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TCNJ Spain – Alcalá de Henares


TCNJ Spain – Universidad de Alcalá

Spring 2016

The TCNJ World Languages and Cultures Department and the TCNJ Center for Global Engagement have developed a Spring (only) semester-long study abroad program for TCNJ students in the heart of Spain – the Autonomous Community of Madrid – at the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares.  The program will be hosted by the university’s Instituto Franklin, which is an academic meeting place for Spaniards and North American students and scholars (and named after our country’s first famous diplomat, Benjamin Franklin).  World Languages and Cultures faculty member Isabel Kentengian will serve as Spring 2016 Program Director and introduce students to her native Spain.

For the Spring 2016 program, students will need to pay attention to the following pre-requisites:

  • Spanish majors – Students who have completed SPA 203 and SPA 211 by Fall 2015
  • Spanish minors – Students who have completed SPA 203 by Fall 2015.  Please note: SPA 211 is highly recommended in order to take more than one class in Spanish to count toward a minor

The Spring 2016 program will focus on Spanish language acquisition and the perfecting of one’s spoken and written Spanish.   There are several courses in English available, but students will need to take at least two units of coursework in Spanish at the 200- and/or 300-levels. Applicants must meet TCNJ requirements for study abroad, and two faculty members must write letters of recommendation to support applications.

Alcalá de Henares

donquixote-alcalaAlcalá de Henares, “la ciudad del saber,” is a city of over 200,000 people in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, approximately twenty miles northeast of the Spanish capital.  “Alcalá” is an Arabic word meaning “fortress” or “citadel,” and the Henares River differentiates this “Alcalá” from several others located throughout the country.

Higher education has been a major feature of the city since the late 13th century, when the Universidad Complutense was founded.  The medieval city center and the university campus take students to an entirely different historic era.  The Complutense moved to Madrid in the 19th century, and the Universidad de Alcalá is actually a very modern institution, founded in 1979.  Students benefit from cutting-edge language education (Alcalingua, a major publisher of language textbooks, is based in the city) and a charming architectural backdrop as they study castellano.

Academic Program

alcala3This is a TCNJ-sponsored Spring semester program, and we are offering TCNJ credit for classes in Alcalá taught by the TCNJ faculty director.  (We will announce the Spring 2016 director shortly.)  The director will teach, work together with the Universidad de Alcalá faculty, and support students during their time in Spain.  All students will have their oral proficiency measured before departure to help place them in appropriate classes in Spain.

Students must take four courses, each worth one TCNJ unit (four credits). The Spring 2016 course schedule at the Instituto Franklin offers a wide variety of options – practically the entire TCNJ curriculum in Spanish is available, thus allowing students the opportunity to combine courses that might not be offered at TCNJ at the same time in a given semester.  Quite a few topics courses are also on offer, as is a course focusing on Spanish theatre – acting in Spanish as well as studying plays and playwrights!  We hope that students will find at least one course that opens up an entirely new learning opportunity – one that might not be open to them in New Jersey.  The list of courses in the academic program will be updated as frequently as possible to allow students to plan their study abroad semesters.  Students interested in earning credit for service-learning/volunteering activities – SPA 223 Experiential Learning – may work together with the program director organize that 0.5-unit course in addition to those mentioned above.

Aside from having TCNJ faculty on site to handle all academic issues related to our students’ study abroad experience, there are two advantages to the TCNJ Spain program versus programs offered by other providers:

  • Students in TCNJ Spain will be able to earn four units of SPA credit, rather than three units from other programs.  Plus, students minoring in Spanish, should they take Program  Director Kentengian’s SPA class, may apply three units earned in TCNJ Spain to their major (versus only two in the programs of other providers).
  • Students in TCNJ Spain may use ALL of their financial aid and scholarships.  Students in other programs will not be able to use TCNJ Tuition Aid Grants or EOF scholarship assistance to pay for their study abroad (as of Fall 2013).
  • TCNJ Program Director Isabel Kentengian will be present throughout the semester, representing TCNJ to Instituto Franklin, serving as an academic advocate and advisor for students, and assisting with community-engaged learning opportunities.

Calle-Mayor-de-Alcala-de-Henares-a23634078Students will be enrolled as full-time students at TCNJ and will have one class – INTL 350 – in their PAWS accounts as evidence of full-time registration. Specific courses will be placed on the students’ accounts after the completion of the program.  Grades for these courses will not count in the students’ GPAs at TCNJ.

Instituto Franklin

[Adapted from]

The “Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Estudios Norteamericanos Benjamin Franklin” is a center of the Universidad de Alcalá (Instituto Franklin – UAH) founded in 1987 and focused upon research related to North America. The institute enjoys official recognition as a “University Research Institute” and was the first such research institute at UAH (and the only one in Spain) dedicated solely to North American Studies. As a research institute, Instituto Franklin has been authorized to teach official graduate courses at the master’s and doctoral levels as well as participate in research project calls and scholarship.

Since 1987, the Institute has focused on developing new approaches to institutional collaboration between Spain and North America through specific initiatives based mainly on sponsoring research projects, organizing international meetings and conferences, and developing academic programs for American students.

Learn more about the Instituto Franklin here!

Cultural Program

universidad_alcala_t2800981Students in the TCNJ Spain program will help plan a long weekend excursion to locations of their choice as part of their pre-departure orientation activities, but the Instituto Franklin slate of excursions and field trips will not disappoint anyone.

Click here to access the Instituto Franklin’s list of excursions for students enrolled in semester-long programs!

Highlights include multiple trips to Madrid, excursions to Toledo, Segovia, and the Cervantes Route, and day-trips to many cultural, political, and commercial institutions in the greater Madrid area.

Program Dates

Students will leave for Spain during the first half of January and should be finished with their semester by the end of April. (Confirmation of the Spring 2016 calendar should be available this summer.)  Click here for more details about the program schedule (including information about the three-day program orientation schedule).

Program Costs

Student in the TCNJ Spain program will be billed for TCNJ tuition, room, and board at the current rates. Students in homestays will receive three meals per day plus weekly laundry service, whereas students who opt to live in student residences will need to budget more money for food and laundry.

  • A note about housing: The housing questionnaire from the Instituto Franklin is quite extensive, which means that no stone is left unturned in the placement of students with appropriate families.  That said, homestays are often tricky…it’s good to have a strategy to make the most out of the homestay experience.  We suggest that students take a look at this article from for hints on how to make a homestay a great time in one’s life.

TCNJ students receiving financial aid and scholarships will continue to receive this assistance as if they were on campus.


Students should refer to the CGE’s application page for guidelines to apply for this program.


Contact the CGE at or 609-771-2596.