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Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Ph.D. in Spanish

Ph.D. Program

This degree program allows students to conduct research in Spanish and Latin American literary and cultural studies. It offers to connect this research with issues in Comparative Literature, Trans-Atlantic Studies, Film Studies and other related fields. In addition, it provides for opportunities to expand collaborative research and teaching venues with other disciplines, such as Linguistics, Anthropology and History. For more information concerning doctoral programs please consult the University Bulletin.


Students must have an M.A. degree in Spanish or related fields of study. A total of 30 credit hours may be approved toward the Ph.D. The Spanish Graduate Advisor is responsible for the approval of credit hours, and for designing individual programs of study.

Students may be admitted directly into the Ph.D. program. These students should have a B.A. degree in Spanish or in related fields of study.

Students with a degree in related fields of study may need to take a Proficiency Exam in order to show their verbal, writing and reading skills in Spanish. Exceptions may be granted when the applicant/student's first language is Spanish.


All applications are processed on-line. Applications and Graduate Bulletin may be found at  

In order to pursue the Ph.D. in Spanish, the candidate should have minimum GRE scores of 500/153 on the verbal section and 4.0 on the analytical section (or scores of 400/146 and 3.5, respectively, for non-native English speakers). An applicant whose native language is not English is required to submit a satisfactory score on the TOEFL or the IELTS International Academic Course Type 2 exam. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 80 (iBT), 230 (computer-based) or 570 (paper-based). The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS International Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5.

Three letters of recommendation from previous Spanish instructors are required for inclusion in the candidate’s application. Applicants are asked to submit an academic writing sample, written in Spanish, and a statement of purpose of one to two pages in length that describes (1) previous academic work related to Spanish, (2) relevant practical experience, (3) intended specialization and/or probable research interest, and (4) career goals. In order to test Spanish speaking skills, a five-minute sample of spoken Spanish is also required of non-native speakers. The file should be saved as an .mp3 file. For those who native language is Spanish, a sample of spoken English is required submitted in the same format.

If a prospective student is seeking a departmental assistantship, all application materials as indicated above must be received by the Graduate School and the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures by January 1. Applications submitted to the Department after May 1 will be processed for the following year.


Beyond the B.A. degree, candidates for the Ph.D. degree are required to take 66 graduate hours of course work. While each student's degree program will vary depending on areas of specialization, there are general requirements which must be met. They are as follow:

A. The student will be required to take a Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. Normally, this Examination will take place at the end of the first semester of study and will consist of the presentation of a written analytical commentary of a text in the student's major area of concentration. The Advisory Committee will oversee this Examination.

The Advisory Committee is appointed by the program toward the end of the first semester of enrollment and should include three (3) faculty from the student's academic program. The purpose of this Committee is to provide initial advisement, guide academic planning and research, and construct the doctoral program of study (D-POS) to be filed with the Graduate School. 

The Spanish Graduate Advisor will notify the dean of The Graduate School when the student has passed the Qualifying Examination, has been fully admitted to the doctoral program, has an approved D-POS on file, and has been nominated to doctoral candidacy by the program. Students with an MA in Spanish from UofSC-Columbia and who have successfully passed the MA Comprehensive Examination within the past five years will be exempted from taking the Qualifying Examination. Part-time doctoral students in Spanish must take the Qualifying Examination no later than after having completed nine (9) hours of graduate courses in Spanish at UofSC-Columbia.

B. Course work

Each student must take 24 credit hours of approved course work, and 12 hours of dissertation preparation (beyond the M.A. degree). With the approval of the Spanish Graduate Advisor, students may substitute a total of six (6) credit hours (2 courses) in another area related to their field of study and/or their dissertation research.

Students who enter the Ph.D. program with a B.A. degree must complete 54 hours of graduate course work, and 12 additional credit hours of Dissertation (research and writing).

