• Home
  • Academics
  • Degrees
  • Graduate Program
  • Ph.D.
  • Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

Students who are admitted to the Ph.D. program in Spanish and Portuguese must enroll in 18 credit hours per year (three courses per semester) during their first two years in the program. One of the courses required is SPAN 801 (Teaching Spanish in Institutions of Higher Learning) during their first semester of teaching. Students must also complete the requirements for reading knowledge of a language other than English and Spanish. For a complete list of courses, see the University Academic Catalogue. Students are also required to pass the Ph.D. qualifying exams (the written exam and the oral defense of the dissertation proposal), and to successfully complete a dissertation.


The coursework for the Ph.D. in Spanish at KU requires:

A minimum of 24 credit hours of graduate coursework (approx. 8 courses)

Within the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and beyond the 30 hours required for the M.A. degree. The total credit hours should include:

- Five seminars

- One literary theory course, preferably in the Department (i.e. SPAN 795)

Please note: The department strives to assure that our graduate students develop strong writing skills both in Spanish and English. Therefore, during their Ph.D. program students who are non-native speakers of Spanish are required to submit at least one doctoral seminar paper in Spanish, and non-native speakers of English must submit at least one doctoral seminar paper in English.


- One of the five seminars can be approved as transfer credit from another institution.

- One of the five seminars can be a 700-level class, with the added requirement of

  written seminar quality paper.

- If an appropriate seminar is not offered during the last semester of coursework and

  preparation period for the qualifying exams, students can take an independent study  

  course with a faculty of their choice to strengthen the preparation of their Ph.D. paper (see Graduate Student Handbook section on Ph.D. exams).

A minimum of 9 credit hours of graduate coursework

towards a minor or a Certificate (Minors = minimum of 9 credit hours; certificates = usually a minimum of 12 credit hours, but varies by department).

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese requires Ph.D. students to attain a minor through courses outside of the department, or to complete a minor in Portuguese within the department. A certificate is not required, but courses toward the minor can count towards a graduate certificate upon prior consultation with the student’s academic advisor. Many students pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, for instance, complete a certificate in Latin American Studies with a minor in Lusophone studies.  The graduate advisors, guided by the student’s interests, will offer suggestions. The Department’s flexibility in allowing graduate students to integrate a wide variety of certificates and minors is key to our commitment to the transdisciplinary and transnational perspective that is at the root of the humanities. Courses taken to acquire proficiency in a language cannot count towards the minor. Students may browse the list of approved graduate certificate programs (search for “certificate”) to find a certificate that may closely match your research interests.

Spanish 801: Teaching Spanish in Institutions of Higher Learning

This course is required of all GTAs during their first semester of teaching.

Reading knowledge of TWO foreign languages other than Spanish, and as approved by the Department

A language used to satisfy the M.A. requirement counts towards this requirement. With counted exceptions (such as a focus on Indigenous languages or Mediterranean Studies), students planning to write a dissertation on either Peninsular or Latin American literature should select Portuguese as one of the two required languages. Yet, the choice of languages and the mode of achieving this level will be decided in consultation with the student’s advisory committee. Graduate students must show a grade no lower than a B in the courses towards fulfilment of this requirement.

To complete the requirement for each language, the student can:

1.      Take either a reading knowledge language course at KU (focused on reading comprehension), or enroll at a graduate level in a language course of your choice.

2.      Show third semester college course work from another institution with an average grade of A or B.

3.      Pass an examination in the chosen language administered by the corresponding department at KU.

4.      Pass the GSFLT at the requisite level.

♥ Every Donation Matters

Give to Spanish & Portuguese

Calendar of Events