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Madrid Spanish Studies Program

The program offers a semester of study and cultural immersion in Spain’s capital.

Program Curriculum

Students enroll in one of the following:

  • Level I: Intensive Spanish Language Studies, for students at the intermediate level
  • Level II: Advanced Spanish Studies, for students with proficiency in the language
  • Level III: University Studies Program, a direct university enrollment program for exceptional students with strong Spanish-language skills (Spring only)

Level I: Intensive Spanish Language Studies

This level offers an intensive language and cultural immersion program, held at the Instituto Internacional en España. Academic options are available for students who have completed second-, third-, or fourth-semester college-level Spanish, or the equivalent, prior to participation.

Courses are taught exclusively in Spanish. The grammar portion of the language courses meets six hours a week and includes oral and written exercises as well as reading and comprehension. The oral drill and conversation portion, taught by Instituto Internacional staff who are native speakers of Spanish, also meets six hours a week. Students strive for competence in pronunciation and vocabulary aided by audiovisual instruction and intensive drills. In both portions, evaluation is based on weekly oral testing as well as on midterm and final exams.

Download a description of Level I.

Level I Required Courses

All students take LS 241, a Spanish Civilization course. Depending on prior coursework or test scores, students are enrolled in one of the following sequences, for a total of four courses:

  • CAS LS 211/212/303/241 (Level IB)
  • CAS LS 212/303/304/241 (Level IC)
  • CAS LS 303/304/241/a course from the BU Madrid Level II offerings (Level ID)


CAS LS 211 Third-Semester Spanish (4 credits)

(Prerequisite: two semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent, or placement exam results.) Review and practice of the structures of Spanish. Use of spoken language in conversation. Readings on Hispanic civilization. Writing exercises involving complex grammatical and syntactical patterns.

CAS LS 212 Fourth-Semester Spanish (4)

(Prerequisite: three semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent, or placement exam results.) Further review of the structures of Spanish. Intensive practice of spoken language, different styles and levels of Spanish through recorded materials. More advanced readings from Hispanic culture with frequent compositions.

CAS LS 241 Spanish Civilization (4)

(Prerequisite: two semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent, or placement exam results.) An introduction to Spanish civilization with special emphasis on history, art, and literature. The course begins in English and shifts gradually into Spanish as students’ fluency increases. Course content is enriched by visits to the Prado Museum, Segovia, Toledo, and other sites. Evaluation is based on three exams and/or papers.

CAS LS 303/304 Composition and Conversation in Spanish I/II (4)

(Prerequisite: four semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent, or placement exam results.) Development of skills in spoken and written language. Grammar review, vocabulary building, and regular compositions. (Students who have completed CAS LS 300, 309, or a more advanced college-level language course may not receive s for CAS LS 303; students who have taken CAS LS 309 may not receive credit for CAS LS 303 or 304.) Students with four semesters of college Spanish can enroll in the sequence for 8 credits and also enroll in LS 241 and one course from the Madrid II program.

Level II: Advanced Spanish Studies

Level II offers students the opportunity to complement language study with liberal arts courses at the Instituto Internacional en España.

Level II is for advanced Spanish students. All students should provide their academic advisors with information on course offerings. Students should also confirm in advance with their academic advisors which courses must be taken for major, minor, and departmental requirements, and which courses may be taken for elective credit.

When Level II students arrive in Madrid, they will make their final course selections in consultation with the Boston University resident director. All Instituto courses meet three hours per week and normally require at least one paper and a final exam.

The following is a list of courses that have been offered by Boston University over the past several years. Because course offerings tend to change on a yearly basis, some of the courses listed may not be available every semester. Likewise, additional courses not listed here may be offered.

Download a description of Level II.

Level II Instituto Courses

Language and culture courses are offered at the 300-level. The literature courses are offered at the 400-level.

Language & Literature courses


Advanced Language and Composition (4)

(Prerequisite: LS 303: Fifth-Semester Spanish or the equivalent.) The objective is to develop the four skills of language: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. The class is geared toward advanced students who have taken grammar courses but need to practice their ability to communicate. An emphasis is placed on questions of sociocultural adequacy and language precision, along with grammatical instruction. Bordón. Syllabus

Art in the Museums of Madrid (4)

Spanish painting in relation to its Flemish and Italian antecedents. Topics include “Primitive Spaniards,” El Greco, Baroque painting of the 17th century (Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo, etc.), Goya, 19th century (el Casón del buen Retiro), and 20th century (Centro Cultural Reina Sofía). Students are required to visit other museums in Madrid and special expositions in conjunction with this course. Margaretten. Syllabus

