Why should an undeclared elementary education or special education student consider Hispanic Studies as his or her academic major? Spanish (Hispanic Studies) is recognized as a major by the New York State Education Department which certifies teachers. Hispanic Studies requires a minimum of 12 courses (36 credits). This major is flexible because it has few required courses.

At least once a semester, a student meets with his or her adviser to discuss courses. Students may pursue a major (30-39 credits) in Hispanic Studies. Education students can combine the Hispanic Studies major with a certification in elementary education, special education or secondary education. We do not offer a bilingual education program, but several strong or Spanish heritage students have obtained jobs locally as bilingual teachers.

After looking over incoming freshman files in June, a Spanish professor places students according to their backgrounds:

  • no Spanish or one to two years of basic Spanish in high school (student is enrolled in basic Spanish 101 and 102)
  • three or four years of high school Spanish with grades of AB or AB+ at the intermediate level (student is enrolled in intermediate Spanish 103 and 104)
  • four or more years with AA@ grades in Spanish conversation or literature (student may enroll in Spanish literature or culture courses numbered 300 to 400).

Most students who are interested in the Hispanic Studies major have already studied several years of Spanish in high school and are placed in intermediate or conversation courses. New students, transfers, and heritage speakers should meet with Dr. Eberle-McCarthy regarding class level placement.

Students may receive credit for Advanced Placement (AP) courses from high school or up to six (6) credits by taking the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam. (The CLEP exam must be taken in the first semester that an Hispanic Studies major is at Mount Saint Mary College because the credits count for Intermediate Spanish 103/104. Information about this test can be obtained through the Continuing Education Office.

Basic Spanish 101 and 102 do not count towards the major or minor, but can count for elective credits towards graduation. This is consistent with English 101 and 102 that do not count toward the English major or minor.


As with all major programs at the Mount, the Hispanic Studies major provides outcomes assessment in order to enhance student learning and program improvement. As faculty, we ask:

  • What should students know?
  • How well are they learning it?
  • How do we know?

Assessment is course-imbedded and provides students with clearly defined expectations, with feedback on growth, and with indications of areas needing extra attention. At the same time, the faculty obtain information we need to identify and respond to the strengths and weaknesses of individual students, of teaching/learning strategies, and of our curricula. Finally, the assessment program assists faculty to create an integrated plan for cumulative learning. In these ways, assessment contributes to the enhancement of student learning.


The Hispanic Studies major is designed to prepare students for careers as educators, for graduate school, or entry-level positions in fields such as communications, social services, or business, where often or occasionally, there are Spanish-speakers or a need to travel to Spanish-speaking areas of the world. Over the course of study, Hispanic Studies majors, whether English dominant or heritage speakers of Spanish, will improve their vocabulary and grammar. Students completing the baccalaureate program in Hispanic Studies will be able to:

  • communicate effectively in spoken Spanish on general topics and on themes related to the minor field of study (education, communications, business, etc.) as demonstrated in class presentations, discussions, and extemporaneous skits.
  • explain the cultural diversity of the Spanish-speaking world and interpret current events based on a general knowledge of history and culture of Spain and Latin America as demonstrated in class discussion or in a research paper.
  • with the use of a dictionary, read, analyze, and write in Spanish about the meaning of pieces of literature or magazine articles.
  • demonstrate a familiarity with the literary traditions and selected major authors of Spain or Latin America by means of spoken and written Spanish and by using correct literary vocabulary. (Secondary education students must be familiar with both traditions.)

Hispanic Studies majors are required to collect a portfolio of written work done over the years as part of the program assessment to indicate growth in the written language skills and the breadth of topics studied. This portfolio allows both the adviser and the student to view and evaluate the learning process. Some graduate schools now request samples of student writing as a requirement for admission. Such a prepared portfolio allows the major to have material at hand. Ideally, this portfolio should be presented and discussed with the adviser at the end of the student’s junior year so any weaknesses can still be addressed and corrected. At that time, general outcomes of the major can be reviewed.