Learning Abroad in Spanish & Portuguese

Learning Abroad in Spanish & Portuguese


“In my classes I am always impressed with how much confidence students have gained from their time spent studying abroad. They often demonstrate great leaps not only in their language proficiency, but also in their cultural competence and their appreciation for cultural difference. They gain immeasurably in their study of literature and culture from having lived and studied in a Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking country.”

-Barbara Weissberger, Professor Emeritus


Have you always wanted to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking or Portuguese-speaking country, but you do not know where to begin? The following information will help familiarize you with some of the many programs available to you so you can determine if you want to study in the medieval city of Toledo or the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires.  


Study Abroad Process

This is the basic process you'll complete in order to study abroad. The order in which you do things is somewhat flexible.

Academic Planning

Contact your adviser in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies before beginning your study abroad research.


Departmental Advising Resources

Choose your study abroad experience wisely

  • Selecting the best program takes time so begin planning your experience abroad with your adviser as early as possible.

  • A properly chosen study abroad program will challenge your assumptions, deepen your knowledge, and broaden your understanding of global issues and cultures.

  • Study abroad is one of the best ways to develop your language skills.

  • A properly chosen study abroad experience allows students to develop flexibility, adaptability, critical thinking ability, communication skills, confidence, and other key qualities.


The Department strongly encourages all majors and minors to study abroad in a Spanish or Portuguese speaking area. An ideal time to plan for study abroad is in the early stages of the 3xxx-level, returning to campus thereafter to take several advanced electives with departmental faculty in culmination of the major.

Did you know that studying abroad can actually speed your academic progress toward achieving a major or minor? Many classes can function to fulfill university or degree requirements as well as departmental requirements. The Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies co-sponsors several programs with the Learning Abroad Center.

Department-Sponsored Program Locations


For the above programs, pre-approved course equivalencies are available on the Spanish and Portuguese website.

Levels of departmental sponsorship

  • Department-sponsored programs: The Department of Spanish and Portuguese has a very special relationship with the five programs listed above.

  • Department-endorsed programs:  The department has selected additional programs on the basis of two criteria: They work well for students majoring or minoring in Spanish or in Spanish and Portuguese, and they complement the department-sponsored programs by offering different locations, curricular directions, or teaching formats. Department-endorsed programs usually yield University of Minnesota resident credit.

Fulfill Liberal Education requirements

  • If you still have some of the University’s Liberal Education requirements remaining, consider completing them through a learning abroad experience.

  • Any experience that lasts a minimum of three weeks and is worth at least 3 credits will satisfy Global Perspectives.

  • Consult the Learning Abroad Center’s database of study abroad courses that have been approved to satisfy Liberal Education requirements.

Fulfilling major or minor requirements

  • If you are considering using study abroad coursework for a Spanish major or minor, it is highly recommended that you participate in a declaration session.

  • Going on a study abroad program may help you complete the bulk of major or minor coursework, especially if you go through a department-sponsored program.

  • Students rarely receive credit for Span 3015 or the three Critical Analysis courses (Span 3104, 3105, and 3107) taken anywhere other than at the Twin Cities campus or at department-sponsored programs.

  • For non-department-sponsored programs we advise taking courses on the literatures or cultures of Spain, Portugal, and/or Latin America that are taught in Spanish or Portuguese. Schedule an appointment with an adviser to determine if you are selecting courses that are likely to transfer and count toward the major or minor. Although we cannot guarantee this, we can help you minimize the risk of taking a course that will not do so.

  • With all programs you will need to petition the courses at the department level upon your return to campus.

  • For information on transferring credit from study abroad, please contact an adviser in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies.

Procedures for petitioning study abroad courses

  • For department-sponsored programs go to the Spanish & Portuguese Studies Department Advising Office to discuss potential classes.  

  • For ALL other programs you will need to adhere to the following procedures:


    • Keep syllabi, papers, exams and any other graded work from each course. Without the syllabi and actual graded materials, you will not be able to receive Spanish/Portuguese credit from the department.

    • Wait until the credits are accepted by the University of Minnesota, i.e. until they appear as resident credit on your U of M transcript or as transfer credit on your APAS report.

    • Then submit all of your course materials to the advisers in the Spanish Department Advising Office, which is in 215 Folwell Hall. The evaluation of materials will take about 2 weeks. The Advising Office will email you when the evaluation is complete.

Learning Abroad Programs

Consider these factors when selecting a study abroad program.


For help deciding between Spanish language options, consult the Spanish Language Programs Comparison Chart (PDF).



Study Abroad in Buenos Aires

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center

  • Very cost-effective U of M program

  • Offers four 3000-level courses:

    • ARGN 3015: Spanish Composition & Communication

    • ARGN 3001: Colloquial Spanish

    • ARGN 3009: Argentina: Stereotypes & Identity

    • ARGN 3104W: Introduction to the Study of Hispanic Literatures

  • Homestay housing option increases your language skills and your connection with local culture

  • Fall or spring semester, academic year, winter break or summer.


