Ph.D Degree


Our department offers three specializations: Hispanic Linguistics, Spanish Literatures and Cultures, and Latin American Literatures and Cultures. For detailed information about each specialization and its requirements and qualifying examination, review our  Degree Requirements.

Advising and Mentorship

Our department believes that mentoring is a key aspect of a graduate student's experience. Our faculty works closely with their graduate students to create a positive and challenging environment that fosters intellectual and professional growth. Serving as advocates and mentors, they:

  • Advise students about degree requirements.
  • Guide students through thesis or dissertation research.
  • Encourage students' professional development.

Mentoring Guidelines are available here.

General Requirements

  • Enrollment: 12 units per quarter for full-time status; less than 6 units per quarter for part-time status. (All employed students and student receiving fellowships are expected to enroll in 12 units of course work.)
  • Grades: A grade average of B or better must be maintained in courses taken for the degree. On receipt of a grade of C or lower in any course, a candidate will be warned. A second grade of C or lower will be regarded as grounds for disqualification.
  • Languages: Ph.D. students must demonstrate competence in reading comprehension in two languages other than English and Spanish before being admitted to the qualifying exam. One of these should be Portuguese and the other should be related to the student's field of research.

Reading List

Literature Ph.D. students construct their reading list using as a basis the lists available from the graduate program coordinator. The available lists are: Historical Periods: Golden Age, Modern Spanish and Modern Spanish-American, and Medieval; and Genres: Hispanic and Peninsular Poetry, Hispanic and Peninsular Prose fiction, and Hispanic and Peninsular Theater. Students should include literature from all genres of one historical period and all periods of one genre. Their dissertation adviser must approve their reading list.

Linguistics Ph.D. students use the M.A. Reading list as a basis. Their dissertation adviser must approve their reading list.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying exam consists of both a written and oral portion. There are five members of the qualifying exam committee who are recommended by the student and the Ph.D. adviser. Previous exam questions are available for review from the graduate program coordinator, and students are encouraged to study them.

Dissertation Project

Six weeks before the scheduled date for the qualifying exam, a Ph.D. candidate must present a dissertation proposal to his or her exam committee members for approval. The final dissertation should demonstrate the student's ability for independent investigation and analysis, and it must be approved by the committee in charge of the dissertation and by the Graduate Council before the Ph.D. degree will be recommended. In no case will the Ph.D. degree be granted merely for the faithful completion of a course of study, however extensive. Detailed instructions on the format of the dissertation and abstract may be obtained at

Completion Schedule

The minimum residence requirement for a Doctorate degree is six regular quarters of full-time enrollment (12 units per quarter). Two six-week summer sessions may be counted as the equivalent of one regular quarter for purposes of satisfying this requirement. A minimum of two units must be taken in each summer session. Typically, students complete the Ph.D. program in five to six years.

Designated Emphases

Spanish Ph.D. students may participate in a Designated Emphasis (DE), a specialization that might include a new method of inquiry or an important field of application which is related to their existing Ph.D. program. The DE is awarded in conjunction with the Ph.D. degree and is signified by a transcript designation; for example, "Ph.D. in Spanish with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory." Students must complete all the requirements for the Spanish program, as well as the courses required for the selected DE. 

The Graduate Program in Spanish is affiliated with 8 Designated Emphases: African American and African Studies; Classics and Classical Receptions; Critical Theory; Feminist Theory and Research; Human Rights; Native American Studies; Second Language Acquisition; and Studies in Performance and Practice.