Spanish (PhD)

Spanish is the official language of twenty-one countries in the world, and it is the second most spoken language in the United States. Our department pioneers the teaching of Spanish as a Heritage Language.

We provide classes in Spanish that help students develop linguistic abilities with an emphasis on real-world proficiency, as well as introduce students to the major historical and cultural phenomena that characterize the Spanish-speaking world.

We offer both MA and PhD programs in Spanish. Most of our graduate students have a Graduate Employee (GE) position that provides a tuition waiver, health insurance, and a stipend to cover living expenses. We also offer scholarships and support for travel to professional meetings.

Coursework for the PhD in Spanish allows students to:

  • acquire exposure to a broad range of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches
  • develop expertise in a primary and secondary field
  • broaden and deepen their conception of the Ph.D. Scholarly Project/dissertation
  • acquire exposure to interdisciplinary comparative approaches, transnational connections, and minority languages and cultures
  • join and/or establish professional networks in their chosen discipline(s)

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate mastery of subject content knowledge.
  • Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills in discipline-specific genres.
  • Conduct independent research and analysis in their discipline.
  • Demonstrate independent scientific thinking and advanced knowledge in their current discipline and in related areas of their discipline.
  • Understand ethical issues and responsibilities especially in matters related to professionalism, field work, and in writing and publishing theses, dissertations and academic papers.
  • Professionalization into the field of study: publications, presentations, attended conferences, funded fellowships, and professional association activities.

Course requirements depend on students’ credentials when admitted. Students entering with a B.A must complete 80 credits; students holding an M.A. degree in an appropriate field (see Admissions section) must complete 40 credits. All credits must be taken graded and at the graduate level (500-600). Distribution of course requirements for the PhD is as follows:

1.     RL 616 Language teaching methods (4 credits)

2.    RL 620 Graduate Study in RL (4 credits)

3.    RL 623 RL Colloquium (4 credits)

4.    4 courses in primary area (16 credits)

5.    3 courses in secondary area (12 credits)

6.    RL 603 Dissertation (18 credits) 

Students typically will register for RL 601 or RL 605 during the terms that they are preparing for exams, and for RL 603 when writing their prospectus.

PhD students who are teaching take Span 609 1st year Pedagogy or Span 609 2nd year Pedagogy (2 credits), which requires weekly meetings with their teaching supervisor and provides training that prepares them further to teach their classes successfully. 

ourses should come primarily from the Romance Languages department, but this distribution can be met with courses from any department on campus, with approval from the student’s advisor(s). Of the 6 courses taken in Primary and Secondary areas, at least 4 of them should be in Spanish. For courses taken outside RL, research papers should deal with the Spanish language and/or the communities where it is used, and serve to prepare the student for the Scholarly Project and/or dissertation (see below).

Second-language requirement

In addition to Spanish, students must demonstrate proficiency in a second language that is relevant to their research interests and that will allow them to participate in additional academic discourse communities. This may be another Romance language taught in the department (French, Italian, or Portuguese) or another language relevant to their research (Latin, Arabic, or Ladino; Basque, Catalan, or Galician; Nahuatl, Quechua, or Yucatec Maya; Caló or Spanglish, etc.). Students will justify their choice of second language and how they will evidence competency in the annual review at the end of their first year. 

Students can fulfill the second-language requirement in several ways, as follows:

·      Completing one graduate course (4 graded credits) in a second Romance language: French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese or RL-prefix course structured around readings in one of these languages.

·      Completing one graduate course (4 graded credits) in an approved language outside the Romance Languages department.

With the approval of the adviser(s) and the Director of Graduate Studies, students may design a program of study or language experience on or off campus (e.g., a study abroad program) that evidences/results in a proficiency level appropriate for research.

The students’ faculty adviser(s) will indicate that the second-language requirement has been satisfied through one of the options above by submitting an email to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Students entering the SPAN PhD program with a BA will need take a total of 20 courses (80 credits) to complete their PhD requirements: 

  1. 3 courses (12 credits) of RL required courses (RL 636, 620, 623)
  2. 11 courses (40 credits) in the Romance Languages department. At least 9 courses must have a SPAN prefix; up to two courses may have an RL prefix when the written coursework is completed in Spanish. 
  3. 3 courses (12 credits) outside the department in fields related to their research (i.e.: Linguistics, Philosophy, History, English, Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Education Studies, Comparative Literature).
  4. 3 courses (12 credits) with the RL prefix (RL, ITAL, PORT or FR), or in other departments if the courses are related to their primary and secondary fields. (One of these courses may also satisfy the second language requirement).

