Romance Languages Major, B.A.–Hispanic Literatures and Cultures

Department of Romance Studies

238 Dey Hall, CB# 3170

(919) 962-2062

Gosia Lee, Undergraduate Advisor for Hispanic Literatures and Cultures and Hispanic Studies minor

Abel Muñoz, Study Abroad

Samuel Amago, Chair

Glynis Cowell, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Spanish, the world’s third largest language and second in terms of native speakers, is spoken by nearly 500 million people across the globe. The over 50 million Hispanics in the United States have become the fastest-growing social and political segment in North America. Because of its prominence, learning to communicate in Spanish can be essential for those entering the global economic market and numerous professions.

Spanish studies at UNC–Chapel Hill thrives on innovative literary, linguistic, and theoretical approaches to the Spanish-speaking world, and includes the study of indigenous, Afro-descendant, Asian, and other cultures. Students obtain well-grounded and comprehensive critical knowledge of the literatures, languages, and cultures of Spain and the Americas, often through collaborative research with a faculty member. Qualifying students have the opportunity to pursue an honor’s thesis with one of our faculty members.

Department Programs



Graduate Programs

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will acquire competence in the practice and analysis of Romance languages together with a critical knowledge of the written, oral, and visual traditions of their origin and diaspora. Our faculty promotes interdisciplinary connections and incorporates the study of literature, culture, theory, and history across the curriculum. Through coursework that emphasizes language acquisition, rhetoric, composition, and written and oral expression, our majors receive sustained personalized training in critical thinking and close reading. Upon completion of the program in Romance languages, students should be able to:

  • Participate in conversations on concrete, social, academic, and professional topics
  • Speak in detail about experiences and events in a variety of time frames and moods
  • Represent points of view in discussions, both oral and written
  • Deliver well-organized presentations on concrete, academic and professional topics
  • Write on a wide variety of general interest, professional, and academic topics
  • Follow narrative, informational, and descriptive speech on concrete, academic and professional topics
  • Understand and discuss texts representing a variety of topics and genres


In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Gateway Course
SPAN 262Introduction to Spanish and Spanish American Literature for Heritage Learners (for heritage speakers)3
or SPAN 260 Introduction to Spanish and Spanish American Literature
Core Requirements
SPAN 326Spanish Grammar and Composition for Heritage Speakers (for heritage speakers)3
or SPAN 300 Spanish Composition and Grammar Review
Two cultural diversity courses chosen from:6
Trans-Atlantic Cultural Topics
Iberian Cultural Topics
Latin@ American Cultural Topics
Two literature courses:6
Studies in Spanish Literature
Studies in Latin American Literature
Three specialized courses chosen from:9
Hispanic Film
Introduction to Translation
Mesoamerica through Its Native Literatures
Spanish of the United States
Aesthetics of Violence in Latina/o American Fiction
Studies in Spanish Drama
Studies in Spanish and Spanish American Poetry
Studies in Spanish Prose
Medieval Spanish Literature
Spanish Renaissance
Contemporary Spanish American Prose Fiction
Literature and Politics in Central America
Eroticism in Contemporary Latin American Literature
Narratives of the Mexican Revolution
Outside Cuba: Diasporic Literature and Culture
Creative Writing in Spanish
Research for Advanced Students
Undergraduate Seminar in Language and Linguistics
Undergraduate Seminar in Literature and Culture
Languages of Spain I
Languages of Spain II
Colonial and 19th-Century Spanish American Literature
Modernist and Contemporary Spanish American Literature
Cervantes and the Quijote
Women in Hispanic Literature
Literary and Cultural History of the Spanish Language
Indigenous Literatures and Cultures of the Américas
The Spanish Comedia of the Golden Age
Total Hours27

Note: SPAN 401, SPAN 402, SPAN 404, SPAN 405, and SPAN 601 do not count toward the major.

Special Opportunities in Romance Studies


The departmental honors program is open to any qualified major with a cumulative grade point average of 3.3 or higher and 3.5 or higher in their major courses. Eligible honors candidates will formulate a topic and select an appropriate faculty member to supervise the writing of an honors thesis. Specific coursework for the major with honors consists of enrollment in the honors thesis courses in the language of the major emphasis.

