Students Can Now Earn Spanish Bachelor’s Degree Online

June 8, 2023  |  by Heidi Wells, Global Campus

Spanish faculty include, top left, clockwise, Hilda Benton, Brenda Magnetti, Steve Bell and Raquel Castro Salas.
Spanish faculty include, top left, clockwise, Hilda Benton, Brenda Magnetti, Steve Bell and Raquel Castro Salas.

The University of Arkansas will launch an online bachelor's degree in Spanish in fall 2023.

Students can apply now for a bachelor's degree in Spanish with fully online delivery, effective this fall. Globalization and expanding migration and immigration have increased demand for Spanish-language education and training in the workforce, and one goal of the online BA in Spanish is to help our students fill this need.

As Spanish has spread throughout the United States and as one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, proficiency in the language makes it an especially valuable skill for businesses and organizations operating at home, across our hemisphere, and worldwide.

In offering the 100% online degree alongside the on-campus option, the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences will cover both written and spoken dimensions of the language, together with literature and culture and coursework in Spanish for the professions for both heritage and second-language learners, with the goal of expanding career opportunities for interested students in virtually every field of professional endeavor.

"We are thrilled now to be ready to launch the fully online version of our Spanish major program, with coursework in language, literature, and culture as well as Spanish for the professions and translation and interpretation, in service to both heritage and second-language learners of Spanish," said Steve Bell, former department chair and former director of Latin American and Latino Studies, from the Spanish faculty. "The online delivery method allows us to reach previously inaccessible cohorts of students, and thus grow our contributions to the expansion of a critically aware, culturally knowledgeable, and proactively bilingual workforce across a wide range of professional services, industries, and businesses. Students, and the families of students, today are acutely aware of the growing significance of effective cross-cultural communication, with knowledge of the history and traditions of the Spanish-speaking world being particularly beneficial for careers in such areas as education and social work, law enforcement and legal services, and health care."

The online bachelor's degree in Spanish offers unparalleled flexibility and convenience, allowing students to learn at their own pace from anywhere, making it easier for students to balance their studies with work and family obligations. One of just a handful of fully online Spanish degrees offered nationally, the Spanish BA provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the language and culture, as well as opportunities to enhance more broadly their soft skills in communications and critical thinking.

"Our program supplements instruction in second-language fundamentals with online electives catering to different interests and career goals, with forthcoming online delivery offerings in translation and interpretation, in Spanish for heritage learners, and in Spanish for the professions," said Hilda Benton, online Spanish coordinator. "Our program has a diverse and experienced faculty; they bring a wealth of expertise and real-world experience to the classroom. And, our program boasts a number of courses that have been nationally certified for online pedagogical rigor by Quality Matters."

"Graduates can seek certification to teach at the K-12 level, or work with community outreach programs, public health agencies, and nonprofit organizations that serve Spanish-speaking communities," said Raquel Castro Salas, an assistant professor of Spanish who has developed service-learning courses in Spanish for the Professions, and Spanish for Heritage Speakers, for both the online and face-to-face Spanish programs. "Our students have worked in the tourism industry, as travel agents or customer service representatives. Some graduates now work as reporters, translators, and editors in the fields of journalism and multimedia."

The BA in Spanish also provides a solid foundation for the transition to many professional schools or post-graduate work, for students selecting those paths. Spanish faculty have developed innovative online courses that enable students to build skills in oral proficiency as well as in written communication.

"We designed our courses to include engaging activities and assessments for developing conversational skills," said Brenda Magnetti, assistant professor of Spanish and Spanish TA supervisor, who has spearheaded the development of much of the online curriculum in Spanish, as well as several supporting, co-curricular activities. "Throughout our curriculum, students receive constructive feedback and guidance to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses."

Spanish students at all levels, from elementary to advanced, record frequent video assignments of themselves responding to prompts, and they chat live with instructors during semester-ending oral assessments, Benton said. Upper-level students use Spanish in a variety of live critical dialogues and conversational interactions, and complete oral exams that simulate conversations with the instructor.

"We encourage our online students to take advantage of our Spanish Center, a valuable tutoring service available online to assist students in improving their language skills through their coursework," Magnetti said. "Additionally, we strive to foster a sense of community among our online students."

Online students, for example, can attend on-campus and remote-access events:

  • Tertulia, a one-hour informal gathering where students of all levels meet in separate groups to practice their speaking skills. Teaching assistants and instructors also participate to encourage conversations.
  • The Spanish Conversation Partner Program, an informal 30-minute one-on-one conversation with a native speaker to gain fluency in Spanish, tailored to the individual needs of students and available by appointment online.
  • The Spanish Cine Club, which features movies in Spanish with the goal of helping students improve their learning and oral skills while learning more about the diversity of Hispanic culture. An open discussion led by instructors follows each movie.

Faculty members are ready and available to provide academic support and guidance to students during their online office hours and through phone and Zoom appointments.

"Our commitment to providing ample support ensures that our online students receive the same level of assistance as their on-campus counterparts, and we are dedicated to helping them achieve their academic goals," Benton said. Online students who are able are also eligible to complete 6 to 12 of their Spanish BA credits through the UA faculty-led summer study abroad programs, either in Madrid or in the Puebla, Mexico, program with service learning curricular options at the advanced level in business, health care, education, engineering, or community service.

The U of A offers more than 90 online degree programs and certificate and licensure plans, which are showcased on the U of A ONLINE website. These include bachelor's, master's, specialist's and doctoral degree programs from six academic colleges: the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences; the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences; the Sam M. Walton College of Business; the College of Education and Health Professions; the College of Engineering; and the School of Law.

The Global Campus supports U of A colleges and schools in the development and delivery of online, distance and workforce education programs and courses. It provides instructional design services, technology services and assistance with registration, marketing, recruiting and strategic academic development.

Photo of Heidi Wells

Heidi Wells

Content Strategist

Heidi Wells is the content strategist for the Global Campus at the University of Arkansas and editor of The Online Learner. Her writing spans more than 30 years as a communicator at the U of A and a reporter and editor at Arkansas newspapers. Wells earned two degrees from the U of A: a master's in 2013 and a bachelor's in 1988.

Wells can be reached at or 479-575-7239.

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