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Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

M.A. in Spanish

The M.A. in Spanish offers graduate students the opportunity to develop their language skills in many ways. The M.A. has a heavy concentration in Spanish and Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies. It also offers an in-depth study of Spanish language within a diverse variety of texts and contexts: the study of Spanish linguistics and Spanish usage in different geographical settings, as well as Spanish texts in comparative studies. Our M.A. graduates for the most part opt for a career in teaching Spanish at the college level, either by finding instructor positions in colleges and universities, or by pursuing a Ph.D. here at UofSC or elsewhere.

Master of Arts in Spanish

The M.A. in Spanish is your opportunity to participate in the intellectual and social life of a vigorous department while obtaining an advanced degree. The Spanish Studies Program at the University of South Carolina invites you to pursue the in-depth study of literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Our department fosters interdisciplinary growth through its strengths in cultural studies, gender studies, literary history and theory, linguistics, and comparative literature. As a student in the M.A. program you can work with many scholars to experience first hand how new ideas are created through the research process. Best of all, you can join a community that you will feel part of by socializing with faculty and peers, teaching and collaborating in intellectual endeavors.

The M.A. degree is valued throughout the world. Once you have earned your M.A., you will be recognized as having the kind of analytical, interpretive, and writing skills that guarantee success in whatever career you choose. An M.A. degree is also a solid base for further academic study. You may go on to earn a Ph.D. in Spanish Studies. This is a new program bridging both sides of the Atlantic proposing student research in Hispanic Studies, Transatlantic Studies as well as traditional studies in literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Spanish currently collaborates with other Ph.D. degrees within the department in Comparative Literature and Linguistics. Students with the MA in Spanish are therefore well positioned to continue their studies and earn the doctorate in either Spanish/Hispanic Studies, Comparative Literature with an emphasis on Spanish culture and literature, or in Linguistics with an emphasis on Hispanic linguistics. Students who wish to obtain the M.A. degree may elect either the thesis option or the non-thesis option. You may make this choice any time during the first year of study or in the third semester.

Curriculum Requirements for the Thesis Option Program of Study

The M.A. thesis option requires 33 semester hours of graduate work, with a distribution as follows: a minimum of 18 hours in graduate courses at the 700 level; a maximum of 9 hours in approved courses at the 500 level; and 6 hours of thesis research. You are required to take Spanish 700, Advanced Research Methodology and Introduction to Graduate Studies in the Languages, and Spanish 515, Introduction to Spanish Linguistics. Additional information about the thesis may be found in the Spanish Program Graduate Manual. This program of study is recommended to all students whose career objective is to pursue a Ph.D.

Curriculum Requirements for the Non-thesis Option Program of Study

The M.A. non-thesis option requires 33 semester hours of graduate work, with a distribution as follows: a minimum of 18 hours in graduate topics courses at the 700 level, one of which must be Spanish 715, History of the Spanish Language, or an equivalent seminar on language history and/or development; a maximum of 9 hours may be in courses at the 500 level. You are required to take Spanish 700, Advanced Research Methodology and Introduction to Graduate Studies in the Languages, and Spanish 515, Introduction to Spanish Linguistics. Students in the non-thesis option will take the same comprehensive examination required for students in the thesis option. This examination will be taken after the third semester of your degree program. Details about the timing, format, and content of the comprehensive examination are included in the Spanish Program Graduate Manual.

Second Language:

Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one (1) other language beyond English and Spanish. Satisfying the requirement may entail one or more of the following: successful completion of an intensive reading course in a language approved by The Graduate School (e.g., FREN 615), successful completion of a course at the intermediate level of language proficiency within six (MA) or ten (PhD) years previous of the award of the degree, or a passing grade on a language reading proficiency examination administered by the UofSC Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (DLLC). Native speakers of languages other than Spanish and English may submit form G-CIE Certification in English as a Foreign Language.

Study Abroad

The University encourages study abroad during the summer months. We currently have two programs, one in Spain and one in Latin America. Although these programs target undergraduate students, they may include graduate students as assistants to the program director and/or as students working on a research project. A maximum of 3 credits of independent study may be taken abroad with the approval of the graduate academic advisor. Currently we are exploring various programs of exchange with universities in Spain involving a year-long program of study and service at a Spanish university.

Admission Procedures to the M.A. Program

All applications are processed on-line. Applications and Graduate Bulletin may be found at  

To be accepted into the M.A. program in Spanish, candidates must hold a B.A. degree in Spanish from an accredited college or university. Graduates of foreign university programs where Spanish is the official language may be able, with permission of the graduate director, to substitute this experience for a Spanish major. A minimum overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale indicates candidates possess the capability to pursue graduate studies in Hispanic languages, literatures, and cultures. This is demonstrated by means of official college or university transcripts to be forwarded to this University. Also, three academic letters of recommendation from previous Spanish instructors are required for inclusion in the candidate’s application.

