Spanish, PhD

College of Arts & Sciences

Program Description:

The Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of New Mexico requires a minimum of 36 hours of graduate courses (not including dissertation hours).  The degree consists of a departmental concentration and twelve additional hours in a supporting field.  All Ph.D. coursework in Spanish must be at the 500- or 600-level, with the exception of SPAN 438 - Mexican Literature, and SPAN 423 - Cervantes’ Quijote.

1. Departmental Concentration: The two concentrations are Literature and Linguistics. 
The concentration in Literature consists 24 credit hours of a group of courses in a genre (narrative, poetry, theater) and a period (Medieval, Renaissance/Golden Age/Colonial, 18th and 19th Centuries, 20th Century) and 12 hours in a supporting field. 
The concentration in Linguistics requires 36 hours of a range of courses from the various subfields of linguistics offered at UNM. 

2. Required Courses:
For the Linguistic concentration either SPAN 542 - History of the Spanish Language or PORT 561 - History of the Portuguese Language and PORT 461 - Graduate Portuguese Reading. 
For the Literature concentration SPAN 601 (Literary Theory) and six units of Portuguese 400 level or above are required.  These required courses may count toward the 36 hours of coursework.

3. Language Requirement:
Research at the graduate and professional levels is enhanced by the mastery of several languages.  Students are advised to consider their professional goals in selecting a language to fulfill the department’s requirement. The Portuguese language, as well as Brazilian literature and culture, share many similarities with the Spanish language and Spanish American literature and culture.  Coursework in Portuguese is strongly encouraged by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese as it will enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of such similarities.  Portuguese 277 is recommended.

     All Ph.D. candidates must demonstrate proficiency equivalent to two years of university-level study in a language apart from English and the student’s language of major study.  This proficiency is normally demonstrated by completing, in consultation with the Departmental Graduate Advisor, a fourth-semester or above numbered language course with a grade of B or better.  Alternately, the student may complete the requirement by demonstrating proficiency equivalent to one year of university-level study in two foreign languages, by completing second-semester or above numbered language courses in both languages with a grade of B or better.  This requirement can be met through coursework done as part of the B.A. and/or M.A.

4. Comprehensive Examination:
The doctoral examination encompasses both the concentration and the additional 12 hours in a supporting field.  The Student will compile a reading list in consultation with his or her Chair of Committee on Studies. 
The examination consists of three parts:
a. A 72-hour written examination covering areas of the concentration as well as the supporting field.
b. An assigned research essay in the student’s concentration. 
    The research question is developed in collaboration with the Committee on Studies and is generally geared  
    to prepare the student to work on the projected dissertation topic. 
    The student will have two weeks to complete the essay.
c. A comprehensive oral examination to be scheduled two weeks after the conclusion of the written

5. Ph.D. Dissertation:
Consult the information and requirements specified in the University of New Mexico Catalog.  A dissertation proposal will be presented to and approved by the Dissertation Committee in the semester following the comprehensive examination.  An approved copy of the dissertation proposal must be turned in to the Graduate Advisor.

Admission Requirements:


The University of New Mexico offers the Ph.D. degree in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese with major concentrations in Hispanic Literature and Hispanic Linguistics, with graduate-level coursework offered in Portuguese.  Financial assistance in the form of a teaching assistantship is available for the most highly qualified candidates.  Ph.D. students holding a teaching assistantship are normally supported for six semesters of support, providing that they remain in good academic standing, have satisfactory teaching and the availability of University funding.  A limited number of summer teaching assistantships are available on a competitive basis.

The Ph.D. is a research-oriented degree, requiring the completion of a dissertation, which represents a major original scholarly contribution.  Holders of a Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese typically teach at the college or university level and continue to write and publish research throughout their careers.  Not all successful M.A. students will make successful Ph.D. students.  Conversely, not all M.A. students will find that a Ph.D. degree fits their needs.  Thus, the fact of having completed an M.A. does not in itself ensure admission to the Ph.D. program.  A decision for admission is based on a composite of academic grades, faculty recommendations, GRE scores, comprehensive examinations, and other evidence of scholarship.  An important factor in considering applications to the Ph.D. program is a demonstration of the ability to undertake sustained research, and a commitment to research that goes beyond the mere satisfaction of program requirements.

  • All prospective Ph.D. candidates must hold the M.A. in Spanish or Portuguese or an equivalent degree from another country.
  • Admission to the Ph.D. program in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of New Mexico is highly selective, and all applicants, - including those who have received an M.A. in Spanish or Portuguese from UNM - are required to follow the same procedures.
  • Applications for admission to the Ph.D. program are considered on an annual basis. The Department of Spanish and Portuguese must receive all material by January 15 for Fall admission.  This deadline holds even for applicants who do not request a teaching assistantship.

Application Process:

Acceptance into the Ph.D. program is based on an evaluation of the following items, which the prospective candidate must provide the University:

  1. An application, and the application fee to be submitted to Admissions (UNM Spanish and Portuguese M.A. students do
          not have to submit a new Application, but need to turn in a change of degree form to the department Graduate Advisor).
  2. Official transcripts of all academic work sent directly to the Office of Admissions. (UNM M.A. students do not have to
          submit new transcripts, but an unofficial UNM transcript is required by the department).
  3. A narrative statement of intent, following departmental guidelines.
  4. A sample research paper prepared in accordance with the MLA Style Sheet for literature students or the LSA Style
          Sheet for linguistics students.
  5. Spanish candidates: Must submit the versant language Proficiency exam at
  6.        Portuguese candidates: Must submit a recorded autobiography according to departmental guidelines.  The compact
          disc, playable on a standard CD player,will be in Portuguese; native speakers of languages other than English must
          also provide a recorded statement in English of equal length.
  7. 6.   Graduates of U.S. universities must present GRE scores; native speakers of languages other than English.
  8. 7.   Three letters of recommendation, preferably from professors in the major field of study. The recommendation forms
          included with the application or available at
          supplemental material may be included on the departmental stationery of the person writing the recommendation.

Contact Information:

Martha Hurd: Graduate Advisor
(505) 277-2974