Catedral de Cádiz, Cádiz, Spain.
Catedral de Cádiz, Cádiz, Spain.

The University has been teaching Spanish to the citizens of Washington state since 1895. Changing demographics nationally and locally lend a new urgency to our mission to study the language, literatures, and cultures of Spain, Latin America, and the diverse Spanish-speaking communities of the United States. In Portuguese, the department offers high-quality programming in both language and culture, with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity.



Undergraduate majors


Spanish and Portuguese Studies (SPS) offers a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and MA and PhD degrees in Hispanic Studies. Students may also elect to complete a minor in both Spanish and Portuguese Language and Luso-Brazilian Studies, the latter administered through the Jackson School of International Studies.

Undergraduate majors expand and refine their language skills while engaging in the study of literature written in Spanish, as well as Hispanic cultural studies and linguistics. The BA prepares graduates for advanced degrees in education and doctoral programs, as well as careers in business, law, and medicine. Many of our students are double majors, a reflection of the growing importance of Spanish both locally and nationally.

Our rigorous MA program attracts students from Latin America, Spain and the U.S. Recruiting from the same pool of applicants, our PhD features a unique emphasis on public humanities and is the first program in the country to do so. Through a new collaboration with the College of Education, our department also trains a growing number of Spanish teachers in Washington state.

Students may select from an impressive array of faculty-led study abroad opportunities, with programs currently offered in Cádiz and León (Spain), Oaxaca (Mexico), and Quito (Ecuador). These popular programs typically feature home stays with host families, field trips, and opportunities for internships.

The department also provides a variety of service-learning opportunities that facilitate student engagement with local communities. Through the department’s service-learning program, students undertake meaningful collaborations with local Spanish-speaking communities in Seattle and, in the process, deepen their cultural understanding and sharpen their linguistic skills.

An area of significant growth in recent years has been our program for heritage learners, which offers courses specifically tailored to students from Washington state’s large Spanish-speaking community. The department also houses the Center for Heritage Learning, which provides support for UW students and engages in outreach to the broader community.

Exploration Seminar, Mexico City, Mexico
Exploration Seminar, Mexico City, Mexico


Summer 2020 - Spring 2021

  • 83 Undergraduate majors
  • 123 Undergraduate minors
  • 10 Graduate students

Degrees Awarded

Summer 2020 - Spring 2021

  • 35 Bachelor degrees
  • 3 Master of Arts degrees
  • 1 PhD degree

Student Awards

Summer 2020 - Spring 2021

  • 6 Phi Beta Kappa


Summer 2019- Spring 2020

September 2021

  • 3 Professors
  • 2 Teaching Professors
  • 3 Associate Professors
  • 5 Associate Teaching Professors
  • 4 Assistant Professors
  • 5 Emeritus Faculty

Faculty Awards & Honors

  • 1 American Book Award
  • 2 Fulbright Awards
  • 3 National Endowment for the Humanities grants
  • 5 UW Royalty Research Fund awards
  • 4 Simpson Center Society of Scholars fellowships


The department’s scholarly pursuits are broad and varied, ranging over the literature, culture, and linguistic profiles of 20 Spanish-speaking countries as well as Portugal and Brazil. We have formed intellectual partnerships across campus, and most of our faculty work closely with colleagues in Cinema and Media Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Jewish Studies, and European Studies, as well as with the Simpson Center of the Humanities.

Areas of Research & Scholarship

  • Applied Linguistics
  • Art and Literature of the Spanish Civil War
  • Colonial Latin American Literature
  • Contemporary Latin American Literacy and Cultural Studies
  • Food and Culture
  • Hispanic Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Culture of Spanish Early Modern Period
  • Medieval Spanish Literature & Oral Hispanic Balladry
  • Mexican Literature
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Spanish and Latin American Film
  • Spanish Heritage Language Education
  • Spanish Linguistics
  • Spanish, Mexican, and Chicano Film Studies
  • Twentieth-century Latin American Poetry
  • Twentieth-century Spanish Poetry


Spanish and Portuguese Studies considers relationships with its communities— university, local, and statewide, including the Hispanic, Brazilian, Native Latin American, Afro-Latin American, and Sephardic Jewish communities—a vital part of its mission. Outreach activities include readings by distinguished Spanish, Latin American, and U.S. Latino authors; lectures by recognized scholars; workshops for K-12 teachers; film series; conferences and symposia; music and dance performances; and servicelearning courses that send students into the community as volunteers.

We work closely with community organizations such as Seattle Arts and Lectures, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) Center for Mexican Studies at UW, Casa Latina, Centro de la Raza, Entre Hermanos, Puentes, Consulado de México, Immigrant Families Advocacy Project (IFAP), Latino Community Fund of Washington, and St. Vincent de Paul.


Department of Spanish & Portuguese Studies
Box 354360
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-2020


last update: February 2022