Spanish Graduate Program

Welcome! The Spanish program at the University at Albany offers Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees with specializations in Spanish linguistics, and Latin American literature and cultural studies. Our faculty—from a variety of linguistic, cultural and academic backgrounds—provides both breadth and depth to student academic and professional preparation and is committed to student success. We encourage our graduate students to present their research at scholarly meetings and engage in academic research, often in collaboration with faculty members. All of our classes are conducted in Spanish.

Application information

In addition to the general University requirements for admission to graduate study, the applicant’s undergraduate preparation should be preferably in the liberal arts with a major in Spanish. Applicants with preparation in other fields may be accepted on the condition that any deficiencies be addressed. At the time of admission, a student should have excellent command of Spanish. Decisions on admission are based on undergraduate record, three letters of recommendation, a statement of interest, and a writing sample in Spanish. LLC Spanish Graduate Program brochure.

Teaching Assistantships and fellowships are available to students enrolled in the Ph.D. program usually starting in the fall semesters on a competitive basis and determined by the applicant’s academic record, recommendations, foreign language proficiency, and scholarly promise. In addition, there may be part-time positions in the form of lectureships. Applications to the program are continuously accepted, however students wishing to be considered for a teaching assistantship should apply before February 15.

Master of Arts (MA) in Spanish

(30 credits minimum)

Our program offers the following three areas of concentration: Spanish Linguistics, Hispanic Literature, and Latin American Cultural Studies. In addition to the regular MA (2-year program), we offer a fast-track one-year MA program (two semesters and one summer), as well as a combined BA/MA program in Spanish. To apply, complete the graduate school application form (www.albany.edu/graduate/graduate-admissions.php), and include a 2-page statement of interest, writing sample in Spanish (of 15 pages max.) and three letters of recommendation. For more information, contact the Spanish Program Director and Graduate Advisor Professor Ilka Kressner (ikressner@albany.edu) Below are the course requirements for each of the three areas of concentration:

Spanish Linguistics

  • At least 3 courses (9 credits) in Spanish Linguistics
  • One course (3 credits) in two of the following areas:
    • Spanish American Literature
    • Hispanic Cultural Studies
    • Modern Spanish Literature
  • Spanish 509
  • Spanish 611 Electives as advised (maximum 9 credits of coursework in English)
  • MA Exam

Hispanic Literature

  • At least 3 courses (9 credits) in the following two areas:
    • Spanish American Literature
    • Modern Spanish Literature
  • One course (3 credits) in one of the following areas:
    • Hispanic Cultural Studies
    • Spanish Linguistics
  • Spanish 509
  • Spanish 603
  • Electives as advised (maximum 9 credits of coursework in English)
  • MA Exam

Hispanic Cultural Studies

  • At least 3 courses (9 credits) in Hispanic Cultural Studies
  • One course (3 credits) in one of the following areas:
    • Modern Spanish Literature
    • Hispanic Cultural Studies
    • Spanish Linguistics
  • Spanish 509
  • Spanish 603
  • Electives as advised (maximum 9 credits of coursework in English)
  • MA Exam

MA Exams

Students who wish to take the MA exam, offered every semester in October and April, and during late summer, if requested, must inform the Director of Graduate Studies of their interest no later than September 15 for the fall exam and March 15 for the spring or summer exam. Possible major fields include Spanish Linguistics, Hispanic Literature, and Cultural Studies. Possible minor fields include the aforementioned as well as General Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, and Spanish Literature. The MA exam consists of a six-hour written exam on the area of the student’s major field and a four-hour written exam on either one other area (for students whose major field is either Literature or Cultural Studies) or two other areas (for students whose major field is Spanish Linguistics). 

MA Reading Lists see: LinguisticsLiteratureCultural Studies.

BA/MA Program:

Qualified undergraduate Spanish majors may apply for admission to the MA program at the beginning of their junior year or after the successful completion of 56 credits. Among the benefits of this program, you may “double-count” up to 12 credits towards both the BA and MA by taking 500-level classes (instead of 400-level classes). For information and application requirements contact Ilka Kressner, ikressner@albany.edu and see this 1-Year MA Flyer and the Combined BA-MA Program).

One Year MA:

Our One-Year MA allows you to complete all coursework and exams during two semesters and one summer (graduate summer courses either in Madrid, Spain or San José, Costa Rica). For information, see this.

