The Spanish for Health Professionals (SHP) Certificate Program is designed to provide students with the language skills and cultural knowledge needed to help Spanish-speakers successfully negotiate the health care system. Graduates of the program leave not only with proficiency in medical Spanish, but also with an understanding of the Hispanic culture and how that culture may affect healthcare practices and the delivery of health services.

This certificate will enhance the credentials of individuals seeking a career in direct patient care such as doctor, nurse, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or physical therapist, or anyone who works with Spanish-speakers in a healthcare setting such as insurance providers or healthcare navigators.

Hispanic and Latino groups are the largest minority group in the United States, and Spanish-speakers constitute the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. In Milwaukee alone, Spanish-speakers make up almost 20% percent of the population (2020 Census). As these populations grow, so does the need for healthcare workers who can communicate with and advocate for Spanish-speaking patients.

Students in the program gain expertise in the language of health care, in Spanish, including colloquial Spanish; an understanding of cultural differences that impact the delivery of health care services to Hispanic populations; and knowledge of the health care concerns of many different groups of Spanish-speakers. 

Certificates are similar to minors in terms of credit requirements but draw on coursework from multiple fields of study rather than from a single department.


The Spanish for Health Professionals Certificate is open to all students seeking a bachelor’s degree from UWM, to students who previously received a bachelor’s degree from UWM or any other accredited college or university, and to individuals who do not plan to pursue a college or university degree (non-degree students) but who have a strong interest in this topic. To be admitted as non-degree candidates, individuals must meet regular University admissions requirements. Students currently involved in baccalaureate studies who successfully complete the requirements of the program will be awarded the certificate at the time of graduation. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree and non-degree students will receive the certificate upon completion of the program requirements.


The Certificate in Spanish for Health Professionals is for both students in health professions who are interested in working with Hispanic populations and students with some Spanish competency who wish to develop familiarity with the health-related vocabulary in Spanish. 

To obtain the certificate, students must complete at least 18 credits in courses approved for the Spanish for Health Professionals certificate, with at least 12 credits taken in residence at UWM and a minimum of 9 of the credits in residence taken in L&S courses at the advanced level (courses numbered 300 and above). A maximum of 6 credits in a combination of independent study, internship, and study abroad courses may count toward the certificate. Students must earn a 2.00 GPA in all certificate courses, including transfer work, and in the courses for the certificate taken at UWM. Courses for the certificate may not be taken on a credit/no credit basis. The certificate requirements are as follows:

SPANISH 308Advanced Writing and Reading3
SPANISH 318Advanced Speaking and Listening3
or SPANISH 319 Advanced Speaking and Listening for Heritage Speakers
SPANISH 338Spanish for Health Professionals3
SPANISH 388Health Issues in the Hispanic World3
Select 6 credits in health-focused electives listed below in any combination6
Total Credits18

Health-focused Electives (by interest area)

Select at least 6 credits from courses below. Please note that most courses listed are 3-credit courses but a few are not.

Health Communication

COMMUN 381Health Communication3
COMMUN 481Interpersonal Issues in Health Communication3
COMMUN 581Health Communication Interventions3

Pharmaceuticals, Medicine, and Drugs

ANTHRO 443Medicine and Pharmaceuticals in the Global Age3
BMS 260Introduction to Complementary and Integrative Health Approaches3
HCA 212Drugs Used and Abused3
PSYCH 454Psychopharmacology and Addiction3

Health Care Delivery Policy

ECON 450Health Economics3
HCA 502Healthcare Delivery Systems: National and International Perspectives3
PH 408Comparative Health Systems: A Social Determinants Approach3
PHILOS 244Ethical Issues in Health Care: (subtitle)3

Health: A Social Science Perspective

ANTHRO 440Medical Anthropology3
COMSDIS 210Survey of Communication Disorders (SS GER)3
PSYCH 555Health Psychology3
SOCIOL 282Sociology of Aging3
SOCIOL 331Sociology of Health Care3

Health: A Natural Science Perspective

BMS 232Introduction to Nutrition (NS GER)3
HS 101Introduction to Health and Disease2
PH 303Climate Change, the Environment and Human Health (NS GER)3

Global Health

ANTHRO/GLOBAL 439Culture and Global Health3
NURS 101Cultural Diversity in Health Care 13
NURS/GLOBAL 301Introduction to Global Health3
NURS 380Honors Seminar: 13
NURS 401Global Patterns of Disease3
NURS/GLOBAL 575Global Health: Ethics and Human Rights3
PH 142Exploring Global Environmental Health3

Students who take NURS 380 cannot take NURS 101 for credit (NURS 380 is the Honors version of this course).

Public Health

PH 101Introduction to Public Health3
PH 302Health and Disease: Concepts and Contexts3
PH 319Introduction to Health Disparities3
PH 327Foundations for Action in Public Health3
PH 427Strategies for Action in Public Health3
HCA 307Epidemiology for the Health Sciences3

Study abroad courses in Spanish-speaking countries or other courses relevant to Spanish for Health Professionals may be accepted with the approval of the Spanish Undergraduate Advisor, in consultation with advisors and/or faculty from other programs..

Credits earned at other institutions equivalent to courses in the certificate program may be accepted in partial fulfillment of the program requirements, subject to review by the Spanish Undergraduate Advisor.