Honors Thesis in French
and Honors Thesis in French
Honors Thesis
and Honors Thesis in Italian
Honors Thesis
and Honors Thesis in Portuguese
Honors Thesis
and Honors Thesis in Spanish

691H is taken in the fall semester of the senior year and 692H is taken in the spring semester. FREN, ITAL, PORT, SPAN 398 Undergraduate Seminar may be substituted for the research course if the subject of the seminar is central to the research project chosen. In the 692H course the thesis will be completed and the student examined by the supervisor and two additional faculty members, to be agreed upon by the student and supervisor. The director of honors, in consultation with the examiners, will recommend that the student who has defended the thesis graduate with honors, highest honors, or with course credit. Courses numbered 691H or 398 may count toward the eight courses for the major, but 692H may not. Students who intend to graduate in December should adjust the scheduling of these courses in order to allow for completion of the honors project in December. Students meeting the required grade point averages should contact the undergraduate advisor for their language. For detailed information on the B.A. with honors, visit the department's Web site.

Out-of-Class Language Experience

Students may enrich their cultural and language experience by applying to the Spanish House, a section of Craige North residence hall. Equipped with a lounge and a kitchen, the house has space for eight male and 16 female students. Students make an effort to speak only Spanish while in residence.

The department offers credit-bearing service-learning opportunities through SPAN 293. This course satisfies the experiential education (EE) General Education requirement and is always connected to a specific course.

Students also find opportunities to speak Spanish and meet native Spanish speakers in an informal weekly Tertulia. Additional activities such as lectures, receptions, and films are organized by the department and student organizations such as CHispA (Carolina Hispanic Association). Numerous volunteer opportunities using Spanish are available in the local community through CHispA, Campus Y, UNC Hospitals, and other organizations.

For further opportunities to speak French, students are encouraged to participate in the weekly meeting of the Table Française and become members of the French club, les Francophiles. Departmental lectures and film series are also offered.

Students wishing to speak Italian may participate in a weekly conversation table, La Tavola Italiana. They may also attend departmental lectures and film series and participate in the Italian Literary Contest.

Students who wish to practice Portuguese can meet weekly for the “bate-papo” (chat).

Study Abroad

The Study Abroad Office sponsors many year-long, semester-long, and summer programs appropriate for students of the Romance languages and has special arrangements with the Department of Romance Studies for the UNC in Montpellier, UNC in Seville, and Florence programs. Students from UNC–Chapel Hill and from other institutions may earn up to 30 semester hours of undergraduate credit in these programs, which are open to qualified undergraduates regardless of academic major. Students may satisfy up to 50 percent of their major or minor coursework abroad.

General inquiries concerning any of these programs should be addressed to the Study Abroad Office, CB# 3130, FedEx Global Education Center, (919) 962-7002.

Undergraduate Awards


Students have the opportunity to be inducted into Pi Delta Phi, the national French honor society. Those with outstanding records in French are recommended as candidates for the Jacques Hardré Award, which is given to the best graduating senior in French; it includes a cash award.


Students are nominated for membership in Gamma Kappa Alpha, the Italian honor society, by undergraduate instructors. The society recognizes “outstanding scholastic performance in the fields of Italian language and literature” and encourages students “to acquire a greater interest in, and a deeper understanding of, Italian culture.” The Kimberly Kyser Award for Excellence in Italian is awarded to the most outstanding student in Italian and includes a cash prize.


Each year the department awards the Camões Prize to the outstanding student in Portuguese during that year. The prize carries a monetary award made possible by a donation from the Gulbenkian Foundation.


Students have the opportunity to be inducted into Sigma Delta Pi, the national Spanish honor society. Those with outstanding records in Spanish are recommended as candidates for the Stoudemire Award, which is given to the best graduating senior in Spanish and includes a cash prize. The Thomas Henry Wilson, Sr. Award provides an undergraduate with a major or minor in Spanish support to conduct research during the summer in a Spanish-speaking country.