Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Graduate Student Handbook for 2021-2022 

Iberian and Latin American Languages and Cultures PhD

With three major areas of study: 

Iberian and Latin American Literatures and Cultures

Luso-Brazilian Cultural and Media Studies

Iberian and Latin American Linguistics

This graduate student handbook provides information concerning the doctoral programs within the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. It is intended to summarize the policies that pertain to graduate students admitted to the program. Please keep in mind that this does not fully address all policies, so students should also refer to the Graduate School’s website, the program as listed in the Graduate Catalog, and the Department’s website for further information and requirements.

While University faculty and staff members give students academic advice and assistance, students are expected to take responsibility for their education and personal development. They must know and abide by the academic and disciplinary policies given in the Graduate Catalog and in General Information, including rules governing quantity of work, the standard of work required to continue in the University, warning status and scholastic dismissal, and enforced withdrawal. Students must also know and meet the requirements of their degree program; must enroll in courses appropriate to the program; must meet prerequisites and take courses in the proper sequence to ensure orderly and timely progress; and must seek advice about degree requirements and other University policies when necessary.

The student must give correct local and permanent postal addresses, telephone numbers, and an e-mail address to the Office of the Registrar and must notify this office immediately of any changes. Official correspondence is sent to the postal or e-mail address last given to the registrar; if students have failed to correct this address, they will not be relieved of responsibility on the grounds that the correspondence was not delivered. Students may update their addresses and telephone numbers at the Office of the Registrar's website.

Students must register by the deadlines given in the Course Schedule and must verify their schedule of classes each semester, must see that necessary corrections are made, and must keep documentation of all schedule changes and other transactions.

Students should be familiar with the following sources of information:

The University Catalog: Information about the University catalog is found in General Information.

The Course Schedule: The Course Schedule is published by the Office of the Registrar and is available before registration for each semester and summer session. The Course Schedule includes information about registration procedures: times, locations, instructors, prerequisites, and special fees for certain classes, and advising locations.

The Academic Calendar: Provides important dates and deadlines:

The University Directory: The University directory gives physical and e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of students, faculty, and staff members.

University website: The address for the University’s home page. In addition to the publications described above, the website includes sites maintained by departments, colleges, graduate programs, museums, libraries, research units, and student service offices.

The Office of Graduate Studies: The Office of Graduate Studies is the central source of information for graduate students. Doctoral and master’s degree evaluators provide information about procedures for submission of reports, theses, dissertations, and treatises, and the student services section assists with registration and related matters. Information for both prospective and current students is available online.

Graduate advisers, assistant graduate advisers, and graduate coordinators: The graduate advisor for each program is a faculty member designated to advise students and represent the Graduate School in matters pertaining to graduate study. They provide information about the program, including admission and degree requirements, and about fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. The assistant graduate advisor, also a faculty member, serves in the absence of the graduate advisor. The graduate coordinator, a staff member who assists the graduate advisor and other faculty members in the administration of the program, also provides services to students.

Part 1: General Information

Office Contacts:

Main Office: Benedict Hall, BEN 2.116, 150 W 21st St. B3700, Austin, TX 78712

Link to current staff and contacts:

Mailboxes: Each Spanish and Portuguese graduate student has a mailbox on the 5th floor. Faculty, lecturers, and staff members have mailboxes in the mail room. These mailboxes are used to distribute campus mail and/or notices. Please check your mailbox regularly for important information. 

Offices and Keys: Each graduate student will be assigned a desk on the 4th or 5th floor of Benedict. The Graduate Coordinator will provide the key to this desk. Throughout the 4th and 5th floors there are computers for all graduate students to use. These computers are not for exclusive use of the person who is assigned the desk, and it is expected that graduate students will be coming to the program with their own computers or laptops for personal use. 

LAITS (Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services):  For IT and computer support, please contact LAITS:

Office supplies: If you need office supplies while you are appointed as an AI or TA for your classes, please check with the Main Office for supplies we have in stock or that may be ordered.

