Although Spanish has been offered at Western Michigan University since 1919, the Department of Spanish became a separate department in 2003, largely as a result of growth in undergraduate and M.A. programs, as well as the implementation of the Ph.D. program. In recent years the number of students studying Spanish has increased considerably at the national level and even more so at WMU.
The department has an important role in teaching undergraduate students who wish to learn Spanish for a great variety of reasons. All students in the College of Arts and Sciences either must test out of that college's two semester foreign language requirement or complete it here. Spanish is the language most often selected by students. Still, most take Spanish because they think it will be useful or simply because they like it. In fact, about 60 percent of all Spanish students at WMU are enrolled in intermediate or advanced courses. Over one-third of all Spanish students become majors or minors, an extraordinary number compared to other universities. These students come primarily from:
- The College of Arts and Sciences
- The College of Education and Human Development
- Haworth College of Business
The undergraduate curriculum is characterized by its emphasis on language acquisition and by its well-balanced course offerings on the culture of Spain, Spanish America and Hispanics in the United States. Both undergraduate and graduate students of Spanish may complete a portion of their program abroad.
The rapid growth in the M.A. program, created in 1990, and the increasing number of students who desire to continue graduate study, resulted in the establishment of the Spanish Ph.D. program in the spring of 2003. There is a strong demand for Spanish faculty in American universities, as well as for competent Spanish teachers at the secondary and community college levels. Our graduate programs have attracted exemplary students from the United States, Spain, Latin America, and Africa. The courses offered are well structured and of high quality. The curriculum is based on the premise that students need to comprehend and appreciate the breadth and uniqueness of Hispanic culture in its totality before they choose to limit their focus to selected portions.
We believe the greatest strength of our department is the faculty. Without exception, they are active and accomplished researchers, as well as dedicated teachers. They understand that they are involved in a team effort to promote academic excellence and they are energized by that goal and by each other. The greatest challenge facing the department will be to keep ahead of the demands of an ever-increasing number of undergraduate and graduate students. We are committed to meeting that challenge and to providing the very best instruction and research opportunities to WMU students at all levels.