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.

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 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


M.A. students in Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are admitted to doctoral studies in this department on the recommendation of the M.A. examining committee upon successful completion of the Ph.D. qualifying examination.

A graduate student with the M.A. from another institution is admitted to the doctoral program by virtue of his/her acceptance by the department. A minimum graduate GPA of 3.4 (on a 4.0 scale) is required. 

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.

Required Documentation for PhD Applications

  • Three letters of recommendation are required for all graduate student applicants, using the Graduate School's online application.
  • Send one official copy of ALL university transcripts to the Department of Spanish and 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 the program’s language. It should not exceed three single-spaced pages, or the equivalent when double-spaced.
  • A writing sample in Portuguese (e.g., a term-paper length) is required for all Ph.D. applicants. It should be eight to ten pages. The topic should be as close as possible to the field you wish to specialize in for the Ph.D. thesis.

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 54 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement In practice all doctoral coursework (with the exception of some language requirements or some doctoral minors) is designed exclusively for graduate students. At least 28 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 Preliminary Examinations

The Preliminary Examination must be taken after course requirements have been met. The prelim has two parts: a written part and an oral part. The written part of the exam has two components: 1) a series of take-home exams and 2) a 5 to 10-page dissertation prospectus plus bibliography. An oral examination defense follows the written portions of the Preliminary Examination. The oral exam defense is approximately two hours long, at the discretion of the examining committee. It should cover both the take-home examinations and the dissertation prospectus. The candidate will receive a grade of pass or fail in the preliminary examination. In the case of failing the exam, it could be retaken once within a month (after consultation with the adviser). Should the dissertation prospectus be approved, the candidate will have a maximum of three months to officially defend a dissertation proposal.

The Doctoral Dissertation

The final oral examination for the Ph.D. (the dissertation defense) will concentrate solely on the dissertation and generally does not exceed two hours in length. The examining committee is composed a minimum of four members, at least one of whom must be from outside the student’s program in Portuguese, and at least three of whom, including the dissertation director, should be designated as readers. This examination is held at least two weeks after the dissertation is submitted.
Language Requirements A knowledge of several languages is essential for doctoral research. Therefore, students are urged to fulfill the language requirements as early as possible in their doctoral studies. In any case, they must be fulfilled prior to the Preliminary Examination. The candidate must demonstrate advanced proficiency in a minimum of two languages, to be determined in consultation with the adviser. The most common languages are Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, German, and Arabic, depending on the candidate's major and minor. Advanced proficiency is defined as six college semesters with a grade of B or better. An advanced pass on the UW Division of University Outreach, Liberal Studies Reading Knowledge Examinations in French and German for graduate students will be accepted as an alternative. Exceptions to the above policies may be petitioned by the adviser to the Departmental Committee.
Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or Graduate/Professional certificate.

If choosing the minor, the doctoral candidate must present a minor in work done outside of Portuguese. The minor should be in an area related to the major field of interest. Spanish, French, Comparative Literature, Linguistics, and Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies are among the most common minors. Distributed minors (for a minimum of 9 credits) must be approved by the adviser. Requirements for the minor are established by the respective department. Since the minor should complement the student's major area of concentration, the student should arrange their program with the minor department as early as possible in the doctoral career. For a minor in Spanish, students should have a minimum of nine credits at the 500 level or above. Three of these credits must be taken as an advanced level course.

Required COURSES

The Portuguese Ph.D. program in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers the following areas of study:

  1. Portuguese Literature from its origins to Eça de Queirós
  2. Portuguese Literature of the 20th and 21st centuries
  3. Brazilian Literature to 1900‎
  4. Brazilian Literature from 1900‎
  5. African Literature in Portuguese

In the doctoral program the student selects a major and two supporting fields. The major is the area of specialization; the student is expected to have a thorough knowledge of the currents, primary works and critical bibliography pertaining to it. The student is expected to know the most significant writers and works as well as the most important currents and developments in the supporting fields; additionally, the student must have a good knowledge of critical bibliography. The selection of the major and supporting fields is made by the beginning of the second semester of doctoral studies. 

