Program Requirements

Although the Department offers both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, the graduate program is essentially a Ph.D. program. The M.A. degree in Spanish or in Portuguese is a degree awarded upon successful completion of the first phase of the doctoral program. The Ph.D. program is in Hispanic Languages and Literatures.

Below is a quick summary of requirements for your perusal. For the official Spanish and Portuguese program requirements please visit UCLA’s Graduate Division website.

Course Requirements for the M.A. in Spanish Literature and Linguistics (worksheet):

Eleven courses are required (of which nine must be graduate level). Students in Literature take one course in literary theory and criticism (M201A); at least one course in each of eight different areas of literature offered by the department; and two electives. Students in Linguistics take ten elective courses in linguistics and one course in literature.

An incoming graduate student can petition for transfer of graduate courses outside UCLA. For further information, please see the transfer of credit guidelines.

Foreign Language Requirement: Students must show proficiency in a language other than Spanish or English by passing a departmental reading exam or a course of at least level 3.

Comprehensive Examination: Students in Literature take a four-hour exam in Peninsular Spanish literature and a four-hour exam in Latin American literature. Exams are based on the two reading lists students receive upon entering the program. Students in Linguistics choose four exam areas and take two-hour exams in each. The exams are based on reading lists the student receives on choosing areas of examination. The list will be tailored for each student independently. For further information, please see the Preliminary Exams section of this website.

Evaluation of the Student: Once the student successfully completes all requirements for the degree, the department faculty meet to evaluate the overall performance of the student in coursework, exams, and a writing sample. If the student has passed the exams the faculty must decide, based on the above, whether the student should continue in the doctoral program or should receive the M.A. degree and not continue.

Course Requirements for the M.A. in Portuguese Literature and Linguistics (worksheet):

Eleven courses are required (of which eight must be graduate level). Students in Literature take one course in literary theory and criticism (M201A), one course in Portuguese linguistics, and eight elective courses. Students in Linguistics take nine elective courses and one course in literature.

Foreign Language Requirement: Students must show proficiency in one language other than Portuguese or English by passing a departmental reading exam or passing a course of at least level 3.

Comprehensive Examination: Students choose four exam areas within the Literature concentration or the Linguistics concentration and take two-hour exams in each. The exams are based on reading lists for each exam area that the student has chosen. For further information, please see the Preliminary Exams section of this website.

Evaluation of the Student: Once the student successfully completes all requirements for the degree, the department faculty meet to evaluate the overall performance of the student in coursework, exams, and a writing sample. If the student has passed the exams the faculty must decide, based on the above, whether the student should continue in the doctoral program or should receive the MA degree and not continue.

Course Requirements for the Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures (worksheet):

After the B.A., a minimum of 20 graduate courses are required. Graduate courses completed for the M.A. degree may also count toward the 20.  Students may take up to four UCLA graduate courses (or 16 quarter units) outside the department for credit with the approval of the dissertation advisor.

Foreign Language Requirement: Besides proficiency in Spanish and Portuguese, students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one other language, by passing a departmental reading exam in those languages or passing a language course of at least level 3.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations: After all course requirements and foreign language requirements are completed –usually during the 2nd year of the Ph.D. program, or the 4th year for those entering without an M.A.– the student assembles an exam committee consisting of three departmental faculty and an external member from another department. The student then takes a three-hour written exam in the field of specialization, based on a reading list of approximately forty books covering the broad field of the dissertation, prepared in consultation with the advisor; s/he writes a forty-to-sixty page qualifying paper related to the topic of the dissertation, essentially a chapter draft; and s/he produces a twelve-to-fifteen page dissertation prospectus, featuring an overview of the main questions and a summary of distinct chapters, to be accompanied by an extensive bibliography. Two weeks after submitting the qualifying paper and prospectus to the committee, the student undergoes a two-hour oral examination, after which s/he is deemed to have advanced to candidacy.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination (Defense of the Dissertation): When the student completes the dissertation, s/he must defend it at the final oral examination. The full doctoral committee is in attendance.

Suggested timeline for progress through the Ph.D. program:

Year 1: Coursework including language requirements; prepare for preliminary exams; apply for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships or summer teaching.

Year 2: Complete M.A. course requirements and language requirements, take preliminary exams; apply for Graduate Summer Research Mentorship (GSRM) or FLAS fellowships, or summer teaching.

Year 3: Coursework including language requirements; prepare Ph.D. reading lists; form Ph.D. committee; present at S&P or another graduate conference; apply for GSRM, FLAS, other fellowship and travel research opportunities; apply for yearlong Graduate Research Mentorship (GRM).

Year 4: Complete Ph.D. coursework, complete Ph.D. language requirements; take qualifying exams, write qualifying paper and present prospectus to advance to candidacy; apply for dissertation research grants; present at a national conference.

Year 5: Dissertation research and writing; present at a national conference; work on or present a paper for publication; apply for Dissertation Year Fellowship (DYF); start preparing materials for the job market.

Year 6: Complete and file dissertation; go on the job market.