support for their research, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays program, and the university’s Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

The department also offers a BA in Portuguese and plays an important role in the Latin American Studies Program, an interdisciplinary undergraduate program focusing on the history, politics, social organization, economy, art, music, religion, and literature of Latin America.

Students in this major may also choose to supplement their degree program with a Certificate in International Business or Certificate in Latin American Studies.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


  Teaching Licensure
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our  Pomerantz Career Center  offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500  student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100  study abroad  programs and multiple  undergraduate research opportunities

Spanish students have numerous opportunities to learn outside the classroom. The department’s weekly conversation groups in Spanish and Portuguese are friendly, informal gatherings where students may practice with native speakers, meet professors and graduate students, and enjoy each other’s company.

Students have abundant opportunities to attend talks and lectures by guests who visit campus, including authors, filmmakers, and scholars. Recent and upcoming events are featured on the department's website.

The department also participates in Study Abroad Programs in Spain and Latin America, in locations such as Alicante, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Salvador, Santiago, Seville, Valladolid, and many others. Some take place during the academic year and others are offered during the summer.


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.


Students in the Spanish BA program acquire language skills through varied ways of communicating and developing grammar skills while speaking and writing. You’ll also enrich your vocabulary during an introduction to Hispanic culture.

Required course work includes Hispanic linguistics, Spanish peninsular literature, Spanish American literature, and peninsular or Spanish American culture. You’ll also take a number of elective courses, which may include creative writing and up to two courses in Portuguese as well as two courses in related areas from other departments, such as history, anthropology, or linguistics, subject to certain guidelines. Students also must complete the requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core

See Spanish in the UI General Catalog to learn about required course work for the major or minor and graduating with honors.

Teaching Licensure

Students who want to teach Spanish at the elementary and/or secondary level must complete the requirements for both the Spanish major and the College of Education's Teacher Education Program (TEP). The Teacher Education Program requires education courses and one semester of student teaching. 

Spanish Courses for Nonmajors

Students majoring in other disciplines may fulfill the world language component of their college's General Education Program with approved sequences of either Spanish or Portuguese language courses. Additional Spanish and Portuguese courses are approved to satisfy other General Education requirements.