Cervantes and Don Quixote (4)

(Fall only.) Presents the major work of Cervantes and examines it first as a literary work in itself, secondly in terms of its historical era and the life of Cervantes, and finally as an expression of Spanish culture in general. Staff. Syllabus

Contemporary Spanish Novel (4)

Four texts will be examined as a reflection of the language, life, and concerns of Spaniards in the 20th century. The historical, social, and cultural content of each text is explained and special attention is given to language. The course has both a literary and linguistic dimension. Castillo. Syllabus

Contemporary Spanish Politics (4)

Studies the political history of Spain in the last 80 years. Special attention is given to the eras of the Second Republic, Francoism, and the transition to democracy, all of which are fundamental to the understanding of contemporary Spain. Maldonado. Syllabus

CAS HI 255/LS 340: History of Spain: 711-1898 (4)

A survey of Spanish history from 711 to 1898, examining the political, social, economic, and cultural events that shaped Spain in its modern form. Aims to improve students’ understanding of Spain in a European context. Includes field trips around Madrid. Pérez-Juez. Syllabus

Spain and the European Union

Europe in the post-war world; Spain of Franco in post-war Europe; the configuration of the European community; Franco the dictator and the European community; the integration of democratic Spain into the European community; and Spain and the European Union today. Rodríguez-Cano. Syllabus

Spain and Latin America: Anthropological Perspectives


Spanish Film


Translation Through Film and Literature (4)

This course has two components, one theoretical and the other practical. The theoretical part deals with issues that arise in the translation and adaptation of poetry, prose, literature, technical writing, commercial writing, letters, and journalistic texts. The practical part examines specific topics such as verb tenses, punctuation, idioms, verbal paraphrases, proper names, the use of adjectives, and interjections. Samudio. Syllabus

Women in Spanish Society (4)

Aims to help students understand the role of women in Spanish society from the Middle Ages until the present. The course traces the historical, social, political, economic, religious, and psychological evolution of Spanish women, paying special attention to the conflicts they suffered and the accomplishments they achieved throughout the process. Staff. Syllabus

20th Century Latin American Narrative

Level III: University Studies Program (Spring semester only)

Offered in the spring semester only, Level III is a specialized program for exceptionally well-qualified students who have a strong command of Spanish.

Students in Level III enroll in an advanced-level seminar on contemporary Spain. Program participants then enroll directly in coursework at the UAM by choosing three courses from a wide array of subjects offered at the university. In addition, students participate in semester-long tutorials that assist them with their university coursework.

Download a description of Level III.

Level III Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Courses

Students are required to submit additional application materials for the UAM following admission to the Boston University program. Admission to the UAM is not guaranteed.

Students may choose from a wide variety of subjects:
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Art History
  • Cinema
  • Economics
  • History of Philosophy
  • Science
  • Spanish Language
  • Spanish Philosophy
  • Latin American Literature
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Spanish Literature

(This is a very limited sample list of course offerings at UAM. For a complete list of courses, visit the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid website.) Because of differences in the Spanish academic year, coursework at the UAM is available only to academic-year and spring-semester students.

Program Details

  • Level I: Intensive Spanish Language Studies
    • Minimum of second-semester college-level Spanish language, or the equivalent
  • Level II: Advanced Language Program
    • Minimum of fifth-semester college-level Spanish language, or the equivalent
  • Level III: University Studies Program (Spring semester only)
    • Minimum of sixth-semester college-level Spanish language, or the equivalent
    • Language screening interviews may be required
  • Admissions requirements for all programs
Program Dates
  • Fall Semester: early September to mid December
  • Spring Semester: mid January to mid May
  • Academic Year: early September to mid May
  • Upon successful completion of the program, students earn sixteen Boston University credits. Students must enroll for a total of sixteen credits.
  • Boston University’s household accommodations facilitate the students’ language acquisition and integration into Spanish society through the daily usage of Spanish.  All Madrid students are placed in Spanish households, where they have their own room and eat meals with their host families. Households represent a wide range of incomes and situations, from an older woman living alone to a professional couple living in the city to a large family with several children.
Application Deadlines
  • Fall Semester & Academic Year: March 15 
  • Spring Semester: October 1

Program Faculty & Staff

The Boston University Madrid Programs are administered by staff in both our Boston and Madrid offices. In Boston, a program manager facilitates the admissions and pre-departure procedures, and maintains contact with students prior to their arrival in Madrid. The Boston office also houses administrative personnel who are responsible for everyday operations. In Madrid, the staff comprises a resident director and administrative, academic, and housing personnel.