Ph.D. in Spanish

(30 credits minimum)

Our program offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree with specializations in Spanish linguistics, and Latin American literature and cultural studies. Our faculty’s research interests include in linguistics: contact linguistics and sociolingustics, second-language acquisition, Spanish phonetics, grammaticalization, morphosynactic and language variation and change. Our interests in literatures and cultural studies include: 19th century to contemporary Latin American literatures, Caribbean studies, Brazilian studies, gender studies, historical fiction, the African diaspora in Latin America, Latina and Latino cultural studies, Latin American ecocriticism, film and inter-arts studies. Since we consider language the shared fundament of all of our specializations, all our classes are taught in Spanish. We encourage our graduate students to present their research at scholarly meetings and engage in academic research, often in collaboration with faculty members.

Language Proficiency

Besides competency in their language of specialization, in addition to English, PhD students in Spanish Linguistics must demonstrate reading knowledge of two research languages, PhD students in Spanish literature and cultural studies must demonstrate reading knowledge of one research language. These languages should be relevant to the student’s field of research. This proficiency can be fulfilled by: a) Taking the foreign language translation exam, offered once per semester by our department. In this exam, the student will be given a 500-word text in the target language, selected from a text in their area of research to be translated into English within two hours. A dictionary may be used; the exam is handwritten. Students wishing to take the exam must e-mail the Administrative Manager (Janna Harton, jharton@albany.edu) and Spanish Graduate Adviser (Ilka Kressner, ikressner@albany.edu) by October 15 or March 15. b) Taking (or having taken) a university-level language course above the 4-semester language instruction courses (at UAlbany any course at or above the 300-level would count towards the exception) and receiving a grade of B- or better.

PhD Candidacy Exams

PhD candidacy exams are offered every semester. The exam should be taken no later than the semester following the completion of Ph.D. coursework. Students must indicate their interest in taking the PhD exam to the Director of Graduate Studies by March 15 or October 15, if they intend to take the exam the following semester. At that time the student should choose, in consultation with the faculty member who will serve as the candidate’s Dissertation Advisor, two other professors who will serve as members of the Examination committee. If a member outside the University or Program is involved, a fourth member may be added. The specifics regarding the candidacy exams in Spanish Linguistics and Hispanic Literature are detailed below, but they both involve a) an initial written proposal, followed by b) the written PhD exam and c) the oral defense of the dissertation topic.

Students who fail any aspect of the PhD Candidacy Exam may retake it once.

PhD Candidacy Exams in Spanish Linguistics

Students concentrating in Spanish Linguistics begin the exam process by providing a draft of their proposal to their committee chair. They then work with the committee chair to determine their exam committee and examination areas. Students should meet with each of the members of their examination committee and determine the format and timing of the written exam. Various formats might be considered, but the written exams should not be spread out over more than two weeks. Committee members may provide students with a reading list of 10-15 works that will aid them in preparing for their exam area. Once the student has successfully completed all areas of the written exam, a date will be scheduled for the oral exam within the same semester, in which the student will be asked to elaborate on responses given during the written exam phase. After the successful completion of the oral exam and completion of all other candidacy requirements, the student will be considered ABD. By the end of the semester in which the exams are taken, or during the semester subsequent to the exams, the candidate should deposit with the Director of Graduate Studies a final copy of their dissertation proposal, approved by their dissertation director and committee.

PhD Candidacy Exams in Hispanic Literature and Cultural Studies

Students concentrating in Hispanic Literature and Cultural Studies should submit for approval to the committee chair and members of their committee a 15-page initial proposal at least three weeks prior to the scheduled exam date. The proposal should include, along with a description of the dissertation project, a minimum 20-text bibliography of critical works gathered around a major topic relevant to the future dissertation. Once the initial proposal is approved by the director and readers, the student will be admitted to the written exam, which will include 4 questions, of which the student selects and answers 3 in a three-day open-book take-home exam (usually taken over the weekend). While there is no specific length required for each answer, solid essays tend to be around 8-12 pages each.

After successful completion of the exam and feedback from the committee, the student will compose a minimum 25-page thesis proposal and submit this to the committee three weeks prior to the date scheduled for the formal oral presentation of the dissertation topic. The proposal should include the tentative title, a general description of the project including a clear critical and theoretical approach to the topic, and its contribution to the field, a brief description of each chapter, and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. The proposal should be written in accordance with the latest MLA style guide. Once the written proposal is approved by the committee members, the student will defend their proposal in an oral exam. The date of the presentation will be set by the student and advisor in consultation with the other committee members. The presentation should take place in the same semester as the written exam or in the subsequent semester. After the presentation and completion of all other candidacy requirements, the student will be considered ABD.

Recent PhDs and their Dissertation Topics

See here.