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Fact Sheet:
Advisor: Brita Doyle Language Pre-requisite: none
Minimum GPA: 2.75 Class Level Required for Admission: Second-semester Sophomore standing
Non-AU Students Accepted by AU: YES Language of Instruction: English, Spanish
Language Courses Offered: YES Housing: Homestay
Internship: YES Program Type: Not Direct Enrollment
Program Description:

Is this program right for you?Collage of Students in Madrid

The Intensive Spanish program is designed for students at a beginner to intermediate level of Spanish who are seeking a structured study abroad program focused on the academic theme of Spanish language and culture.  This program is organized by full-time staff members at the AU Center in Madrid who coordinate the coursework, homestays, internships, excursions, and other cultural events. This program runs concurrent with the Iberian Experience program, which is a track of the program for advanced Spanish speakers. So, if you have completed SPAN 253 at AU or higher, you should instead consider the regular Iberian Experience program.

Check out the AU Madrid Center Facebook page and follow what current students are up to in Spain!

Connect with Spain

AU students are lucky to live in the DC area near the Spanish Embassy and DC Consulate.  The Embassy and Consulate is located near George Washington University in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of DC.  There is also a cultural center near 16th and Fuller St., NW where many events are held.  The Embassy often holds events related to Spanish culture that will be of great interest to AU students before and after a study abroad semester in Spain.

SPAIN arts & culture is another great site that features events and exhibits of the most cutting-edge works of international renowned Spanish artists in fields such as design, urban culture, architecture, visual arts, film, performing arts, literature and music.  Take advantage of your DC location by participating in events and soaking up some Spanish culture stateside!


Explore the narrow streets and busy restaurants while studying the Spanish language. This study abroad program will expose you to much more than one European city life as the semester travels to the many other regions of Spain. From Galicia to Granada, Seville to Barcelona it is a semester filled with fun and learning.

The Iberian Experience program offers you a broad range of opportunities to learn about this cultural metropolis and the rest of the country as you will be living, studying and interning in Madrid and traveling to other regions. Through the program's academic curriculum, field trips, internships and other activities, you will be able to immerse yourself in Spain's politics, history, culture and society, an experience that fosters international consciousness and cross-cultural learning. Students earn a full semester of American University (AU) credit.


Old post officeStudents in the intensive Spanish program will complete 8 credits of Spanish language courses during the spring term. Student will take a language placement exam upon arrival in Madrid to determine their appropriate level. Students usually complete a combination of two 4 credit courses.


  • SPAN 136 001 Intensive Beginning Spanish I, 4 credits
  • SPAN 137 002 Intensive Beginning Spanish II, 4 credits
  • SPAN 236 001 Intensive Intermediate Spanish I, 4 credits
  • SPAN 237 002 Intensive Intermediate Spanish II, 4 credits

Students will combine their language courses with one required seminar course and other optional content courses taught in English or Spanish (depending on language level).


SEMINAR - Spanish Culture and Civilization (SISA-363-003 AND SISA-319-001; Taught in English; 4 credits)
The purpose of this Seminar is to examine the development of the cultures and civilizations of Spain and the constructions of the various Spanish national identities.  In the second part of the class, students will study Spain's interactions with the rest of Europe, Northern Africa and Latin America in order to better understand the current realities and complexities of the country. The students will also learn about Spanish art and culture throughout the history of Spain.

ADDITIONAL COURSES (chosen based on individual student interests and academic needs)

Spain & Latin America: The Immigrant Experience (SISA-363, Taught in English; 3 credits)
This course will review the different migratory waves as well as the social, political and economic impacts in both the sending and the receiving societies. It will include comparative case studies related to demographic, sociological, economic, and policy interests.  This course will attempt to examine the exile as a crucial channel of intercommunication among societies by highlighting the importance of the support and solidarity shown in times of social upheaval, economic failure, and/or political instability. Spain and Latin America have significantly changed their position in the world migration system. The study of this shift would allow students to get a better knowledge of both the evolution of Latin American economies and societies and the close interaction between migratory flows and the world economy, as well as the nature of societies engaged in transatlantic contact and the characteristics of both voluntary and involuntary migration.