Printing: AIs: If you are teaching a class and listed as the instructor on file, then you will use your printing code (given to you by the department) to print materials in the main office for your class. TAs: You will also be assigned a code to use the printer. If you need to print from your own computer, then you will need to have LAITS set up the printer on your computer.

Profile Page on the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Website: Each student will have their own profile page on the website: that they are in charge of updating each semester. For instructions on how to update this or access it: 

Resources on Campus:


Benson Latin American Collection:

Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL):

Harry Ransom Center:

African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS):

Center for Asian-American Studies (CAAS):

Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS):

Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (CWGS):

Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies:

LGBTQ Studies:

Lozano Long Institute of Latin America Studies (LLILAS):

Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies (MALS):

Native American Indigenous Studies (NAIS):

The Blanton Museum of Art:

University Writing Center: One on one assistance:

Writing resources:

Dissertation Boot Camp: The College of Liberal Arts offers a Dissertation Boot Camp during the summer for those students who are interested.

Portfolio Programs at UT:

Dean of Students:

Student Ombuds:

Student Emergency Services:

University Health Services:

Other Resources:

Dissertation Writing Resources:  

Graduate School Resources:

Graduate Student Housing:

Diversity and Community Engagement:

Texas Global:

Part 2: Academic Administrative Policies

Graduate Advisor Role: Until students have completed their coursework requirements for their program, they will need to consult with their graduate advisor before registering for classes for the following semester.

Supervising faculty: Once preparation for the dissertation proposal has begun, students should select a supervising faculty member who will direct the research and dissertation. It is the student’s responsibility to identify a faculty member who will agree to supervise their dissertation project.  The faculty member must be on the Graduate Studies Committee, or GSC, for that program. For questions about who is on the GSC, please contact the Graduate Coordinator.

Degree requirements: Minimum Degree Requirements: 54 Semester Credit Hours.

Required Courses: 24 Semester Credit Hours.

Free Electives: 30 Semester Credit Hours (at least 15 within the Department of Spanish and Portuguese).

Second-Language Proficiency Requirement: May be fulfilled by exam, previous credit, or 10-12 Semester Credit Hours of additional coursework.

Language of Instruction: Spanish graduate classes are normally taught in Spanish but might also be taught in English. Portuguese graduate classes are normally taught in Portuguese but might also be taught in English.

Dissertation Language: Since English is the official language of the University, it is expected that dissertations be written in English. If a student prefers to write their dissertation in either Spanish or Portuguese, the student needs to request permission from the Graduate School:

Graduate School Course Load Requirements and Continuous Registration: Graduate students must enroll in at least nine credit hours during long session semesters to be considered full time. Continuous full-time enrollment is a requirement each fall and spring semester. Summer enrollment is only required if a student is receiving a fellowship or scholarship during the summer that requires enrollment, if a student is expecting to graduate in the summer, or if they will be on an academic appointment that requires full time enrollment. Full time enrollment during the summer is three credit hours. If you wish to enroll in more than the required number of credit hours, please discuss this with your graduate advisor or supervisor beforehand.

GSC Membership on Dissertation Committee: Students must have at least three committee members from the Spanish and Portuguese GSC and one committee member must be from outside of the GSC on their dissertation committees. It is also possible to have the outside committee member be from a different institution; the student must request through the Graduate School to have such an external member added to the dissertation committee by submitting an updated CV. 

Progress Report Evaluation: At the end of each academic year or during the spring semester, students will be submitting a report on their annual progress for that year. This will be reviewed by all faculty/GSC, and an evaluation letter concerning students’ progress will be sent to them accordingly. Other progress reports or evaluations might be sent out as needed to suit a specific student’s situation and/or need. If any issues with progress arise, they will be addressed in the Progress Evaluation or Notification Letter.

Scheduling the Dissertation Defense: Spanish and Portuguese encourage students to schedule their defenses at least four weeks before the deadline for submitting the final version to the Graduate School. The Graduate School now requires that students schedule the defense at least two weeks before the deadline for submitting the final version to the Graduate School. If a student does not meet the Graduate School deadlines, then they will be required to enroll the following semester in order to continue in the program and defend the following semester. Additionally, please note that doctoral candidates are required to submit the complete dissertation to the entire dissertation committee at least four weeks before the scheduled defense date.

