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Degree Overview: Graduate Degree Programs in Spanish Language

Majors Overview June 18, 2015

This article talks about graduate degree programs in Spanish language and their coursework and job and wage outlook.

Graduate Programs in Spanish Language

Schools offering graduate degrees in Spanish offer both Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs. Students develop advanced grammar skills, in addition to the ability to understand Hispanic literature in the context of historical periods and cultural influences. A strong background in Spanish is a prerequisite for admission. Students enrolled in most programs are also expected to learn a second foreign language. Many schools include teaching assistantships as a component part of the program. Graduates can seek occupation as interpreters, translators, or college instructors.

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Spanish

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, in addition to having the ability to write in undergraduate-level Spanish. Students enrolled in many graduate programs are required to complete classes in literary analysis, Spanish phonetics, and linguistics before they are allowed to enroll.

Alternatively, they may have to complete the courses during the first year of graduate study. Apart from teaching about Hispanic literature and culture, coursework is devised to develop students’ skills in teaching Spanish. Students enrolled in many programs are required to study a second Romance language, such as Italian, Portuguese, or French.


Coursework varies according to the student’s track of study, whose focus may be on culture, literature, or linguistics. An exam that may focus on Latin American and Spanish civilization or Spanish literature may also be a requirement. This coursework is devised to train students in writing and speaking Spanish expertly while showcasing an advanced grasp of linguistic analysis and syntax. A second foreign language may also be focused on, an essential requirement for prospective doctorate holders. In addition to teaching assistantships, core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Latin American culture
•Romance languages
•Hispanic literature
•Spanish history

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a 46% job growth rate has been predicted for translators and interpreters (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $45,430.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Programs in Spanish

Ph.D. students can seek a career in academia or research. Schools also offer minors in history, a second language, women’s studies, English, and Latin American studies. Admission criteria typically require prospective students to hold a graduate degree and showcase expert oral and written skills in Spanish. In some schools, students are allowed to meet these prerequisites in the initial stage of their doctoral study. A second language is also learned by students before they take their doctoral exam.


Coursework includes academic analysis of Hispanic culture and language. Teaching assistantship requirements are devised to hone students’ ability to teach at the university level. Apart from having to learn a second language, students may also have to focus on culture or linguistics. In cultural and literary courses, there may be an emphasis on a specific period or genre. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Romance languages
•Gender studies
•Popular Spanish culture
•Spanish-American literature

Job and Wage Outlook

A Ph.D. is a requirement for most college instructors; however, a master’s degree may enable graduates to seek some non-tenure, part-time or adjunct positions. Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth of 19% has been predicted for all postsecondary teachers. In 2012, all foreign language and literature postsecondary teachers brought in an average annual wage of $58,670 (BLS).

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