Program Guidelines

Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies

New Graduate Program Requirements for Students Entering in Fall 2019 and Forward

1. Director of Graduate Studies

Students should consult with the Director  of  Graduate Studies  (DGS) any time they have questions about the program. Students are responsible for checking with the DGS at least once per semester to make certain that they are not only taking the appropriate courses, but are also following the correct sequence of courses. New students must meet with the DGS prior to the beginning of the Fall semester. Continuing students must meet with the DGS during pre-registration. All students must meet again with the DGS during add/drop period if changes to their registration are necessary, as students cannot change their course selection without prior approval from the DGS.

2. Course and Examination Requirements

The following course and examination requirements must be met for the M.S. in Literature and Cultural Studies:

A. M.S. Students must complete 11 graduate level courses, for a total of 33 credits.  

There are two required courses to be taken during the first year:

  • SPAN 500 Spanish Teaching Methodology
  • SPAN 406 Introduction to Critical Theory

Students must select the remaining nine courses from at least six of the eight subject fields offered by the program:

  1. Medieval Peninsular Literature and Culture (to 1500)
  2. Early Modern Peninsular Literature and Culture (to 1700)
  3. Modern and Contemporary Peninsular Literature and Culture
  4. Ethnography
  5. Latin American Colonial Literature and Culture
  6. Modern and Contemporary Latin American Literature and Culture
  7. Luso-Brazilian Literature and Culture
  8. Transatlantic Literature and Culture

Masters students take three courses for the first three semesters and two in the fourth semester, while preparing the Master’s Qualifying Paper (see below).

B. Language Requirement

All Master’s students must show reading proficiency in a language other than English, Spanish or their own native language. Each student should consult with the appropriate language department administering the examination to inquire about the standards and format of the test. Please see guidelines.

C. First Year Evaluation

All students will sit the First-year Evaluation in three of the eight fields of study in the Literature and Cultural Studies Program. Reading lists for the examination fields will be distributed at the beginning of the first year to all incoming graduate students and are available on the department’s website.

Selected fields must include at least one focusing on the 18th century or earlier and must include both Latin American and Peninsular fields.  Those fields that could qualify in multiple categories must be designated by the student as fulfilling a particular distribution requirement.  To this end, they will choose their fields in consultation with the Director of Graduate studies.

The First-Year Evaluation is a take-home, open book essay exam.  Exam questions will be distributed the week before the Fall semester begins, and students will have two days to complete their responses. Students will receive two essay questions and one selection for textual analysis for each field.  Students will choose one of the two essay questions in two exam fields and also complete a textual analysis in the third field, for a total of three responses.

First-Year Evaluation criteria: The exam is designed to test both breadth of knowledge in the fields offered by the program and students’ ability to engage with literary and cultural texts in a critical, scholarly manner.   

Each section of the exam is graded (Distinction, High Pass, Pass, or Fail). In order to continue in good standing in the program, students must earn an average of a Pass grade. Those students who are unsuccessful will be placed on academic probation and permitted to re-take all or part of the examination at the end of the Fall semester of their second year. Students who fail to earn an average of a Pass grade in their second attempt to pass the exam will be terminated before the start of the Spring semester and will no longer be eligible for the M.S. degree.

D. Master’s Qualifying Paper

By the second semester of the second year of coursework, students enrolled only in the Master’s program (not on the Ph.D. track), in consultation with the director of graduate studies, will choose a mentor and two readers from the department (note that the members of this committee may or may not later serve as members of students’ doctoral committees). In consultation with this committee, students will prepare a qualifying paper.

Master’s Qualifying Papers are to be substantive scholarly essays (8,000 words, with an original argument and substantiated by research). Master’s Qualifying Papers cannot be term papers from previous coursework; they may be developed out of the ideas contained in term papers but there must be considerably further scholarly effort dedicated to preparing this qualifying paper. The Master’s Qualifying Paper should be understood as an important intellectual exercise, providing Masters students with the experience of writing a serious scholarly paper.