In order to pursue the Master of Arts in Spanish, the candidate should have minimum GRE scores of 500/153 on the verbal section and 4.0 on the analytical section (or scores of 400/146 and 3.5, respectively, for non-native English speakers). An applicant whose native language is not English is required to submit a satisfactory score on the TOEFL or the IELTS International Academic Course Type 2 exam. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 80 (iBT), 230 (computer-based) or 570 (paper-based). The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS International Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5.

Three academic letters of recommendation from previous Spanish instructors are required for inclusion in the candidate’s application. Applicants are asked to submit an academic writing sample of ~2500 words, written in Spanish (in English for those students whose native language is Spanish), and a statement of purpose of one to two pages in length that describes (1) previous academic work related to Spanish, (2) relevant practical experience, (3) intended specialization and/or probable research interest, and (4) career goals. In order to test Spanish speaking skills, a five-minute sample of spoken Spanish is also required of non-native speakers. The file should be saved as an .mp3 file. For those who native language is Spanish, a sample of spoken English is required submitted in the same format.

In order to pursue the Master of Arts in Spanish, candidates may be required to make up any such deficiencies demonstrated on a diagnostic examination. The background required in any foreign language is that normally completed by an undergraduate major in the field concerned. The Department reserves the right to require its candidates for the degree of Master of Arts to take special examination on any undergraduate courses when advisable.

If a prospective student is seeking a departmental assistantship, all application materials as indicated above must be received by the Graduate School and the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures by January 1. Applications submitted to the Department after May 1 will be processed for the following year.

Financial Support for Graduate Study in the M.A. Program

The Spanish Studies Program offers graduate teaching assistantships. Students who apply for admission to the program may elect to be considered for financial aid as a graduate teacher assistant. These assistantships are awarded on the basis of merit, with additional consideration of the teaching needs of the Department. Normally students will be eligible for a teaching assistantship in their first year of study. Renewal of the awards is at the discretion of the graduate committee, but in general students in the M.A. program in good standing can expect support for two years. Second year students in good academic standing may be promoted to Senior Teacher assistants with higher stipends.

Students awarded a teaching assistantship normally enroll for 6-9 credit hours per semester. Stipends depend on rank and in Academic year 2018-2019 ranged from $12,000-$17,000, plus up to nine hours of tuition abatement.

Teaching assistantships give you a hands-on experience of the teaching profession as the instructor of a course offered by the Spanish Program. All graduate assistants undergo both theoretical and practical training in the teaching of Spanish. They work closely with the regular teaching faculty. Normally they teach in the beginning Spanish language program. In addition, they fulfill a service obligation to the department which takes many forms including leading student extracurricular activities related to language learning.

Course Load and Length of Time to the Completion of the Degree

Course Load and Length of Time to the Completion of the Degree The M.A. in Spanish Studies is designed to be completed in four semesters. Courses may also be taken in summer sessions when available. Most students begin their degree program in the fall semester. It is also possible to begin in the spring or summer, but is not always recommended.

Normally students in the M.A. program will take 9 credit hours or 3 courses per semester, for a combined total of 18 credit hours in the fall and spring semesters. The remaining courses, comprehensive exam, and thesis (thesis option) or 6 hours 700 level credit (non-thesis option) will be completed in the second year of graduate study. In addition to this course load expectation, there is a distribution requirement that must be met before you complete your degree: 18 credit hours in the thesis option, or 21 credit hours in the non-thesis option, shall be earned in graduate courses at the 700 level.

FORL 776 Basic theoretical principles of foreign language teaching in college is a requirement of all graduate teaching assistants. Those who are not graduate assistants may take it as an elective or choose another 700-level seminar.

Students who receive teaching assistantships are expected and encouraged to carry the maximum course load of 9 credit hours or three courses per semester. They must, however, carry a minimum of 6 credit hours or 2 courses per semester for a total of 12 credit hours in the fall and spring semesters. Under normal circumstances financial support from the department will be limited to two years, and students must take this into account when planning their course load.

Students who do not receive teaching assistantships or research assistantships or any other form of financial aid from the University are expected to carry the normal course load. However, the Department will permit those who do not receive support to be flexible in the number of courses taken each semester. If you take a reduced course load you will have no more than 6 years to complete your degree. Comprehensive exams are only valid for two years from the semester in which they are passed.

For more detailed information on 700- and 800-level courses, visit the page on Graduate Seminars.

For more information contact:
Graduate Advisor
Spanish Graduate Program | Download the Spanish Graduate Manual [pdf]
University of South Carolina Columbia, SC 29208
Fax: (803) 777-0454

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