The degrees offered are the master of arts in Portuguese & Spanish and the doctor of philosophy with a major in Portuguese & Spanish. In addition, the department offers a doctoral minor in Spanish or Portuguese, consisting of nine9 credits of graduate study.

An integrated curriculum in Portuguese and Spanish languages, literatures, and linguistics provides training at the master's and PhD 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 and Spanish.

The department's graduate program in Portuguese & Spanish is consistently among the finest in the country. Twenty to 25e 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 exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1241.
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Application Details

Applicants must have an undergraduate major in Portuguese at UW–Madison or its equivalent.

Applicants with a bachelor of arts (BA) 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.

Applicants 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

Applicants must upload the following materials to the online application:

  • Unofficial transcripts;
    • Certified copies of English translations should accompany all non-English transcripts;
  • 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.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation (recommenders to submit on applicant's behalf;
  • International degree-seeking applicants must prove English proficiency using the Graduate School's requirements.

Language Proficiency

Admitted applicants will take an examination for written proficiency in Portuguese.  An unsatisfactory performance on the Portuguese proficiency exam, as determined by the examiners, will require the applicant to take PORTUG 311 Fourth Year Composition and Conversation. Student who receive 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. Admitted applicants who are not native speakers of Portuguese will take an examination for oral proficiency.

Admitted applicants will also be required to demonstrate proficiency in Spanish by the end of their first year of MA coursework. By the start of the second year of the MA, admitted applicants should present a knowledge of Spanish that is the equivalent of SPANISH 311 or above. This requirement may be met by the presentation of undergraduate coursework completed in Spanish or by the completion of SPANISH 311 with a grade of B or higher during the first year in the MA program in Portuguese and Spanish. 


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

Mode of Instruction

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.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 31 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 24 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 16 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required. Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
Other Grade Requirements No other grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations Students shall submit a research portfolio consisting of three term papers from graduate courses in this program. Two of the term papers must be from a Portuguese class and one must be from a Spanish class. Students submitting portfolios shall be allowed, but not required, to include in their portfolio a brief statement (approximately 1,000 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 or the Executive Committee, as appropriate, for discussion and final decision at the committee’s March meeting.
Language Requirements No language requirements beyond English, Spanish and Portuguese. All students will take an examination for written proficiency in Portuguese. Candidates who are not native speakers of Portuguese will take an examination for oral proficiency. Students will also be required to demonstrate proficiency in Spanish by the end of their first year of MA coursework. By the start of the second year of the MA, students should present a knowledge of Spanish that is the equivalent of SPANISH 311 or above.

Required Courses

The program in Portuguese & Spanish 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
15 credits, in the form of five 3-credit core courses15
Six credits must be seminar courses or in Portuguese classes (PORTUG) numbered 600 or above. 2
Six credits must be taken in graduate-level courses taught in Spanish (SPANISH).
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. 

Core Courses

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

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 Credits Earned at Other Institutions

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

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

No credits from undergraduate courses from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to transfer toward the degree. With advisor consent, students who have taken graduate level courses are allowed to petition up to 7 credits.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer no more than 6 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a University Special student. However, these credits are not allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless numbered 700 or above or are taken to meet the requirements of a capstone certificate and has the “Grad 50%” attribute. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


Satisfactory progress depends on the following:

  1. 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
  2. Fulfilling all academic requirements.

Students who are not in good standing will not be given sections to teach as Teaching Assistants, 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.

All graduate students who are candidates for an MA 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.

Advisor / Committee

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.

Credits Per Term Allowed

15 credits

Time Limits

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

Refer to the Graduate School: Time Limits policy.

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.

Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

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

Learning Outcomes

  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. Develop speaking and writing skills and communicate effectively in Spanish in ways appropriate to the field of study.
  6. Develops academic professionalization through participation in conferences and other extracurricular activities in preparation for a career path related to the field.
  7. Develops effective teaching skills (for beginning and intermediate classes) in Portuguese and Spanish.


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).