At the end of the fourth semester, Master’s Qualifying Papers will be submitted to the committee already selected by the student; the committee will evaluate whether the paper demonstrates a level of scholarship sufficient to qualify students to receive their M.S. degrees. Master’s Qualifying Papers will be graded Distinction, High Pass, Pass, or Fail. Students must earn a Pass or above in order to qualify for the Master’s Degree.

Those students who are unsuccessful may resubmit revised Master’s Qualifying Papers for evaluation within three months following the end of the fourth semester. Resubmitted papers must earn at least a Pass for students to be granted the M.S.; Master’s Qualifying Papers may only be resubmitted once.

E. Summary and Timeline for the M.S. Degree in Literature and Cultural Studies

The M.S. degree in Literature and Cultural Studies will require:

  • 33 credits of graduate coursework,
  • First-year Evaluation in the form of a take-home, open-book essay exam on three of the eight subject fields within the concentration, and
  • Master’s Qualifying Paper
  • Year 1
    • Fall Semester
      • 3 courses (9 credits) Including SPAN 406
      • Language Coursework as needed
      • Distribution of reading lists for the First year Evaluation
    • Spring Semester
      • 3 courses (9 credits) Including SPAN 500
      • Language Coursework as needed
    • Summer
      • Prepare for First Year Evaluation
      • Language Coursework as needed
      • First Year Evaluation administered week prior to start of Fall classes
  • Year 2
    • Fall Semester
      • 3 courses (9 credits)
      • Language Coursework as needed
      • First Year Evaluation Retakes (As needed)
    • Spring Semester
      • 2 courses (6 credits)
      • Students must have demonstrated second language proficiency by the end of this semester.
      • Presentation of Master’s Qualifying Paper.
    • Summer
      • Resubmission of Master’s Qualifying Papers (As needed)

3. Academic Performance and Academic Integrity

Every student pursuing graduate studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese is required always to adhere to high standards of academic performance and integrity. They are responsible for knowing the policies and standards of the Graduate School and the department concerning the infringement of academic integrity.

Spanish Literature and Culture M.S. Exam Reading Lists

1. Director of Graduate Studies and Adviser

Students should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) any time they have questions about the program. Students are responsible for checking with the DGS at least once per semester to make certain that they are not only taking the appropriate courses, but are also following the correct sequence of courses. New students must meet with the DGS prior to the beginning of the Fall semester.

Continuing students must meet with the DGS during pre-registration. All students must meet again with the DGS during add/drop period if changes to their registration are necessary, as students cannot change their course selection without prior approval from the DGS.

2. The following coursework and evaluation requirements must be met for the Ph.D. in Literature and Cultural Studies:

Students qualified to pursue the Ph.D. must complete four additional courses beyond the Master’s chosen in consultation with a prospective dissertation mentor for a total of 15 courses (45 credits) beyond the B.A. At least one of these courses should be a graduate-level course offered outside the department in another discipline. Students may take a maximum of three graduate courses outside the department during the course of their graduate work. Students accepted to the doctoral program who have an equivalent Master’s degree from another institution may apply to the DGS for Advanced Standing (see section V below).

A. Coursework

During the first two years of coursework, students will take courses in at least six of the eight fields of specialization offered by the program:

  1. Medieval Peninsular Literature and Culture (to 1500)
  2. Early Modern Peninsular Literature and Culture (to 1700)
  3. Modern and Contemporary Peninsular Literature and Culture
  4. Ethnography
  5. Latin American Colonial Literature and Culture
  6. Modern and Contemporary Latin American Literature and Culture
  7. Luso-Brazilian Literature and Culture
  8. Transatlantic Literature and Culture

There are two required courses to be taken during the first year:

  • SPAN 500 Spanish Teaching Methodology
  • SPAN 406 Introduction to Critical Theory

Year 1: All students will take 6 courses (18 credits), including SPAN 406 Critical Theory and SPAN 500 Spanish Teaching Methodology.

First year graduate students will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies to review prior coursework and then present a list of texts and fields of study with which they are familiar and/or in which they have expertise, to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Curriculum Committee, in order to select courses for the first year.

Students will be encouraged to take courses in fields with which they are less familiar.

