French, Hispanic and Italian Studies

The Department of French, Hispanic, and Italian Studies offers a range of programs. Our faculty prides itself on interactive classroom environments, small class sizes, and experiential learning opportunities for students in the community and abroad. 

UBC’s Department of French, Hispanic, and Italian Studies offers programs specializing in the languages, literatures, and cultures of various regions around the world. 

Spanish Program

Specializing in Spanish connects students with a community of approximately 405 million Hispanic speakers. Our program offers Spanish language classes to develop solid communicative and interpersonal skills and our community-based classes introduce students to the local Hispanic community. Spanish majors also learn about the rich literary and artistic manifestations of the Hispanic community. Our Majors seek to apply their Spanish to boost their skills in fields such as International Relations, Commerce, or Chemistry. In short, Spanish Majors develop the linguistic competencies, cultural sensitivity, and interpersonal skills to successfully achieve professional, social, and humanitarian goals in the Hispanic world.

French Program

French is one of Canada's two official languages and, after English, the second most widely learned foreign language in the world. In British Columbia graduates from our programmes find employment opportunities in the Province's vibrant French immersion programmes and 37 Francophone schools. Across Canada, French language skills are an asset when applying for federal public sector jobs and a necessity for advancing to higher-ranking positions. With more than 200 million French speakers worldwide, French is among the principal languages of diplomacy and of international organizations. Our Minor, Major or Honours programmes are designed to enhance students’ active communication skills and develop their appreciation of Francophone cultures and literatures. Speaking French offers access to great works of literature, art, music, dance, fashion, cuisine, and cinema.

Romance Studies

Romance Studies allows students to study more than one of our Department's languages. The Honours programme offers an initiation to graduate work and to advanced academic writing and research. Honours students participate in our research seminar and, under the guidance of a supervisor, write an extended research paper on an original topic. The research, writing, and project skills that are developed in the Honours project go beyond those of the BA, to the point that a strong Honours degree is often considered equivalent to a Master’s degree and can lead directly to a PhD programme. Honours students are particularly well qualified for professional research positions.


Italy is one of the top seven economies in the world, the third largest in the Euro-zone.  It is also a world leader in fields such as fashion, graphic design, interior design and the culinary arts. Italy is a country with an extremely rich cultural history whose legacy in music, architecture, arts, and philosophy is well-recognized around the world: over 60% of the world’s heritage sites are found in Italy! At UBC, we offer a wide range of courses in which students develop communicative skills and explore Italian literature, arts and culture in a global context. We also offer courses specific to career fields (Italian for Opera) and project-based courses in the community and abroad. Courses in the target language are offered up to the fourth year, and the degree is designed to offer students the greatest flexibility, depending on their specific objectives.


With more than 250 million speakers across every continent, it is the 7th most widely spoken language in the world.  In Canada alone, there are over 400 thousand citizens of Portuguese descent and, due to Brazil’s prominence on the global stage, Portuguese is considered one of the most strategically significant languages on the international scene.  The Portuguese program at UBC offers a variety of courses for students at many levels of language proficiency and understanding.  It is designed to enhance active communication skills and to develop an appreciation of the various cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world.  UBC offers 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year language courses based on diverse cultural contexts, as well as Brazilian literature and culture courses offered in English.  The Portuguese language serves as a gateway to the rich diversity of Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) history, music, literature, cinema, and art.

Get experience at UBC

Building your career takes more than attending academic lectures. Get involved with research and complement your studies with relevant research and applied experiences. Whether you choose one of the experiences listed below or one of the many other great opportunities available, you’ll learn new things, make new friends, network, and set yourself apart. It all counts.

Go Global 

Imagine student life in Barcelona; strolling to class with the sun on your face each morning, and sharing plates of tapas with friends in the evenings. Whether you end up studying Spanish in Spain or Italian in Italy, you’ll immerse yourself in the languages and cultures of another part of the world all while finishing your degree. Learn More.

