This advanced Spanish language program is based at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), one of Spain’s top academic institutions. Courses include Art History, Political Science, and History, as well as an intense grammar review.

Message from Faculty Director


Humberto Huergo

I am Humberto Huergo, and I’ve been a part of Carleton College for 36 years. For nearly two decades, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of directing the Carleton Madrid program, a venture that continues to enrich the lives of our students.

The Carleton Madrid Program, held during the fall, is tailor-made for sophomore and junior students who share a profound interest in Spanish art, history, and politics. To be eligible, participants should have successfully completed the Spanish language requirement and at least one additional six-credit course in Spanish, such as Span 205, Span 210, or any of the literature courses at the two-hundred or three-hundred level. The program consists of four courses, offering a total of 21 credits. These courses encompass Spanish Art, Contemporary Politics of Spain, Islamic Spain, and an intensive language workshop designed to equip you with the linguistic skills necessary for seamless navigation of the vibrant city. All courses contribute to the requirements for both the Spanish major and minor. Additionally, the course on Spanish Art can also be applied toward the Art History major.

While in Madrid, you will have the opportunity to explore the rich cultural tapestry of Spain, with three included excursions to regions like Galicia in the North, Cadiz or Seville in the South, and Toledo in Castille, the heart of Spain. You will also have the unique experience of living with Spanish families, offering a deeper understanding of local culture and fostering language immersion. All academic endeavors will take place at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, one of the nation’s premier institutions, with a student population in the hundreds of thousands. Please note that these courses are exclusively for Carleton students and are conducted entirely in Spanish. As part of the immersion experience, students are expected to communicate solely in Spanish during the program.

Many students often wonder what a typical day in Madrid is like. In part, it depends on your preferences, but here’s a general outline: You begin your day with breakfast with your host family, and then you can choose to either walk or take the subway to school. Depending on where you live, this commute might take anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes, thanks to Madrid’s excellent public transportation system, which seamlessly connects everything within minutes.

Classes at the Complutense University, or Complu, typically commence around 10:00 AM and run until 1:30 to 2:00 PM, either three times a week or twice a week, similar to the schedule at Carleton. After 2:00 PM, you have a good amount of free time until your next set of classes.

Some students join me for lunch, while others prefer to dine at a restaurant of their choice in Madrid—expenses covered by the College. Afterward, each student plans their day according to their interests and needs, which may include studying at a public library, watching a movie, attending a play, visiting an exhibit at one of the city’s many museums, or taking a leisurely stroll in one of its parks. Many students also choose to enroll in classes such as flamenco dance, guitar, cooking, or yoga. The possibilities are endless.

Every other week or so, the entire group gathers for pizza, and on certain weekends, we all embark on excursions to various regions of the country. I treat my students as adults, and as long as you conduct yourselves responsibly and come prepared for class, no one is concerned about your actions or choices.

Madrid, one of Europe’s most dynamic capitals, is renowned for its world-class museums and vibrant cultural scene. If you relish the idea of living and studying in a major European city, I wholeheartedly encourage you to consider applying by the Winter term deadline. Join us in Madrid, and let this program be your gateway to an unforgettable journey of academic and cultural exploration.

Warm regards,
Humberto Huergo
Director, Carleton Madrid Program


Learning Goals

  • To make real use of your language skills by immersing yourself fully in Spanish society.
  • To become travelers who read, think, observe, and reflect upon political, cultural and social questions connected to life in the city of Madrid and to each place we visit.
  • To experience art first hand, not through a PowerPoint presentation.
  • To learn about essential cultural and linguistic differences between English and Spanish with regard to conversational styles, politeness and verbal interaction in general.


This is a language and culture immersion program designed for students who wish to grow fluent in Spanish while living and studying in a bustling metropolis. Most students participating in the program are non-majors in their sophomore and junior years. Applicants must have completed SPAN 205 or above by spring term 2024. Given the competitive nature of the program, student selection also rests on a combination of factors, such as performance during the interview, GPA, letters of recommendation, application form, language proficiency, and group dynamics.

Course of Study

20 Credits

All 20 credits count toward the Spanish major or minor. In addition to their coursework, students are allowed to audit a course of their choice.

Spanish 229: Current Issues in Spanish Politics (6 credits)

This course offers a fresh look of Spain’s current political and economic life. Discussion topics include the rise of Podemos and the new Spanish political scene, the Catalan separatist movement, political corruption, illegal immigration, and the role of the European Union.
Instructor: Local Faculty

SPAN 247: Muslim Spain (6 credits)

This course examines the Islamic influence in the Iberian Peninsula between the 8th and the 16th centuries. The theoretical sessions will cover different periods (emirate, caliphate, taifa kingdoms, Almoravid, Almohad, and Nasrid) focusing on material culture, including the Mosque of Cordoba, Medina Azahara, Toledo, and the Alhambra. The course also aims to offer a more current vision of how Spaniards have integrated (or rejected) this Islamic past into their own national identity. These topics will address debates that have emerged within Spanish historiography over the past years: Was it an invasion or a conquest? Coexistence, tolerance, or confrontation?
Professor Francisco J. Moreno

SPAN 349: Four Masters of Spanish Art (6 credits) 

This course offers an in-depth view of four of the greatest Spanish masters of all time—El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, and Picasso. The course combines class lectures at the Complutense University in Madrid with weekly museum visits and excursions outside Madrid to study, in person, iconic works of Western art such as El Greco’s The Disrobing of Christ in Toledo’s cathedral, Velázquez’ Las Meninas and Goya’s Black Paintings at the Prado Museum, and Picasso’s Guernica at the Reina Sofía Museum. Special attention will be given to artistic theory in the seventeenth and twentieth centuries.
Professor: Humberto Huergo

SPAN 212: Navigating Madrid (2 credits)

This is an intense grammar/cultural workshop intended to help program participants navigate successfully through everyday situations such as ordering food at a restaurant, getting a haircut, describing your symptoms to a doctor, buying clothes, or simply hanging out with your new Spanish friends. The course has two components—one strictly grammatical (“how do you say X exactly?”) and another cultural (“is it right to use the informal  with a waiter?”).
Professor: Local Instructor

Program Features


Students will stay with families at their homes.


Cultural activities, speakers, and trips within Madrid will supplement course work. In addition, there will be an excursion to Toledo (one day), Cádiz (two nights and three days), and Santiago (three nights and four days), as well as opportunities for individual travel throughout Spain.