Specific course requirements are as follows:

Requirements 1, 2
Major Area9
Supporting Field 16
Supporting Field 26
Literary Theory3
Advanced Courses 3Minimum of 5 courses
Total Credits54

 Course credits earned in our M.A. program and any transfer credits used to satisfy M.A. requirements, do satisfy the Ph.D. course requirements. The only exceptions are the following courses, which do not satisfy the Ph.D. course requirements:

PORTUG 311 Fourth Year Composition and Conversation

PORTUG 312 Fourth Year Composition and Conversation

PORTUG 330 History of the Portuguese Language

PORTUG 361 Portuguese Civilization

PORTUG 362 Brazilian Civilization


 A maximum of 3 credits of independent study (PORTUG 899 Independent Reading) in each of the supporting fields may be used, with prior departmental approval, when corresponding courses are not offered in a timely fashion.


Students, in consultation with their advisor, should ensure that they have a minimum of five advanced courses beyond the M.A., if completed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or six advanced course beyond the M.A. if completed at another institution. At least two of these courses must be in the major. One of these advanced courses may be taken outside the Department, with the advisor's consent. An advanced course is defined as 600-level, or above.

  • All graduate students who are candidates for a Ph.D. degree in Portuguese 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 (PORTUG 899 Independent Reading) courses, with the following exceptions:
  1. In the semester before taking the Preliminary Examination, a doctoral student may count an PORTUG 899 Independent Reading designed to work toward the dissertation proposal as one of the two courses, as long as another course is taken in the department. This exception may only apply once, even in the case that the Preliminary Examination is postponed.
  2. Students may count as exceptions up to three courses taken toward their Ph.D. minor. Every time that students request this exemption they must fill out the appropriate form for this purpose to be signed by the adviser and given to the Graduate Coordinator.
  • An audited course does not count toward the two-course minimum requirement.
  • If the two-course rule impedes the student’s progress toward completion of the degree, students may petition an exception, with the written support of their adviser. This regulation does not apply to students who have passed the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination. 

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

After one semester in residence here, incoming Ph.D. graduate students from other universities may petition the Graduate Studies Committee to transfer graduate credits taken at their previous university to satisfy requirements here. In the Portuguese Ph.D., a maximum of three courses (9 credits) may be transferred from their previous program toward their degree requirements, except in the major field, and no more than three credits may be transferred per supporting field, totaling six credits. Each petition must be approved by the advisor, validated by a faculty member specializing in that field, and assessed by the Graduate Studies Committee with regard to its level and appropriateness. Only in rare circumstances will exceptions be considered.

Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

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.


The doctoral candidate arranges their program with an assigned graduate advisor, representing one of the areas of concentration, at the beginning of their studies in this department. The advisor represents a field in which the student has expressed primary interest. The candidate may, of course, seek advice and suggestions from individual professors, but it is important to maintain frequent and ongoing contact with the regular advisor. At the beginning of the second semester in residence the academic advisor and the candidate make a detailed review of the first semester's progress.

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


15 credits

Time limits

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese enforces the Graduate School policy that establishes a five-year deadline for completion and defense of the doctoral dissertation, unless they receive an extension. If the candidate does not complete the dissertation within five years of the preliminary examination, the candidate must retake this examination.

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten 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 research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge and practice within the field of study and with a view to interdisciplinarity.
  2. Formulates ideas, concepts, and theoretical approaches beyond the current boundaries of knowledge and practice within the field of study, and thus makes a substantial contributions to those fields.
  3. Develops archival and/or bibliographic research skills or other evidence-gathering techniques with the aim of furthering historical and cultural knowledge of the specific field of inquiry.
  4. Demonstrates breadth within learning experiences.
  5. Advances contributions of the field of study to society.
  6. Communicates complex ideas and original arguments clearly and understandably in both Portuguese and English and demonstrates reading knowledge of two other languages pertinent to the field of inquiry.
  7. Develops academic professionalization through scholarly exchange and/or participation in conferences and other extracurricular activities in preparation for a career path related to the field.
  8. Develops and demonstrates effective teaching skills (for intermediate and advanced 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).