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

An integrated curriculum in Spanish language, literatures, cultures, 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. 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 Spanish.

The department's graduate program in Spanish is consistently among the finest in the country. Teaching assistantships are offered each year to graduate candidates in Spanish and Portuguese. A full complement of courses in Spanish and Spanish American, literatures, cultures, 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. Knowledge of other languages is required for advanced work in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian fields.

Fall Deadline January 5
Spring Deadline October 15
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 Spanish at UW–Madison or its equivalent.

Applicants with a B.A. in Spanish must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and a GPA in Spanish 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 Spanish and Spanish‑American literatures, and preparation in linguistics.

All candidates will take an examination for written proficiency. An unsatisfactory performance, as determined by the examiners, on that written examination will require the student to take Spanish 323 (Advanced Language Practice with Emphasis on Expository Writing). Only those so required to take Spanish 323 will receive graduate credit for it, though it will not count toward any of the nine curriculum areas. Candidates who are not native speakers of Spanish will take an examination for oral proficiency. An unsatisfactory performance on the oral examination will require the student to take Spanish 320 (Spanish Phonetics). However, Spanish 320 will not count as graduate credit.

Required Documentation for MA 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 Spanish. It should not exceed three single-spaced pages, or the equivalent when double-spaced.


Fall term—January 5 of same year's fall term (i.e., January 5, 2019, for fall 2019)

Spring term—October 15 in year prior to spring term (i.e., October 15, 2019, for spring 2020)

All materials must be received either electronically or by postal mail to the Department of Spanish and Portuguese by these dates.

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


Minimum Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Students are required to take a minimum of 18 credits of graduate coursework. In practice it is rare for students not to take 100% of their credits in graduate coursework. Courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements No other grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations An M.A./Ph.D. qualifying examination is required.

The M.A./Ph.D. qualifying examination covers the nine curriculum areas, of which the candidate must take four. Students with a concentration in literature must take a course in the literary area in which they choose not to be examined. Students with a concentration in literature are expected to take four exams in four literature areas. Students with a concentration in linguistics may take four exams in four linguistics areas, two in linguistics and two in literature, or three in linguistics and one in literature. Each of the areas is tested by a 1.5‑hour exam, consisting of some combination of the following: short questions (definitions, terminology, key concepts, etc.), specific questions on key works, and/or general essay questions (dealing with textual analysis, literary history, contrastive studies, linguistic problem solving and argumentation, etc.). At least one part of each area of the M.A./Ph.D. qualifying examination must be written in Spanish.
Language Requirements No language requirements beyond English and Spanish. 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, Latin, Arabic, or German. Other languages may be considered, with the approval of the department.

Required COURSES

The course of studies leading to the Master of Arts degree in Spanish in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin‑Madison is a flexible one designed to introduce the candidate to Spanish and Spanish American literatures, literary criticism, and linguistics. The program is for students who complete their academic career at the M.A. as well as for those who decide to pursue the Ph.D.  Its general, non‑specialized approach is beneficial to both types. The Master's program offers a panorama of selected works, a general view of literary and linguistic currents, and an introduction to literary and linguistic research.

All of the department’s graduate courses besides the survey courses will be considered advanced courses. First-year M.A. students who wish to take a seminar need the permission of the adviser and consent of the instructor.

Course work in another department of the University of Wisconsin–Madison can be counted toward the minimum 32-credit requirement if it has been approved by the Chair in consultation with the Departmental Committee, except if the adviser approves taking up to six credits in another language.

SPANISH 545 College Teaching of Spanish is required of all new Teaching Assistants. 

  • Literary theory courses (SPANISH 627 Historia de Teoria Literaria: de Platon Al Siglo XVIII and SPANISH 628 Historia de Teoria Literaria: Siglos XIX-XX) count only as electives in the M.A. program, but do satisfy the Ph.D. literary theory requirement.
  • 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. Advisers should be aware that only the Graduate Studies Committee may grant exemptions.

