M.S. in Spanish

Georgetown University - Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Program Description

M.S. in Spanish

Georgetown University - Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

The graduate program in Spanish offers programs of study leading to the M.S. in Spanish. Candidates may choose a program with an emphasis on either Hispanic literature and cultural studies or Spanish linguistics.

The Program in Literature and Cultural Studies in Spanish and Portuguese offers students a strong multidisciplinary approach in a range of literary periods and opportunities for research in the following fields: Colonial/Postcolonial Literature and Studies; Ethnography; Film Studies; Gender Studies; Luso-Brazilian Literature and Studies; Medieval and Early Modern Literature and Studies, Modern Latin American Literature and Culture, Modern Spanish Literature and Culture, and Transatlantic Studies.

The Spanish linguistics program, one of the strongest in the U.S., includes courses in applied linguistics, history/dialectology, phonology/morphology, syntax, and semantics. The program is offered in close collaboration with the department of linguistics.

Graduate students are encouraged to present their work at scholarly meetings and to publish in refereed media, often in collaboration with faculty members. The department has had considerable success in placing its graduates in tenure-track jobs.

Areas of Study

Spanish Linguistics

1. Course and Examination Requirements

The M.S. curriculum includes courses in the following five areas of specialization: Applied Linguistics, History/Dialectology, Phonology/Morphology, Syntax, and Semantics & Pragmatics. Courses are divided into two Tiers. Students must take all courses in Tier I and four courses from Tier II. Tier I courses need to be taken before Tier II courses, except for History of the Spanish Language and Spanish Dialectology, which can be taken in either order.

The following five courses from Tier I:

  • Spanish Teaching Methodology
  • History of the Spanish Language
  • Semantics & Pragmatics I
  • Phonology and Morphology I
  • Generative Syntax I

Any four courses from Tier II:

  • Instructed Second Language Acquisition
  • Spanish Dialectology
  • Semantics & Pragmatics II
  • Phonology and Morphology II
  • Generative Syntax II

In addition to courses from Tiers I and II, students take one elective course in any field in linguistics or related areas, such as philosophy, cognition, anthropology, or bilingual education. In the fourth semester students wishing to write a Qualifying Paper in order to continue to the Ph.D. sign up for Continuous Registration (SPAN 999), in addition to two regular courses.

2. Qualifying Paper

The purpose of the Qualifying Paper (QP) is to give the student an opportunity to show that he or she is able to conduct the kind of independent research that is necessary to write a doctoral dissertation. Students may consult faculty regarding the viability and originality of their proposed topics or any questions that come up along the way, but they will not read drafts nor will they provide written feedback. The QP may be an original study or one that originated in a previous course but has not received substantial feedback from any professor; provision of written feedback disqualifies a paper from being considered (documentation of the level of feedback will be required).

In addition, if the QP is a conceptual replication of a previous study, or is based in whole or in part on one of the faculty paradigms or databases, or even public databases (i.e., Childes), it needs to include minimally another independent variable with its pertinent review of the literature necessary to motivate its research question. The deadline for submission of the Qualifying Paper form, which includes a title, topic, reference list, and abstract is February 15th of the fourth semester of study. While it is not necessary to conduct an experiment involving IRB approval for the QP, students wishing to do so should consult the University's Institutional Review Board web page and obtain approval before the February 15th deadline. The process of obtaining IRB approval usually requires two months.

The paper must be submitted by the end of the candidate’s fourth semester of coursework. Students can apply for one extension, which must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and is only granted for medical reasons. The maximum time for an extension cannot exceed two weeks. The Qualifying Paper is evaluated by a committee made up of two Georgetown University faculty members with expertise in the subject area of the paper who, after evaluating the paper (cf. Summary Ranking attached), will provide students with written comments.

Members of the committee are appointed by the Chair of the Department; at least one of the members must be a member of the faculty in the Spanish and Portuguese Department. The committee’s decision is reported to the Director of Graduate Studies, who announces it to the student, the Chair, the Registrar, and the Graduate School. Decisions are final. If the paper is satisfactory and the student has a general GPA higher than 3.5, and a GPA of 3.67 or higher in the chosen area of specialization, s/he is accepted into the Ph.D. Program. If the paper falls short of passing quality, and/or the minimum GPA has not been reached in both categories, the student is not allowed to continue to the Ph.D. program, but may be awarded a Master’s degree, provided all other requirements, including a minimum GPA of 3.0, are met. Students not wishing to continue to the Ph.D. program need not complete a Qualifying Paper.

After successful completion of all requirements for the Master’s degree, students accepted into the Ph.D. program may apply to the Graduate School to obtain the degree of Master’s of Science in passing and participate in Commencement if they so wish.

3. Academic Standing

Students wishing to receive only a Master’s degree are expected to have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students wishing to continue to the Ph.D. in Spanish Linguistics should see below for prerequisites.

4. Language Requirement

All M.S. students must pass an oral proficiency exam in a language other than English or Spanish administered by a regular faculty member in one of the language departments. Students should request the appropriate form from the DGS and return it signed. Students typically have twenty minutes to read an article with the aid of a dictionary. The oral exam then consists of a discussion of the article, which, if possible, should cover a linguistic topic or one related to language. The language requirement must be satisfied by the end of the fourth semester, but students should plan ahead and contact language departments early in the semester. Since oral proficiency in a foreign language requires considerable practice, students are advised to start preparing for this requirement from their first semester.