Students entering the SPAN PhD with an MA will complete a total of 10 courses (40 credits),with their Primary and Secondary Field-satisfying courses drawn from any of the categories below:

  1. 3 graduate courses (12 credits) of RL required courses (RL 636, 620, 623)
  2. 4  graduate courses (16 credits)  in the Romance Languages Department with SPAN prefix
  3. 3 graduate courses (12 credits) in Romance Languages, SPAN, FR, PORT, ITAL, or outside the department. (One of these courses may also satisfy the second language requirement).

*Students who have taken RL 636, RL 620, and RL 623 in the course of completing an MA in the Romance Languages department at UO will be considered to have met these requirements.


Graduate Portfolio: Students will file the materials they create throughout their progress in the program (Coursework essays, Pre-professional Experience Internship, Prospectus, publications, and their dissertation) in a Portfolio that will allow their committees to track their academic progress and their intellectual commitment to the field.

Professional Development Experience 

Students interested in exploring alternative careers as future professional opportunities are encouraged to undertake an internship or a comparable experience in the community in Eugene in the summer or during the year, or in another state or any other Latin American country or Spain, in a place where they can use their Spanish linguistic skills while developing administrative skills. This is not a mandatory professional experience. Faculty advisors or/and the Career Center will work with students to locate appropriate opportunities. This professional development experience is envisioned to train further our graduate students for a career paths outside the academia. The experience does not have to be local; students can contemplate diverse options nationally or internationally. For example, some options would be to work as a volunteer interpreters in a court of law or in a hospital, as assistant teacher in a public school, internship in a government facility, administrative assistant or Public relations in a business, assistant or interpreter in an NGO such as Centro Latinoamericano in Eugene, or another NGO related to their field in the US, Latin America or the Iberian peninsula. The internship or voluntary work could range from 15 hours to 30 hours. It may be completed at any time during their years of study; it is an optional experience, not a requirement. Students must submit a brief reflection (500-1000 words) on their experience to their graduate advisor; the reflection should address how the experience has been formative, and how it affected their thinking about future career option once they finish their PhD. The reflection should also speak to how it may connect to their course of study and enrich their preparation as graduate students. The reflection should be shared with the contact person in the institution they worked with, who should also send a brief letter certifying that the student did the voluntary work.

Annual Meeting: Students provide a progress report, a future plan of study term by term, and meet with their advisor annually during the spring term. We will have a template for the progress report with an advising checklist to assure consistency.

DISSERTATION PROGRESS MEETING In the fall term of the first full year of dissertation writing, the student meets with the advisor and one other member of the dissertation committee to discuss the progress, status and trajectory of the dissertation, potential publications associated with it, and any factors impeding the work or troubling the student. The student will submit all drafted work to the advisor and second committee member at least one week before the meeting takes place. After this meeting, the advisor will submit a brief description of the student’s qualitative and quantitative progress to the Director of Graduate Studies. Please use the First Year Dissertation Status Meeting form to document the meeting. Students may find it useful to have a fall term progress meeting with two members of their committee during each year of dissertation writing. Advisors should submit a Progress Meeting form to the Director of Graduate Studies. 
FIRST CHAPTER REQUIREMENT By the last day of classes of winter term of the first full year of dissertation writing, the student must submit a fully drafted chapter of the dissertation to the Dissertation Advisor and the Graduate Coordinator. “Fully drafted” implies a chapter whose argumentative structure is complete, and which has been proofread and includes references, but which might not be considered “polished” or final text. Students who do not meet this milestone work must meet with the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss available resources and strategies to support their progress and to craft and execute a writing plan. (Such meetings are available to all students at any point of the degree.) As per the GDRS, graduate students must be making satisfactory progress toward degree. Students who fail to submit a fully drafted chapter of the dissertation to the Graduate Coordinator by the end of winter term of the first full year of dissertation writing risk losing their GE appointments, unless the advisor or the DGS can provide and document the reasons for an extension of this submission. Note: It is worth emphasizing that the first fully drafted chapter may be submitted as part of the dissertation progress meeting during the fall term and that, ideally, students will have progressed well beyond a single chapter draft at the end of the first full year of dissertation writing. At the same time, individual paths and timelines to a complete dissertation vary widely among students.

