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Graduate Admissions

Our Department offers a comprehensive graduate program in the literatures and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, along with a rigorous training in language instruction.

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If you are applying to our program, make sure that your completed application includes all the required supporting documents. It is your responsibility to make sure all information has been received, and that it is correct and current. To those interested in an Master's Degree or graduate certificate with an emphasis on Brazilian Studies, please check the graduate programs at the KU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Admissions FAQ

In addition to the general requirements of the Graduate School (see page 11 of Graduate Student Handbook (.pdf)) candidates to the graduate program in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese must meet the criteria below.  Please note that students applying to our graduate programs must be proficient in oral and written Spanish.

For the M.A. Program:

-   B.A. degree, preferably in Spanish literatures and cultures, or related fields.

-   Minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in overall undergraduate coursework.

For the Ph.D. Program:

-  M.A. in Hispanic Literatures or related field.

-  Minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in overall graduate coursework.

In addition to the KU Graduate Application, the following components should be included in your application:

All External Applicants:

-  A statement of academic objectives describing your intellectual development, previous academic training, and areas of academic interest, and identify the faculty member(s) you are interested working with based on your subject area of interest. The quality of this statement is an especially important factor in the decisions of our admissions committee. The statement should be a maximum of two pages, single spaced.

-  A resume/curriculum vitae

-  Copy of an official transcript from all post-secondary institutions attended

-  A Spanish writing sample (not to exceed 30 pages)

-  An English writing sample (not to exceed 30 pages) 

-  Three letters of recommendation

Proof of English Proficiency

Non-native English speakers must demonstrate English proficiency to gain admission to a graduate program. See Graduate Admissions guidelines regarding the University’s requirements for providing proof of English Proficiency.

Internal M.A. Applicants to Ph.D. Program:

-  The Department’s Graduate Studies Committee oversees the application process.

-  Applications for the Ph.D. program are due on the first Friday of the semester when the student will be taking their M.A. exams. Students should submit their completed application to the Graduate Program Coordinator AND to the Director of Graduate Studies for review. A completed application includes:

  • Statement of Ph.D. goals, including likely committee members;
  • Current degree progress report by signing in through the My KU website;
  • Writing sample from M.A. work;
  • One-paragraph letters from two faculty members with whom the student would work; applicants request these letters from faculty, to be delivered to the Director of Graduate Studies.

-  In addition to reviewing the application materials, the Graduate Studies Committee contacts the Co-Directors of the Language Program for an assessment of the candidate’s teaching qualifications.

Admissions Contact Information

If you have questions about the academic program or curriculum, contact the Director of Graduate Studies. If you have questions about the application process or required materials, contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Completed applications for the Fall semester, including all supplemental documents, are due no later than January 5th. Applicants to the program who wish to be considered for funding through a University Fellowship or Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) appointment should submit applications by that date. The final deadline for Fall matriculation is May 1. Late applications may be considered only in exceptional cases. Please email our Director of Graduate Studies for questions about late applications.

Applications to begin in the Spring semester are only available to internal candidates and to candidates from exchange programs affiliated to the Department of Spanish & Portuguese.

All applicants to the Master’s and Ph.D. programs will be considered for departmental funding in the form of Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA). Offers of financial assistance are contingent on approval by the College and the University, and on the availability of funds from the  State.  

Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs)

Graduate Research Assistantships in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese are usually tied to fellowships or funding obtained by a Faculty member to work in collaboration with a student. In addition, all graduate students are encouraged to seek fellowship funds that will support their research experiences. See the section ‘Graduate Studies Funding Opportunities’ (p. 14). For all awards and fellowships where the Department is responsible for nominating graduate students (i.e. Graduate Summer Research Scholarships), the Department will first advertise the opportunity and the graduate committee will create an ad hoc committee to review all applications.

Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs)

The Memorandum of Agreement made between the University of Kansas and the Board of Regents with the Kansas Association of Public Employees (representing the Graduate Teaching Assistants) states that a  50% Full Time Employment (FTE) should entail a maximum of 20 hours per week, including teaching, preparation, and assessment. Stipends for the 2019-2020 academic year start at $17,000. Those holding an assistantship benefit from a 100% remission of tuition and payment of up to 3 hours of student fees.

Length for GTA Appointments

Providing that both academic work and teaching are satisfactory, Master’s students are eligible for four semesters of support as GTAs and Ph.D. students will receive support for ten semesters; those admitted to the Master’s program that proceed to the PhD program will be eligible for a total of 14 semesters. Students who are required to take additional coursework to make up deficiencies, or under extenuating circumstances, may petition the Graduate Studies Committee for a corresponding extension of up to six semesters for Master’s students, and of no more than twelve semesters for Ph.D. students.

Teaching Assignments

All 50% GTAs with one-year contracts teach five or six contract hours per semester during the regular academic year. In addition, the Department shares a commitment to assure that all Ph.D. students are exposed to a variety of courses as part of their professional training. Thus, the twelve semesters as a GTA should include, at a minimum, exposure to three different courses, of which at least one should be above the 200 level courses. With these principles in mind, the following course assignments are 5-6 contact hours per week, and as such, are the equivalent of a 50% GTA appointment:

-       Any one section of:  SPAN 104, SPAN 111, PORT 104, POR 105

-       Two sections of SPAN 212 or of SPAN 216

-       One section of SPAN 324 (Intermediate Grammar and Composition) + One section of SPAN 328 (Intermediate Conversation)

-       One section of SPAN 340 Textual Analysis and Critical Reading + One section of SPAN 328 (Intermediate Conversation) or SPAN 428 (Advanced Conversation).

