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Department of Spanish and Portuguese

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Graduate Program

About Our Graduate Program

The graduate program in Spanish and Portuguese offers coursework and research supervision in all areas of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian literature, with related courses in linguistics, film and cultural studies, and theory. The Department of Spanish and Portuguese has close ties with a number of departments, as well as the Center for Latin American Studies, the Program in Comparative Literature, the Program in Women's and Gender Studies, the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, the Center for the Americas and Brazilian Studies Association, BRASA

The Ph.D. program in literature offers a choice of two degrees, in Spanish and combined Spanish-Portuguese. In preparation for doctoral studies, students may work toward the M.A. in Spanish, Portuguese, or Spanish-Portuguese. However, the Spanish and Portuguese Department only accepts applications to the Doctoral Program.

Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Vanderbilt University was ranked number one as the most productive graduate program in the area of studies in the country in 2007 by The Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index

Quick Facts about the Ph.D. Program

  • A near 1:1 student-faculty ratio with a superb research faculty.
  • A full, five-year funding package for every Ph.D. student. Graduate students admitted with assistantships are granted tuition remission and a stipend.
  • In 2011, the standard graduate student stipend and summer grant was $22,200 and included health benefits and additional funding for research and conference travel. Also,The College of Arts and Science offers topping-up awards to the most highly qualified students which could make their total stipend worth more than $30,000.
  • Exemption from teaching duties in the first year of study (for students accepted with fewer than 18 credits of graduate work).
  • A standard teaching load of one course per semester.
  • A flexible curriculum tailored to each student's interests and background.
  • Opportunities for interdisciplinary work, including graduate Certificates in Latin American and Iberian Studies and Philosophy and Literature, as well as minor program in Gender Studies.
  • University Graduate Fellowships: Service-free awards that provide stipends of up to $10,000 for the academic year.
  • Harold Stirling Vanderbilt Scholarships: $ 6,000.
  • Provost's Graduate Fellowships: $ 10,000.
  • Graduate Fellowships in Religion and Culture
  • Annual competitive Summer Research Awards: $4,500.
  • Dissertation Enhancement Grants: The Graduate School conducts a bi-annual competition for Dissertation Enhancement Grants of up to $2,000 each. These grants are designed to support research and travel for the dissertation.Graduate Student Fellows Program $ 18,000
  • Generous conference-travel funding ($500 for domestic travel and $1,000 for foreign travel).
  • A comprehensive system of mentoring and advising from the first day through the search for academic employment.
  • The Department of Spanish and Portuguese sponsors guest speakers, conferences, colloquia, film series, and an e-journal. The faculty takes pride in their effort to create a rigorous and nurturing educational experience for their graduate students.

Financial Support

Graduate Students admitted with assistantships are granted tuition remission and a stipend. That support consists of a fellowship that provides full tuition and student health insurance plus an academic year stipend and summer grant. In 2011, the standard graduate student stipend and summer grant was $22,200. In addition, the College of Arts and Science may offer topping-up awards to highly qualified students.The teaching load is one course per semester, and students accepted with fewer than 18 credits of graduate work are exempted from teaching duties in their first year of study. Graduate students are eligible to apply for a range of summer research fellowships, travel grants, and dissertation enhancement grants.

NOTE for Travel Grants:

Travel form

Students applying for travel grants should NOT submit a travel authorization form with the application—this is submitted after they get a letter of approval. The Department will provide you with the travel authorization form (blue form) and it has to be signed by the chair of the department and/or Director of Graduate Students. After the completion of the trip the student is responsible of completing the second page of the travel form (yellow form) and take along all the original receipts directly to the graduate school (411 Kirkland Hall) for the reimbursement.


For additional information, send inquiries to:

Director of Graduate Studies- Prof. Christina Karageorgou-Bastea
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Vanderbilt University
VU Station B 351617
Nashville, TN 37235-1617
Phone (615) 343-4087
Fax (615) 343-7260 Email:

Spanish and Portuguese Ph.D. Programs

The Ph.D. program in Spanish requires 63 hours of course work, which includes the 30 hours of the M.A. in Spanish and 9 hours for a minor, which may be Portuguese, a certificate program in Latin American Studies, an interdisciplinary minor in Philosophy and Literature, or another approved program of courses from one or more departments. Candidates must demonstrate either a reading knowledge of an additional foreign language beyond the one required for the M.A. (which will normally have been Portuguese) or they may continue in the study of Portuguese (or another approved language) to an advanced level.

The combined Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese requires 66 hours of course work, which includes the 45 hours of the double M.A. described above and at least 9 additional hours in each of the two areas. No minor is necessary. Near native proficiency in both Spanish and Portuguese is required of all students enrolled in the combined program. There is no additional language requirement.

The Ph. D. in Spanish and Portuguese with a specialization in Comparative Literature requires 72 hours of course work, with at least 30 credits coming from Spanish and/or Spanish American Literature, at least 21 from our Portuguese, Lusophone African, and Brazilian literature courses, and another 21 from a related language field, such as English, French, German, or Classics, or from a related area of humanistic endeavor such a History, Religion, Latin American Studies, Art, the History of Art, Philosophy, Literary Theory, or Music. Candidates must demonstrate near-native fluency in either Spanish or Portuguese (proficiency in the other language must be acquired or demonstrated at Vanderbilt) and English and demonstrate, by means of a detailed plan of study, a commitment to developing an interdisciplinary doctoral program that focuses on a core, or unifying, theme and that emphasizes a rigorously comparative methodology.

The Ph. D in Spanish and Portuguese with a specialization on Inter-American Literature requires 72 hours of course work, with at least 30 credits coming from Spanish and Spanish American literature, at least 21 from our Portuguese and Brazilian literature courses, and another 21 from a related field, such as English and American literature. Applicants to this doctoral program must demonstrate native or near native fluency in either Spanish or Portuguese and in English and show a commitment to developing a comparative doctoral program that emphasizes a pan-American or hemispheric methodology.

* Students may receive a Masters Degree as part of their pursuit of a doctorate, we only accept applications to the Doctoral Program.

The M.A. program in Spanish and in Portuguese each requires 30 hours of course work. A reading knowledge of another foreign language is also required. (Credit for basic language courses taken do not count toward the degree. For Portuguese M.A. students, the required language is Spanish. For Spanish M.A. students, the recommended language is Portuguese. Students with a special academic interest in another language should request in writing approval from the Director of Graduate Studies before enrolling in any language other than Portuguese.) A 45-hour double M.A. program is also available, in which a 30-hour M.A. in either Spanish or Portuguese is complemented with 15 additional hours of course work in the other field for the conferment of the second M.A. (No additional foreign language is required).

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