I. Areas of Concentration

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese offers a PhD in Spanish. A student can choose a concentration in any thematic, geographical or chronological area pertaining to the literatures and cultures of Spanish-speaking and Lusophone societies, provided that there is a faculty member willing and able to work with the student in said area and the topic falls within the scope of the departmental mission. 

II. Admission

The department Graduate Committee evaluates all applications. In addition to the Graduate School's criteria for regular degree students, we require all entering students to have native or near-native proficiency in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing Spanish. Also, they must have a general knowledge of Peninsular and Latin American literatures.

All international students applying to our PhD program whose native language is not English will need to score at least 75 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in order to be admitted.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores are not mandatory for admission. However, applicants wishing to be considered for the competitive Devaney, CHA, or Chancellor's fellowships are strongly encouraged to take the GRE general test and submit their official scores. This test is also not mandatory for consideration for teaching assistantships.

Current MA students in the department wishing to pursue a PhD degree at CU-Boulder need to apply using the University of Colorado Boulder graduate application system.

III. Advising (revised February 2021)

New graduate students will select their first-semester courses in consultation with the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies. By the end of their second semester in the program, students are required to choose a Faculty Advisor (normally this faculty member becomes the Chair of the PhD Supervisory Committee), with whom they will plan their program of study thereafter.

Before the end of a student's fourth semester in the program, they must form a PhD Supervisory Committee (PhDSC). The PhDSC, which advises the student in all matters pertaining to the PhD program, will consist of five members of the graduate faculty and must be approved by the department Chair. Of the other four members, at least three must be members of the department's graduate faculty. The Chair of the PhDSC must be a member of the department's graduate faculty. During the course of doctoral studies, a student must take at least one seminar with each member of his/her PhDSC.

Within two weeks of being constituted, each PhDSC or its Chair will meet with the student to discuss his or her program of study. The Associate Chair for Graduate Studies will be an ad hoc member of this committee.

IV. Coursework

Prior to taking the PhD Comprehensive Exams, students must complete a minimum of 36 credit hours in graduate seminars in Spanish and/or related fields numbered 5000 or above. Students can take as many as 9 graduate credit hours outside the department. The student’s advisor and the Associate Chair, in consultation with the Chair of the department, must approve credit hours in excess of 9, provided that the student formally requests it and gives a compelling reason for the standard limit to be overridden. Approval of the MA degree must also be presented for the PhD. Each Advisor, in consultation with the student, will determine which courses will be acceptable.

All PhD Students must take at least 30 credit hours of graduate coursework at the University of Colorado at Boulder campus. PhD students may transfer to the department a maximum of six hours of acceptable graduate-level credit. Transfer of credits will be considered only at the moment of admission into the program, not later on. Students may take no more than three credit hours of independent study courses. Additional independent study has to be approved by the Graduate Committee, which will make a recommendation to the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies or the Chair of the Department. Under no circumstances can independent study coursework exceed 25 percent of the coursework required for the Ph.D degree".

Doctoral students can only take up to 12 credits in course load that are not regular graduate seminars in the Spanish and Portuguese Department. These 12 credits are a combination of credits taken outside of the Spanish and Portuguese Department and independent studies offered by a faculty member of the Spanish and Portuguese Department. If a student decides to take one independent study with their advisor then such student is allowed to take 9 credits outside the department. This is the recommended situation. If a student takes 2 independent studies, then he/she can only take 6 credits outside the department, and so on. In any case, no more than 9 credit hours can be used in independent studies and no more than 9 credit hours can be taken outside the department.

PhD students who did not take a teaching methodology seminar, a literary theory seminar, or a Hispanic Linguistics seminar as part of their MA program must do so as part of their PhD program. Those students who did not take a minimum of three graduate credit hours in each of the seven subject areas as part of their MA program, must make up coursework in these areas as part of the PhD program. The Associate Chair for Graduate Studies will make the decision regarding this additional work during the student’s first semester in the program. (See detail of areas in the description of the MA program.) If this additional work is not completed the semester prior to the PhD exam, students will not be able to take their comprehensive exams.

