Spanish and Portuguese, PhD

The Graduate Program in Spanish and Portuguese, a five-year Ph.D. program within the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, offers a rigorous professional formation in academic research, writing, and pedagogy. The program prepares students in a range of critical and methodological approaches to the study of literature, culture, and theory in Spain and Latin America. Students may complement their areas of specialization with course work in a second Romance language or in other disciplines such as Comparative Literature, English, History, and Philosophy.

Interdisciplinary study is also invited through participation in the many lectures and colloquia sponsored by the various Graduate Groups and affiliated research institutes and centers at Penn. All graduate students teach undergraduate courses in Spanish language and Hispanic culture, for which they attend extensive teacher training seminars and workshops. Faculty members are committed to enhancing graduate students' preparation for professional life through annual seminars on professional concerns and through comprehensive job placement support. The Department of Spanish and Portuguese publishes The Hispanic Review, and graduate students in Spanish and Portuguese may serve as editorial assistants to the journal.


The Ph.D. program in Spanish and Portuguese is planned as a five-year sequence. Requirements for the Ph.D. include:

  • A total of twenty (20) graduate courses, including:

    • A course in Literary Theory

    • SPAN 6060 Pedagogy Across the Spanish Curriculum

    • SPAN 8000 Field Exam (Comprehensive Exam preparation)

  • A Qualifying Evaluation—In order to be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, students must pass successfully a qualifying evaluation. At the beginning of a student's second year, the faculty will evaluate all aspects of the student's performance during his or her first year in the program.

  • Foreign Language Requirements—translation exams in two (2) foreign languages appropriate to the student's prospective field of specialization.

  • Comprehensive Exams—an oral exam in the fall of the second year and a written exam in the fall semester of the third year.

  • Dissertation Proposal—following successful fulfillment of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations, the candidate will shape a dissertation project and writing schedule by June 1st of their fourth year.

  • Dissertation—the presentation of a dissertation is the final requirement for the Ph.D.
  • Dissertation Defense—a public, oral presentation of the dissertation will take place during the semester in which the student will graduate.

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2023 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.