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Undergraduate Information

The Concentration in Spanish and/or Portuguese


The normal requirement to be admitted as a concentrator is successful completion of two 200-level courses in Spanish or one 200-level course in Portuguese.

Early Concentration

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 concentrators are strongly advised to take one advanced language course (Spanish 207 or Spanish 307 for Spanish; POR 207S, POR 208 or POR 209 for Portuguese). 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.

Tracks (revised 4/16/08)

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 almost tailor-made to their own individual interests.  The concentration offers two possible tracks of study: 

1. Concentration in literature and culture (Spanish or Portuguese). 

It 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 Departmental Representative, up to three cognate courses in other departments can be counted towards the concentration in this track. Up to three courses taken during one semester abroad may be approved towards the departmental concentration requirements. Freshman seminars on topics related to the area of concentration may be counted towards the required eight upper-division courses.

2. Concentration in translation theory and practice.

It requires SPA 307, and at least seven more upper-division courses in Spanish. At least three of the seven upper-division SPA courses must focus on translation, taken from among 309, 380, 381, 382, or 384. With the approval of the Departmental Representative, up to three courses related to translation taught in other departments can be counted towards concentration in this track. Students enrolled in this track can count TRA 200 as one of the two 200-level courses required as prerequisites for the concentration. Up to three courses taken during a semester abroad may be approved towards the concentration. Freshman seminars on Hispanic topics may be counted towards the eight upper-division courses required for the concentration.

In both tracks, students have the option of combining two languages in the concentration. The two language option requires five courses in Spanish or Portuguese, and three courses in any other language. 

Junior Papers

Students should discuss as soon as possible their area of interest with the Departmental Representative 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 may 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. Include Princeton University pledge on all papers.

Students following two languages are encouraged to write one JP in each of the languages of concentration.

Senior Thesis

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.

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.

Comprehensive Examinations

The senior departmental/comprehensive exam will consist of an oral presentation of the thesis. It will be followed by questions regarding the thesis content and bibliography, as well as questions related to the course work done by the student in the department.


If you are considering a concentration in Spanish and/or Portuguese, please contact our Departmental Representative.

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