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Graduate Degrees in Spanish Language: Program Options

In graduate Spanish language programs, students develop advanced grammar skills and the ability to understand Hispanic literature within the context of cultural influences and historical periods.

Essential Information

Students seeking a graduate degree in Spanish usually earn a Master of Arts or PhD. Admission to a graduate program requires a strong background in Spanish. Master's programs also require a bachelor's degree, the ability to write in Spanish at an undergraduate level and some prior coursework. For admittance to PhD. programs a master's degree and demonstrated expert written and oral proficiency in Spanish is required. Students may decide to specialize in topics such as literature, culture or linguistics. Graduates may have the skills to work as translators, interpreters and college instructors.


Master of Arts in Spanish

Many graduate programs require students to complete courses in Spanish phonetics, literary analysis and linguistics before enrolling or within the first year of graduate study. In addition to learning about Hispanic literature and culture, master's students develop skills in how to teach Spanish.

Coursework will vary depending upon a student's track of study. Graduate students also complete an exam that may focus on Latin American and Spanish literature or Spanish civilization. This coursework provides the training to write and speak Spanish at an expert level while demonstrating an advanced command of syntax and linguistic analysis. Coursework may also focus on a second foreign language, which is essential for those looking to earn a doctorate. Aside from teaching assistantship requirements, students must take courses in:

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

Doctor of Philosophy in Spanish

Doctoral work in a Spanish program prepares students to provide academic analysis of Hispanic language and culture. Teaching assistantship requirements also help students develop the ability to provide university-level Spanish instruction. In addition to learning a second language, students may be expected to focus on linguistics or culture. Literary and cultural courses may emphasize a particular genre or time period. Generally, PhD students complete courses in:

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

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that demand for translators and interpreters between 2014 and 2024 will increase by 29%. The BLS stated in May 2015 that these professionals earned median annual salaries of $44,190.

Most college instructors are required to have a Ph.D.; however, Spanish language majors with a master's degree may qualify for some non-tenure, adjunct or part-time positions. The BLS projected that demand for all postsecondary teachers will grow by 13% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS reported in May 2015 that all foreign language and literature postsecondary teachers earned $61,380 as a median annual wage.

Students with a background in Spanish can earn a master's degree and open up career options in the rapidly growing field of translation. Continuing on to a PhD. could potentially secure a tenure-track university position or lead to academic research positions.

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