Iberian and Latin American Cultures Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate offerings at the Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures (ILAC) provide students with different ways of focusing their learning. The Department has a longstanding commitment to broadening the study of Spanish to Portuguese and Catalan, often setting these distinct, yet interrelated domains into conversations. It similarly broadens the scope of what constitutes literature, often narrowly conceived as text-centric, to cinema and visual culture writ large.

Seeking to provide contextualized knowledge, the Department balances an emphasis on literary studies with a diverse set of approaches to cultural and social issues. Upon completion of our programs, students will have had the opportunity to examine, assimilate, and reflect upon timeless works by such giants as Miguel de Cervantes, Luís de Camões, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Gertrudiz Gomez de Avellaneda, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Rosario Castellanos, Federico García Lorca, or Pedro Almodóvar. They will also carry with them the cultural and linguistic competence to participate as locals in the rich cultural life of vast swaths of the world.

We grant undergraduate degrees in Iberian and Latin American Cultures and Spanish. The former emphasizes comparative study across periods, regions, and neighboring languages; the latter focuses on that one language, its literature, and contexts. In addition, many students earn minors in Spanish or Portuguese, which provide capacious introductions to the cultural production in those respective languages. We are the only academic unit within Stanford humanities that focuses on the languages, literatures, and cultures of the Iberian Peninsula from the medieval period to the present, of the Spanish-speaking communities of Latin America from the colonial period to the present, of the Portuguese-speaking communities throughout the world, and the Spanish-speaking communities of the United States. Our different major and minor options allow students to attain deep cultural expertise across these areas and/or to focus on one or two of them during their years of study. For detailed information on the areas of research and teaching of the ILAC faculty, click here.



The major in Spanish focuses on that one language, its literature and contexts. This program is designed for students who want to move towards fluency in reading, listening, speaking, and writing Spanish while developing a contextualized understanding of the language through linguistic and cultural study. This degree emphasizes the critical use of the language from a global perspective. Spanish appears on the official transcript and diploma. The major in Spanish requires 60 units of coursework. In addition, all coursework must be done in Spanish. If a class is taught in a language other than Spanish, then written work (e.g., final papers) must be completed in Spanish.

Iberian and Latin American Studies (ILAC)

The major in ILAC emphasizes comparative study across periods, regions, and neighboring languages. This program is designed for students who wish to engage in a transitional and cross-linguistic study of Iberian and Latin American literatures and cultures. Courses emphasize critical thinking and close textual analysis, with an emphasis on the deep and often understudied intersections between literature written in Catalan, Portuguese, and Spanish from the medieval period to the present day. Iberian and Latin American Cultures appears on the official transcript and diploma. The major in Iberian and Latin American Cultures requires 60 units of coursework.

In their senior year, students will complete a Capstone project under the supervision of a faculty member and participate in an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) through the language center to assess their speaking ability in Spanish. The Proficiency Notation appears on the official Stanford transcript and provides evidence of both oral and written advanced-level language proficiency. In addition, successful students will also receive an official certificate from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). More information can be found here.

Honors Program

The department’s honors option offers motivated Spanish and ILAC majors the opportunity to write a senior honors thesis. For more information, please read the description of the program here.


The minors represent abbreviated versions of the major. It is designed for students who are unable to pursue the major but seek an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Iberian literature and culture.

Spanish minor

The minor in Spanish is for students who want to combine the acquisition of linguistic competence with the study of the literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. The minor introduces students to rigorous scholarship on Spanish-speaking communities and cultures around the world, while providing linguistic and literary competency commensurate with a secondary area of study.

Portuguese minor

The minor in Portuguese is for students who want to combine the acquisition of linguistic competence with the study of the literatures and cultures of the Lusophone world.

While the department’s core courses are taught in Spanish, students may choose from an array of literature, culture, and intellectual history courses in English for their electives. Courses taught in English offer those in the process of acquiring the language the opportunity to study Iberian masterworks and historical and cultural moments in translation. They frequently also provide the possibility for students who wish to read and discuss texts in Spanish to meet in separate sections to do so.

Courses taken through Stanford Overseas Programs, in the Digital Humanities, as part of Stanford’s Education as Self-Fashioning or Structured Liberal Education programs, or in other departments may be counted toward the minor pending approval by the Chair of Undergraduate Studies.


Declaring involves a few steps. First, complete the declaration worksheet for your major or minor. Remember that this form is simply a way to begin the conversation with your advisor and that you will not be bound to any electives that you initially choose. Next, meet with your advisor, discuss, and agree on a potential plan. When the declaration worksheet is complete, you can then declare on Axess. Finally, you must submit the approved declaration worksheet to the Undergraduate Student Services Officer for the DLCL.


Our students often find relevant offerings in the following residential program, community center, and areas studies center respectively, Casa ZapataEl Centro Chicano y Latino, and the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University. Students typically start their journey in ILAC by enrolling in Language classes at the pioneering Stanford Language Center.

The Green Research Library collection included more than 400,000 volumes of dynamic resources with historical strengths on Brazil, and modern Mexico and Chile.

The Bing Overseas Studies Program centers in Santiago de Chile and Madrid, Spain, are the ideal complement to an ILAC education. Students can spend one quarter or more in these Centers, among other options for international education available in consultation with the Chair of Undergraduate Studies. Students who plan to travel abroad early in their Stanford careers can make the most of preparing for their trip, and also of furthering their knowledge upon their return, through taking cognate ILAC classes at the appropriate level. These courses count towards the 60 unit major. Detailed information, including program requirements and curricular offerings, may be obtained from the Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) websites for Santiago de Chile and Madrid, Spain, or at the Overseas Studies office in Sweet Hall.

Ximena Briceño

Ximena Briceño
Chair of Undergraduate Studies (Autumn)
Pigott Hall, Bldg 260, Rm 202
xbriceno [at] stanford.edu

Nicole T. Hughes

Nicole Hughes
Chair of Undergraduate Studies (Winter, Spring)
Pigott Hall, Bldg 260, Rm 227
nthughes [at] stanford.edu

Judy Nugent
Undergraduate Student Services Officer
Pigott Hall, Bldg 260, Rm 128
(650) 723-1967
dlclstudentservices [at] stanford.edu