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Graduate Program


The Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Mexican American and Latina/o Studies is designed to prepare graduates not only for traditional academic employment in the field of Mexican American and Latina/o studies and related fields, but also for careers in the arts, advocacy and related professions in which advanced knowledge of Mexican American and Latina/o studies is crucial. Emphasis is placed on the knowledge, methods, and skills needed for scholarly teaching, original research and problem solving, intellectual leadership, creative expression, and other modes of achievement in both the interdisciplinary field of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies and in core disciplines identified by each student. The first PhD cohort was admitted for the Fall 2018 semester.

Students entering our program can expect to receive rigorous mentoring from MALS faculty, intensive pedagogical training, and additional disciplinary guidance from the Department’s faculty affiliates across the university. Among the many research resources on campus available to our students is the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, one of the premier libraries in the nation focused on Latin American and Latina/o studies. MALS is one element of UT’s Latino Studies cluster, which also includes the Center for Mexican American Studies and the Latino Research Initiative, whose programming and research provide additional opportunities for our students. In addition, MALS collaborates extensively with other interdisciplinary units on campus, including the Center for Asian American Studies, Black Studies, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, LGBTQ Studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. Our faculty affiliates currently represent the following departments, which represent some of the areas in which MALS students may pursue core disciplinary training: African & African Diaspora Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Butler School of Music, Education, English, Government, History, Radio-Television-Film, Slavic & Eurasian Studies, Sociology, and Theatre and Dance.

Program Overview

Required and Elective Courses (not including dissertation):

Coursework for the PhD includes both a series of required courses and a sequence of elective courses selected by the student in consultation with the Graduate Advisor and each student’s primary mentor. Required courses include: MAS 390—Introduction to Mexican American and Latina/o Studies; MAS 395C—Theories in Mexican American and Latina/o Studies; and MAS 395M—Interpretive Methods in Mexican American and Latina/o Studies

In addition to the required and elective courses, and dissertation hours, students in the PhD program must complete 4 graduate-level courses offered by MALS (i.e., MAS 392) and 5 graduate-level courses offered by other traditional disciplines, with a preference for courses that include a minimum of 30% MALS content. The program requires completion of a minimum of 45 credit hours of coursework. Students must earn a minimum grade of B (3.0) in all coursework.

Language Proficiency Requirements:

Prior to taking the qualifying exam, all PhD students must demonstrate language proficiency in one language in addition to English (preferably Spanish, Portuguese, or a relevant Indigenous language) through relevant coursework, a written report evaluation or an oral exam.

Qualifying Examination and Dissertation Prospectus:

All students in the program must complete a qualifying examination prior to defending their dissertation prospect us and advancing to candidacy in the program. The two-part doctoral exam consists of a written examination and an oral examination. Upon passing the qualifying exam, students can proceed to the writing of a dissertation prospectus, which must be approved by the dissertation committee.

Doctoral Candidacy:

In order to become a doctoral candidate and begin work on the dissertation, students must submit an on-line application with the Graduate School at UT Austin and have their application approved/certified by MALS and the Graduate Dean. Following admission to candidacy, doctoral candidates must register for reading and research hours during their first semester in candidacy and then dissertation writing hours during each subsequent long semester. In either year five or six of the program, students are expected to complete and defend the dissertation before the student’s dissertation committee.

Expected Program Timeline:

  • Student will take required courses, such as MAS 390, and select a specialty area of concentration within MALS.

  • Year 2

    Student will select an area of research and teaching as they complete course work. Students without the master’s degree will enroll in the Master’s Report course. Students without a master’s degree are expected to complete all MA degree requirements and file their Master’s Report with the Graduate School no later than summer of the second year of enrollment in the PhD program.

  • Year 3

    Once student has completed coursework and completed the MA Report, if required, s/he will enroll in conference course hours while preparing for the Qualifying Examination. The examination must be completed by Spring of the 3rd year.

  • Year 4

    Student will complete the Dissertation Prospectus in the Fall, advancing to candidacy. Student begins writing dissertation in the spring based on the Qualifying Examination and the Dissertation Prospectus.

  • Years 5-6

    Student writes and defends dissertation while conducting job search. Student remains enrolled in dissertation hours during each long semester through graduation.

    Students should refer to the MALS Graduate Student Handbook for more information about program requirements.

Funding Guarantee

Upon admittance into the MALS PhD program, MALS students will be given a letter that details the nature of the funding package offered over the course of their time in the program. Funding packages usually involve ten semesters of guaranteed funding, provided the student remains in good standing. Funding will be provided through a combination of fellowships, teaching assistantships and assistant instructorships. Funding packages are offered for the 9-month academic year and include a stipend, tuition remission, and health insurance.

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Graduate Advisor
Dr. Danielle Clealand

Academic Program Coordinator
Luis Guevara 

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College of Liberal Arts