Spanish & Portuguese Language Placement

For more than 100 years, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese has been one of the core strengths of the University of Arizona. Now one of the largest such departments in the country, it offers students the opportunity to perfect their language skills to communicate effectively in both written and spoken Spanish, while also imparting the analytical skills necessary for broader academic study in culture, literature and linguistics. 

Students in Spanish and Portuguese experience small classes and the opportunity for research, service learning, career internship opportunities, individualized advising and a variety of study abroad programs in Spain, Chile, Brazil, and Costa Rica, designed for immersion language learning. 

Did You Know?

  • Spanish is the most popular language studied at the University of Arizona outside of English, and it is the most common language used to fulfill the Second Language Requirement .
  • In the United States, Spanish is growing faster than any other non-English language. According to a Pew Research Center report, an estimated 38 million people in the United States speak Spanish as their first language. 
  • The official language in nine countries, Portuguese has the sixth most native speakers in the world, at 220 million people. 


If you've studied Spanish previously (whether in high school, another college or university, or by yourself), let us know! We'll work with you to determine the best place for you to continue your study of Spanish at the University of Arizona. Incoming freshmen and transfer students may take the Spanish Placement exam as part of their NextSteps.

If you grew up in a Spanish-speaking household, we provide an alternate set of courses for Heritage Learners. Heritage learners are students who have been exposed to Spanish in their homes or communities from a young age. As a consequence of that early exposure, they can understand and/or speak the language and have a personal connection to it. The Spanish for Heritage Learners program at the University of Arizona offers classes for every level, from beginning to advanced.

If you have questions about placement or about where to begin, please schedule an appointment with the Undergraduate Advisor for Spanish and Portuguese using the button below.

Schedule an Appointment


New to the Language?

If you've never studied Spanish or Portuguese before, you will want to start with SPAN 101 (placement exam results still required) or PORT 101. Most Spanish and Portuguese courses are offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer sessions so you can begin your language sequence at any time.


SPAN 101 and 102 complete the first year of study, and SPAN 201 and 202 fulfill the second. After SPAN 202, students can sign up for SPAN 251 which is an intermediate course that is designed to improve reading and writing strategies and prepare students for upper division classes.

For questions, contact the Interim Director of the Basic Language Program
Cassidy Reis Ph.D. 


Begin with PORT 101 and 102. After PORT 102, proceed with PORT 325 and PORT 425 which prepare students to take future classes in literature (PORT 350, 401), culture (PORT 430, 463) and linguistics (PORT 440, 452). 

If you already speak Spanish and would like to learn Portuguese, you should begin your sequence with PORT 305: Portuguese for Spanish Speakers. After PORT 305, continue on with the normal sequence of PORT 325 and 425.

For questions, contact the Director of the Portuguese Language Program 
Professor Ana M. Carvalho


You can also check out what's offered now or in the future by checking out our courses for undergraduates and graduates!

Questions? Contact the Undergraduate Advisor for Spanish and Portuguese.

More Options

Intensive Courses

We also offer intensive courses in Spanish. SPAN 205 is the equivalent of SPAN 101 and 102. SPAN 206 is the equivalent of SPAN 201 and 202. These courses are recommeded for highly motivated students and/or those with experience in another Romance language.

For students taking language and culture classes at the 100 & 200 levels, we created the Arizona in Costa Rica Study Abroad which is an intensive Spanish language and culture immersion program in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Students at the beginning and intermediate levels of Spanish are encouraged to take advantage of this great opportunity to live, explore nature, grow intellectually, obtain a greater understanding of the Hispanic world, and improve their Spanish pronunciation by studying in a total Spanish immersion program abroad. 

There is also an intensive, 6-week Portuguese language and culture program in Fortaleza, Brazil. Students will take a placement exam in Brazil and enroll in either PORT 397R, 497R or 597R. In addition to the daily classes, the program also includes weekly lectures and films on modern Brazil, as well as visits to nearby cultural sites and two overnight field trips. Students will be taught by Brazilian faculty at the host institution, a local language school. Learn more at Arizona in Brazil

Online Courses

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese offers fully online courses. These courses do not require that the student comes to campus for any portion of the class. Students who enroll in online courses will be expected to demonstrate good time management, self-motivation, basic computing experience (email, uploading/downloading documents, powerpoint, virtual chat and video recording) and collaboration with a virtual partner.