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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Ph.D. in Spanish

Ph.D. Program in Spanish

See also the poster for Graduate Studies in Spanish, the Spanish Graduate brochure and the Spanish Graduate Manual. See also the slides of the PowerPoint presentation from the information session (11/2015).

Ph.D. Program

This degree program allows students to conduct research in Spanish and Latin-American literary and cultural studies. It offers to connect this research with issues in Comparative Literature, Trans-Atlantic Studies, Film Studies and other related fields. In addition, it provides for opportunities to expand collaborative research and teaching venues with other disciplines, such as Linguistics, Anthropology and History. For more information concerning doctoral programs please consult the University Bulletin.


Students must have an M.A. degree in Spanish or related fields of study. A total of 30 credit hours may be approved toward the Ph.D. The Spanish Graduate Advisor is responsible for the approval of credit hours, and for designing individual programs of study.

Students may be admitted directly into the Ph.D. program. These students should have a B.A. degree in Spanish or in related fields of study.

Students with a degree in related fields of study may need to take a Proficiency Exam in order to show their verbal, writing and reading skills in Spanish. Exceptions may be granted when the applicant/student's first language is Spanish.


All applications are processed on-line. Applications and Graduate Bulletin may be found at  

In order to pursue the Ph.D. in Spanish, the candidate should have minimum GRE scores of 500/153 on the verbal section and 4.0 on the analytical section (or scores of 400/146 and 3.5, respectively, for non-native English speakers). An applicant whose native language is not English is required to submit a satisfactory score on the TOEFL or the IELTS International Academic Course Type 2 exam. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 80 (iBT), 230 (computer-based) or 570 (paper-based). The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS International Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5.

Three letters of recommendation from previous Spanish instructors are required for inclusion in the candidate’s application. Applicants are asked to submit a writing sample, written in Spanish, and 300 word maximum statement of purpose. In order to test Spanish speaking skills, a five-minute sample of spoken Spanish is also required of non-native speakers. The file should be saved as an .mp3 file. For those who native language is Spanish, a sample of spoken English is required submitted in the same format.

If a prospective student is seeking a departmental assistantship, all application materials as indicated above must be received by the Graduate School and the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures by January 15. Applications submitted to the Department after June 1 will not be processed for the fall semester but for the following spring.


Beyond the B.A. degree, candidates for the Ph.D. degree are required to take 66 graduate hours of course work. While each student's degree program will vary depending on areas of specialization, there are general requirements which must be met. They are as follow:

A. The student will be required to take a Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. Normally, this Examination will take place at the end of the first semester of study and will consist of the presentation of a written analytical commentary of a text in the student's major area of concentration. The Advisory Committee will oversee this Examination.

The Advisory Committee is appointed by the program toward the end of the first semester of enrollment and should include three (3) faculty from the student's academic program. The purpose of this Committee is to provide initial advisement, guide academic planning and research, and construct the doctoral program of study (D-POS) to be filed with the Graduate School.

The Spanish Graduate Advisor will notify the dean of The Graduate School when the student has passed the Qualifying Examination, has been fully admitted to the doctoral program, has an approved D-POS on file, and has been nominated to doctoral candidacy by the program. Students with an MA in Spanish from USC-Columbia and who have successfully passed the MA Comprehensive Examination will be exempted from taking the Qualifying Examination. Part-time doctoral students in Spanish must take the Qualifying Examination no later than after having completed nine (9) hours of graduate courses in Spanish at USC-Columbia.

B. Course work

Each student must take 24 credit hours of approved course work, and 12 hours of dissertation preparation (beyond the M.A. degree). With the approval of the Spanish Graduate Advisor, students may substitute a total of six (6) credit hours (2 courses) in another area related to their field of study and/or their dissertation research.

Students who enter the Ph.D. program with a B.A. degree must complete 54 hours of graduate course work, and 12 additional credit hours of Dissertation (research and writing).