Spanish and European Art History (ARTH-255, Taught in English; 3 credits)
***This course counts as general education credit in foundational area one, The Creative Arts.***
This course examines the European and Spanish Art from the Middle Ages until the beginnings of the 20th century. Main trends and individual styles will be made clear by analyzing the art pieces and masters of the different periods under study. Classroom teaching combines lectures with visits to important museums in Madrid: Prado Museum and the Thyssem-Bornemisza Museum.

Students in the Intensive Intermediate or Advanced Spanish level of the program are allowed to take a course taught in Spanish from the offering in the Iberian Experience program.

Football GameSpain's Soccer Obsession: Managing and Marketing Soccer Clubs in Spain (KSB-350, Taught in English; 3 credits)
Description: This course will provide students with an understanding of the dynamic and growing field of soccer as a business. Topics addressed include: league formation; team and player promotion; sponsorships and events; media; soccer tourism; and soccer goods and brands. Special emphasis will be placed on the soccer fan/consumer in order to understand various consumer-related issues such as participants versus spectators, research, behavior, segmentation, brand association and loyalty, customer relationship management, and globalization.  Theoretical and practical cases and visits to Spanish soccer clubs and organizations will expose students to the techniques and strategies applicable to the business of soccer.

Students who actively play soccer and wish to play while in Madrid will have the ability to play on several different soccer teams at various levels.

International Relations: Spain & the European Union (SISA-383, Taught in Spanish; 3 credit hours)
The EU has been a successful integration process in the international scene. It is very difficult to classify the outcome of this integration, that despite its scope and influence remains far away from the ordinary citizen. An economic giant but a political dwarf? This course will introduce the key features to understand why there is such a project, how it works, its nature and the main debates revolving around its present and its future. Objectives of the course: To understand the integration process of the EU; To analyze its main institutions and its decision-making process; To consider the main ongoing debates on its structure and functioning; To investigate EU´s main policies; To explore the effects of this integration process on member states and third countries.

Security Issues (SISA-313, Taught in Spanish; 3 credit hours)
This course introduces students to the study of terrorism as a political act. We discuss the difference between state and oppositional terror, but the bulk of the course focuses on terror by non-state actors. The course is divided in three Modules: 1) An Introduction to the concept of terrorism. We compare different theories that attempt to explain why, how and when the opposition uses terror tactics to pursue their goals. The approach to the terrorism is theoretical but also historical. Also we examine the ways that states counter terror. 2) “Basque Country Conflict” Module. Here we study the emergence of the terrorist group ETA during the final stages of Franco. From there, we analyze the evolution of the conflict, the main actors, the ideological foundations, the international context, the behavior of the Spanish governments and the role of victims. We also look at how we have arrived at a scenario of non-violence. 3) “Jihadist terrorism” Module. We study the ideological and political basics of the political Islamism and the Jihadism. From there, we analyze the historical evolution of the Jihadist terrorisms. We also study the Jihadist terrorism in recent decades from Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State (DAESH).

A Long Walk to Equality: Moving Towards Change in Spain (WGSS-350, Taught in Spanish; 3 credits)
A comprehensive course which investigates gender identity, equality, and feminism in Spain. The course informs students about the role of women in Spain and approaches the subject from both a historical and contemporary point of view. Students are introduced to both political and social movements taking place in modern day Spain that affect the role of women in society. Other key points addressed include the historic role of Spanish women under Francisco Franco and through the transition to democracy, domestic violence, and women in the media.

Contemporary Spain & Latin America through Literature and Film (LIT-347, Taught in Spanish; 3 credit hours)
This course aims to establish the purpose and limits of the relationship between literature and other aesthetic systems like film.  Specially, the course will look at Spanish socio-cultural environment in literature and film produced in Spain during the last third of twentieth century. We will View both full-length movies as well as fragments to help us help in understanding the literature and its context.

Journalism Abroad: Production as a Foreign Correspondent (COMM-251,Taught in Spanish; 3 credits)
In this course, students learn and practice broadcast journalism in Europe. Students create news stories for TV, radio, or Internet, including the entire process of producing information pieces in Spanish for the media. Special attention is given to Spanish journalistic procedures and terminology to make students familiar with the contexts and insights of a foreign culture. 