5. Annual Goal and Achievement Reports

By the end of each academic year, every student must file/update a “statement” with the DGS. In the statement, the student lists achievements, including all courses taken, examinations passed, publications and presentations and service such as participation in student organizations. The student also details progress made towards the Qualifying Paper and dissertation. These two reports are kept on file for such purposes as writing letters of recommendation and teaching assignments and are considered by the Department’s Academic Progress Committee, which are then report to the Department Chair. This committee may recommend appropriate action.

Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies

1. Course and Examination Requirements

The following course and examination requirements must be met for the M.S. in Literature and Cultural Studies:

A. 2 required courses to be taken preferably during the first year:

  • 500 Spanish Teaching Methodology
  • 461 Introduction to Critical Theory

B. 6 courses, chosen from the following subject fields: (each course must be from a different field).

      1. Medieval Peninsular literature and culture (to 1500)
      2. Early Modern Peninsular Literature and culture (to 1700)
      3. Modern and Contemporary Peninsular literature and culture
      4. Ethnography
      5. Latin American colonial literature and culture
      6. Modern and Contemporary Latin American literature and culture
      7. Luso-Brazilian literature and culture
      8. Transatlantic literature and culture

C. 3 free elective courses from any of the seven subject fields.

2. Language Requirement

All Master’s students must show reading proficiency in a language other than English or Spanish. The language requirement must be completed prior to taking the Master’s comprehensive exam. Each student should consult with the appropriate language department.

administering the examination to inquire about the standards and format of the test. Please see guidelines.

3. Comprehensive Examination

During the fourth semester of the program, students will complete a comprehensive written examination. The examinations are based upon the works listed in the department's Master’s Examination Primary Texts Reading Lists, available below. Prior to taking the examination, students should consult with the faculty to discuss their intentions, and request further critical and bibliographical guidance. The student will choose to be examined in six of the following eight fields. Exams may be presented in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.

  1. Medieval Peninsular literature and culture (to 1500)
  2. Early Modern Peninsular Literature and culture (to 1700)
  3. Modern and contemporary Peninsular literature and culture
  4. Ethnography
  5. Latin American colonial literature and culture
  6. Modern and Contemporary Latin American literature and culture
  7. Luso-Brazilian literature and culture
  8. Transatlantic literature and culture

The examination will be given each year at the end of the spring semester. Students must notify the DGS that they plan to take an examination at least three weeks prior to its scheduled administration.

Exam format: Students will receive two essay questions and one selection for textual analysis for each exam field. Students will choose one of the two essay questions in five of the six exam fields and write a textual analysis in the sixth field.

A grade of “low pass” or higher is necessary to pass the M.S. exam, while a grade of “pass” or higher is required for authorization to continue on to the Ph.D. first exam. The examination must be completed by the fourth semester of study for the Master.

Students not taking the examination within this time frame must petition the department for an extension. In the event of an unsuccessful outcome, the student may retake the examination only once, and within one year of the first exam. If the student does not pass one section, s/he may retake that section only. If a student receives a does not earn a passing grade in more than one section of the exam, the exam must be taken again in its entirety.


Application Materials required:

  • Application Form.
  • Non-refundable Application Fee.
  • Statement of Purpose.
  • Official Transcripts (all prior institutions).
  • Official Recommendations (3).
  • TOEFL/IELTS (please see below).
  • Writing Sample - no more than one sample for Literature applicants; maximum 30 pages.

Official hard copy transcripts should be mailed to the following address:

Office of Graduate Admissions

Attn: Credentials - (Spanish Program)

Box 571004

3520 Prospect Street, NW, CB-207

Washington, DC 20057-1004


All applicants are required to demonstrate a level of proficiency in the English language sufficient to meet the admission requirement of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Proficiency can be demonstrated by the receipt of a bachelor's or advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction (please note that applicants receiving degrees at universities in U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico, are required to submit the TOEFL or IELTS unless the primary language of instruction at the institution is English).

All other applicants must achieve at least a minimum score on either the TOEFL or IELTS test. Test scores must be received by the application deadline date. Applicants should allow six to eight weeks from the test date for the reporting of scores to the institution. Applications will not be considered without TOEFL/IELTS scores.

  • TOEFL: A minimum score of 550 (paper-based test) or 80 (iBT test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). TOEFL information: http://www.ets.org/toefl/
  • IELTS: A minimum score of 7.0 from the International English Language Testing System. IELTS Information: http://www.ielts.org

Degree Requirements

M.S. in Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies

  • Thirty-three credits.
  • All master’s students must show reading proficiency in a language other than English or Spanish.
    The language requirement must be completed prior to submitting the Master's qualifying paper.
  • First-year exam.
  • Qualifying paper.

M.S. in Spanish Linguistics

  • Nine courses plus one elective in linguistics or a related area,
    such as philosophy, cognition, anthropology or bilingual education.
  • Qualifying paper.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • All M.S. students must pass an oral proficiency exam in a language other than English or Spanish.
This school offers programs in:
  • English
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2019
1 year
Full time
51,041 USD
Tuition & Mandatory Fees for 12 credit hours
USA - Washington, District of Columbia
Start date : Aug. 2019
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Aug. 2019
USA - Washington, District of Columbia
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info