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Madrid Study Group

Universidad San Pablo CEU
Director Fall 2017: Fernando Plata, Professor of Spanish

History of the Madrid Study Group

Colgate’s first study group in Spain was established in 1970, in Granada, in affiliation with Wells College and the University of Granada.  The group, created and directed four times by Professor Robert Hathaway of the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, ran during the January intersession and spring semester. 

In the 1980s, Colgate entered into in a consortium arrangement with Vassar College and Wesleyan University and the study group site was moved to Madrid.  Each of the three universities provided directors in rotation.  For two decades the program was housed at the Instituto Internacional along with a number of American university programs.  An important feature of the V-W-C program was an introductory session in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest region of Galicia, of several weeks in late August/early September.  The purpose of this session was to prepare students for life and study in Spain and for the semester in Madrid.  In 2002-2003 the V-W-C consortium relocated the program to Getafe, on the outskirts of Madrid, where it was affiliated with the Universidad Carlos III, a large public university. 

Desiring to have its own autonomous program again, and to return the group to Madrid proper, the Colgate Spanish faculty of the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures created a new, independent study group affiliated with the Universidad San Pablo CEU, a smaller, private university in a residential neighborhood of the city.  The newly designed study group ran for the first time in the fall of 2003, and has run every fall since.  The directorship of the program has been shared among Colgate professors Frederick Luciani, Fernando Plata, Lourdes Rojas and Chrystian Zegarra, The program maintains the Santiago de Compostela introductory session, which has been operating with great success for more than thirty years.  Another important feature of the study group is the direct enrollment of all student participants in regular classes at the Universidad San Pablo CEU, along with courses designed especially for the group.  Direct supervision of the homestay families in Madrid by a housing coordinator who works with the director has helped to ensure the quality of the linguistic and cultural immersion experience for students.


The Madrid Study Group offers qualified Colgate students the opportunity to live and study for one semester in a dynamic and culturally rich European capital. The group is intended for students in their junior year who already have significant ability with the Spanish language, and who seek to perfect their Spanish language skills, acquire a deeper knowledge of Spanish life and culture, and undertake a diverse and challenging academic experience on the premises of a private university in Madrid.

At the same time, the group is organized to recognize the unique needs of U.S. students studying abroad. It includes a two-week introductory session in Santiago de Compostela in the northwestern region of Galicia, followed by a 13-week semester at the Universidad San Pablo CEU in Madrid. The curriculum balances courses designed especially for the group with a broad array of courses drawn from the regular offerings of the Universidad San Pablo CEU.

Through academic experiences connected with the cultural resources of Madrid, participants will become acquainted with the richness of Spanish painting and the performing arts, and through the experience of living with Spanish families and sharing classes with Spanish students, participants will engage with Spanish culture in the more everyday sense. Excursions will be designed to give participants a good sense of the geographic and cultural diversity of Spain, its complex history, and its major artistic monuments.


Students must register for four courses, and are eligible to receive a maximum of four Colgate credits including two credits for a Spanish major or minor. The course offerings are as follows:

The Program Seminar: Spanish 400 This course, required of all participants, includes two segments: 1) the introductory two-week session in Santiago de Compostela, designed to prepare students for the semester in Madrid, and 2) “Madrid and the Arts,” offered in Madrid. In the Madrid segment, participants will attend weekly lectures on Spanish art, film, and theater complemented by visits to museums, cinemas and theaters. This course counts toward a Spanish major or minor.

The Director’s Seminar: Spanish 461 ”Theater of the Golden Age”.  This seminar studies the techniques and themes of the 17th-century comedia as exemplified primarily in the works of Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca.  Students will attend theatrical performances of classical theater in Madrid, as the syllabus will incorporate plays staged there in the fall.

Perfecting Language: Spanish 380 This course will provide students with a comprehensive review of the finer points of the Spanish language, with an emphasis on fostering near-native pronunciation, correctness of grammar in speech and writing, and the idiomatic use of the language in a variety of contexts. Placement in this course is determined by the Director in consultation with the Santiago de Compostela faculty following the two-week introductory session there.

Participants, with guidance from the director, will choose one or two electives from the regular Universidad San Pablo CEU course offerings in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Students may petition departments at Colgate to have these electives count for a major or minor.

The group will include a one-day excursion during the Santiago de Compostela session to one of the major natural or archaeological sites in Galicia. During the semester in Madrid, there will be a one-day excursion to Toledo, and two weekend excursions; these visits are linked to academic components of the group. Possible destinations for weekend excursions include Bilbao in the Basque Country, with visits to the Guggenheim and other museums and sites related to modern art, and to Granada in Andalucía, with a focus on its cathedral and its famed Alhambra.

Living Arrangements

During the two-week Santiago de Compostela session, participants will live in a dormitory of the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela. In Madrid, students will live with families, who will provide most meals. No more than one Colgate student will be housed with any given family. All housing arrangements will be made by the director after consultation with accepted students on living preferences. Any exceptions to these rules can be made only by the director.


Prerequisite courses for participation in the group are at least one 350-level Spanish class and Spanish 361. The Spanish faculty will choose students for participation based on their ability in Spanish, their academic record at Colgate, their interest in the Group and commitment to its goals, and their disciplinary record. Preference will be given to Spanish majors and minors, and those majoring in Latin American Studies, but all qualified and interested students are strongly encouraged to apply.


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheets.

Calendar and Deadlines

The deadline for applications to the Fall 2017 Madrid Study Group is November 4, 2016. Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs website and are submitted online. Student notification of selection will take place late December 2016.

Passports and Visas

You must confirm that your passport is valid through June 2018. With participation on this study group comes the responsibility of understanding and complying with the Spanish government’s visa requirements. If you will not be traveling on a U.S. passport it is imperative that you contact an adviser in Off-Campus Study/International Programs, 101 McGregory, and International Student Services, 103C Lathrop, to learn as much as you can about the visa requirements. For all students there are significant requirements to be met that take time, advance planning, and incur extra costs.

Program Dates

Madrid Study Group program tentative dates: Aug. 19 - Dec. 17, 2017

Informational Sessions

Tuesday, October 18 and 25, at 11:30 a.m. in the Center for International Programs (McGregory 101A).

More Information

For more information contact Prof. Fernando Plata in 212 Lawrence Hall 315-228-7088 or

Helpful Links

Sponsoring Department

Romance Languages Department

General Information

 All about Spain

Course-related Materials