Graduate Program in Spanish

Graduate Programs in Spanish

Admission Requirements
Master of Arts in Romance Languages
Master of Arts Comprehensive Exam Formats for Spanish
Doctor of Philosophy in Romance Languages
Ph.D. Exam Structure

Graduate Adviser of Spanish Literature
Dr. Sarah Moody
B.B. Comer, office 211
Tel: 205-348-8465
Fax: 205-348-2042
stmoody@ua.edu

Graduate Adviser of Spanish Linguistics
Dr. Alicia Cipria
B.B. Comer, office 225
Tel: 205-348-8483
Fax: 205-348-2042
acipria@ua.edu

 

Admission Requirements

General requirements for admission to the Graduate School are set forth in the “Academic Policies” section of the Graduate Catalog (http://graduate.ua.edu/catalog/archive/gradcatalog201113.pdf) (UA Graduate Catalog 2011-2013). Applications are submitted to the Graduate School on-line (http://graduate.ua.edu/applicants.html).

All applicants to graduate degree programs in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics must submit test results from either the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test in support of the application.  A writing sample, uploaded on-line as a supplemental document during the application process or submitted directly to the Department of Modern Languages and Classics (see Advisers’ coordinates above), is also required. The sample, in the target language, should be about 10 pages (double spaced) in length.  In it, the candidate seeking admission will need to demonstrate a commensurate level of proficiency in the target language as well as critical thinking skills.

For students with deficiencies in undergraduate preparation, admission may be contingent upon completion of designated undergraduate requirements. Qualified students who are holders of an appropriate undergraduate degree may be admitted directly to the doctoral program in Romance languages. However, in such circumstances completion of all requirements for the appropriate master of arts program, including comprehensive testing and subsequent awarding of the master of arts degree, will be a prerequisite for completion of the doctoral degree.

Qualified students can seek dual admission to the School of Law and to any master of arts program offered in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics. If admitted to both, the student will be exempted from six hours of coursework for the juris doctor degree.

 

Master of Arts in Romance Languages: French, Spanish, and Romance Languages Options

A single degree program incorporates a variety of options and tracks.  There are three options: the French Option, the Spanish Option, and the Romance languages Option (which combines languages). All three options have thesis (Plan I) and non-thesis (Plan II) tracks. The French and Spanish options also allow for an applied linguistics track (thesis or non-thesis). Regardless of the option or track, all new graduate teaching assistants must enroll for the Practicum in Applied Linguistics (either FR 512 or SP 502). For specifics related to the programs incorporating Spanish, please consult degree requirements below.

 

General description of the Thesis track of the M.A. in Romance languages (Plan I).

A description of the typical configuration for the various thesis tracks of the Master of Arts in Romance languages follows. In addition to writing a thesis, all thesis tracks require success on a comprehensive examination (see exam formats below).

* Spanish Option, standard version (emphasizing literature) with thesis (Plan I). Curriculum
requirements: 24 hours of coursework and a thesis. The curriculum centers on Peninsular and Spanish-American literature. Requirements include success on a comprehensive written examination, based on the coursework, before granting of the degree.

* Spanish Option, applied linguistics track with thesis (Plan I). Curriculum requirements: 30 hours of coursework and a thesis. In addition to the thesis, the applied linguistics track involves three components: language, linguistics, and applied linguistics. The language component consists of 15 hours of course credit in Spanish language, literature, and culture (a minimum of 6 hours must be in Peninsular literature and 6 hours in Latin-American literature). The linguistics component is comprised of a 3-hour descriptive linguistics course (SP 556). The applied linguistics component consists of 12 hours of coursework in second language acquisition and pedagogy (SP 502, EN 613, and two of the following: SP 581, EN 610, EN 612, CIE 577, or other approved courses; for descriptions of courses bearing the EN prefix, see the Department of English section of the Graduate Catalog; for descriptions of courses bearing the CIE prefix, see “Curriculum and Instruction Course Descriptions” in the College of Education section of the Graduate Catalog). Requirements include success on a comprehensive written examination, based on the coursework, before granting of the degree.

