What is the Spanish or Portuguese Major?

Studying Spanish or Portuguese provides the knowledge base to study the literary, cultural and linguistic heritages of the Spanish and Portuguese speaking people of the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas. Portuguese is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world with about 200 million speakers spread through five continents. As communication brings nations together, the Spanish language becomes increasingly important in understanding the cultures of Spain, Mexico and all of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Hispanic cultures of the United States. Spanish is the second most-used language in the U.S. and is the fourth or fifth most spoken language in the world.

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Portuguese or Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Spanish are two of several degrees offered by UCSB’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese. The major first develops students’ competence in the spoken and written language. At the advanced level, the majors require completion of courses in language, history of the language, literature, and the cultures and civilizations. At this level, students emphasize language, literature, or a combination of both. Many students complete a double major by combining Spanish or Portuguese with another discipline such as linguistics, comparative literature, political science, history, or economics.


General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Spanish or Portuguese?

Language majors should enjoy using their acquired language skills to communicate ideas, concepts and information. Language majors have interests in world cultures, travel, meeting and becoming part of other cultures. Students in these majors also enjoy the opportunity to read and discuss some of the historical treasures of the great writers, composers and artists of the Iberian Peninsula. Students who have an affinity for language acquisition and want to use their language skills to further their careers in business and other areas have also been successful in these majors.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the Undergraduate Department Advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

American Spanish
Spanish Institutions and Culture
Hispanic Balladry
Culture and History of Spain
Spanish Pronunciations
Studies in Portuguese
Cultural and Civilization of Portugal and Brazil
Luso-Brazilian Cinema

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.


General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be. The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. Some possible career options include:

Communications Specialist
Foreign Exchange Clerk
Tour Guide
United Nations
Travel Agent
International Business
Management Trainee
News Analyst
Foreign Service/Trade
Social Worker
Library Science
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.

See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn


Graduate and Professional Schools

This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

Linguist List
Dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world.

For resources and information on Immigrant Scholarships and Career.

Sources on Study, Work, Internships and Service Abroad
List of directories and sites with international jobs.

Find jobs that require knowledge of the French language here.

SimplyHired Search Engine
Search jobs from company sites, job boards and the web.

CareerBuilder Search Engine
One of the largest online job boards in the U.S.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.


Professional Associations

American Association of Language Specialists
A professional association that represents language specialists working at the international level, either at conferences or in permanent organizations, and determines their qualifications and standards.

American Translators Association
A professional association founded to advance the translation and interpreting professions and foster the professional development of individual translators and interpreters.

Modern Language Association
Founded in 1883 by teachers and scholars, the Modern Language Association promotes the study and teaching of language and literature.

The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese
The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) promotes the study and teaching of the Spanish and Portuguese languages and their corresponding Hispanic, Luso-Brazilian and other related literatures and cultures at all levels of education.

Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies
Promotes interest in the scholarly study of Spain and Portugal through History and related disciplines.

Tomas Rivera Policy Institute
A nonprofit, free-standing research organization that advances critical, insightful thinking on key issues affecting Latino communities through objective, policy-relevant research, and its implications, for the better of the nation.

Pew Hispanic Center
Its mission is to improve the understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos’ growing impact on the entire nation.

United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Provides leadership and support the economic development of Hispanic business communities in the United States.

UCSB Resources