University at Albany

Graduate Program


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in Spanish

(30 credits beyond the MA)


Each student’s program is planned in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and/or a specialist in the student’s area who takes into account the student’s preparation, areas of particular interest, and professional objectives. There are two concentrations offered for the PhD in Spanish in our Department (LLC): Spanish Linguistics and Hispanic Literature. Each program requires a minimum of 30 credits beyond the MA.

Requirements for the concentration in Spanish Linguistics include:

  • A minimum of 18 credits from any SPN or LLC courses (maximum 9 LLC credits) at the 500 level or above
  • A maximum of 12 credits of relevant coursework in linguistics (LIN) or language teaching, as advised
  • Reading knowledge of two languages other than Spanish or English as demonstrated by coursework or a translation exam

Requirements for the concentration in Hispanic Literature include:

  • A minimum of 30 credits from any SPN or LLC courses (maximum 9 LLC credits) at the 500 level or above
  • Reading knowledge of one language other than Spanish or English as demonstrated by coursework or a translation exam
  • Within this concentration, the following areas of specialization are available: Modern Spanish Literature, Modern Latin American Literature, Cultural Studies, and Literary Theory.


PhD Candidacy Exams

PhD candidacy exams are offered every semester. The exam should be taken no later than the semester following the completion of PhD 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 chose, 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.


PhD Candidacy Exams in Spanish Linguistics

Students concentrating in Spanish Linguistics should meet with each of the members of his/her examination committee and determine the format and timing of the written exam. Various formats might be considered, but the written exam 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, 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 copy of their dissertation proposal, approved by their dissertation director.


PhD Candidacy Exams in Hispanic Literature

Students concentrating in Hispanic Literature should submit for approval to the members of his/her committee an 8-page proposal at least two weeks prior to the scheduled exam date. Those 8 pages should include, along with a description of the dissertation project, a minimum 15-text bibliography which will include works gathered around a major topic relevant to the future dissertation. The written exam will include 6 questions, of which the student must answer 3 in a three-day open-book take-home exam. There is no specific length required for each answer, but solid essays of approximately 5-10 pages each will be considered adequate.

After successful completion of the exam and feedback from the committee, the student will compose a minimum 25-page thesis proposal and give it to the committee two weeks prior to the date scheduled for the formal oral presentation of the dissertation topic. The proposal should include the following: a title, a general description of the project including a clear critical/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 Handbook. This presentation replaces the oral exam component of the PhD candidacy 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.

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


Admission to PhD Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon:

  • Successful completion of 30 credits of coursework beyond the MA in one of the concentrations offered
  • Successful completion of the PhD Candidacy Exams
  • Successful completion of the language reading requirement
  • Completion of University residency requirements

The PhD Dissertation

Upon completion of the PhD candidacy requirements, the candidate may start writing the dissertation, during which time each semester, must enroll in ASPN899. The dissertation itself is expected to manifest the candidate’s ability to perform mature and original scholarly research elaborating on previous critical judgments. The dissertation may be written in English or Spanish.

The candidate may request changes in the composition of the dissertation committee. This should be done in writing with a copy forwarded to the Director of Graduate Studies. If a member of the dissertation committee wishes to withdraw, that change must also be communicated in writing to both the candidate and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Once the dissertation is completed, read and approved by members of the dissertation committee, the Director of Graduate Studies will arrange a time and place for the defense in consultation with the student, dissertation director, and other committee members. After a successful dissertation defense the candidate may be required to make corrections based on the suggestions of the committee. The candidate may graduate only after depositing in the Graduate Office a final version of the dissertation that conforms to their guidelines.


Sample of Dissertation Topics

Diana Aldrete, "El cuerpo femenino ante la violencia en la literatura sobre los feminicidios en Ciudad Juárez"

Jennifer Baker, “Avant-gardism and the postcolonial perspective: Brazilian, Cuban and Puerto Rican Intersections”

Diana Barnes, “Transitional Regendering of the Maternal Figure in Selected Works of Contemporary Spanish Literature and Film”

Luis A. Cordero-Rivera, “Los elementos carnavalescos en la Famosa Comedia de La Entretenida”

McKew Devitt, “Cuerpo y espacio en Tiempo de silencio”

Armando González-Salinas, “El empleo del presente del subjuntivo y la alternancia modal en tres grupos socioeducativos en Monterrey, Nuevo León, México”

Jack Ishman, “Et in Erífile ego: Poetic Imitation and Intertextuality in Bernardo de Balbuena's pastoral milieu”

Alice Krause, “Optimal Diphthongs: An OT Analysis of the Acquisition of Spanish Diphthongs”

Ornella Mazzuca, “La mujer detective en la literatura latinoamericana. Tres ejemplos”

Melissa McCarron, "Genealogies of Excess: Archetypes, Intertextuality and the Lesbian Body in the Poetry and Prose of Maria-Mercè Marçal"

Maria Montoya, "Expression of Possession in Spanish in Contact with English: A Sociolinguistic Study across Two Generations in the Greater New York Metropolitan Area"

Lisa Nolan, "Repeat Performance: Federico Garćia Lorca's Theater, Fascism and the Spanish Literary Imaginary"

Alejandra Olarte, "El wavering imaginativo y la conciencia imaginante en los cuentos de Marvel Moreno y Angela Carter”

Dora Ramirez, “Language Attrition and Maintenance: The Case of Colombian Immigrants in New York State”

Kathryn Ringer-Hilfinger, "The Acquisition of Sociolinguistic Variation by Study Abroad Students: The Case of American Students in Madrid"

Emilia Sciarra-Laos, "Experimental Poetry in Four Authors: Tablada, de Campos, Padín and Brossa."

Ruth Scipione, "Phonetic Adaptation of Spanish Loanwords in Copala Triqui"

April Schmidt ,“Everything and Nothing: The Poetry of Hanni Ossott (1968-1987)”

Craig Stokes, ”Castilian Transcodic Markers in Internet Catalan: Analysis of Generic, Regional and Linguistic Factors”

John (Juan) Thomas, “Hispanismos en Napolitano”

Patricia Weeks (Sweeney), “El voseo en Chile: Factores históricos-morfológicos que explican su aparición y mantenimiento”

Delma Wood, “Las tiranías gastronómicas en el recetario textual y culinario de Como agua para chocolate”



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