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Harvard Summer Program in Madrid, Spain

Study Spanish language, history, and culture in Spain’s dynamic, elegant and hip capital city.

  • Program Director

    Johanna Liander

  • Date

    June 14, 2024 to July 26, 2024

  • Apply By

    January 25, 2024

  • Cost


  • Housing


About the Program

De Madrid, al cielo (“From Madrid, then to heaven”)

Designed for students at the intermediate level of Spanish language study, this 6-week immersion program focuses on the history, culture, and languages of urban, insular and rural Spain. Based in Madrid, the program will expand your appreciation and understanding of the diversity of Spain through excursions to nearby Toledo and Segovia, as well as a weekend in Mallorca and a week in Galicia—two regions of the country with distinctive histories and cultures. The program operates in cooperation with San Pablo CEU University, and includes faculty from the University of the Balearic Islands and the University of Santiago de Compostela, as well, offering a wide academic exposure throughout the summer.

The program provides rigorous, comprehensive training in spoken and written Spanish through classes, host families, and direct engagement with the extensive history, unique cultures, and different languages (catalán, gallego and castellano) of three distinct and significant regions of Spain.

Program Structure

The program will guide you in making rapid progress toward fluency in Spanish. Intensive language instruction is combined with exploration of the culture and history of Madrid and other parts of Spain through the lenses of art and architecture, literature, politics, and ethnography.

Morning class sessions integrate language instruction with cultural materials and readings. Afternoon and evening sessions include a weekly writers’ workshop, lectures and conversations with scholars and artists, visits to the Prado and other museums, the Retiro Park, the Hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida, the Barrio de las Letras, and other emblematic neighborhoods, and a night at the theater.  All afternoon and evening sessions are directly related to classroom study and assignments and provide students with greater exposure to the cultural life of the city.

SPAN S-DM counts as one full-year course (8 credits) of degree credit and as two half-year courses towards the foreign language citation. It also fulfills the Harvard foreign language requirement.

SPAN S-DM Study Abroad in Madrid: Spanish Language and Culture, Past and Present

Johanna Damgaard Liander, PhD, Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
8 credits
UN Limited enrollment.

This is a second year course in Spanish language and culture which moves students toward fluency using grammar review and language instruction combined with an in-depth study of the culture and character of Madrid through history, art, architecture, literature, and ethnography. The course focuses on five periods: when Madrid became Spain’s capital in 1561 and before; the theatrical boom of the seventeenth century through the enlightenment of Charles III; the vast contrasts of the nineteenth century; the civil war, subsequent dictatorship, and transition to democracy in the twentieth century; and Madrid’s place in Spain, in Europe, and in the world in current times. Students engage with Madrid directly, living and studying there for five weeks, and gain a deeper understanding of the city in the greater context of Spain by comparing the capital to smaller cities (Toledo and Segovia on day trips) and to the culturally, geographically, and linguistically diverse regions of Mallorca and Galicia, each of which we visit for several days.

Students expand and strengthen their linguistic skills and learn about the history and culture of Madrid by participating in language sessions, instructional excursions, writers’ workshops, lectures, theater class, flamenco class, and viewing centuries of art and architecture. The course provides students with numerous occasions to speak Spanish with native speakers from diverse backgrounds. In class, students compare levels of formality in both written and spoken language. Students become familiar with the vast and fascinating lexicon of Castilian Spanish, develop their written and spoken academic Spanish, and attain an advanced linguistic level by the end of the course.

Prerequisite: Harvard students must have completed Spanish 11, Spanish 15, or Spanish 20 (but not beyond Spanish 20) or received the equivalent score on the Harvard University placement test. Other students must have completed one year or one accelerated semester of college-level beginning Spanish.

Where You'll Live and Study


Cost & Expenses

Additional Information