General Regulations and Procedures:

Conference Courses SPN 385L and POR 385L: Students requesting to take a conference course need to submit a form prior to the semester signed by the graduate advisor and the instructor of the conference course. The maximum number of conference courses allowed throughout the program is two.

Graduate GPA:

Credit/ No Credit (CR/NC) grade status:

Incomplete Grade: Although taking a grade of incomplete is discouraged, a student with a compelling reason can receive an incomplete grade, but it must be changed to a letter grade prior to the end of the following long semester. If an ‘X’ turns into an ‘I” by missing this deadline, the student is no longer eligible for department or college funding (which includes an AI/TA position as well).

Independent Study and Research (ISR):

Leave of Absence (LOA):


Travel to Restricted Regions:



Academic Probation: To continue in the Graduate School beyond the first semester or summer session, the student must make satisfactory progress in fulfilling any admission conditions that were imposed, meet any requirements made in writing by the Graduate Studies Committee, maintain a graduate grade point average of at least 3.00, and receive the approval of the student’s Graduate Studies Committee.

Graduate Studies Committees are responsible for evaluating the students in their programs to ensure that they are making satisfactory progress toward a degree. If the Graduate Studies Committee finds that a student is not making satisfactory progress, it may recommend to the graduate dean that the student’s program be terminated.

A graduate student whose cumulative graduate grade point average falls below 3.00 at the end of any semester or summer session will be warned by the Office of Graduate Studies that their continuance in the Graduate School is in jeopardy. The student must attain a cumulative graduate grade point average of at least 3.00 during the next semester or summer session he or she is enrolled or be subject to dismissal. During this period, the student may not drop a course or withdraw from the University without the approval of the Graduate Advisor and the Dean of Graduate Studies.

A graduate student who has been dismissed from a program may be readmitted for further graduate study only by petition of the Graduate Studies Committee in the student’s major area or by the Graduate Studies Committee of another program that will accept the student. The petition must be approved by the Graduate Dean and will only be approved for rare and extenuating non-academic reasons.

Scholastic warning status and academic dismissal are reflected on the student’s permanent record.

Time Limits for a Doctoral Degree: All completed work that is included in a doctoral student’s degree program at the time of admission to candidacy must have been taken within the previous six years (exclusive of a maximum of three years of United States military service). Work over six years old may be reinstated upon recommendation of the Graduate Studies Committee. The Graduate Studies Committee will review the program of every student yearly; the results of this review will be provided to the student in writing.  At those times, the committee may recommend additional coursework, further examinations, or termination of candidacy. In addition, the program is subject to review by the Graduate Dean.

Part 3: Financial Aid, Funding, Graduate Student Appointments

Financial Aid: Various types of fellowships are available to incoming and continuing graduate students. Most are administered through the Graduate School.  As a general rule, fellowships require no service from the recipient.  They may provide for payment of tuition and required fees in addition to the stipend.  Information on fellowship opportunities may be requested from the graduate coordinator.

Other Aid: The University's Office of Student Financial Services administers several long-term loan programs, the College Work-Study Program (for which graduate students are eligible), and a short-term loan program for registration and other emergency needs.

Department Fellowships:

Fath Endowment: This funding source is used mainly for recruiting students to the program.

Funding for travel: Graduate students may apply for travel to attend conferences to present a paper. These Professional Development Awards are funded by the Graduate School and the Department. Applications are available from the graduate coordinator.

Carrie Lee Kennedy and Oliver William Kennedy Fellowships: Through the generosity of the late Professor Ruth Lee Kennedy, the department has two special fellowships for which graduate students already enrolled in the department may apply.

The Carrie Lee Kennedy Fellowship: For graduate or undergraduate students of exceptionally outstanding ability who are studying the Golden Age of Spanish Literature. The award may be used during the summer. Amount varies. Recipients are selected by a faculty committee appointed by the department chair.

The Oliver William Kennedy Fellowship: For a graduate student or a junior faculty member for travel to Spain or other European countries to do research on the Golden Age of Spanish Literature. The award may be used during the summer. Amount varies. Recipients are selected by a faculty committee appointed by the department chair.

