Students concentrating in Spanish and/or Portuguese acquire a sophisticated knowledge of the literatures, cultures, societies and politics of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds. Such refined knowledge is invaluable nowadays for almost any career, in a global era in which mutual understanding and communication between cultures are paramount.
Recent concentrators have taken up careers in law, government service, business, teaching, medicine, non-governmental agencies, and international affairs.
An Advanced Placement Examination in Spanish (Language and/or Literature) with a score of 5 or SAT Subject Test score of at least 760 is required to satisfy the A.B. foreign language requirement at entrance, or for admission to a 200-level course. Students who took either test in 2020 or in 2021 must take the Spanish Placement Test to confirm their advanced placement.
Normally, students complete two 200-level courses in Spanish or one 200-level course in Portuguese.
Declaration of Concentration
Before or right after declaring a concentration in Spanish and/or Portuguese in March of sophomore year, please email the Director of Undergraduate Studies to set up an appointment. Concentrators automatically default into the Track 1 sub-plan. (See track descriptions below.) There will be an opportunity to elect a sub-plan during the declaration period. However, it can be elected or changed at any time during junior or senior year by contacting the department's Undergraduate Administrator.
Qualified students are encouraged to decide on their concentration as early as possible in their sophomore year. In this way they can benefit from departmental advising on course selection and on the possibility of spending a semester or the whole junior year abroad.
Plan of Study
All Spanish concentrators are strongly advised to take one advanced language course (SPA 205, SPA 207, SPA 207S, SPA 208S, SPA 209 or SPA 307), unless the Director of Undergraduate Studies (in consultation with the language directors) determines that the respective student’s language skills do not warrant taking such course.
All Portuguese concentrators are required to take at least one 200-level POR course.
All Spanish concentrators must take one course in pre-1800 literature. University regulations limit to 12 the number of departmental courses allowed to each student in his or her concentration. Students cannot earn both a SPO concentration (in any track) and a SPO certificate (in any language). Students interested in focusing both in Spanish and Portuguese may choose Track 2 for their concentration.
Departmental courses cover a wide array of literary, cultural, social, historical, and political topics. Students are, therefore, able to pursue courses of study that are tailor-made to their own individual interests. The department offers four different tracks for concentrators:
Please note that an upper division course is any course above SPA 209 or POR 209.
Track 1 - One Language - Spanish Language, Literature & Culture or Portuguese Language, Literature & Culture Track
Concentration in one language, literature, and cultures (Spanish or Portuguese). Eight upper-division courses in the language of concentration. Up to two of those courses may be taken in English, in which case all written work must be completed in the target language.
Track 2 - Two Language, Literature & Culture (POR & SPA) Track
Concentration in two languages, literature and cultures (Spanish and Portuguese; or Spanish/Portuguese and another language). Requires a combination of five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese and three upper-division courses in the second language. One of the five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese may be taken in English, in which case all written work must be completed in the target language.
Track 3 - Interdisciplinary Track
Concentration in Spanish or Portuguese with another related field (e.g. Urban Studies, Architecture, Global Health & Health Policy, Environmental Studies, Humanistic Studies, Sociology, European Studies, International Studies, Latino Studies, Latin American Studies, Comparative Literature, History, Politics, Anthropology). Requires a combination of five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese and three upper-division courses in the secondary field. One of the five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese may be taken in English, in which case all written work must be completed in the target language.
Track 4 - Creative Arts Track
Concentration in Spanish or Portuguese with the creative arts (e.g. creative writing, theater, visual arts, translation). Requires a combination of five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese and three upper-division courses in the creative arts. One of the five upper-division courses in Spanish or Portuguese may be taken in English, in which case all written work must be completed in the target language.
Any track in the concentration in Spanish and/or Portuguese Literature and Cultures requires a minimum of eight upper-division courses, at least five of which must be in the language of concentration. With the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, up to three courses taken during a semester abroad may count towards the concentration if the student is pursuing Track 1 or Track 2. Up to two courses taken during a semester abroad may be counted towards the concentration if the student is pursuing Track 3 or Track 4.
Concentrators are strongly advised to take SPA/POR 330 during the fall of their junior year. This course is designed to introduce students to research methods and to guide them in the production of their first Junior Paper.
Concentrators should discuss as soon as possible their area of interest with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in order to find the most appropriate advisers for the Junior Papers. By the end of September (first JP), and by mid-February (second JP), all juniors should have contacted their advisers to discuss a plan of work.
The first JP (Fall semester) should be about 4,000 words, and the second JP (Spring semester) should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words. Both JPs can be written in English, in which case a three-page summary in the target language must be provided. Or, the JPs can be written in the target language in which case a summary is not needed. Any extensions beyond the University deadline date need pre-approval from both the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Residential College Dean. All JPs must include Princeton University's honor pledge.
Concentrators following two languages are encouraged to write one JP in each of the languages of concentration.
Students should select a Senior Thesis adviser by the end of September at the latest. The Senior Thesis is normally written in English, and should be between 15,000 and 20,000 words. Topics chosen in the past have ranged over the whole field of Spanish and Portuguese studies, from linguistic problems and literary techniques through close textual analysis to thematic and ideological studies. Students primarily interested in culture and civilization have written on art, political and economic issues, education, and a variety of social questions. The senior thesis is a major commitment of a student's time and energy, and the most important yardstick for choosing a topic is willingness to spend many hours on a particular set of texts or problems. Please visit the Mudd Library website for inspiration and a listing of previous senior thesis topics over the years. More detailed information can be found in the Senior Thesis Handbook.
Any extensions beyond the University deadline date need pre-approval from both the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Residential College Dean.
Resources are available to assist students with the costs of senior thesis research including, when appropriate, travel abroad. The best time to use them is the summer preceding the senior year.
Senior Departmental Examination
The senior departmental/comprehensive exam will consist of an oral presentation of the senior thesis. It will be followed by questions from faculty regarding the thesis content and bibliography, as well as questions related to the course work done by the student in the department.
Pedro Meira Monteiro
Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Natalia Castro Picón
Director of Spanish Language Program:
Alberto Bruzos Moro
Director of Portuguese Language Program:
Associates Directors of Spanish Language Program:
Mariana Bono & Catalina Méndez Vallejo