University of Minnesota
Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies

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Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. in Hispanic and Lusophone Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics

A Doctor of Philosophy is expected to make scholarly contributions that will expand and enrich his or her own field of specialization through the development of new areas of research. The degree is awarded in recognition of high attainment and ability in a special subject field as demonstrated by passing the required examinations and successfully defending a thesis that is based on original research and that makes a significant contribution to knowledge in the candidate's field. Within the Ph.D. Program there are four areas of emphasis:

  • Spanish Peninsular
  • Spanish American
  • Lusophone literatures and cultures
  • Hispanic Linguistics

While the student's program involves at least some work in all areas within the department, the focus shall be in his or her area of emphasis.

Students are expected to file an official degree program form with the Graduate School during their second year of study, or no later than one term prior to the student's Preliminary Oral Exam. The form should list all course work, completed and proposed that will be taken in fulfillment of degree requirements in the major field as well as in the minor field or supporting program. The form should also list transfer credits, if any and the members of the preliminary examining committee.

Language Requirements

Hispanic or Lusophone Literatures/Cultures

For literature/culture students proficiency in Spanish and/or Portuguese as well as a good reading knowledge and oral comprehension in the minor language (i.e., Portuguese for those emphasizing Spanish Peninsular or Spanish American literatures, Spanish for those emphasizing the Lusophone area) is required. The department strongly recommends work in other national languages and literatures/cultures. Other languages may be substituted with the approval of the Adviser if such substitution(s) strengthen the student's program.

Hispanic Linguistics

Students in Hispanic Linguistics are expected to acquire:

  • Proficiency in a second Ibero-Romance language
  • Reading knowledge of a third language
  • LAT 1001 within the past four years

Course Requirements

Refer to the Spanish and Portuguese Graduate Handbook


M.A. in Hispanic and Lusophone Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics

The M. A. is considered a stage in preparation for the Ph.D. and not an end in itself. Applicants must first apply to, or hold, a Master of Arts degree (or its equivalent) before continuing on to the PhD. Applicants are considered for admission at both the Ph.D. and M.A. level, however, preference is given to those that intend to continue on to the Ph.D..

The M.A. program is designed to help students acquire an understanding of the issues that constitute the areas of Spanish, Spanish American, and Lusophone literatures and cultures, and Hispanic Linguistics. This objective is to be accomplished by reading and study leading to a comprehensive knowledge of the disciplines, both through the required sequence of 5xxx-level courses and through the student's individual research and preparation. While there is no reading list for the M.A., students should expect to do substantial reading beyond the requirements of their courses in order to acquire a historical foundation in their fields, familiarity with the topics and problems of the disciplines, and the necessary critical and theoretical tools to communicate ideas.

The M.A. program offers three formal tracks that students select upon entrance to the program, which is recorded on the transcript. The tracks each offer distinct training as follows:

Track I: Hispanic Literatures and Cultures

Students receive a solid experience in Peninsular and Spanish-American Literatures and Cultures. Works and literary movements are studied in their historical, social, and cultural contexts, combining the approaches of literary criticism with those of sociology, the history of ideas, anthropology, and feminism, among others.

Track II: Lusophone Literatures and Cultures

This track prepares students in Portuguese Studies, understood as an interdisciplinary critical formation through which the cultures and literatures of Portugal, Brazil, and Lusophone Africa are approached. Students are trained in the main historical periods, cultural movements, and social issues pertaining to the Portuguese-speaking world, both nationally and transnationally, within relevant comparative frameworks.

Track III: Hispanic Linguistics

This track is centered on the relation between language and its context of use, encompassing social, pragmatic, and discourse factors. It provides students with a strong background in the following areas of Hispanic Linguistics: phonetics, phonology, syntax, pragmatics and discourse, historical linguistics, language variation, and second language acquisition.

Language Requirements

For the master's degree, students must have a reading knowledge of a foreign language outside of their principal area of study. Competence in both Spanish and Portuguese satisfies this requirement. Students who wish to continue to the Ph.D. after the M.A. are strongly encouraged to begin their study of Portuguese immediately so as to be prepared for the Ph.D. requirement of two Portuguese courses.

The Graduate School monitors the fulfillment of this foreign language proficiency and students are required to submit one of two Certification of Language Proficiency forms prior to graduating. These certification forms are completed by either the student's graduate department or by the language department in which the student took courses to acquire the foreign language proficiency. This proficiency will only be recorded on the official transcript if the language department completes the certification. Certification forms are available on the Graduate School's website.

Directed Readings

Students interested in developing a directed reading project must file a Directed Reading form with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies. This form must be approved by the faculty evaluator and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Directed Readings may be taken only after the required course work (33 credits) for the M.A. has been completed; directed readings may not act as substitutes for required course work at the M.A. level.

Course Requirements

Refer to the Spanish and Portuguese Graduate Handbook.