Columbia SPPO

Frequently Asked Questions about the Major and the Concentration

Do courses taken at Barnard count for the major or concentration at Columbia?

Any course taken in the Department Spanish and Latin American Cultures at Barnard counts toward fulfillment of the language requirement and the major and concentration requirements at Columbia.

Is a major or concentrator allowed to take courses outside the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures?

Majors may take advanced electives outside the department provided they have content that is relevant to Hispanic or Lusophone culture, history, and society. Majors are allowed up to 3 such electives outside the department; concentrators are allowed 1. For instance, courses about Latin American history in the Department of History, about Spanish art in the Department of Art History, or about the economics of sustainable development in the Department of Economics can count toward the major or concentration.

Keep in mind, though, that when you take courses outside the department you will gain in exposure to other disciplines but you lose in not studying materials in the original Spanish or Portuguese and in not improving your linguistic abilities through class discussion and writing. Overall, not more than 3 classes taken in English may count for the major, and 2 for the concentration.

Do I need permission from the Director of Undergraduate Studies to take courses outside the department?

You do not need permission from the DUS to take courses outside the department, unless you have doubts about whether a given course meets the requirements described above.

Do I need to take "Hispanic Cultures I" (SPAN W3349) and "Hispanic Cultures II" (SPAN W3350) as a sequence?

While it is recommended that they be taken in order if possible, the two courses may be taken in whichever order is more convenient for the student's schedule and academic planning. SPAN W3349 and SPAN W3350 may also be taken simultaneously with permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Is studying abroad required for the major or the concentration?

Studying abroad is not a requirement, but it is strongly and enthusiastically recommended by the department. A maximum of 4 courses taken abroad may be applied to the major, and a maximum of 3 to the concentration. These courses will count as if you had taken them in the department at Columbia. Language courses taken abroad will not count toward the major or concentration even if they are required by the program you attend. The Office of Global Programs has an extensive list of programs abroad in Spain, Portugal, and Latin America that have been approved by the department. Please see also our page on study abroad for further information.

Is there an honors program for the major?

Majors (not concentrators) are invited to compete for honors in Spanish and Portuguese in the fall of their senior year based on their overall performance in the major and their work in the Senior Seminar. Hence, students interested in honors work should take the required Senior Seminar in the fall. Please see the complete description of the honors program.

For more information, contact the department's Director of Undergraduate Studies.