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A&S—Hispanic Languages and Literatures

The Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures offers a five-year Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with an en route Master of Arts (MA) sequence. Unlike other Spanish departments, we concentrate on Latin American Literature and Culture, including Brazil. Within that broader context, we also offer an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental PhD in film studies, and field specializations in Peninsular, Brazilian, and cultural studies.

Candidates for both the MA/PhD can also earn certificates in Latin American Studies,Cultural Studies, Film Studies, Global Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies,

Contact Information

Department Chair: Prof. Daniel Balderston
Main Office: 1309 Cathedral of Learning
Fax: 412-624-8505

For additional information regarding the department’s graduate program, or responses to questions that are not answered elsewhere, you can write to the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures, Graduate Office, 1309 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. You can also call 412-624-2055, or e-mail Director of Graduate Studies Prof. Gonzalo Lamana.


Applicants must submit an online application, application fee of $50, transcripts of all college-level work (along with notarized translations into English, if admitted), three letters of recommendation, a statement of academic goals, and a 15–30-page writing sample (in English, Spanish, or Portuguese; if submitting the sample in English, please also send us a short sample in Spanish).

Applicants whose native language is not English and who have not already completed a degree program in a U.S. college or university are required to submit either the TOEFL (administered by the Educational Testing Service) with a minimum score of 90 (with a minimum score of 22 in each section) or the IELTS (administered by Cambridge University, Local Examinations Syndicate) with a minimum score of 6.5.

Completed applications for admission in the fall term must be received no later than January 18.

Financial Assistance

The department awards two types of financial assistance to incoming students: teaching assistantships (to applicants with no previous graduate studies) or teaching fellowships (to applicants who hold a MA degree), which involve teaching duties, and A&S fellowships, which do not. While any student is eligible to apply for financial assistance, departmental awards of financial aid are granted on a competitive basis to those students demonstrating the strongest academic record.

Students entering with a BA are eligible for financial aid in some combination of forms (teaching assistantship/teaching fellowship, A&S fellowship, Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship, etc.) for two years for the en route MA and three additional years for the PhD, for a maximum of five years of support. Students entering the PhD program with an MA from elsewhere are eligible for up to five years of financial aid, under certain conditions.

Duration of the Program

It is expected that the MA/PhD program will take five years to complete. As of Fall 2005, incoming students who are offered financial assistance in the form of teaching assistantships, teaching fellowships or non-teaching University fellowships are, assuming that satisfactory academic progress is maintained, entitled to five (5) years of support, whether or not they already have an MA degree when they enter our graduate program. However, students with an MA from another university can elect to receive only four (4) years of funding and will be entitled to transfer up to 24 credits upon successfully passing the MA Comprehensive/PhD Preliminary examinations during their fourth semester. The decision to do so must be submitted to the departmental graduate office in writing by the end of the first week of their second term in graduate program (normally first week of January).

Requirements for the PhD with En Route MA

The en route MA requires a minimum of 30 credits; 24 credits must be in substantive courses in the department, meeting major field and minor field requirements; the remaining 6 credits can consist of any combination of courses taken outside of the department (including transfer credits), a maximum of 1 Independent Reading and 1 Directed Study course.

Teaching assistants and teaching fellows new to the department are required to take a course in teaching methodology and language learning to assist them in teaching, unless a waiver is obtained.

In addition to the minimum of 30 credits, during the fourth year of full-time study (or its equivalent):

  • Students must complete a long paper in the department, which is graded and serves as one part of the MA Comprehensive/PhD Preliminary examination.
  • Students must also sit for the two-day MA Comprehensive/PhD Preliminary examination

Including the MA-level work, a minimum of 72 credit hours must be attained for the PhD. Students who have received the en route MA and are working toward the PhD in the department must take a total of 48 credits of substantive courses in the department. The remaining 24 credits may consist of courses taken outside of the department, credits transferred from other institutions, directed study, or PhD comprehensive exam/overview. Up to a maximum of 12 credits of PhD dissertation research credits are permitted to count toward these 24 credits.

Students who enter the department with an MA in Spanish or a related field from another institution must complete 30 credits of substantive course work out of the 72 total credits required for the PhD. The remaining 42 credits can be distributed among credits transferred from the institution from which they earned their MA's (normally, up to 24 are allowed, in exchange for the fifth year of funding), courses taken in other departments at the University of Pittsburgh, directed study and PhD comprehensive exam/overview credits, and up to 12 credits of PhD dissertation research.

PhD Preliminary Exam: Students who enter the department with an MA in Spanish from another institution must pass the two-day PhD Preliminary examination in the fourth term of graduate study in the department, after which they can petition for the transfer of credits and continue on for the PhD.

Language Requirement: Candidates for the PhD degree must give evidence of their ability to read a third language (Portuguese, French, Italian, etc.) prior to presenting their dissertation proposal. The Department strongly encourages the learning of the Portuguese language.

PhD Comprehensive Exam/Dissertation Overview: After completing 60 credits of coursework and fulfilling the Portuguese requirement, students take the PhD Comprehensive exam made up of questions based on their proposal for doctoral research, which must also be defended before their proposed doctoral committee. Upon successful completion of this two-step exam process, the student is formally nominated to candidacy for the doctoral degree.

Dissertation Defense: The final oral examination in defense of the doctoral dissertation is conducted by the doctoral committee and is open to the University community. The dissertation must be presented in English unless prior permission is obtained for it to be presented in a language other than English.


Course Listing


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