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M.A. in Spanish and Portuguese

M.A. in Spanish and Portuguese Requirements

  1. Maintaining good standing in the progress toward the Ph.D. degree
  2. Language requirement
  3. Coursework
  4. Successful M.A. Thesis
  5. Selection of academic adviser


Students must maintain a B+ average or better every semester in all graduate courses to remain in good standing. Students may request up to a maximum of two Incompletes (I) while enrolled at Vanderbilt and cannot carry an Incomplete (I) for more than one semester. Students must be conscientious classroom instructors and advance toward their degrees in a timely fashion. Students should participate actively in the academic life of the department, attending lectures, presentations, and other activities sponsored by the department. Only students in good standing may take the Comprehensive Exam. Good standing is a prerequisite for financial assistance, including summer support and teaching assistantships.


Students must demonstrate an appropriate level of competence in both Spanish and Portuguese by taking graduate level course work in those languages. No additional languages are required.


The M.A. in Spanish and Portuguese requires 30 credit hours of course work at Vanderbilt.

Required courses (9 hours):

  • SPAN 6010 Literary Analysis and Theory;
  • SLS/SPAN 6030 Foreign Language Learning and Teaching;
  • PORT 5303 Introduction to Luso-Brazilian Literature.

Core courses (15 hours):

15 additional credit hours of course work which must include 9 in additional 6000- to 9000-level seminars in Spanish and 6 in Portuguese courses that appear in the Graduate School Catalog (with the exception of PORT 5301, 5302 and 5900). Important note: Aside from PORT 5301, 5302, and 5900, there are no restrictions on the number of 5000-level Portuguese courses that may be taken. However, students are strongly advised to register for any 7000- to 9000-level Portuguese course offered.

Electives (6 hours):

6 credit hours of graduate-level electives in Spanish or Portuguese as described above or from another discipline approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Students cannot take an Independent Study toward the 30 credit hours for the M.A.



All graduate students entering the Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt must complete a successful M.A. thesis (as defined below) no later than the beginning of their third semester of residence.


The M.A. Thesis will consist of an existing paper from a first-year seminar re-written under the supervision of the professor of that course. The supervisor must find that the article is suitable for submission to a scholarly journal. The article does not have to be accepted for publication, but it does need to be professional enough to be ready, in the opinion of the supervisor, for submission. The thesis is due at the DGS’s office by August 20th, before the start of the second year of studies.


After completion of 30 hours of course work at Vanderbilt, students will be awarded the Vanderbilt M.A. in Spanish and Portuguese, regardless of any M.A.’s that may be held from other institutions.

Students who have not taught in their first year must satisfactorily complete the M.A. thesis and 24 hours of course work in their first year to become eligible to teach in their second year.

NOTE: Failure to complete the M.A. thesis may result in the withholding of TA salary during the terms that the student is unable to teach.


In their third semester of study, graduate students must choose an academic adviser, who will eventually direct the student’s Ph.D. dissertation. Once the adviser has accepted the charge, the decision must be reported to the DGS so the information can be included in the student’s academic record, to which the adviser will then have administrative access. Although each student is ultimately responsible for his or her own decisions, the role of academic adviser is to provide continuous guidance in designing a plan of study in accordance with the degree requirements. If taken, the optional Comprehensive Exam preparation course (SPAN 6080) is done under the supervision of the adviser. The adviser generally serves as a mentor for the professional development of the student in terms of publications, conferences, grants and fellowships.


Time limit: The Department expects students to complete all requirements, within the second year of residence in the program. Failing to complete the requirements for the M.A. will result in termination of support. The Graduate School stipulates that a student must complete all requirements for the M.A. degree within a six-year period, calculated from the end of the student’s first semester of enrollment in the Graduate School.