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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Languages & Literatures


Programs of Study



Spanish in the World

  • Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language. It is estimated that nearly 500 million people speak Spanish as their native language.
  • Spanish is primarily spoken in Latin America, followed by the United States, and then Spain. In total, 70 countries have a measurable Spanish-speaking population.
  • Spanish is the third most commonly used language on the Internet.

Spanish in the United States

  • The United States holds the second largest population of Spanish speakers. It is projected that the U.S. will have even more Spanish-speakers than Mexico by 2050.
  • Spanish is the most popular second language of native speakers of English. This has made Spanish the most widely taught language in the United States.
  • About 52 million Americans can trace their ancestry to Spanish-speaking countries, with 40 million speaking Spanish as their native language.

Studying Language and Culture in Spanish

  • Speakers of Spanish represent a significant force of competition in areas such as international studies, communication, law, education, medicine, business and psychology. In an increasingly interconnected world, this can result in more career opportunities for Spanish-speakers.
  • Studying Spanish helps develop a critical understanding of the worldview of other cultural groups, which allows for meaningful intercultural communication, at home and abroad.
  • Knowing the Spanish language gives people access to a wealth of literature produced by world-renowned writers and thinkers.


Students of the Spanish program at the University of Denver can learn from literature specialists and experienced language teachers. In addition to becoming proficient in the language, students will develop an interdisciplinary and critical perspective of key topics in the intellectual and cultural history of the Spanish-speaking world.

Spanish language courses at DU focus on advancing and refining students' written and oral communication skills.

Upper-division courses are more specialized. These innovative courses discuss topics such as human rights, racial and ethnic identity, and gender and social change. Courses may be focused on literature, travel writing, film studies and creative writing, among others.

DU students can choose to focus on one or more areas of study: Latin America, Spain and Latino studies. Students can also participate in the Internship in Spanish program, as well as study abroad opportunities around the globe.

Graduates have found satisfying careers in education, public relations, social work, government service, international business, law, medicine and other fields.

Advising and Placement

If you have never studied Spanish before, register for SPAN 1001.  If you have studied Spanish before, you must take the online placement test on the CWLC's website before registering. Make sure to keep a copy of your score and contact an advisor if you have questions. If you speak Spanish at home, grew up speaking Spanish, or think you might be a Heritage Speaker, please see the Spanish for Heritage/Bilingual Speakers section below.

If you are a Spanish major, your advisor is assigned when you bring your Change of Major form to the department office (Sturm 391) to be signed.  Contact us at [email protected] if you are not sure who your advisor is.

Spanish minors and all other students interested in studying Spanish should contact the department to be directed to the appropriate advisor. A list of our Spanish advisors for Spring 2019 can be found here.

If you are interested in study abroad opportunities in Spanish-speaking countries, please contact one of the following advisors:

Latin America: For sites in Argentina, Perú, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, contact Prof. Paula Adamo, [email protected].For sites in Chile, Ecuador, México, Costa Rica, or Misc. Latin American themed courses in other parts of the world contact Prof. Chad Leahy, [email protected].

Spain: For sites in Madrid or Bilbao: contact Prof. Alicia Barrón-López, [email protected].For all other sites in Spain contact Prof. Sergio Macías, Sergio.Mací[email protected].

Spanish for Heritage/bilingual Speakers

If you speak Spanish at home with parents, siblings or extended family members, and have personal ties to a Spanish-speaking community, please complete the Spanish Heritage Language Assessment before enrolling in Spanish for Heritage Speakers (SPAN 2200).

If you have significant experience studying abroad or have completed part of your education in a Spanish-speaking country, please contact Dr. Lina Reznicek-Parrado at [email protected].

NOTE: If you place into the Spanish for Heritage/Bilingual Speaker course, you will register for SPAN 2200 during the Winter Quarter of 2020. Please plan accordingly.

For more information on this program, click here.

Take the Spanish for Heritage/Bilingual Speakers Placement Assessment