Year 2: All Ph.D. students will take 5 courses (18 credits)

Year 3:  All Ph.D. students will take 4 courses (12 credits), with the exception of students with Advanced Standing, who will take 2 courses (6 credits).

All students in the Ph.D. program must, over the course of the first three semesters, choose a major field of expertise in which they will be examined as detailed below during their second and third years, and a minor field of expertise in which they must take four courses.

B. Language Requirement

All Ph.D. students must show reading proficiency in two languages other than English, Spanish or their own native language. Each student should consult with the appropriate language department administering the examination to inquire about the standards and format of the test. Please see guidelines.

This requirement should be completed prior to the approval of the dissertation proposal.

C. Evaluations

Year 1: First-Year Evaluation

  • All students, regardless of prior coursework and degrees, will sit the first year Evaluation in three of the eight fields of study in the Literature and Cultural Studies Program, listed above. Reading lists for the examination fields will be distributed at the beginning of the first year to all incoming graduate students and are available on the department’s website.
  • Field exams must include at least one field focusing on the 18th century or earlier and must include both Latin American and Peninsular fields. Those fields that could qualify in multiple categories must be designated by the student as fulfilling a particular distribution requirement. Students will choose their fields with the intent of demonstrating knowledge gained in areas with which they were less familiar when they entered the program. To this end, they will choose their fields in consultation with the director of Graduate Studies.
  • First-Year Evaluation format: The Evaluation is a take-home, open book essay exam. Exam questions will be distributed the week before the Fall semester begins, and students will have two days to complete their responses. Students will receive two essay questions and one selection for textual analysis for each field. Students will choose one of the two essay questions in two exam fields and also complete a textual analysis in one of the three fields, for a total of three responses.
  • First-Year Evaluation criteria: The exam is designed to test both breadth of knowledge in the fields offered by the program and students’ ability to engage with literary and cultural texts in a critical, scholarly manner.
  • Each section of the exam is graded (Distinction, High Pass, Pass, or Fail). In order to continue in good standing in the program, students must earn an average of a Pass grade. Those students who are unsuccessful will be placed on academic probation and permitted to re-take all or part of the examination at the end of the Fall semester of their second year. Should they fail in their second attempt to earn a Pass on the first-year evaluation, students will be required to withdraw from the graduate program and will not be eligible to receive a degree.

Year 23: Doctoral Qualifying Paper 1

  • At the beginning of the second semester of the second year of coursework, all students, in consultation with the director of graduate studies, will choose a mentor and one reader from the department (note that the members of this committee may or may not later serve as members of students’ doctoral committees). In consultation with this committee, students will prepare the Doctoral Qualifying Paper (QP1)
  • The QP1 is to be a substantive scholarly essay (8,000 words) of publishable potential with an original argument and substantiated by research. Students will be encouraged to submit their papers to peer review journals. The QP1 cannot be a term paper from previous coursework; it may be developed out of the ideas contained in term papers but there must be considerably further scholarly effort dedicated to preparing this paper. It should be understood as an important intellectual exercise, providing doctoral students with the experience of writing a serious scholarly paper.
  • At the end of the first semester of the third year, Qualifying Papers will be submitted to the committee already selected by the student; the committee will evaluate whether the paper demonstrates a level of scholarship sufficient for the student to continue in the Ph.D. program.
  • Qualifying Papers will be graded Distinction, High, Pass, or Fail. A Pass or above will qualify students to continue in the Doctoral Program.
  • Students who are successful will continue on to the Ph.D. and, if they do not already have a Master’s degree, will be awarded the Masters in passing at this time.
  • Those students who are unsuccessful may resubmit revised qualifying papers for evaluation within three months following the end of the fourth semester; should they fail to earn or receive a grade of Pass on the resubmitted paper, they will be required to leave the program.

Year 3:  Dissertation Proposal

  • At the beginning of the second semester of the third year in the program, in consultation with the director of graduate studies, students must decide on their dissertation mentor (this person could be the same faculty member who presided over the evaluation of the qualifying paper, but could also be another member of the department) and one reader (again, students can change readers at this point or remain with their initial evaluation committee).
  • After successful completion of the Doctoral Qualifying Paper, students will draft write dissertation proposals, in consultation with their dissertation directors and doctoral committees. The proposal will be more than an overview of the topic; considerable research on the subject must be evident so that rigorous discussion may take place. Following an oral defense, the proposal must be approved by a committee consisting of the mentor and at least one other evaluator from the Graduate Faculty of the Department.

