Santiago, Chile


Speaking Spanish is the key to unlocking the cultures, traditions, and experiences of 20 different countries throughout the world. From the medieval knights and Don Quixote through the modern novels by prize-winning authors and the world of film, the Spanish faculty at the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures guides students of Spanish into the unexpected territories of Europe and Latin America, territories that are as rich geographically as they are culturally.

Undergraduate Program

Students who major and minor in Spanish graduate with top-notch communication skills. Our students speak Spanish and they speak culture, which are valuable professional skills today. The exponential growth of the Spanish-speaking population in the United States, the constant presence of Latin America at the top of America's political and business agenda, and the continued lure of Spain as a gateway to Europe and parts of Africa makes speaking Spanish and the ability to interpret the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries two of the most profitable and enjoyable skills that one can acquire.

Graduate Program

With our faculty's wide-ranging expertise, graduate students have opportunities to specialize in many areas of Latin American and Iberian cultures. We offer a broad range of study from medieval through contemporary, with opportunities to concentrate in a variety of different areas that reflect the areas of expertise of our faculty, including migrations and communities; popular literacy and cultural memory; early modern and modern cultural production; the intersections of literature, art, and the sciences; modernities and postmodernities; visual cultures and performance; and linguistics and language learning.

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research in Spanish

Undergraduate students can engage in a variety of different types of research projects related to Spanish. Students can complete a senior honors thesis or independent study or participate on a research team in an area of their interest. The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) also provides funding for costs related to research projects and conference presentations.

Studying Spanish

Worlds of Culture

A Spanish major or minor is a path to an adventurous world of culture and knowledge. Spanish is spoken by nearly 500 million people in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and offers a diverse tradition of literature, culture, and cinema that constitutes the core of our program. Studying Spanish at Washington University includes interdisciplinary research and cross-cultural conversations, where the work of our renowned faculty translates into exciting conversations and classroom opportunities. Our students to explore topics as diverse as the adventures of Don Quixote and Mexican romantic comedies, from the words inscribed in XIXth century independence armies to the virtual words of science-fictional worlds. Students graduate having developed not only strong language skills, but also significant cultural and affective ties to the Hispanic world.

The Central Market of Valencia, València, Spain

An Education for the Real World

Spanish is one of the most important skills in today’s job market. The exponential growth of the Spanish-speaking population in the United States (1 in 6 people in the 2010 census and expected to grow to 1 in 4 by 2025) has turned Spanish into an essential component of professional life. Medical schools, social work programs, and other programs aimed at helping people look for Spanish speakers to be able to reach our growing Hispanic population. Law firms and accounting services look to the increased patronage of Latino customers in issues such as immigration and taxation. Policy schools recruit Spanish speakers not only to address the growing needs of the US Hispanic population, but also to engage the many countries of origin of the immigrants. Our Spanish major offers students not only the possibility to acquire the language at a very advanced level, but also the tools for achieving the cultural fluency required by employers and graduate programs today.

Placa D'Espanya, Barcelona, Spain

From Proficiency to Culture

The Spanish language program at Washington University is based on one of the most cutting-edge learning systems in the country and students are able to learn the language in a pace 30 to 40 percent faster than in peer institutions. Our Spanish language program, from the basic sequence to the advanced linguistics courses, is an unparalleled opportunity for students to learn the language regardless of their previous experience. But our expertise does not end there. We believe in teaching Spanish in a culturally meaningful way, where the acquisition of the language is seamlessly integrated with the development of a deep understanding of the cultures of Latin America and Spain, both in the classroom and through our study-abroad programs.

Careers & Outcomes

What can you do with a Spanish major? Explore what our alums are doing now, and Career Center resources available to help you.

Learn More

Graduate Programs in Hispanic Studies

Our faculty members pursue cutting-edge research and enjoy high visibility in the field. We are known, too, for our award-winning journal, the Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, published here at Washington University.

Our program offers a thorough and well-rounded education as well as meticulous professional preparation. Our students benefit from generous financial support (six years, with the first and last years on fellowship), plus opportunities for additional summer funding. Annual travel stipends allow our students to attend conferences and deliver papers.

Our faculty members are committed mentors who work closely with students as they develop their own research agendas and hone their teaching skills. In addition to their coursework in Hispanic Studies, graduate students may earn one of a number of graduate certificates, all of which complement their study in Hispanic Studies and help them on the job market.

Our students mark their success in a number of ways: through prestigious fellowships that allow them to pursue their research elsewhere, publishing and conference participation, becoming distinguished teachers, and through employment. While most of our PhDs in Hispanic secure tenure-track faculty positions, others have been awarded highly selective postdoctoral fellowships or taken a range of university-related appointments. 

Explore our Graduate Program

Study Abroad

We encourage all students studying a foreign language to study abroad during their academic careers. Washington University offers multiple opportunities to study abroad and experience new cultures, including programs from our department in Madrid and Santiago, Chile.

Study Abroad Details


Helen Fe Jones Award

This prize, for outstanding instruction of Spanish, was created in memory of Helen Fe Jones, the mother-in-law of professor Elion Dezon Jones. For years Helen Fe Jones volunteered with community organizations who worked with Latino families, and she also attended many different Spanish language and cultures courses. Please click for application guidelines.

Sherman Eoff Prize for Excellence in the Undergraduate Program in Spanish

This prize is awarded to outstanding undergraduate students in Spanish in honor of Sherman Eoff. Sherman Eoff was a professor of Spanish at Washington University for his entire career, until he retired in 1968. He was interested in philosophy, literature, and comparative literature, and he was known for his clear style of writing.






Eva Sichel Memorial Essay Prize in Spanish Literature

This prize is to be awarded once a year to graduate students in Spanish and was established by former graduate student in Spanish--and now professor at Ohio State--Rebecca Haidt, in honor of her great-aunt, Eva Sichel. Ms. Sichel was born in Russia and emigrated to the United States in the early 1900’s and died at age 96. Professor Haidt was very close to her great-aunt and felt this prize would be a wonderful way to honor her memory.

Zelson Award

This award was established in honor of Louis G. Zelson, a long-time professor of Spanish at the former Harris Teachers' College (now Harris-Stowe State University). Mrs. Ida Zelson, Louis Zelson's wife, established the gift in 1960, following the death of her husband. Her wish was to award an annual prize to a student of Spanish in their junior year who exhibits excellence in the Spanish curriculum.




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