V. Grades and Grade Point Average

For all advanced degrees, students should attain a minimum grade of B in all of their graduate courses. If a student receives a B- (or a lesser grade) in a course for the MA, said course with its respective grade will not count toward the total number of credits required to graduate. When this occurs, the student must meet with the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies to discuss his or her progress in the program. In addition, the student will have to re-take this particular class or another course in the same area.

Upon receiving more than one B- (or a lesser grade), a student will be dropped from the graduate program. In order to ensure that special considerations are taken into account, the department Graduate Committee will review each case affected by this policy and issue a recommendation to the department Chair on the subject.

VI. Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate, as early as possible before taking the PhD Comprehensive Examination, communication knowledge in Portuguese and one other modern language (subject to the approval of the student's PhD Supervisory Committee). English and Spanish are not part of this language requirement. Communication knowledge is defined as the achievement of the current minimal acceptable score of the Graduate School Foreign Language Test or completion of a fourth-semester college-level course with a grade of B or higher. A fourth-semester college level of Latin (with a grade of B or higher) will also fulfill part of this requirement. Successful completion of PORT 2350 with a B or higher will satisfy the language requirement in Portuguese.

VII. Teaching Experience

Students are required to have one year of teaching experience in our department before graduating.

VIII. Residency Requirement

PhD students must complete a minimum of one academic year in residence on the Boulder campus (excluding summer) within the four years immediately preceding the date on which they present themselves for the PhD Comprehensive Examination.

IX. Comprehensive Examination

A. Purpose

The Comprehensive Examination is designed to test a student's mastery of a broad field of knowledge (not limited to the formal course work completed by each student) in the chosen area of concentration and related field or fields. This exam encourages the most comprehensive and synthesized thinking possible. It is both written and oral. At least some part of the written and oral sections of the exam must be conducted in Spanish. Native speakers of Spanish are strongly encouraged to take at least one section of the exam in English.

B. Application for Admission to Candidacy

Students must make a formal application for admission to candidacy for the PhD degree on forms supplied by the Graduate School at least four weeks before the PhD Comprehensive Examination is taken. Please note that the student must satisfy the residency requirement for both the Graduate School and the Department, must fulfill the language requirement (at least one full semester before the PhD Comprehensive Examination), and must pass the PhD Comprehensive Examination before they may be admitted to candidacy for the degree.

C. Description of the PhD Comprehensive Examination

Written examinations will be given two times a year under the supervision of the Chair of the student's PhDSC. Consult the "Important Dates and Deadlines" section of this document for more information.

The PhD Comprehensive Examination consists of both a written and oral component. Prior to the exam, students must choose a dissertation topic (see “Dissertation Field”). This dissertation topic should be placed within a larger field, defined in geographical, chronological, thematic or generic terms (see “Teaching Field”). Also, the student should outline a theoretical approach that will inform the dissertation work (see “Theory Field”).

Each student, in consultation with their advisor, and with the members of the PhDSC will put together three reading lists. All lists will have to be approved by both the Advisor and the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies or the Chair of the Department. The lists have to be presented and approved at the beginning of the semester prior to the exams.

The reading lists are to be organized as follows:

  1. Dissertation Field: a list of at least 30-35 titles covering a particular problem / topic upon which the Dissertation Proposal will be based. This should include "primary" materials (the corpus to be studied in the dissertation, and may include "secondary" readings of literary, critical, theoretical, historical materials that are directly relevant to the dissertation topic;

  2. Theory Field: a list of at least 20-25 titles referring to literary critical or theoretical problems that complement and provide a larger context of debate for the issues discussed in the Dissertation Field;

  3. Teaching Field: a list of at least 35-40 titles based on the student’s teaching field. This reading list entails a comprehensive approach to a field roughly corresponding to the broad designations found in the MLA job list, e.g., "Latin American Colonial Literature”, or “Modern (19th-21st century) Peninsular Literature/Culture.” 