Years 4-5: Dissertation research, writing, and defense

  • Upon approval of the dissertation proposal, the student will enroll in four successive courses of Thesis Research. The dissertation committee will consist of the faculty mentor, at least one reader from the department, and at least one reader from outside the department. The dissertation may be written in Spanish, Portuguese, or English.
  • Upon completion of the dissertation and its approval by the dissertation committee, there will be a public presentation and defense of the dissertation. The dissertation committee certifies by vote that the defense has earned one of the following grades: Pass, Fail. The Graduate Program in Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies requires a super-majority vote by the committee.
  • Following the defense, doctoral candidates must make any required corrections or changes to the dissertation and deposit the dissertation with the Graduate School. Please consult the Graduate Student Bulletin for additional requirements and guidelines.

D. Summary and Timeline for the Ph.D. in Literature and Cultural Studies

The Ph.D. in Literature and Cultural Studies will require:

  • 45 credits of graduate coursework (39 for those with advanced standing),
  • First-year Evaluation in the form of a take-home, open-book essay exam based    on three of the eight subject fields within one concentration, and
  • Doctoral Qualifying Paper 1
  • Dissertation Proposal
  • Dissertation Defense
  • Year 1
    • Fall Semester
      • 3 courses (9 credits) Including SPAN 406
      • Language Coursework as needed
      • Distribution of reading lists for the First-year Evaluation
    • Spring Semester
      • 3 courses (9 credits) Including SPAN 500
      • Language Coursework as needed
    • Summer
      • Prepare for First-Year Evaluation + Language Coursework as needed
      • First-Year Evaluation administered 1 week prior to start of Fall classes.
  • Year 2
    • Fall Semester
      • 3 courses (9 credits)
      • Language Coursework as needed
      • First-Year Evaluation Retakes (As needed)
    • Spring Semester
      • 2 courses (6 credits)
      • Language Coursework as needed
      • Preparation of Doctoral Qualifying Paper
    • Summer
      • Language Coursework as needed
  • Year 3
    • Fall Semester
      • 2 courses (6 credits); Students with advanced standing: 1 course (3 credits)
      • Non-credit Graduate Seminar
      • Language Coursework as needed
      • Presentation of Doctoral Qualifying Paper
    • Spring Semester
      • 2 courses (6 credits); Students with advanced standing: 1 course (3 credits)
      • Language Requirements must be fulfilled before Dissertation Proposal Defense
      • Doctoral Qualifying Paper (As Needed)
  • Year 4
    • Fall Semester
    • Dissertation Research and Writing
    • Preparation of Dissertation Proposal and Defense (For those students who successfully resubmitted the Doctoral Qualifying Paper)
    • Spring Semester
    • Dissertation Research and Writing
  • Year 5
    • Fall Semester
      • Dissertation Research and Writing
    • Spring Semester
      • Dissertation Defense

4. Teaching Requirement

All Ph.D. students are required to teach under the supervision of a faculty mentor within the department in partial fulfillment or satisfaction of degree requirements.  This requirement serves the purpose of furthering the students’ education and professional training.

5. Students with a Master’s from Another Institution

Students with a Master’s Degree in Spanish Peninsular and/or Latin American Literature, or a similar field may apply to the DGS for Advanced Standing.  Up to two graduate courses (6 credits) may be accepted from another graduate program toward the total of fifteen courses past the Bachelor’s degree required for the Ph.D. Students with prior degrees should apply for Advanced Standing upon arrival to Georgetown. The department will review the student’s prior coursework and preparation to determine the number of credits approved.

6. Academic Performance and Academic Integrity

Every student pursuing graduate studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese is required always to adhere to high standards of academic performance and integrity. They are responsible for knowing the policies and standards of the Graduate School and the department concerning the infringement of academic integrity.