Guided Readings: Taken in the final term of coursework before the Ph.D. exams, these readings have two objectives: (1) to help students prepare for the Ph.D. exams and to reinforce coverage of the areas of expertise students will need as they begin preparing for the dissertation project and (2) to acquire knowledge in areas not covered in their coursework. By the completion of the guided readings (2-4 credits) as Span 605, students should submit two Annotated Bibliographies of Primary Works in the Primary Field (15 works; one page per work); and Annotated Bibliography of Primary Works in their Secondary Field(s) (10 works; one page per work).

Ph.D. Statement & Plan of Study: Students work with their primary adviser to compose a one-page statement that explains their interests, the connections among their fields of study, the beginnings of their primary project, and a term-by-term plan of work. The statement is approved by the primary adviser and shared with the members of the Ph.D. exam committee. The statement should be completed by the beginning of the term when students will take their Ph.D. exams. The statement should serve as another academic tool to prepare for the Exams.

Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations

The comprehensive examination consists of two written exams and an oral defense. Students will submit two Annotated Bibliographies the term before their Ph.D. exams (after completing their Guided Readings), which will then serve as the basis for their Ph.D. exam reading lists. Each written examination covers a subfield that pertains to the student’s primary fields of interest. The subfields should be defined and prepared with three RL faculty members who will constitute the Ph.D. exam committee. Students will be encouraged to include a fourth member from another UO department. By week 2 of the term of their Ph.D. exams, students submit a form with the signature of each member of the committee, verifying that they have received the final reading list for exams and that they are prepared to participate in the examination committee. The exam committee is selected by the student and the advisor, according to the student’s fields of research and in consultation with the faculty members the student has been working with throughout their graduate studies. 

In consultation with the members of this committee, students create a reading list for their designated primary field and secondary field. In consultation with their adviser, they may opt to add a third subfield. Students will prepare a list of critical, methodological, and/or theoretical works that support their primary and secondary fields, which they will then incorporate into their preparation for the second exam. This reading list must be approved by the exam committee no later than week 2 of the term of the exams. Students are responsible for distributing the reading list to each of the committee members as these members sign the exam form. Each written exam will take the form of an essay (maximum 25 pages, double-spaced) that responds to one of two questions formulated by members of the Ph.D. exam committee, and will cover one or more of the subfields. Students will have two weeks to write each of these essays. Two weeks after the successful completion of these written essays, students will then take an oral examination. The oral exam will allow students to integrate the areas addressed in the written exams with the other facets of their declared fields of interest. In this two-hour conversation, the committee members help students to articulate how their written essays will best lead to the development of the dissertation project. Exam 1 should be received in Week 4, turned in in Week 6; Exam 2 should be received in Week 6 and submitted in Week 8; the oral defense should be in Week 10. 

Undertaken by the sixth term of study following the M.A., the comprehensive examination should result in clarification of both the subject matter of the dissertation and possible approaches to it. The exam should, in other words, yield a dissertation topic. It is the responsibility of the students to initiate the scheduling of both the written and the oral portions of the comprehensive examination. Upon successful completion of the Ph.D. comprehensive exam, students are formally advanced to candidacy and may begin preparing the dissertation prospectus. Students who fail one or both components of the Ph.D. exam will be allowed to retake it (in whole or in part) once. The Graduate Coordinator and the DGS will make sure that the student retakes the exams no later than 6 months after their first attempt. If their second attempt is deemed unsatisfactory, they are disqualified from Ph.D. candidacy and must withdraw from the graduate program, the department will award them a terminal MA. 

During the term the students are taking the Ph.D. Exams they would not be taking courses, but 8 credits RL 600 Exam course.


Students are responsible for putting together their dissertation committee, which normally consists of four members: one director and two readers from the Department of Romance Languages, and one reader from another department. Students must submit a form—either digitally or on paper—two weeks before the defense of the prospectus or by week 7 at the latest—with the signature of each member of this committee, verifying that they have received the final draft of the prospectus and agree to serve on the committee. 

Students will submit a ten- to fourteen-page prospectus accompanied by a substantial research bibliography of primary and secondary material to the dissertation committee members in the term following successful completion of their PhD Exam. This prospectus should define the scope of the dissertation; demonstrate the significance and originality of the project; explain the methodology and theoretical grounding; and provide a short summary of each chapter and its main arguments. Occasionally, a student may choose to have two co-directors in the Department of Romance Languages (plus two additional members, one from the department and one from another department).

