Latin American and Iberian Cultures
Director of Undergraduate Studies: Alberto Medina, 502 Casa Hispánica; 854-7485
Director of Graduate Studies: Alberto Medina, 502 Casa Hispánica; 854-7485
Coordinators of the Spanish Program: Reyes Llopis Garcia, 409 Casa Hispánica; 854-7278; Diana Romero, 506 Casa Hispanica; 854-8075
Departmental Office: 101 Casa Hispánica; 612 W. 116th Street; 854-4187; 854-5322 (fax)
The Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia, located in Casa Hispánica, has long enjoyed an international reputation as a center for Hispanic and Lusophone studies. The department provides linguistic preparation in Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan, and offers a flexible program to study manifestations of the Hispanic and Lusophone worlds in all historical periods—from the medieval to the globalized present—and in a variety of cultural contexts: the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America, the former colonies of Portugal, and the United States.
Students can enter the program at any level of linguistic and cultural preparedness. The department offers a placement exam to determine the level at which students may either begin or continue study. Majors and concentrators in Hispanic studies and Portuguese studies are typically double majors who bring insights and methods from fields such as history, political science, women's studies, anthropology, economics, Latino studies, Latin American studies, etc., which makes for engaging discussions.
The department offers two majors. The major in Hispanic studies gives students a well-rounded preparation in the history and culture of the Hispanic world. The second option, a major in Hispanic studies with specialization, allows students to study the Hispanic world through a number of fields, among them Latin American studies, gender studies, political science, economics, history, and sociology. The department also offers two concentrations: Hispanic studies; and Portuguese studies.
The language and major programs have also been designed in close consultation and cooperation with Barnard's Department of Spanish and Latin American Cultures. All courses taken in one program may be used to fulfill the requirements of the other. Hence, Columbia and Barnard students may move freely between departments of both institutions for courses that best fit their intellectual interests and schedules.
The department grants 3 credits for a score of 5 on the AP Spanish Language exam, which satisfies the foreign language requirement. Credit is awarded upon successful completion of a 3300-level (or higher) course with a grade of B or higher. This course must be for at least 3 points of credit and be taught in Spanish. Courses taught in English may not be used for language AP credit. The department grants 0 credits for a score of 4 on the AP Spanish Language exam, but the foreign language requirement is satisfied. The department grants 3 credits for a score of 5 on the AP Spanish Literature exam, which satisfies the foreign language requirement. Credit is awarded upon successful completion of a 3300-level (or higher) course with a grade of B or higher. This course must be for at least 3 points of credit and be taught in Spanish. Courses taught in English may not be used for language AP credit. The department grants 0 credits for a score of 4 on the AP Spanish Literature exam, but the foreign language requirement is satisfied.
The department strongly recommends that all majors and concentrators in Hispanic or Portuguese study abroad. Most courses taken abroad can be used to fulfill the requirements for the major and concentration, and with adequate planning, even some of the requirements for a second major or concentration. A maximum of four (4) courses taken abroad may be applied to the major, and a maximum of three (3) to the concentration in Hispanic or Portuguese studies.
All students are strongly advised to take either SPAN W3349 Hispanic cultures I: from Islamic Spain to the age of empire or SPAN W3350 Hispanic cultures II: from the Enlightenment to the present before studying abroad. Actual or potential majors and concentrators in Hispanic or Portuguese studies should seek tentative approval of their programs from the director of undergraduate studies before their departure.
The department maintains an updated list of internship resources and volunteer opportunities in New York City, the United States, and abroad. No academic credit is given for internships.
The Hispanic Institute
The department hosts the Hispanic Institute at Columbia. Founded in 1920 as the Instituto de las Españas, the Institute sponsors and disseminates research on Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian culture. Since 1934, the Institute has published the Revista Hispánica Moderna, a distinguished journal in Hispanic criticism and theory.
In Fulfillment of the Language Requirement
For students with no knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese, or Catalan, at least four terms of the language are required: W1101-W1102 (or W1120) and W1201-W1202 (or W1220). All courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the language requirement. Students with prior knowledge of Spanish who plan to continue studying Spanish are required to take the department’s on-line placement examination before registering for courses. Students with prior knowledge of Portuguese or Catalan should speak with the director of language programs.
Students may be exempted from the language requirement in one of four ways:
- Present a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Spanish Language or Spanish Literature Exams. Students who receive a score of 5 in either exam are awarded 3 AP credits upon successful completion of a 3300-level (or above) course with a grade of B or higher. AP credit is not granted for a score of 4.
- Present a score of 780 or above on the SAT Subject Test. Students with a score lower than 780 should take the department's on-line placement exam and follow the placement advice received.
- Present a score of a 7, 6, or 5 on the International Baccalaureate Higher Level Exam in Spanish.
- Obtain a score of 625 or higher in the department's on-line placement exam. If the score in the on-line test qualifies a student for exemption from the language requirement, they are required to take a written version of the placement exam during orientation (for entering students) or during the semester (for continuing students). This written exam is offered every year on the Thursday before the beginning of classes in the fall semester from 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. in Room 352 of the International Affairs Building (the Language Resource Center Computer Lab). Students do not need to make an appointment to take the exam.
Majors interested in departmental honors should take the senior seminar in the fall of their senior year. Toward the end of the fall term, the director of undergraduate studies asks seniors to produce a senior thesis proposal. After reviewing the proposals, the faculty invites a small number of majors to compete for honors based on the strength of their proposal, the quality of the research paper produced by them in the senior seminar, and their overall academic record in the department. To be considered for departmental honors, a student must maintain a GPA of at least 3.6 in major courses. An invitation to pursue the honors track does not guarantee departmental honors. Normally no more than 10% of graduating majors may be awarded departmental honors.
Students who accept the invitation to pursue the honors track enroll in an independent study course in the spring (SPAN W3998) and undertake a research project with a faculty member during their last semester. Students must identify a faculty member to supervise their project and assign the final grade. This independent study course counts toward the number of courses required to fulfill the major. Students may develop and expand the paper produced in the senior seminar or a paper produced for another course, or undertake a new project in consultation with the faculty sponsor. See department's website for more information.
The faculty awards an undergraduate prize every year:
Susan Huntington Vernon Prize
Established in 1941 by a member of the noted family of New York Hispanophiles, it is given to the Columbia College senior major who has demonstrated excellence in the study of Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American languages and cultures.
Dr. Antonio G. Mier Prize
Awarded for excellence in Hispanic Studies to a major degree candidate in the School of General Studies at Columbia University.