Languages

About the program

The Languages Program at St. Mary’s has several avenues to choose from, one which leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree. However, students of all majors may take language courses to fulfill the requirements of the Core Curriculum. Students who wish to expand their foreign language skills and enhance their marketability can also minor in Spanish or Portuguese.


  • About the Spanish Major and Minor

    The Spanish major at St. Mary’s University is one of the oldest at the University. Its roots come from the international education character of the Marianist Order, which has schools and universities not only throughout the United States, but in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The program offers the option to minor in Spanish or obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish, with or without Texas State Teaching Certification.


  • About the Portuguese Minor

    The Portuguese minor at St. Mary’s is unique in the city of San Antonio and was created at St. Mary’s in 1999. Spoken by more than 250 million people in the world, Portuguese is a world language that enhances the academic and professional profile of any student planning a career with an international component, in international business, international relations, economics, anthropology, sociology, etc. Students majoring in International Business can fulfill the Area Studies requirement of the major in advanced level Portuguese classes. The lower-level courses in Portuguese fulfill the St. Mary’s foreign language requirement for all majors.

    Speaking Portuguese increases your marketability, as more businesses, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations seek tri-lingual (English-Spanish-Portuguese) speakers to cover Latin America. Portuguese is the most widely spoken language in South America, with over 180 million speakers in Brazil alone. In Africa, two Portuguese-speaking nations, Mozambique and Angola, are experiencing rapid economic growth after the end of civil conflicts as production of their oil and minerals increases.



Students can pursue one of the following program options:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Spanish
  • Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with Teacher Certification
  • Combined Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Master of Arts in International Relations
  • Minor in Portuguese
  • Minor in Spanish
  • Language Certificate in Portuguese
  • Language Certificate in Spanish
Courses and degree plan

View the Spanish and Portuguese Requirements and Degree Plan

View the Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with Teacher Certification Requirements and Degree Plan

View the Combined Degree Requirements and Degree Plan

Additional Language Courses

In addition to Spanish and Portuguese, the Languages Department also provides two other language course options. The additional language courses are not available as a major or minor, but first and second year courses are available in the following languages:


  • German

    Germany is a financial leader of Europe and therefore a major player in world economic matters. St. Mary’s business students are offered several business programs in German-speaking nations: one in Innsbruck, Austria and another in the small German town of Schmalkalden, where they can expand their knowledge of U.S and international business, German language and German culture and history. While knowledge of German language is not a prerequisite, it is certainly helpful to have taken some German at the main campus and know that one can go out into the town and get to know the locals and practice what was learned in the classroom.

    St. Mary’s students are offered summer law courses and undergraduate and graduate business courses in Innsbruck, Austria, a German-speaking nation. Again, knowledge of German language can only enhance a student’s experience in a foreign country, in addition to giving the locals a better image of Americans.

    Music majors will necessarily study the great German masters and voice students know that proper interpretation of music depends upon knowing what the words mean and being able to pronounce and intonate properly. Over the years, students have approached the German language faculty to consult with us about proper pronunciation of German music they are presenting in both private and public performances.

    Besides those above-mentioned programs in Schmalkalden and Innsbruck, St. Mary’s students have participated in a number of programs at other German institutions, including universities in Berlin, Heidelberg, Frankfurt and Munich. All have returned with a greater appreciation of the necessity of understanding our global interconnectedness and are enthusiastically recruiting fellow students to take advantage of the world of opportunities available to the St. Mary’s community.


  • Japanese

    Why would anybody try to learn a language that is so different from English that it has only two verb tenses (present and past), no articles, no marks of plural, and puts the verb at the end of the sentence? Besides, this is a language that has such a different way of writing! This language is Japanese, and many people nowadays are discovering that the many advantages of studying this language.

    The first advantage of learning Japanese is, of course, that through it you will be able to enter a gateway to all Asia. Even though many other languages are spoken in Asia, due to the strength of Japanese economy and cultural exports, if you speak some Japanese, you can move well in all Asian countries. The second is that you would be able to read and understand one of the most celebrated literatures of the world, in the original. If your thing is more manga, or karate, or Japanese films, you will be able to appreciate every nuance when you know the language. Third, when you study Japanese you step away from your native English and become able to understand how a culture can express politeness in so many different ways, how the adjective can have a past tense. This stepping out of English will enable you to understand your language much better, as well as to appreciate the immense diversity of our common human experience, even with a culture whose writing does not resemble ours in any way.

    Of course, there are many other reasons, and one of them is that Japan is currently the second economy in the world. Being able to participate in this economy, either here in one of the many Japanese companies established abroad, or even in Japan as a graduate student, or an entrepreneur, or as a teacher, can make an enormous difference in your life.

    The Japanese writing, seemingly difficult, is actually quite simple. Its writing systems, especially Hiragana and Katakana, can be learned in a few weeks, and the system called Kanji (from the Chinese system of ideographs) builds upon strokes that you learn to recognize. A dedicated student of Japanese can master basic words, and learn how to add to those and build a more comprehensive vocabulary. Spoken Japanese has only five vowel sounds and spelling is phonetically consistent, making the language easy to pronounce. Whether you want to learn Japanese for cultural or professional reasons, or because you want to tour Japan, or all of these reasons and many others, this is the class for you.

    The Japanese program at St. Mary’s regularly offers the first- and second-year levels of the language. We have recently started expanding the offerings to include Culture Courses at the third year level.


Language Certificate Option

St. Mary’s University wants to further develop the study of languages and especially to encourage students to pursue language study at more advanced levels beyond those established in the Language requirement in the Core Curriculum. The Language Certificate is intended to provide an incentive to students who are interested in continuing their study of a particular language but who do not wish to complete the major or minor program in this language. Also, the certificate signals on the transcript that a student has completed two courses at least in the third-year of language study and achieved the grade point average required for the certificate.

