The degrees offered are the master of arts in Portuguese and the doctor of philosophy with a major in Portuguese. In addition, the department offers a doctoral minor in Spanish or Portuguese, consisting of 9 credits of graduate study.

An integrated curriculum in Portuguese languages, literatures, and linguistics provides training at the master's and Ph.D. levels and assures that graduates are prepared to contribute as professionals in the fields of teaching and research. An active program of research contributes to new knowledge in Spanish and Portuguese. A comprehensive group of courses is offered in rotation during the academic year so that candidates may take courses in all fields. Classes are conducted in Portuguese.

The department's graduate program in Portuguese is consistently among the finest in the country. Twenty to twenty-five teaching assistantships are offered each year to graduate candidates in Spanish and Portuguese. A full complement of courses in Portuguese, Brazilian, and Luso-African literatures, culture, and linguistics is offered on a regular basis.

Fellowships, scholarships, teaching assistantships, and project assistantships are available to qualified graduate degree candidates.

Students pursuing advanced degrees in this department are advised to include in their training work in other languages and literatures, art, social sciences, linguistics, film studies, and philosophy. A knowledge of other languages is strongly recommended for advanced work in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian fields.

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline January 5
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Admission to candidacy for the master's degree presupposes an undergraduate major in Portuguese at UW–Madison or its equivalent.

Applicants with a B.A. in Portuguese must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and a GPA in Portuguese courses of at least 3.25. Exceptions to these requirements may be made by the admissions committee.

During the registration period, the student will be asked to supply supplementary information regarding courses taken previously, experience abroad, scope of readings in Portuguese and Brazilian literatures, and preparation in linguistics.

All admitted candidates will take an examination for written proficiency. An unsatisfactory performance, as determined by the examiners, on the written examination will require the student to take PORTUG 311 Fourth Year Composition and Conversation. Any student who receives a grade of less than A in PORTUG 311 Fourth Year Composition and Conversation will be required to take PORTUG 312 Fourth Year Composition and Conversation. Candidates who are not native speakers of Portuguese will take an examination for oral proficiency. Any student achieving a grade-point average of less than 3.0 in the first semester in residence will be placed on probation. If after the second semester of studies the cumulative grade-point average is not 3.0, the student is not eligible to continue in the program. 

Required Documentation for MA Applications

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation are required for all graduate student applicants, using the Graduate School's online application.
  • Send one (1) official copy of ALL university transcripts to the Department of Spanish & Portuguese. Notarized English translations should accompany ALL non-English transcripts.
  • TOEFL test is required for ALL applicants whose native language is NOT English, or whose undergraduate instruction was NOT in English.  For more information regarding the TOEFL, please see the Graduate School's Admissions Requirements.
  • Reason for Graduate Study/Statement of Purpose: What are your reasons for graduate study? Please describe your current degree goals and your reasons for selecting your program(s). Your statement can be either in English or Portuguese. It should not exceed three single-spaced pages, or the equivalent when double-spaced.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Prospective students should see the program website for funding information.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 31 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 25 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement It is rare for student not to take 100% of their credits in graduate coursework. At least 16 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
This program follows the Graduate School's policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
Other Grade Requirements No other grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations Students in Portuguese M.A. program shall submit a research portfolio consisting of three term papers from graduate courses in this program. Students submitting portfolios shall be allowed, but not required, to include in their portfolio a brief statement (approximately 1000 words) explaining their anticipated doctoral research agenda. Each term paper included in the portfolio shall represent a different curricular area. Before submitting their portfolio pieces, students shall revise them in accordance with the corrections and comments provided by their course professors during the initial evaluation of those materials. Students shall submit their portfolio by March 1, and the portfolio review committee shall bring their recommendations to the Departmental Committee for discussion and final decision at the committee’s March meeting.
Language Requirements No language requirements beyond English and Portuguese. However, candidates who expect to go on to the doctorate are urged to acquire the basic reading knowledge of a second foreign language before taking the M.A. examination. It should be another Romance Language or Latin. Other languages may be considered, with the approval of the department.​

Required COURSES

The Master's Degree program in Portuguese in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese is based on a series of core courses designed to give the student a broad knowledge of Portuguese, Brazilian, and Lusophone African literary currents. Specific course requirements are as follows:

PORTUG 899 11
Fifteen credits, in the form of 5 three-credit core courses15
6 credits must be seminar courses 2
Remaining credits typically taken in the four areas in which the student will complete an exam. However, the student is expected to take one course in the fifth area they do not plan to complete an exam.
Total Credits31

Students are required to take PORTUG 899 as a 1-credit proseminar.