C. Courses

Students should complete the core-courses designated for the M.A. degree in Spanish (cf: M.A. in Spanish). In addition, students may choose courses to complete the 24 credit-hours of required course work from the following non-exhaustive list: 

SPAN 711 - Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism
SPAN 715 - History of the Spanish Language {= LING 734}
SPAN 722 - Cervantes
SPAN 724 - Renaissance and Baroque Poetry and Drama
SPAN 730 - Contemporary Spanish Prose Fiction
SPAN 732 - Nineteenth-Century Spanish Prose and Poetry
SPAN 733 - Trans-Atlantic Perspectives
SPAN 734 - Spanish Poetry: Generation of 1927
SPAN 736 - The Generation of 1898
SPAN 745 - Seminar in Spanish-American Drama
SPAN 746 - Post-Baroque Spanish Drama
SPAN 747 - The Modern Spanish-American Novel
SPAN 751 - Twentieth-Century Spanish American Short Story
SPAN 752 - Twentieth-Century Spanish Exile Literature
SPAN 763 - Contemporary Spanish-American Narrative
SPAN 765 - Contemporary Spanish-American Poets
SPAN 767 - Spanish-American Testimonial Literature
SPAN 769 - Hispanic Women Writers
SPAN 771 - Spanish-American Modernism
SPAN 796 - Independent Study
SPAN 780 - Seminars in Hispanic Literature 
SPAN 783 - Seminars on Selected Topics 
SPAN 880 - Seminar on Special Topics in Transatlantic Studies
SPAN 881 - Seminar on Special Topics in Spanish-American Literatures and Cultures
SPAN 882 - Seminar on Special Topics in Peninsular Spanish Literature and Culture
SPAN 899 - Dissertation Preparation

D. Second Language:
Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one (1) other language beyond English and Spanish. Satisfying the requirement may entail one or more of the following: successful completion of an intensive reading course in a language approved by The Graduate School (e.g., FREN 615), successful completion of a course at the intermediate level of language proficiency within six (MA) or ten (PhD) years previous of the award of the degree, or a passing grade on a language reading proficiency examination administered by the UofSC Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (DLLC). Native speakers of languages other than Spanish and English may submit form G-CIE Certification in English as a Foreign Language.

E. Comprehensive Examination

Each student must take and pass a six-hour Comprehensive Examination of two (2) equal parts (Peninsular and Latin American Literatures). This Examination will consist of a series of two (2) written exams and a one-hour oral exam (to be given within three [3] weeks after successfully passing the two written parts of the Examination). A student who fails any of the written portions a second time may not take the oral exam and is eliminated from candidacy. A Comprehensive Examination Committee will design the questions for this Examination, and they will be based on reading lists pertinent to each of the previously-mentioned exam segments. 

The oral examination will include an oral defense of the written parts, and an oral defense of a third bibliography that relates to the student’s anticipated dissertation research. The oral portion may be repeated only once. 

The student has not successfully completed the Comprehensive Examination until (s)he has passed both the written and oral parts of the Examination.

Comprehensive examinations are held in January over two (2) days together with all the other graduate comprehensive examinations of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Students must form their examination committee by August 31 of the Fall semester prior to taking the Comprehensive Examination. This includes filing the requisite examination committee form with the Graduate School (G-DCA form available online). The student selects the examination committee which must have at least three (3) members who may be identical to (but not necessarily the same as those of) the dissertation committee. The Graduate School has waived the requirement that the examination committee (only) must include an outside member.

F. Dissertation

Each candidate will write a dissertation on a topic to be chosen in conjunction with and approved by the Dissertation Director (and Committee) and the Spanish Graduate Advisor. The Dissertation should demonstrate relevant contributions to existing and current scholarship in the chosen area/s.

The Dissertation Committee will be decided upon by the candidate and the Dissertation Director with the endorsement of the Spanish Graduate Advisor. In addition to the Dissertation Director, it will include three (3) Graduate Faculty members. Two of these Faculty members must be from the Spanish program and one (1) other may be from another program of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (or a related department of the University of South Carolina-Columbia), pending approval of the Dissertation Director. An updated G-DCA form must be filed with the Graduate School.

The proposal for the Dissertation and the composition of the Dissertation Committee should be approved by the Dissertation Director with the endorsement of the Spanish Graduate Advisor.

A prospectus will be presented and defended by the end of the semester after passing the Comprehensive Examination (usually April).

G. Dissertation Defense

The completed dissertation must be successfully defended before the candidate's Dissertation Committee as stipulated by The Graduate School. Candidates must distribute the complete dissertation to their Committee, as approved by their Director, at least thirty (30) days prior to their defense.

For more detailed information on 700- and 800-level courses, visit the page on Graduate Seminars.

For more information contact:
Spanish Graduate Program | Download the Spanish Graduate Manual [pdf]
University of South Carolina Columbia, SC 29208
Fax: (803) 777-0454

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