C. Courses

Students should complete the core-courses designated for the M.A. degree in Spanish (cf: M.A. in Spanish). In addition, students may choose courses to complete the 24 credit-hours of required course work from the following non-exhaustive list:

  • SPAN 711 - Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism. (3)
  • SPAN 715 - History of the Spanish Language {= LING 734}. (3)
  • SPAN 722 - Cervantes. (3)
  • SPAN 724 - Renaissance and Baroque Poetry and Drama. (3)
  • SPAN 730 - Contemporary Spanish Prose Fiction. (3)
  • SPAN 732 - Nineteenth-Century Spanish Prose and Poetry. (3)
  • SPAN 733 - Trans-Atlantic Perspectives. (3)
  • SPAN 734 - Spanish Poetry: Generation of 1927. (3)
  • SPAN 736 - The Generation of 1898. (3)
  • SPAN 745 - Seminar in Spanish-American Drama. (3)
  • SPAN 746 - Post-Baroque Spanish Drama. (3)
  • SPAN 747 - The Modern Spanish-American Novel. (3)
  • SPAN 751 - Twentieth-Century Spanish American Short Story. (3)
  • SPAN 752 - Twentieth-Century Spanish Exile Literature. (3)
  • SPAN 763 - Contemporary Spanish-American Narrative. (3)
  • SPAN 765 - Contemporary Spanish-American Poets. (3)
  • SPAN 767 - Spanish-American Testimonial Literature. (3)
  • SPAN 769 - Hispanic Women Writers. (3)
  • SPAN 771 - Spanish-American Modernism. (3)
  • SPAN 796 - Independent Study. (1-3)
  • SPAN 780 - Seminars in Hispanic Literature 
  • SPAN 783 - Seminars on Selected Topics 
  • SPAN 880 - Seminar on Special Topics in Transatlantic Studies.
  • SPAN 881 - Seminar on Special Topics in Spanish-American Literatures and Cultures.
  • SPAN 882 - Seminar on Special Topics in Peninsular Spanish Literature and Culture.
  • SPAN 899 - Dissertation Preparation. (1-12)

D. Foreign Language

Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one (1) other foreign language. This requirement may be satisfied by taking an exam which is designed to demonstrate competency, or by course work in another program of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (with such courses not included in the total number of credit hours of doctoral work).

E. Comprehensive Examination

Each student must take and pass a six-hour Comprehensive Examination of three (3) equal parts (Spanish, and Latin-American Literatures; and another area chosen by the candidate). This Examination will consist of a series of three (3) written exams and a one-hour oral exam (to be given within two [2] weeks after successfully passing all of the three written parts of the Examination). A student who fails any of the written portions a second time may not take the oral exam and is eliminated from candidacy. A Comprehensive Examination Committee will design the questions for this Examination, and they will be based on reading lists pertinent to each of the three previously mentioned exam segments.

The oral examination may deal with any of the areas of the student's concentration and may include a review of written work. The oral portion may be repeated only once.

The student has not successfully completed the Comprehensive Examination until (s)he has passed both the written and oral parts of the Examination.

Comprehensive examinations are held in January together with all the other graduate comprehensive examinations of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Candidates may opt to spread their six-hour exam over two (2) days. Students must form their examination committee by August 31 of the Fall semester prior to taking the Comprehensive Examination. This includes filing the requisite examination committee form with The Graduate School (forms available online). The student selects the examination committee which must have at least three (3) members who may be identical to (but not necessarily the same as those of) the dissertation committee. Two (2) members must be from the Spanish program, and the third from the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures or a related department of The University of South Carolina-Columbia.

F. Dissertation

Each candidate will write a dissertation on a topic to be chosen in conjunction with and approved by the Dissertation Director (and Committee) and the Spanish Graduate Advisor. The Dissertation should demonstrate relevant contributions to existing and current scholarship in the chosen area/s.

The Dissertation Committee will be decided upon by the candidate and the Dissertation Director with the endorsement of the Spanish Graduate Advisor. In addition to the Dissertation Director, it will include three (3) Graduate Faculty members. Two of these Faculty members must be from the Spanish program and one (1) other may be from another program of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (or a related department of the University of South Carolina-Columbia), pending approval of the Dissertation Director.

The proposal for the Dissertation and the composition of the Dissertation Committee should be approved by the Dissertation Director with the endorsement of the Spanish Graduate Advisor.

A prospectus will be presented and defended (after passing the Comprehensive Examination and no later than at the end of the two [2] subsequent semesters).

G. Dissertation Defense

The completed dissertation must be successfully defended before the candidate's Dissertation Committee as stipulated by The Graduate School. Candidates must distribute the complete dissertation to their Committee, as approved by their Director, at least thirty (30) days prior to their defense.