IES Argentina - Buenos Aires

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center (and University Study)

  • Three different tracks in this flexible program can accommodate students at any level of Spanish proficiency from beginner to advanced

  • No Pre-approval is granted for classes

  • All three tracks offer language courses, a wide range of area studies courses, and internships and service-learning; the two more advanced tracks also offer access to university courses.

  • Direct enroll option - required for advanced students

  • Instruction in the lower track is in English, in the two more advanced tracks in Spanish. Fall or spring semester, calendar or academic year.


IFSA-Butler Argentina - Buenos Aires or Mendoza

  • Direct enroll with some center based classes

  • Language classes are only three credits - No Pre-approval granted

  • This program combines Spanish language, a program course, and Argentine university courses with local students at one or more of the best universities in Buenos Aires and Mendoza, Argentina.

  • A research option is available. The summer program includes Spanish language and one or two area studies courses.

  • Instruction is in Spanish; two year of college-level Spanish required.



CIEE Brazil - Sao Paulo, Salvador de Bahia

Pontifiicia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (available through CIEE Brazil)

Universidade da Bahia (available through CIEE Brazil)

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center

  • Both of these programs combine CIEE language and Brazilian studies courses with regular courses at the host university.

  • São Paulo is the country’s largest metropolis and its economic engine; Salvador da Bahia is the pulsating capital of Afro-Brazilian culture.

  • Five-week pre-session to strengthen your Portuguese (or convert your Spanish into Portuguese) precedes 15-week semester of language and special program courses plus university option.

  • Instruction is in Portuguese. Fall semester, spring semester, academic or calendar year.


IES Chile

  • Location: Santiago, Chile

  • Program Type: Study Abroad Center

  • Choose either from a wide variety of courses at the IES Center or enroll in regular university courses at the Universidad de Chile and the Pontifícia Universidad Católica.

  • Take advantage of a service-learning project in connection with any of the program courses.

  • Internships available in business, the arts, and governmental agencies.

  • Taught in Spanish by Chilean faculty.


IFSA-Butler Chile

  • Program Type: Study Abroad Center

  • Program Term: Fall Semester, Spring Semester, Academic or Calendar Year

  • Combine intensive language and culture courses, university courses, and specially designed program courses while living in Santiago.

  • Choose from several university study programs.

  • Courses are taught in Spanish.


CIEE Chile

  • Universities in Santiago or Valparaíso

  • Program type: University Study (and Study Abroad Center)

  • The CIEE Santiago and Valparaíso programs give access to four of Chile’s top universities, three in Santiago and one in Valparaíso. On the CIEE website look under Liberal Arts programs.

  • In addition to regular university courses, participants take an advanced Spanish language course plus at least one other center course.

  • Instruction is in Spanish; 6 prior semesters of prior Spanish are required. Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.

Dominican Republic

CIEE Dominican Republic

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center

  • The language and area studies program, based at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in Santiago, the Dominican Republic’s second city, has a strong focus on Caribbean studies.

  • Participants also have the option if a service-learning placement and/or enrollment in one or two university courses

  • Instruction is in Spanish, four prior semesters of language study are required.

  • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.


Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID)

  • Program Type: Field Study

  • Program Term: Fall Semester, Spring Semester, Academic Year

  • Location: Quito and other locations, Ecuador

  • MSID offers credit through coursework, research, field placements and internships. Work along-side host nationals on development projects or with agencies working in their area of interest.

  • MSID internships and research projects are related to development, and are grassroots-immersing you directly and personally in the social realities of the poorer strata of the population.

  • Past examples includes opportunities to work in schools, public health and nutrition, family planning, youth work, and many more.

  • Two years of College-level Spanish required.


Intensive Spanish in Ecuador

  • Location Type: Quito, Ecuador

  • Program Type: Study center program with a focus on language acquisition

  • Study the Spanish language while you explore Ecuador, a country known for its remarkable geographic and biological diversity.

  • Winter Break, Summer Session

Universidad San Francisco de Quito Ecuador

  • Exchange

  • Program type: University Study

  • USFQ offers an American Studies minor, some of whose courses are delivered in English.

  • Most instruction is in Spanish; at least two years of prior language study or equivalent required. Academic year only.


Language and Culture in Mexico

  • Intensive Spanish language program that allows you to complete one semester’s worth of Spanish in three or four weeks.

  • Convenient terms offered over winter break, May and summer

  • Small class size (maximum of 5 students)

  • Courses offered at the beginning, intermediate & advanced level (1004 - 3015)

  • Affordable program fee that includes credits, housing and all meals

  • Housing with local host families increases cultural immersion      

  • Medical Spanish (1044) course available during May term·   


CIEE Mexico - Guanajuato

  • Learn about Mexico from multiple perspectives while living in the colonial city of Guanajuato, a city known for its spectacularly colorful and gravity-defying architecture.

  • 4 semesters college-level Spanish language required.