Specific course requirements are as follows:

Spanish M.A. with a concentration in literature1

The Spanish Master’s Degree program with a concentration in literature is based on five curriculum areas:

  1. Medieval Literature
  2. Golden Age Literature
  3. Modern Peninsular Literature
  4. Spanish-American Literature I (Colonial through Modernismo)
  5. Spanish-American Literature II (From Modernismo to the present)
Required Courses 2, 3
Choose one course from five of the nine areas, one of which must be in a linguistics field 415
SPANISH 545 College Teaching of Spanish2
Students may take up to 6 credits of language courses other than Spanish or English (see "Language Requirements" below)
Remaining credits typically taken in literature areas in which the student will complete an exam
Total Credits32

Literature M.A. students are strongly encouraged to take these survey courses:

Recommend Survey Courses
SPANISH 501 Survey of Spanish American Literature from the Discovery to Modernismo3
SPANISH 502 Survey of Spanish American Literature from Modernismo to the Present3
SPANISH/​MEDIEVAL  503 Survey of Medieval Literature (Part 1)3
SPANISH/​MEDIEVAL  504 Survey of Medieval Literature (Part 2)3
SPANISH 505 Advanced Survey of Spanish Literature (Golden Age)3
SPANISH 506 Advanced Survey of Spanish Literature (Modern Peninsular)3

The department plans to offer the following sequence of survey courses in literature on a two-year rotating basis. This list is provided purely for informational purposes and is not intended as a list of mandatory courses:

Year 1
Semester 1
SPANISH/​MEDIEVAL  503 Survey of Medieval Literature3
SPANISH 505 Advanced Survey of Spanish Literature3
Semester 2
SPANISH/​MEDIEVAL  504 Survey of Medieval Literature3
SPANISH 506 Advanced Survey of Spanish Literature3
Year 2
Semester 3
SPANISH 501 Survey of Spanish American Literature from the Discovery to Modernismo3
Semester 4
SPANISH 502 Survey of Spanish American Literature from Modernismo to the Present3
Total Credits18

Spanish M.A. with a concentration in linguistics1

The Spanish Master’s Degree program with a concentration in linguistics is based on four curriculum areas:

  1. Phonetics & Phonology
  2. Syntax
  3. Language Variation & Change
  4. Applied Linguistics & Second Language Acquisition.
Required Courses 2, 3
Choose 3 credits from one of the following areas:3
Phonetics & Phonology
Language Variation & Change
Choose 3 credits in Applied Linguistics & Second Language Acquisition3
Choose 6 credits from any of the linguistics areas6
One literature course3
SPANISH 545 College Teaching of Spanish2
Students may take up to 6 credits of language courses other than Spanish or English (see "Language Requirements" below)
Remaining credits typically taken in linguistics areas in which the student will complete an exam
Total Credits32

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 choose one of seven general advisers. The student and the adviser will plan a program that takes into account the candidate's interest, strengths and deficiencies. If, for example, the student has a strong undergraduate background in a particular period of literature, the adviser 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 adviser every semester to review their progress and work out the best strategies for future coursework and degree progress.


15 credits

Time Constraints

The M.A./Ph.D. qualifying exam is taken in the fourth or fifth semester of the M.A. 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.


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, terminology and approaches to inquiry in Hispanic literary studies and/or Spanish linguistics.
  2. Identifies and pursues promising avenues of inquiry, finds and makes use of appropriate bibliography, analyzes literary/cultural works or linguistic evidence, and develops speaking and writing skills.
  3. Demonstrates knowledge and understanding of Hispanic literatures and/or Spanish linguistics in a historical, socio-cultural and global context.
  4. Evaluates or synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  5. Communicates fluently and clearly in Spanish in ways appropriate to the field of study.
  6. Develops academic professionalization through conference participation in preparation for a career path related to the field.
  7. Develops effective teaching skills (for beginning and intermediate classes).
  8. Fosters professionalism in extracurricular activities that develop degree-related skills as well as enhance future professional life and a sense of citizenship.

Spanish Faculty: Professors Beilin (modern Spanish literature), Bilbija (modern Spanish American literature), Close (modern Spanish American/trans-Atlantic literature), Corfis (medieval Spanish literature), De Ferrari (modern Spanish American literature), Egea (modern Spanish literature), Frantzen (second language acquisition and linguistics), Hildner (Golden Age 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), Comparone (modern Spanish literature)

Portuguese Faculty: Professors Albuquerque (Brazilian literature and culture), Madureira (Portuguese, Brazilian, and Luso-African literature and culture), Sapega (Portuguese and Luso-African literature and culture); and Sanchez (Portuguese and Brazilian literature and culture)