Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Doctoral Degree Program


The mission of the doctoral program of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese is to educate and train graduate students to develop new knowledge about the languages, literatures and cultures of the Latin American and Iberian regions, their related diasporas, and their Indigenous, African, and Afro-descendant cultures. Our graduates will acquire the competence to engage in critical discussions of major trends in their field of study, and to apply this knowledge in meaningful endeavors. To help our graduates achieve their goals, our program introduces students to a diverse body of theoretical approaches and methodological procedures that are instrumental to their respective disciplines.

Areas of Study

Graduate work in Iberian and Latin American Languages and Cultures is offered in three tracks: Iberian and Latin American Literatures and Cultures, Luso-Brazilian Cultural and Media Studies, and Iberian and Latin American Linguistics.

Admission and Degree Requirements

Master of Arts

While the department has no Master of Arts program, the MA degree is available to students enrolled in the PhD degree program in Iberian and Latin American Languages and Cultures who wish to complete a Master's degree on the way to the doctorate, and those who are allowed by the Graduate Studies Committee to elect to receive terminal master's degrees, after having successfully submitted and defended a Doctoral Qualifying Paper (see below).  If the Doctoral Qualifying Paper is deemed unacceptable, the student may still petition to receive a Master of Arts degree, requesting that the Doctoral Qualifying Paper be used as the basis for satisfying the Master's Report requirement.  Students who are approved to complete the Master of Arts degree requirements must register for ILA 398R during the semester of their graduation.

Doctor of Philosophy

The doctoral program in Iberian and Latin American Languages and Cultures includes three areas of study, or tracks, which share the same five-year structure.  These tracks are: 1) Iberian and Latin American Literatures and Cultures, 2) Luso-Brazilian Cultural and Media Studies and, 3) Iberian and Latin American Linguistics.

The Iberian and Latin American Literatures and Cultures track addresses the broad range of linguistic and cultural contacts that currently comprise our field.  This track allows students to complete their primary coursework in Spanish, with a focus that may include the multiple languages and cultures of Latin America (including the US), Spain, the Caribbean, Africa or Asia, or related diasporas. Students will then choose a specialization in the literature and culture of a second language relevant to their research. This could be Portuguese, Nahuatl, a Mayan language, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Yiddish, Yoruba, a Creole language, etc.   

The Luso-Brazilian Cultural and Media Studies track, is designed for students who wish to acquire the cultural capital and critical thinking skills crucial to a global understanding of Brazil, Portugal, and the Portuguese-speaking populations of Africa and Asia. While also addressing a range of media and cultural contacts, this option allows students to complete their primary coursework in Luso-Brazilian literature, film and culture, choosing either Spanish or another relevant language as the basis of a secondary research focus.  This track is designed to bridge the traditional divide between Brazil, the Americas and the Lusophone world. 

In the third track, Iberian and Latin American Linguistics, students pursue coursework in areas that bridge theoretical and applied approaches in the study of the structural and meaning-bearing properties of standardized and local languages, the sociolinguistics of the Ibero-American world, the development of second languages in natural and academic settings, and the qualitative and quantitative analysis of speech samples collected in the field and in the laboratory. This training is supported and augmented by coursework in the core linguistic areas of phonology and syntax as well as in the research methods of phonetics, discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, psycholinguistics, and anthropological linguistics through the offerings in graduate programs in this and allied departments, including Linguistics, French and Italian, Curriculum and Instruction, Psychology, Communication, Anthropology, and Latin American Studies.

The entering student must hold a bachelor's degree with a major in Spanish or Portuguese or must demonstrate equivalent knowledge. In either case, all students must demonstrate proficiency in a second language. In Tracks 1 and 3 (see above), the second language may be any language other than English that is relevant to the student's proposed field of study and is approved by the graduate advisor. Students in the second track must choose Spanish or Portuguese as the second language. This requirement may be fulfilled by exam, previous credit, or 10-12 hours of additional coursework.

Students seeking the PhD must earn a minimum of 54 hours of credit. Coursework includes the following required courses:  ILA 380 Introduction to Theory and Research of Literature and Culture (only students in Track 1 and 2), ILA 398T Supervised Teaching In Spanish and Portuguese, ILA 394 Supervised Teaching of the Qualifying Paper, ILA 385T Teaching Practicum, ILA 395 Supervised Preparation of the Dissertation Fields, ILA 396 Supervised Preparation of the Dissertation Proposal and ILA 399W, ILA 699W or 999W Dissertation. The remaining credit hours may be fulfilled through elective courses at the graduate level, as specified by the graduate advisor.  At least 15 of the 27 elective credit hours must come from courses offered by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. 

All graduate students must complete ILA 380 Introduction to Theory and Research of Literature and Culture (only students in Track 1 and 2) and ILA 398T Supervised Teaching in Spanish and Portuguese, as well as 9 nine hours of elective coursework in their first three long semesters. By the end of the third long semester, students must have selected or been assigned an advisor from among the department's graduate faculty. 

The fourth long semester will be dedicated to the elaboration of the Doctoral Qualifying Paper. In the first half of the semester, in consultation with the mentor and two additional readers appointed by the Graduate Adviser, each student must write and submit a paper demonstrating a mastery of a specialized topic, theoretical rigor, sophisticated research techniques, and a command of structure, academic style and organization. If all three readers deem the paper acceptable, the student will defend the paper before the committee during the second half of the semester.

Upon the successful completion of the Doctoral Qualifying Paper, students will enroll in 9 hours of additional elective coursework, generally in the fifth long semester.

The sixth and seventh long semesters will be dedicated to the Preparation of the Doctoral Dissertation Fields and Proposal.  In the sixth long semester, in consultation with a Dissertation Proposal Committee (consisting of the student's mentor and three other GSC faculty members, including one from outside the department), each student will prepare the Doctoral Dissertation Fields, which will include critical summaries of the field lists.  If the Dissertation Proposal Committee considers the lists and accompanying summaries acceptable, the student will develop a Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, under the supervision of his/her mentor, which the student will defend before the 12th week of the seventh long semester. The student will also enroll in the Teaching Practicum (ILA 385T) during the seventh long semester.

Graduate Courses and Curriculum


For administrative matters and logistical inquiries: Graduate Coordinator Laura Rodriguez

Concerning academic aspects of the program: Graduate Adviser Lorraine Leu

Mailing address:

The University of Texas at Austin

Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Graduate Program

150 W. 21st St., Stop B3700

Austin TX 78712


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  • Spanish and Portuguese

    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