The Language Certificate is neither a substitute for a minor program in a language, nor does it impedes a student wishing to complete such a minor. The certificate is different from a minor in two critical elements: it requires that courses be taken in language study or in classes in which the subject is taught exclusively in the target language, and it requires that the students meet a high grade point requirement.

It is important to note that the students fulfilling the requirements for a language certificate in a particular language will have this achievement noted on their transcript. Also, students completing a minor or major program in a language who at the same time meet the minimum grade requirements for a language certificate would have both the certificate and the minor noted on their transcript. The option of earning a Language Certificate is available to all St. Mary’s students, from all the schools.

Language Certificates can currently be earned in Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.

Requirements to obtain a Language Certificate:

  • Students must take two courses in the level 3000 or 4000 or 5000 offered in the Languages Department and taught in the target languages.
  • Students must earn a minimum grade of B- in each of the courses.

For more information, contact Eva Bueno, Ph.D., Program Director, at ebueno@stmarytx.edu or 210-436-3738 or visit her on campus in Reinbolt Hall, Room 314.

Study Abroad

The Language Department encourages study abroad to students of all majors. Studying abroad can help students reach requirements for any of the majors, minors or certificates in Languages.

Study abroad programs sponsored by St. Mary’s include the Semester in Spain program, the Semester Exchange Program in Brazil, a summer program in Japan and the Southern Cone Studies Certificate Program in Brazil, or Argentina and Chile. The department also aids students looking to participate in other study abroad programs.

Studying abroad gives students first-hand experience with other cultures and languages and helps them develop the cross-cultural communication skills valued by many employers.

St. Mary’s University has a spring semester at the Universidad de Alcala de Henares outside of Madrid, Spain. Part of the program was designed to give prospective teachers a cultural experience. All Teacher Certification students are encouraged to participate in the Spain Semester abroad.

Scholarship Opportunities

Several scholarship options are available for students. All scholarships are given annually in the spring semester.

For 2017, the deadline to apply is February 8 at noon.

Explore our scholarship opportunities below.


  • La Prensa Foundation Scholarship for Spanish Majors

    The La Prensa Foundation Scholarship for Spanish Majors is awarded to Spanish majors in the last semester of their junior year, or to those in the first semester of their senior year. Candidates to the award are students who have a minimum GPA of 3.2.

    To be considered for the award, you need:

    • To inform the Chair of the Department, by email, of your intention to participate.
    • To write an essay of at least three pages (double space, font Times New Roman, size 12) about what has led you to choose the Spanish major, and what you intend to do in your career that incorporates Spanish.
    • To deliver personally your essay and an unofficial copy of your transcript by the deadline.

    Contact Eva Bueno, Ph.D., Department Chair, at ebueno@stmarytx.edu or 210-436-3738 or visit her on campus in Reinbolt Hall, Room 314, for more information on the specific requirements for the application and deadline.


  • Department of Languages Fund

    This fund was established by an anonymous donor to benefit Spanish majors (B.A. or B.A. with Teacher Certification).

    To be considered for the award:

    • Write to the chair of the Department of Languages to indicate your intention to participate.
    • Write an essay about why you chose to study Spanish or why you chose to be a Spanish teacher. The essay should include a reflection about how a course of study at St. Mary’s has helped shape your professional and personal views.
    • Personally deliver your essay and an unofficial copy of your transcript.

    Contact Eva Bueno, Ph.D., Department Chair, at ebueno@stmarytx.edu or 210-436-3738 or visit her on campus in Reinbolt Hall, Room 314, for more information on the specific requirements for the application and deadline.


  • Rose Louise Ballinger Memorial Scholarship

    This award was created by Robert Ballinger and is wife Ginny Ballinger. Both Mr. and Mrs. Ballinger have been teachers all their lives. Mr. Ballinger has always had deep connections with the Marianists, and he worked at Worthington, Ohio, as a teacher of French and English. While at Worthington, he developed the French program and eventually taught this language full time. Mrs. Ballinger, who has a doctorate in Education Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development from the Ohio State University, taught Spanish at Upper Arlington, was chair of her school’s Global Languages Department, and was appointed State Curriculum Consultant for Foreign Languages at the Ohio Department of Education from 1993 to 2000, when she retired. Both Mr. and Mrs. Ballinger were very active in their state association of language Teachers (Ohio Foreign Language Association), and were each elected as OFLA’s presidents (Mrs. Ballinger 1993-1994, and Mr. Ballinger 2000-2001).

    It is a great honor for our Department of Languages at St. Mary’s University to be associated with and beneficiaries of such a fine example of love for teaching and, more specifically, love for teaching languages. We are very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Ballinger for their generosity in establishing this award that benefits our students.

    The award of up to $3,000 is to be given to a foreign language major with a minimum GPA of 3.2 and demonstrated financial need.  Students in their last semester of their junior year, or the first semester of their senior year are eligible. Preference will be given first to a language student interested in becoming a foreign language teacher, then to a foreign language major, and if no qualified candidate exists, to a student seeking teacher certification in any field.

    To be considered for the award:

    • Write to the Chair of the Department of Languages to indicate your intention to participate.
    • Write a three-page essay in English or in Spanish, explaining why you has decided to study Spanish. For those seeking a degree with Teacher Certificate, make sure to write about your plans for a career in teaching.
    • Personally deliver your essay and an unofficial copy of your transcript in an envelope by the deadline.

    Contact Eva Bueno, Ph.D., Department Chair, at ebueno@stmarytx.edu or 210-436-3738 or visit her on campus in Reinbolt Hall, Room 314, for more information on the specific requirements for the application and deadline.


Learn more about the St. Mary's Languages Program
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