The written exam is divided into the following parts:

  1. Dissertation Field: A take-home (48 hours) exam based on student's potential interest for dissertation work. This section of the exam should provide a detailed and convincing outline of the proposed dissertation work: problem to be studied, guiding questions, justification for the corpus, area, period to be studied, proposed structure of the dissertation, theoretical and critical background.

  2. Theory Field: A take-home (48 hours) exam in which the student will have to demonstrate his/her familiarity with current theoretical and critical discussions relevant to the dissertation topic.

  3. Teaching Field: A take-home (48 hours) exam in which the student should demonstrate familiarity with the larger field in which his/her dissertation will intervene.

The advisor is responsible for formulating the questions for the exam, in consultation with the other members of the PhDSC. All the members of the PhDSC will read and evaluate the exam in its entirety.

The oral exam will be administered within four weeks after the completion of the written PhD Comprehensive Examination. This exam covers the material in the written exam.

E. Repetition of the Comprehensive Examination

Successful candidates must receive affirmative votes from a majority of the members of their PhDSC. In case of failure, any or all sections of the examination may be attempted once more after a period of time to be determined by the PhDSC (not to exceed one year). If a student fails in either the written or the oral PhD comprehensive exam (after the second attempt), they will be dropped from the program. They will be awarded a terminal MA degree from our department.

X. The Doctoral Dissertation

A. Graduate School Requirements

Please refer to the statement concerning the doctoral thesis appearing in the Graduate School section of the University Catalog. Students must register for a minimum of 30 dissertation credit hours to complete the requirements for the PhD.

PhD students are expected to complete all degree requirements within six years from the semester in which they begin coursework in the PhD program. If a student cannot do so, they must formally request an extension from the Dean. All members of the PhD Dissertation Committee must endorse this request. If the request is approved, the student may continue in the program for one additional year.

B. Departmental Procedures (revised February 2021)

Before the end of the semester during which the student passes his or her PhD Comprehensive Exams, s/he must form a PhD Dissertation Committee (PhDDC). The PhDDC, which advises the student in all matters pertaining to the dissertation, will consist of five members of the graduate faculty (one of whom must be from outside the Department and three of whom must be from the department) and must be approved by the Chair. The Chair of the PhDDC must be a member of our department's graduate faculty. The Associate Chair for Graduate Studies will be an ad hoc member of the PhDDC.

The first three members of the PhDDC must have the opportunity to judge the dissertation at the various stages of its development. The remaining two readers will judge the finished version. Within two weeks of being constituted, each PhDDC or its Chair will meet with the student to discuss his or her proposed research.

XI. The Doctoral Dissertation Proposal

All PhD students must have their written doctoral dissertation proposal approved by the three principal members of their PhDDC by the end of the semester during which they pass their PhD examinations. The proposal (approximately 15-20 pages in length), will be written in English, and must include the following sections:

  1. Thesis Title
  2. Statement of Topic
  3. Statement of Significance and Impact
  4. Brief Literature Review
  5. Outline of Theoretical Issues
  6. Chapter Outline
  7. Preliminary Bibliography
  8. Timetable for Completion

In addition, the doctoral dissertation proposal must follow the most recent MLA Style guidelines. The PhDDC or its Chair will meet with the student in order to discuss, evaluate, and decide upon the acceptability of the proposed thesis.

Nota Bene: Students who fail to have their dissertation proposal approved by the end of the semester during which they pass their PhD Comprehensive Examination and form their PhDDC will not automatically be given an extension. All requests for extensions must be submitted in writing and approved by the department Chair. Any student who does not meet prescribed or officially amended deadlines will cease to be a "student in good standing" as defined by the Graduate School.

XII. Final Examination

After the dissertation has been submitted to the committee they will have three weeks to read and comment on it in its final form, an oral defense of the dissertation will be conducted in an open forum by the PhDDC. More than one dissenting vote will disqualify the candidate in the final examination.

XIV. Important Notice

This Information Sheet is not intended to replace or supersede the University of Colorado at Boulder Catalog nor any other official document issued by the Graduate School. Students are responsible for what the aforementioned documents contain and, therefore, they should be familiar with them.