-       Any one section of: PORT 106, PORT 110, PORT 212, PORT 216 + One section of PORT 388 (Intermediate Brazilian Portuguese Conversation)

Summer GTA Appointments

Summer GTA appointments are not guaranteed and are contingent on each course meeting minimum enrollment numbers. In addition, the availability of summer teaching is subject to the administration and varies from year to year. The department will inform  students when summer GTA appointments become available, as well as of other available opportunities in the Department’s summer language institutes. Positions will be announced no later than mid-April, aware that last-minute changes are contingent on enrollment. The graduate committee, with the input of the Assistant Director and the Director of Language Instruction, will review all applications. GTAs are selected to fill these positions on a competitive basis, and the criteria includes, among other factors, consideration of the impact of teaching the course on the students’ professional trajectory, as the students’ access to other employment opportunities during the Summer months. The director of Graduate Studies will send the call for applications. Students interested in teaching over the Summer must turn in all materials requested by no later than the first Friday of the Spring semester.  

Graduate Teaching Assistants for Study Abroad Programs Include: Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Salvador de Bahía (contingent on student enrollment and CLAS funding).

Students interested in serving as Graduate Teaching Assistants in either of the three Study Abroad Programs directed by faculty in Spanish and Portuguese, must apply by December 15th.

The application materials must include: A statement of interest (max. of 2 double-spaced pages), where you answer the following: In which Study Abroad Program are you interested? Why are you interested in serving as a GTA in a study abroad experience in general, and in this one in particular? How do you feel this experience will contribute to your professional goals (research and pedagogy)? In addition, please indicate whether you have worked for other Study Abroad Opportunities, and/or participated in the past as a student in a study abroad program.

Review of applications: Applications will be reviewed by the graduate committee. The selection criteria include, among other factors, the students’ academic standing, and the impact of this Teaching Assistantship on their professional trajectory, with attention to both teaching and research. Students with ‘incompletes’ in any of their courses will not be considered for summer teaching positions abroad. Teaching Assistantships for Study Abroad Programs will be announced no later than February 15th

GTAships and Non-returning students

Students who are not planning to return to the department at the start of following academic year may apply for these positions, albeit continuing students will have priority.  Students awarded with a summer GTA, and who subsequently decide not to return to the department, will be moved to the end of the priority ranking of applicants so that another continuing graduate student may receive the summer GTA.

Notifying one’s graduate advisor or a member of the faculty in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, either orally or in writing, of a decision not to return the following Fall semester is taken as a notification of one’s plan to relinquish the GTAship. For a non-returning student to remain eligible to serve out the term of the initial GTA contract, all continuing graduate students in the applicant pool must have been placed with summer GTAships.

Out-of-field GTAs

Out-of-field GTAs are normally hired on a semester-by-semester basis depending on enrollment and budget. The teaching load for out-of-field GTAs is the same as for GTAs seeking degrees. Out-of-field GTAs are also expected to complete SPAN 801 (Teaching Spanish in Institutions of Higher Learning), and must receive a grade of B or better in order to be considered for future reappointments. While we consider the needs of out-of-field GTA appointments, the Department’s priority is meeting the instructional needs of our undergraduate courses.

Lecturer Positions

The department supports graduate students in good standing who are making progress towards the completion and defense of their dissertation. Contingent on enrollments and instructional funding, 50% lecturer appointments may be available to Ph.D. students who are ABD in Spanish for a maximum of one year while they complete and defend their dissertation. In order to be considered for this position, applicants must have established solid teaching credentials and their graduate advisor must confirm satisfactory progress towards completion of the dissertation.

In addition, and in response to enrollment demands, and when staffing shortages and instructional funding permit, the department will invite and review applications from recent Ph.D. graduates for possible one-year lecturer appointments at a rate of 50% or higher. An appointment above 50% as a lecturer and appointments to teach undergraduate courses at the 300 level or higher are only considered if the dissertation is defended and the final, corrected dissertation submitted before the start of classes for the term in which the appointment begins.

Observations and Annual Evaluations of GTAs

As an integral part of professional development, GTAs will receive regular feedback on their teaching. Once per year, the Director and Assistant Director of Language Instruction AND an assigned faculty (whenever applicable, the students’ graduate advisor) will observe a complete class. The GTA is responsible for communicating with either the Director or Assistant Director of Language Instruction or with the Director of Graduate Studies to set up a date and time for these observations. Copies of the observation forms (See Appendix D, p. 53) and any additional written comments will be turned in to the Graduate Director. The GTA should be sure to seek feedback on their teaching observations, ideally from the two faculty members who observed the class.

Robert Granberg Award for Excellence in Teaching

Eligibility:  GTAS in the department of Spanish and Portuguese who have completed at least one year of teaching in the program. Previous awardees are excluded. The award is announced once a year, typically in the Spring semester. The awards committee will invite all departmental faculty, including lecturers, to nominate GTAs in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Self-nominations are also strongly encouraged.

Decision Criteria:

-    Student evaluation scores

-    Evaluation from the course coordinator and/or faculty observer(s)

-    Assessment of collegiality with other GTAs and supervisors

-    Academic standing in the department of degree program


GTAs must submit a teaching portfolio, which should include:

-    Student evaluations

-    A statement of teaching philosophy (250-500 words)

-    Current Degree Progress Report

-    List of all Spanish and/or Portuguese instructional responsibilities and courses taught at KU

-    Supporting materials (i.e. copies of original class activities, exams, unsolicited letters from former students)

Applicants and GTAs can access the Center for Teaching Excellence for resources on how to prepare a teaching portfolio. See the Center for Teaching Excellence website for more information.


Professor Antônio Roberto Simões

Director of Graduate Studies

You may also reach out to our College Office of Graduate Affairs Program Coordinator, for more information.