  • Fall Semester, Spring Semester, Academic Year, Summer




  • Program type: University Study (and Study Abroad Center)

  • Lima-based PUCP is Peru’s oldest private university. Program participants take university courses plus 2 required center courses.

  • Instruction is in Spanish; five prior semesters of Spanish required.

  • Fall or spring semester, calendar or academic year.


Study Abroad in Venezuela

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center

  • Very cost-effective language and area studies program set in the Andean university city of Mérida.

  • Wide range of courses, some on Venezuela, others on Latin America, in social sciences, humanities, Spanish language, business, intercultural communication, environmental studies.

  • Most courses taught in Spanish, some in English. No prior language required for admission to program. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or either or both of two 6-week summer terms.





Study Abroad in Montpellier, France

  • Program type: University Study (there is also a Study Abroad Center track)

  • The program in Montpellier can be an attractive option for students wishing to work on their French and Spanish or Portuguese simultaneously.

  • Paul Valéry is among France’s strongest universities in Portuguese and Spanish.

  • Two-track program permitting a mix of special language and culture courses and regular Université Paul Valéry courses in a proportion suitable to each student’s language proficiency.

  • Instruction is in French; one year of prior French required for center track, two for university track. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or a summer intensive language program.


Language and Culture in Portugal

  • This program, based at the University of Coimbra - one of the oldest universities in Europe, offers Portuguese language and culture courses designed for foreign students

  • Students with sufficient language proficiency may also be able to take one or two university courses alongside Portuguese students.

  • Spring semester of academic year.


Study & Intern in Toledo

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center

  • U of M language/humanities/social science program located in Spain’s former capital and one of Europe’s most picturesque cities—a living museum of medieval and Renaissance architecture.

  • Instruction is in Spanish; four prior semesters of Spanish are required.

  • Students have the opportunity to take courses at the local university, la Universidad Castilla-La Mancha, with native Spanish students.

  • The semester program offers internships as well as a service learning course emphasizing immigration in Spain.

  • Fall or spring semester, academic year, May term, or summer.


CIEE Spain

  • Program Type: Study Abroad Center

  • Program Term: Fall Semester, Spring Semester, Summer Term, Academic Year

  • A variety of available program tracks and course offerings are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of students.

  • The Liberal arts track offers coursework in English and Spanish for students with beginner to advanced Spanish language skills.

  • Based on language level, students enroll in CIEE electives and courses for foreign students at a University.


Explore these and many more opportunities using the Learning Abroad Center program search.

Additional Options to Consider

Global Seminars

  • 3-week, 3-credit programs at the 3000-level led by University of Minnesota faculty and staff over Winter Break or May Session.

  • Fulfill Liberal Education requirements, or earn major/minor credit.

  • A Global Seminar early in your undergraduate experience can give you plenty of time to follow up with a longer study abroad experience later.

  • Explore an exciting location and topic! Check out this year's offerings!


Work, Intern, Volunteer, and Research Opportunities

  • Don’t confine your search to study abroad; check out non-credit online WIV or teaching English first step modules.

  • An alternative or complement to study abroad. Consider combining a WIV experience with study abroad.

  • Explore new interests or gain experience related to your field of study.

  • Consider paid and unpaid opportunities offered throughout the year at locations around the globe.


Student Project for Amity Among Nations (SPAN)

  • Program type: Field Study

  • Summer research abroad preceded by spring semester preparation and followed by fall semester project write-up; ideal vehicle for overseas research toward a senior project.

  • Faculty adviser helps students prepare, accompanies each group during the summer, and assists as the thesis is written.

  • Locations vary from year to year; two to four destinations offered annually. No language prerequisite for most sites. Summer.

Student Experiences

Explore how other students built study abroad into their major:

Craig C. Studies Physiology and Spanish in Ecuador
Through the year-long MSID program in Ecuador, Craig C. was able to complete an internship within his Physiology major while also receiving credits towards his Spanish major.

Carrie G. Studies and Interns in South America
First with the MSID program in Ecuador, then on an internship with the State Department in Peru, and finally spending a year in studying in Santiago, Chile, Carrie has traveled extensively in South America. She is now pursuing a career as a U.S. Foreign Service officer, hoping to become an ambassador someday!

Alice S. Studies Development in Ecuador
Alice, a sociology major, lived in Ecuador for the academic year, and spent time both in Quito and the Cotacachi area in rural Ecuador. She gained experience working with a non-governmental organization, and studying culture and development.

Tavia Travels to Toledo
Tavia enjoyed spending a semester in Spain, studying Spanish. Her favorite part is the lifestyles Spainards live.

Leslie L. Studies Spanish in Spain
Leslie is a sociology and accounting major who spent six weeks studying in Toledo, completing requirements for her Spanish minor. Because of her trip, she is now interested in adding an international dimension to her career.

John W. Studies Spanish in Spain
John studied in Toledo for a semester, where he completed his Spanish minor requirements. He also interned as a columnist for Toledo's newspaper, La Tribuna.