* Romance Languages Option, with thesis (Plan I). Curriculum requirements: 30 hours of coursework and a thesis. The curriculum requires study of French and Spanish, one as the major and one as the minor. The major includes a minimum of 18 hours. The minor includes a minimum of 12 hours. More than the minimum is recommended for both the major and the minor. Graduate courses in Italian studies are available on occasion (see the RL prefix in course listings). Requirements include success on a comprehensive written examination, based on the coursework, before granting of the degree. For exam particulars, consult with the Graduate Adviser.

 

General Description of Non-thesis tracks of the M.A. in Romance languages (Plan II)

The non-thesis tracks for the Spanish and Romance languages options of the Master of Arts incorporate 30 hours of coursework (or 36 hours of coursework for the applied linguistics version). Included in all non-thesis tracks of the Master of Arts in Romance languages is a core of five courses in the five areas listed below.

1. Teaching Practicum/Topics in Linguistics
2. Pro-seminar: Research Methodology/Critical Theory
3. Topics in Culture and Civilization
4. Graduate Seminar
5. Special Topics/Directed Readings

All non-thesis tracks require success on a comprehensive written examination before granting of the degree (see exam formats below).

* Spanish Option, standard version (emphasizing literature) without thesis (Plan II). The curriculum consists of 30 hours of graduate coursework, of which 27 hours must be taken in the Spanish section. The students must take a minimum of three courses in Peninsular literature, three courses in Latin American literature, two courses in Spanish linguistics, and at least one more Spanish elective, in order to obtain 27 credits, divided among the following areas of study:

  • Golden Age Peninsular
  • Nineteenth-Century Peninsular
  • Twentieth-Century Peninsular
  • Latin America before 1900
  • Twentieth-Century Latin America
  • U.S. Latino Studies
  • Transatlantic Studies
  • Spanish linguistics

A student may take the remaining three credits outside the Spanish section or may take an additional Spanish elective in order to complete the 30 required credits.

* Spanish Option, applied linguistics track without thesis (Plan II). Curriculum requirements: 36 hours of coursework. The applied linguistics track involves three components: language, linguistics, and applied linguistics. The language component consists of 21 hours of course credit in Spanish language, literature, and culture (a minimum of 6 hours must be in Peninsular literature and 6 hours in Latin-American literature). The linguistics component is comprised of a 3-hour descriptive linguistics course (SP 556). The applied linguistics component consists of 12 hours of coursework in second language acquisition and pedagogy (SP 502, EN 613, and two of the following: SP 581, EN 610, EN 612, CIE 577, or other approved courses; for descriptions of courses bearing the EN prefix, see the Department of English section of the Graduate Catalog; for descriptions of courses bearing the CIE prefix, see “Curriculum and Instruction Course Descriptions” in the College of Education section of the Graduate Catalog). Requirements include success on a comprehensive examination, based on the coursework, before granting of the degree.

* Romance Languages Option, without thesis (Plan II). Curriculum requirements: 30-36 hours of coursework. The curriculum requires study of French and Spanish, one as the major and one as the minor. The major includes a minimum of 18 hours. The minor includes a minimum of 12 hours. More than the minimum is recommended for both the major and the minor. Graduate courses in Italian studies are available on occasion (see the RL prefix in course listings below). Requirements include success on a comprehensive written examination, based on the coursework, before granting of the degree. For exam particulars, consult with the Graduate Adviser.

Requirements for the Comprehensive Examinations of the Master of Arts in Spanish.

For a full-time student who has support in the form of an assistantship and/or a fellowship, the comprehensive examination for any track of the Master of Arts in Spanish normally takes place in the fourth (and final) semester of the program. (An exam may be taken earlier, however, if the student has transfer hours and/or has accumulated credit hours in the summer.) Part-time students may take up to six years to complete their degree program. Since time-lines may vary, the semester preceding projected graduation, students should give an indication (by e-mail or by letter) to their Graduate Adviser of their intention to take the exam. Exams are administered only in the spring and fall terms. In the fall, the exam is taken in mid-October (with allowances made in order to avoid a scheduling conflict with the Fall Break). In the spring, the exam is taken in mid-March (with allowances made in order to avoid a scheduling conflict with the Spring Break). The comprehensive examination contains no oral component. There is only a written component.