Students are responsible for putting together their dissertation committee, which normally consists of four members: one director and two readers from the Department of Romance Languages, and one reader from another UO department. Students are expected to consult with each of their committee members while drafting the prospectus. The defense of the Prospectus must be scheduled by week 2 of that term, and it must occur by week 10. Students must submit a form - either digitally or on paper - two weeks before the defense of the prospectus or by week 7 at the latest -- with the signature of each member of this committee, verifying that they have received the final draft of the prospectus and agree to serve on the committee.

Once the dissertation director notifies the Ph.D. candidate in writing that all members of the committee have approved the prospectus, the candidate will schedule a meeting with the dissertation committee members for a presentation and discussion of the prospectus. Following this conversation, the candidate will make final revisions to the prospectus. Once the committee has given its final approval, the student will file the prospectus with the department. 

It is the candidate’s responsibility to have a dissertation committee in place and to have filed all necessary documents with the Division of Graduate Studies six months before the dissertation defense. Upon completion of the Prospectus Defense, the student will be advanced to candidacy.

Any student making significant changes to the dissertation project after the final approval of the prospectus must schedule a meeting with the dissertation committee before proceeding.

Scholarly Project or Versatile Ph.D. Project: The student chooses a seminar paper or project to develop into an article or other scholarly project that complements the student’s chosen professional goals and plan of study. Students preparing for an academic job are strongly encouraged to pursue publication of one scholarly articles or a Translation project. Working with their adviser or in the context of a graduate course, they prepare the article or text, choose a publication venue, and submit the article or translation for publication by the end of the fourth year. Students may propose and prepare other versatile Ph.D. projects, however, in consultation with their advisers and the DGS. Students will also be encouraged to develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP) to actively prepare for jobs outside the academia.


           Students must form a dissertation committee (at least 4 members; 3 from Romance Languages and one UO faculty member from outside the RL department), defend their dissertation proposal to their committee, must take a minimum of 18 dissertation credits while writing the dissertation, submit at 6-3 weeks in advance the final dissertation to the committee (if the committee does not receive the dissertation 3 weeks in advance the defense has to be postponed) and give an oral defense of their dissertation. All UO Division of Graduate Studies dissertation requirements must be adhered to.

RL 607 Professionalization and Dissertation Workshop This course will be offered every other year for students who have submitted their prospectus, and before or while they enter the job market. While the course will allow students to examine the range of career opportunities within and outside the academic job market, the focus will be on drafting cover letters, teaching statements, CVs, and grant proposals; throughout the term, workshop participants will draft a journal article, most likely from a dissertation chapter in progress, and identify an appropriate journal for submission and peer review. As part of this course requirements the students will be developing Professional Portfolio, and an Individual Development Plan (IDP) to explore professional, career opportunities outside the academia, and how to prepare for them competitively.

Original Dissertation/Oral Defense

Students must complete a PhD Thesis Progress form at least 6 weeks before the defense of their dissertation with the signature of each member of the committee, verifying that they have received the final draft of the dissertation and that they will participate in the defense. 

The dissertation should constitute an original and significant contribution to scholarship in the student’s field of expertise. It should be characterized by mature literary, cinematic, linguistic, and/or cultural interpretation; by informed and reasoned argument; and by an awareness of the means and goals of research. In the context of a PhD in Spanish this means that their dissertation will be showing the new paths of Latin American and/or Iberian Studies, for example in dialogue with African Studies, Mediterranean Studies, Caribbean Studies. Dissertations might be written in Spanish or in English, making its contribution in a wide range of fields such as Translation Studies, Linguistics, Gender Studies, Holocaust or Memory Studies, and Visual Culture, among many others. 

Students must also, of course, familiarize themselves with the stringent formatting and structure guidelines for the dissertation (the information is provided by the Division of Graduate Studies and is available online or in pamphlet form). A final copy of the dissertation must be distributed to the dissertation committee for final approval at least six weeks before the dissertation defense.

Final Oral Dissertation Defense

When all members of the dissertation committee have agreed that it is a defensible the dissertation, a public oral presentation and defense of the work is held. If a member of the committee does not think that the dissertation can be defended then they must notify the advisor three weeks in advance of the defense.