Public Speaking in Spanish (COMM 351, Taught in Spanish; 3 credits)
Offered as part of the Madrid AU Abroad program, students in this course master public communication in Spanish. Students first learn to outline and write speeches in a persuasive and compelling manner, then pursue skills to deliver them effectively, such as enhancing and projecting the voice, polishing pronunciation and diction, controlling nervousness and anxiety, and learning improvisation techniques. 

Transforming Arts Institute placeholder (ABRD-305; 3-9 credits)
Students will take 1-3 courses in Spanish at the Transforming Arts Institute. TAI Madrid School of the Arts, accredited by the Rey Juan Carlos University, is located in the heart of Madrid’s historic and art district. It is the only center in Spain specialized in undergraduate degrees in the areas of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts, Contemporary Music Composition, Visual Arts and Design, Photography and Scenic Arts. Currently approved for AU music majors and minors, students will find an array of pre-approved coursework available in the areas of Spanish and world music, composition, orchestration, music technology, piano, the music industry, and more. Read about TAI's music program on their website.

Independent Study (SABD-490; 1-3 credits)
Students in this program are encouraged to work with a faculty member to develop and complete an independent study project during their semester in Madrid.  The Program Director and other Faculty who teach at the AU Center have various research interests and can guide students in their preparation of independent research.  Students interested in this should discuss their research interests with their study abroad advisor and on-site Program Director during the pre-departure process.


Internships in Madrid (SABD-391; 3 credit hours)
Internships are for students who have completed SPAN 253 here at AU and conducted in the Spanish language.  Otherwise, a very limited number of internships conducted in English are also available.  Internships of two days per week provide a unique opportunity to work and interact with Spaniards outside the academic context, while at the same time including academic requirements such as projects and papers.   Students who wish receive credits towards a Spanish Major or Minor for the internship course must take this course on a pass/fail basis!

Student Life

HOUSING AND MEALSStudents with Homestay Mother

Full language integration happens in the home as well as the classroom. During your participation in the Iberian Experience Intensive Spanish program, you live in a Spanish home. Your homestay allows you to experience the warmth and hospitality of Spain while improving your language skills.  In the homestay, students enjoy breakfast, evening meals, and in most cases, weekly laundry. Students may be in single or double rooms. Students commute approx. 30 min from their homestays to the program offices in the center of Madrid. During program excursions, students stay in pensions and hotels.

Students enjoy two meals a day with their host families in Madrid. One meal a day is usually provided during the study trips.


Alhambra ComplexThe multifaceted nature of the history and culture of the Iberian Peninsula can not be fully understood though study in the classroom!  Students take several field trips to the different regions in Spain and to nearby countries. The program often visits Catalonia, where they speak with leaders of a region with a distinct people and language propelled by a strong separatist movement, as well as, Andalucía in southern Spain, where they observe the depth of Moorish and Semitic influences on the culture of Spain. And this is just the beginning...

In past semesters, students have traveled within Spain to Andalucía, the Basque country, Barcelona, the Canary Islands, Galicia, Salamanca, Toledo, and Santander, as well as destinations outside of Spain like Lisbon, and Rome.  Students also frequently visit sites in and around Madrid to expand on the topics covered by the courses. Field trip destinations vary each semester and students will receive a schedule of the semester upon arrival in Madrid.


Upon acceptance, AU Abroad staff will provide students with a letter to obtain their Student Visa. Students are responsible for contacting the Spanish Embassy or Consulate to find out which additional documents are needed to obtain a student visa. Any visa requirements for program excursions are handled by on-site staff. Non-US citizens are encouraged to check with all relevant embassies to be aware of any special circumstances or requirements.

Often student visa applications will not be accepted more than 90 days in advance or less than 45 business days prior to departure date, passports must be left at the Consulate General for processing. It may take four to six weeks to process your application.

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2018 10/12/2017
Varies by program 01/15/2018 05/05/2018
NOTE: Program dates are estimates. Refer to materials received from AU Abroad for exact dates before making final travel arrangements.
Spring 2019 10/12/2018 ** Varies by program 01/14/2019 05/05/2019
NOTE: Program dates are estimates. Refer to materials received from AU Abroad for exact dates before making final travel arrangements.

** The time it takes to receive an admissions decision varies greatly by program; it can take as little as two weeks or as long as several months. Contact AU Abroad for further details on your program's admissions timeline.

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