M.A. Exam Format for the Standard version emphasizing literature (for Plan I and Plan II)

The examination is based on the courses the student has taken during his/her course of study; thus, it is important that the student keep an archive of the course syllabi of every course taken. Should the student, for any reason, not take a course in one of the assigned areas, he/she will have to make up for this omission by supplying appropriate selections from the Reading List for the Master of Arts in Spanish.

MA Spanish Literature Track Reading List

Typically there are three exam days, with two exam sessions each day, spread out over the course of a week. During each exam session, the examinee writes answers to one question. Each session lasts two hours. A typical sequence for taking the exam would follow this schedule: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (two hours each morning and two hours each afternoon).

The professor in each area of specialization, after evaluating the written answers, decides if the student passes his/her question. In order to pass the entire exam, a student must earn a pass in five of the six areas. Should the student fail more than two areas, he/she will have one final opportunity to repeat the failed areas, normally in the following semester (without expectation of renewed support in the form of an assistantship).

Should the student fail in two areas, normally he/she must repeat both areas two weeks later. Should the student pass both repeated areas or fail in only one of the two repeated areas, then the student will earn a pass on the overall exam. Should the student fail both repeated areas, then he/she has one final opportunity to retake the failed exams, normally the following semester (without expectation of renewed support in the form of an assistantship).

M.A. Exam Format for the Applied Linguistics track (for Plan I and Plan II):

The comprehensive exam for the Applied Linguistics track is comprised of three exam sessions. Typically there are three exam days, with a single two-hour exam session each day, spread out over the course of a week. All exam questions are based on the coursework. At each of the three sessions, the examinee will write answers to two different questions (from a choice of three or more questions, typically from different professors).  The order of sessions may vary, but in all cases one session is devoted to the Applied Linguistics minor, another section is devoted to Peninsular and Latin American literature, and a final section is devoted to a combination of Spanish Linguistics and electives.  In order to receive a pass on the overall exam, the examinee must earn a pass on both Applied Linguistics questions and on at least three of the other four questions.  Failure to do so will require a repeat examination in all failed areas, at a time to be determined in consultation with the Graduate Adviser and exam committee members. (In the event that the repeat examination takes place during the following semester, there can be no expectation of renewed support in the form of an assistantship.)

 

Doctor of Philosophy in Romance Languages

Two options are available:

*Spanish option. The curriculum is centered on Spanish, though up to 12 hours of coursework in a related discipline is admissible. All new graduate teaching assistants must take SP 502. The accumulation of coursework must include representation of at least four of the following fields:  16th-17th Century Peninsular, 19th Century Peninsular, 20th-21st Century Peninsular, Colonial, 19th Century Latin American, 20th-21st Century Latin American, U.S. Latino Studies, and Transatlantic Studies. At the conclusion of the coursework, before work on the dissertation itself can begin, a preliminary examination must first take place (see below), leading to the creation of an acceptable dissertation prospectus.

*Romance languages option. Candidates for the Romance languages track will be allowed to tailor their programs individually, with the advice of a Graduate Adviser. The goal will be to meet the interests and career requirements of the candidate by utilizing the full resources of the department and of cognate graduate programs offered by the University. Students choosing this option may pursue one of the following configurations:

(1)  Double major in French and Spanish, with an accumulation of 30 hours of coursework in each, including up to 30 transferred hours. However, a maximum of 18 hours in either language (French or Spanish) can be transferred from a prior MA to satisfy requirements towards either major in the double major track of the Romance Languages Option of the Ph.D.