The seminars are PORTUG 751 Seminar: Brazilian Literature and PORTUG 772 Seminar: Portuguese Literature. Students are strongly advised not to take a seminar in an area in which they have no previous preparation. Exceptions by consent of instructor. 

The following are core courses, designed especially for beginning graduate students:

PORTUG 330 History of the Portuguese Language3
PORTUG 361 Portuguese Civilization3
PORTUG 362 Brazilian Civilization3
PORTUG 411 Survey of Portuguese Literature before 18253
PORTUG 412 Survey of Brazilian Literature before 18903
PORTUG/​AFRICAN  451 Lusophone African Literature3
PORTUG 467 Survey of Portuguese Literature since 18253
PORTUG 468 Survey of Brazilian Literature since 18903

All graduate students who are candidates for an M.A. degree in this department must take a minimum of two graduate-level courses in Spanish and/or Portuguese for credit each semester, exclusive of Independent Reading courses and audited courses. A student who is not in compliance with this requirement is not making good progress toward the degree, and will therefore be deemed not in good academic standing. Advisors should be aware that only the departmental committee, on the favorable recommendation of the Graduate Studies Committee, may grant exemptions.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Master's students are not allowed to transfer in graduate credits from other institutions. 

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from undergraduate courses from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree, but students who have taken graduate level courses are allowed to petition with their advisor’s consent up to a maximum of 7 credits.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


Satisfactory progress depends on: maintaining a GPA of at least 3.0, adhering to the rule whereby students must take two courses within the department (or have the rule waived by petition), and fulfilling all academic requirements. Students who are not in good standing will not be given sections to teach as TAs, and those whose GPA goes below 3.0 are put on academic probation. If a semester of 3.0 is not attained during the subsequent semester, the student may be dismissed from the program.


Each candidate will confer with the general advisor. The student and the advisor will plan a program that takes into account the candidate's interests, strengths and deficiencies. If, for example, the student has a strong undergraduate background in a particular period of literature, the advisor will not recommend further exposure to the same field. Likewise, a student with extensive experience abroad and/or undergraduate preparation in composition or conversation may not need further study in these areas.

All students must have a substantial meeting with their advisors every semester to review their progress and work out the best strategies for future coursework and degree progress.


15 credits

Time limits

The M.A. portfolio is submitted in the fourth or fifth semester of the program, very rarely beyond that.

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.


Guaranteed funding through teaching assistantships. Many additional sources of funding are available on a competitive basis, including the Advanced Opportunity Fellowship, summer research Mellon fellowships, one-semester dissertation fellowships, Title VI FLAS fellowships for summer and year-long foreign language study, Nave summer research travel grants, and numerous others.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Articulates, critiques, and elaborates the theories, methods, and terminology of the field of study.
  2. Identifies and pursues promising avenues of inquiry, finds and makes use of appropriate bibliography, evaluates or synthesizes pertinent information, and analyzes evidence.
  3. Demonstrates breadth of knowledge and understanding the field of study in a historical, socio-cultural and global context.
  4. Develops speaking and writing skills and communicates fluently and clearly in Portuguese in ways appropriate to the field of study.
  5. Develops academic professionalization through participation in conferences and other extracurricular activities in preparation for a career path related to the field.
  6. Develops effective teaching skills (for beginning and intermediate classes).

Spanish Faculty: Professors Beilin (modern Spanish literature), Bilbija (modern Spanish American literature), Close (modern Spanish American/trans-Atlantic literature), De Ferrari (modern Spanish American literature), Egea (modern Spanish literature), Hutchinson (Golden Age literature), Medina (modern Spanish American literature), Podestá (colonial Spanish American literature); Associate Professors Alcalá-Galán (Golden Age literature), Ancos-García (medieval Spanish literature), Goldgel-Carballo (colonial Spanish American literature), Hernández (modern Spanish American literature), Pellegrini (modern Spanish American literature), Rao (Spanish linguistics), Stafford (second language acquisition and linguistics), Tejedo-Herrero (Spanish linguistics); Assistant Professors Armstrong (Spanish linguistics), Cerezo Paredes (modern Spanish literature), 

Portuguese Faculty: Professors Sapega (Portuguese and Luso-African literature and culture) and Sanchez (Portuguese and Brazilian literature and culture).