Our recommended exchange destinations for French, Hispanic and Italian studies students include, but are not limited to:

French Studies Hispanic Studies Italian Studies

Université de Genève (Switzerland)

Université de Lausanne (Switzerland)

Sciences Po Paris (France)

Université Jean-Moulin Lyon III (France)

Université de Toulouse II-Le Mirail (France)

Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

McGill University (Quebec)

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain)

Tec de Monterrey (Mexico)

Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (Spain)

Universidad de Chile (Chile)

Universidad de las Américas Puebla (Mexico)

Universidad de Salamanca (Spain)

Bocconi University

LUISS University

Università di Bologna 

Did you know?You can take on an international internship, participate in a Global Seminar, go on exchange or even conduct research abroad. Check out all the ways you can Go Global.

Arts Co-op Program

Gaining paid, full-time, relevant experience through Arts Co-op will help you explore career options in arts organizations (like museums and film festivals, non-profit, government, and the private sector across Canada and abroad. Graduate with at least 3, 4-month work terms, average cumulative earnings of $25,000, career skills and experience, and a network of professional contacts that will give you a competitive edge after graduation. 

Arts Internship Program

Build a career while you are studying through part-time, unpaid internships designed with Arts students in mind. Exciting internships are being created at non-profits and social service organizations. Apply your valuable intercultural understanding and language skills to the world of work and gain industry contacts along the way. There are exciting internships available at museums, cultural centres, and non-profit organizations. 

Community experience

Use specific knowledge and skills learned in the classroom toward a specific community need through Community Service Learning.  For past projects, students had the opportunity to speak the target language in real communicative situations, build a network of connections, and contribute to a community partner. If you would like to learn more about experiential learning in the classroom contact the CBEL teachers: Italian, Luisa Canuto; Spanish, María Carbonetti or Samuel Navarro.

Co-curricular activities

Co-curricular activities connect students with local schools with the aim of helping them to develop professional skills, improve their command of the new language, and get involved with the educational community. Through the school placement program, FHIS students work collaboratively with language teachers (K-12) to learn the ins and outs of primary and secondary schooling. To learn more contact Mireille Berthias.

Using your degree

Our approach to the teaching of languages, literatures, and cultures provides our students with the linguistic, cultural, and analytical skills and experiences needed to communicate in intercultural and interdisciplinary settings, engage in critical thinking, and perform professionally in the 21st century. As an Arts degree holder, students have strong research, analytical, and communication skills and the ability to work in a team through group work undertaken within a variety of professional, academic, and cultural backgrounds.

Career possibilities

  • Creative Writing
  • Publishing
  • Translation
  • Journalism
  • Foreign Business
  • Public Relations
  • Education
  • International Aid and Development
  • Diplomacy
  • Intercultural Mediation
  • Cultural Institutions
  • Film and Television

Academic possibilities

Our programs prepare students for graduate or further study in a variety of fields:

  • Law
  • Journalism
  • Education
  • Finance, Business and Administration

Alumni profiles

Ivelina, BA 2013

“I graduated with a double major in Spanish and International Relations. Today, I utilize my fluency in Spanish in professional and volunteer settings. Knowing how to communicate in Spanish, both in terms of grammar and being aware of cultural etiquette or customs, helps me to establish a more personal connection with my clients. Not to mention, it allows me to stay in touch with my Spanish-speaking friends! I am currently pursuing a law degree and hope to one day incorporate the use of Spanish into my daily practice in the field.”

Alex, BA 2014

“I graduated with a major in International Relations and a minor in French. Thanks to my French minor and participation in a UBC group study program - where I studied French-Canadian literature in Montreal - I developed a strong proficiency in French and was thus able to land an internship with Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development Canada (DFATD), where I worked in French and English. Today, I work as a desk officer and trade commissioner at DFATD in a bilingual setting. I completely credit my French minor for my fluency in French and helping me develop the writing and analytical skills that are essential to my job.”