PhD Degree

Placements (tenure track) of recent graduates include Central Michigan University, Eckerd College, Haverford College, Queens College—CUNY, Southern Methodist University, Tulane University, University of Northern Colorado, University of Wisconsin-Marquette, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, as well as various universities in Latin America.

The PhD with en route MA

Students who wish to pursue the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Hispanic Languages and Literatures who do not already hold an MA in this field, or an appropriate MA in another department of the University of Pittsburgh or another accredited university, must first earn an en route Master of Arts degree in our department.

MA Requirements

To receive the en route Master of Arts (MA) degree in Hispanic Languages and Literatures, students must successfully complete the following requirements:

  • 30 credits.  Students must complete a minimum of 30 credits of coursework, chosen in consultation with an advisor, with grades of B or better. This must include a minimum of twenty-four (24) credits of substantive coursework (eight [8] classes) in the department. This should include:
    • a minimum of three (3) departmental core courses;
    • at least four (4) courses in Latin American literature and cultural studies; and
    • Core courses can often also count toward the major or minor field. The remaining six (6) credits may be earned by any combination of courses taken outside the department (including transfer credits and 1000-level courses), and a maximum of three (3) credits of Directed Study (SPAN 2902) (permission required). A Directed Study course could be used to develop a topic related to the PhD Preliminary examination research paper. The six (6) credits can also be earned by taking two (2) additional departmental courses.
  • The M.A. Comprehensive/PhD Preliminary Examination.  The M.A. Comprehensive/PhD Preliminary Examination is given in the spring term of every academic year. It consists of two parts. The first is a 30-page research paper that is submitted before the written exams and is graded as one part of the exam. The second part consists of a two-day, written exam covering major and minor areas of specialization selected by the students in consultation with their graduate advisors. The M.A. Comprehensive/PhD Preliminary Examination is usually taken during the fourth term in residence and is required of all students who intend to earn the PhD degree, including those who have received an MA degree elsewhere. Successfully passing the M.A. Comprehensive/PhD Preliminary Examination with a grade of high pass or better satisfies the requirements for the en route MA and allows the student to continue working toward the PhD. See details about the structure of the exams and requirements to take them.
  • Reading list 2010-2012 and exam description
  • Reading list 2013-2015
  • Reading list 2016-2018

THE GRADUATE HANDBOOK, Policies & Procedures of the Graduate Program of the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pittsburgh

PhD Requirements

  • 72 credits.  Students must complete a total of 72 credits, including a minimum of 48 credits of substantive course work in departmental offerings in Hispanic Languages and Literatures. The remaining 24 credits can be taken in preparation for examinations, independent study and dissertation studies (no more than 12 credits) and additional coursework in this or another department or program (12 or more credits).
  • Portuguese Language Requirement.  All students are required to present evidence of reading knowledge of Portuguese prior to the presentation of their PhD proposals.
  • PhD Comprehensive Exam.  The PhD Comprehensive exam is a focused and in-depth examination designed to test the students’ knowledge of major problems and debates within the areas of specialization related to their dissertation proposals. The PhD Comprehensive, which is usually taken in the seventh or eighth term, consists of both written and oral components.
  • Oral Overview of Dissertation Proposal.  The oral overview, conducted concurrently with the PhD Comprehensive exam, is the exegesis and defense of the dissertation proposal. The prospectus is a detailed outline of the dissertation project laying out the topic, theoretical context, structure, and arguments of the project.
  • PhD Dissertation and Oral Defense.  The completion and defense of the doctoral dissertation fulfills the final requirements for the PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures. The dissertation is usually presented in English; however, prior permission to present it in another language may be requested from the Graduate School.

Time to PhD Degree Timelines

Areas of Specialization

All students specialize in Latin American literature and cultural studies. In consultation with their graduate advisors, students must designate a minor field of specialization (Peninsular or Brazilian literature or cultural studies). Prior to taking the PhD Comprehensive exam, students must complete at least 2 courses within the minor field.

Related Work

The PhD in Film Studies is a broad, new, interdisciplinary and interdepartmental degree that stresses the history, theory, and esthetics of international cinema, video, television, and new media. While the student will earn a PhD in Film Studies (granted by the Film Studies Program), he or she would also be a full member of Hispanic Languages and Literatures, one of six Associated Departments, fulfilling its requirements (many of which will overlap with those in Film Studies), as well.

The Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures will appear as an Area of Concentration on the student’s transcript. Thus, the student graduating with a PhD in Film Studies will be doubly qualified: in film studies as well as in the Latin American literature and culture program offered by the PhD program in our department. You are strongly urged to consult with the director of graduate studies in Hispanic Languages and Literatures before choosing to pursue this option. Interested persons must apply to and be accepted by both our Department and the PhD in Film Studies program, and you cannot assume that acceptance in one assures acceptance in the other. Financial assistance for our students who are pursuing the PhD in Film Studies (in the form of fellowships and/or teaching assistantships) will be provided by our department.