Study abroad is both a challenging and rewarding experience for students, and, though not expressly required for the Portuguese major, the Department of Spanish & Portuguese strongly encourages its undergraduate students to participate. For students looking to become truly proficient in the Portuguese language, an immersion experience in Portugal or Brazil is the way to go! Students studying abroad a UW-Madison study abroad program can readily find course equivalents that will count toward their Portuguese major requirements.
As a Portuguese major, you can study abroad at any point in your college career, but there are some important factors to consider.
Most of the Portuguese language programs require a minimum level of language practice. Eligibility is listed in semesters so, for example, students interested in programs requiring four semesters of Portuguese would have to have received credit for Portuguese 202 to be eligible. Being familiar with those requirements early on in your academic career will help assure you are eligible to go when you decide the time is right for a Portuguese immersion experience. Following is additional information that will facilitate your planning and conversations with the Portuguese advisor.
Prospective Portuguese Students
We encourage you to attend the annual Study Abroad Fair or visit the Program Search on the International Academic Programs (IAP) website to get an idea of what programs are available to you. You may also drop in to meet with an IAP Peer Advisor to learn more about your study abroad program options.
Once you have some program ideas, be sure to consult with the Portuguese advisor. The more complex or ambitious your undergraduate program (the number of additional majors or certificates, athletic or other heavy extracurricular involvement, etc.), the more advanced planning you will need to fit study abroad in your academic career. For example, if you want to pursue Honors in the Portuguese Major and study abroad, you need to know that, in almost all cases, students are unable to earn Honors credit in Portuguese courses taken abroad. Occasionally, however, study abroad programs can be combined with research for an honors or Portuguese thesis. The Portuguese advisor can help you get a full sense of your options and plan accordingly.
Portuguese Course Considerations Abroad
As previously mentioned, students studying abroad on a UW-Madison study abroad program can readily find course equivalents that will count toward their Portuguese major requirements. Depending on the program, students can find equivalents from first-year Portuguese through 400-level Portuguese courses. Something to keep in mind, however, as you choose the courses you will take while abroad:
- Portuguese course equivalents are determined by content, not language. That is to say, if you take a math course while abroad, despite it being taught in Portuguese, it will equate to a math course here.
Mapping Your Study Abroad Experience as a Portuguese Major
Ideally, you will begin the language sequence at some point during your first year, beginning with the course appropriate to your placement and continuing until you reach fourth-semester Portuguese (Portuguese 202), at which point you are able to branch out and take the other major prerequisite (Portuguese 221). There are no IAP study abroad programs open to first-year students that offer Portuguese major credit.
Depending on placement, students have the language practice level needed for most study abroad programs by the end of their freshman year. If those students meet all other eligibility requirements, notably academic standing, they could study abroad their sophomore year. If you do not study abroad this year, by the end of your sophomore year, you will ideally have taken both Portuguese 201 and Portuguese 202 and perhaps a major-level course, likely Portuguese 221 or Portuguese 225.
Many Portuguese majors study abroad at some point during their junior year, generally in the spring. In this case, fall semester of your junior year would be a great time to consider taking Portuguese 225, which allows students to practice their spoken Portuguese. During a semester abroad, most students take fifteen credits. Generally, for Portuguese majors, most if not all of these credits will be Portuguese major-level coursework.
Study abroad is still an option during your final year and, yes, you can graduate abroad. Graduating abroad requires a comprehensive look at all your requirements, not just those for the Portuguese major, to ascertain that the requirements you have yet to complete can be fulfilled abroad. Working with not just the Portuguese advisor, but advisors for any other programs you plan to complete, is crucial. If, like most students, you studied abroad the previous year, your senior year is a time to confirm study abroad course equivalents and their placement, if any, within your Portuguese major and to take whatever remaining requirements you might have.
Questions to Ask
Your Academic Advisor
- What classes must I complete for my degree (gen eds, breadth, major requirements, level, residency, etc.)?
- Do the study abroad course equivalents I have chosen count toward the Portuguese major?
- How many electives do I have outside of my Portuguese major?
Your Departmental Faculty Liaison
The Department of Spanish & Portuguese is unique in that faculty liaisons are assigned to all the Portuguese language study abroad programs. To answer the following questions, you would meet with the departmental faculty liaison for your program, and not with the Portuguese advisor.
- What course equivalents can I earn on this program?
- A course I am considering does not have an approved equivalent here at UW-Madison. Could you review it?
Your Study Abroad Advisor
- What classes can I take abroad?
- How and when do I select courses for my program?
- When will I know course equivalents for my program?
- What is the class structure like abroad?
Identifying Programs That are Right for You
The following are designated as Portuguese language study abroad programs in which all classes (even non-Portuguese courses) are instructed in the Portuguese language:
Brazil, Sao Paulo / CET Brazil
This program is suitable for students with no Portuguese language experience taking an initial interest in Brazilian culture and society and Portuguese language as well as more advanced students looking to further their learning of Portuguese. All students on this program are placed in housing with a local roommate who is studying at a local university and will serve as your connection to local culture and community. Offered for spring and fall durations.
Portugal, Coimbra / UW in Portugal
This program is for intermediate and advanced language students interested in taking courses in Portuguese language and culture in the University’s Course for Foreigners. Advanced Portuguese language speakers can directly enroll in humanities and social science courses. Participants live in a residence hall or in apartments. Offered for spring, fall, and year durations.
Search all IAP programs
Research all programs using the IAP Program Search page. The above is not an exhaustive list of all programs. There may be other programs that are a better fit for your individual needs or interests.