College of Liberal Arts Fellowships:

Graduate School Fellowships:

Teaching Assistant and Assistant Instructor:

Teaching Assistantship: To qualify a student must hold a bachelor’s degree. A Teaching Assistant is employed for nine months of half-time service (20 hours per week) and is apprenticed to a supervising faculty member. Duties progress from observation to assisting the faculty member with class materials, drills, and instruction. Teaching Assistants in consultation with the lower-division coordinator may enroll in ILA 398T, a course on teaching methodology. This course is offered only in the fall.

Assistant Instructorships: To qualify, a student must hold an MA or the equivalent, and must have been a Teaching Assistant for two semesters and have completed ILA 398T, or have taught in an accredited secondary school or college for one year. The 398T requirement may be waived upon consultation with the lower-division coordinator in the case of a student who has taken an equivalent course elsewhere. Normally, duties include instructional responsibility for one class each semester. All international graduate students and graduate students whose first language is not English must pass the English Language Assessment and attend the International TA/AI Orientation in order to be appointed to a TA or AI position.

For further information, please refer to the “Policies and Procedures Governing the Selection and Retention of Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Assistant Instructors (AIs)” in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese,” which is posted on our website under “Policies”.  

AI/TA Appointments: For a Fall academic appointment such as an AI or TA, the appointment begins on September 1st. The first paycheck will be on October 1st (or the following Monday if that falls on a weekend or holiday) or the month after the work is done. Fall academic appointments are from September 1 to January 15. For the Spring semester the appointment begins January 16. The first paycheck will be on March 1st (or following Monday if that falls on a weekend or holiday).

Work/Academic Assignments:

Assistant Instructor (AI):

Teaching Assistant (TA):

Graduate Research Assistant. (GRA):

Other Teaching Requests: For opportunities to do summer and upper division teaching, an announcement will go out to all eligible graduate students. Other teaching opportunities will come from the Graduate Coordinator accordingly.

Time to Degree and Graduate Student Funding: The Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies of the College of Liberal Arts allow a maximum of six years of funding; this encourages reduced time to degree and limits on the number of years of funding the College will offer individual graduate students.

Policies and Procedures Governing the Selection and Retention of Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Assistant Instructors (AIs):

Tuition Waiver (Waiver to pay in-state tuition).

Extra Employment on Campus (policy):

Student Employment Questions and Answers:

Student Non-Academic Employment:

Part 4: Milestones

Qualifying Paper: Students should register in ILA 394 Supervised Preparation of the Qualifying Paper.

Dissertation Fields: For students in Track 1 and 2 Literature and Culture. Students will register in ILA 395 Supervised Preparation of the Dissertation Fields.

Dissertation Proposal: Students should register in ILA 396 Supervised Preparation of the Dissertation Proposal.

Advancing to Doctoral Candidacy: Once students have had their Dissertation Proposal approved, they may advance to candidacy: 

Dissertation Defense:

Graduate School Milestones:

Part 5: Health insurance

Student Employee and Insurance Benefits:

If a student is appointed as an AI/TA, the University covers health insurance during the duration of the appointment.

Students who are continuing as AI/TA from a spring appointment to a fall appointment will also have summer coverage.

If a student is graduating in Spring, insurance coverage ends at the end of May.

If a student is graduating in Summer, insurance coverage ends at the end of the month’s appointment (could be July or August).

International students may apply for a waiver for International Students Insurance if employed.

Switching between Health insurance from TX Blue Cross Blue Shield (Staff coverage-UT Select) to or from the Student Health Insurance (UTShip through Academic Health plans):

Keep in mind that if a student is appointed as an AI/TA, the student will have health insurance coverage that is part of the appointment.

If a student is on a Fellowship or not appointed in a benefits-eligible position, the student is responsible for the purchase of their own health insurance.

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    The University of Texas at Austin
    BEN 2.116
    150 W. 21st Street, Stop B3700
    Austin, TX 78712-1155
    Advising & Registration: 512-232-4506/512-232-4503; Graduate Coordinator: 512-232-4502