(2)  Major in Spanish (or French), with an 18-hour minor in the other language or in an allied discipline.  A variety of minors are possible, depending upon the student’s needs, and limited only by his or her qualifications and the cooperation of other faculties. Possible minors include German, TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language), and Film Studies. Other customized programs can be made to incorporate combinations of coursework in linguistics, applied linguistics, Italian studies, history, art history, women studies, English, anthropology, etc.  The curriculum for a Spanish major must include coursework in at least four of the following fields:  16th-17th Century Peninsular, 19th Century Peninsular, 20th-21st Century Peninsular, Colonial, 19th Century Latin American, 20th-21st Century Latin American, U.S. Latino Studies, and Transatlantic Studies.

(3)  Major in Spanish (or French), with a 30-hour concentration in Linguistics (mostly Applied Linguistics). In consultation with a Graduate Adviser, available linguistics coursework can be selected from the departments of Modern Languages and Classics, English, Anthropology, and Communicative Disorders, as well as from the College of Education.

All new graduate teaching assistants in Spanish must take SP 502 (teaching practicum). At the conclusion of the coursework, before work on the dissertation itself can begin, a preliminary examination must first take place, leading to the creation of an acceptable dissertation prospectus, as described in the Ph.D exam structure below.

General Departmental Requirements for the Ph.D.

All Ph.D. candidates must take one research-related course either in general literary theory or else in linguistic research methodology, depending upon the track. These courses need not be language-specific or program-specific; they can be general and inclusive of all literatures and languages. In addition to the program-specific requirements presented above, all doctoral candidates, regardless of the option or track selected, must adhere to the following. The minimal formal coursework required is 60 semester hours, which may include up to 30 hours of transferred credits earned at another institution. Students who have completed a master’s thesis, however, need accumulate only 54 hours of coursework. Once all coursework is completed, an additional 24 hours of dissertation research are required. All doctoral candidates must possess reading knowledge of one language in addition to English, their native language, and their language of specialization. It is strongly recommended that, before the termination of studies, all doctoral candidates reside for a period in a country or location requiring constant interaction in the language of specialization.

 

Ph.D. Exam Structure (as revised and adopted Nov. 30, 2012) (Ph.D. Exam Structure)

(1) At the outset of the semester following the conclusion of the candidate’s required doctoral coursework, an exam committee will be formally constituted, normally being composed of five professors having taught the candidate’s coursework or whose area of expertise is appropriate to the proposed dissertation topic. The prospective dissertation director will chair the exam committee and will have the responsibility for organizing the exam and overseeing its procedures.  The selection of the other committee members is normally determined by virtue of consultation between the committee chair and the candidate, with the advice of the appropriate Graduate Advisor(s) if needed.  (If for any reason the original exam committee chair cannot continue to function in that capacity at any time during the exam cycle or cannot serve as the subsequent dissertation director, a new exam committee chair or dissertation director will be designated in consultation with the appropriate Graduate Advisors or the department Chair.)

(2) After ample prior consultation and guidance from the prospective exam committee chair (who is also the prospective dissertation director, as indicated above), the candidate will submit to the exam committee chair a written “pre-prospectus,” that is, a preliminary version of the prospectus.  If deemed acceptable by the exam committee chair, said chair will distribute the pre-prospectus to the rest of the committee.  If the exam cycle takes place during a fall semester, the exam committee should receive the pre-prospectus no later than October 1st (or the next nearest business day).  If the exam cycle takes place during a spring semester, the exam committee should receive the pre-prospectus no later than March 1st (or the next nearest business day).  In order to meet the stated deadlines, the candidate must have already begun work on the pre-prospectus well prior to the outset of the exam semester.

(3) After reading the pre-prospectus, the exam committee members will submit to the exam committee chair a set of written questions. Each committee member will submit one question. That question, which may pertain to the pre-prospectus or to any of the candidate’s course work taught by the examiner, may be narrow or broad and may contain multiple parts.  If the exam cycle takes place during a fall semester, the exam committee members should normally submit their questions to the committee chair no later than October 7th (or the next nearest business day). If the exam cycle takes place during a spring semester, the exam committee members should normally submit their questions no later than March 7th (or the next nearest business day). After reviewing all the questions to verify that format guidelines have been followed, the exam committee chair will then submit all the questions simultaneously to the candidate. (In the event, however, that some of the examiners’ questions are late in arriving, the other questions should be given to the candidate on the stated deadline, with the late questions following as soon as they are supplied. If Fall Break or Spring Break interferes with the stated deadlines, appropriate adjustments can be made.)

(4) Once the questions have been submitted to the candidate, he/she will have a total of two full weeks to generate written responses to all of the questions. Each response should be a minimum of four standard pages in length (plus a reference bibliography, if required) and a maximum of ten standard pages in length (plus a reference bibliography, if required).  A reference bibliography is required if the student cites any sources in the text of the response.  The written responses must be typed, using the New Times Roman font (except for phonetic notation and other special characters) set for 12 points, and must be double-spaced with one-inch margins on all sides.  Completed answers will be delivered to the exam committee chair, usually in electronic format, who will then be responsible for distributing the answers to the rest of the committee. Every member of the exam committee should be provided with a copy of all the written answers.  If the exam cycle takes place during a fall semester, the exam committee members should receive the set of answers no later than October 25th (or the next nearest business day). If the exam cycle takes place during a spring semester, the exam committee members should receive the set of answers no later than March 25th (or the next nearest business day). (If Fall Break or Spring Break interferes with the stated deadlines, appropriate adjustments can be made.)

(5) The exam committee members will have a maximum of ten days to evaluate the candidate’s answers. They will then vote on the acceptability of the written exam (which includes both the pre-prospectus and the written answers). Every questioner votes primarily on his/her section of the exam, but may also take into account overall performance. Each individual examiner should register a vote according to the following gradation:

  • PASS with distinction
  • PASS
  • PASS with reservation
  • FAIL

This voting gradation is for department-internal use only; the final overall outcome will be reported to the Graduate School as either PASS or FAIL.  In order to obtain an overall outcome of PASS, at least four of the five examiners must vote for any of the three gradations of PASS. In the event that the candidate does not obtain at least four positive votes, the overall outcome is reported to the Graduate School as a FAIL. The candidate will have, in accordance with Graduate School policy, one additional chance to retake the exam. In such a case, the candidate must retake all of the failed sections of the exam at a later date, to be determined by the exam committee in consultation with the student. In the event that there is a lack of consensus concerning the appropriate date for the retake, the departmental Chair, in consultation with all parties, will make the final determination.  (If it is determined that the retake must occur in the subsequent semester, continuation of assistantship support for the candidate is not to be expected due to the lack of satisfactory academic progress as reflected in the failed exam. It will be up to the departmental Chair, however, to make the determination as to whether or not a failure on the exam results in withdrawal of assistantship support.)

(6) When the candidate passes the written exam, he/she uses the feedback gained during the examination process, in consultation with the prospective dissertation director (that is, the former exam committee chair), to arrive at the final version of the dissertation prospectus (that is, the final revision of what was formerly the pre-prospectus).  Prior to the end of the semester, the prospectus will be defended orally in the presence of the dissertation committee. Ideally, to facilitate continuity, the membership of the dissertation committee will be the same or nearly the same as the previous exam committee, but circumstances may arise where changes will occur in the composition of the committee (for example, an examiner who had coursework with the candidate but whose expertise lies outside the parameters of the proposed dissertation topic might rotate off of the committee and be replaced by someone else when the dissertation committee is constituted). According to Graduate School policy, to constitute a successful defense, the prospectus must meet with the approval of at least three members of the committee. At the close of a successfully defended prospectus presentation, the members of the dissertation committee will sign the “Application for Candidacy” form. This is also an appropriate moment for the “Appointment or Change of Doctoral Dissertation Committee” to be completed and initialed by all members of the dissertation committee, if that obligation remains to fulfill.  Both forms should then be delivered to the Graduate School, along with an “Outline of Ph.D. (Plan of Study)” form, if this item has not yet been filed.