Masters Degree in Spanish: Program and Career Information

Master's degree programs in Spanish usually concentrate on either the linguistics or literature of Spanish and Latin American cultures. In both concentrations, students learn about the history and cultures of Spain and Latin America.

Essential Information

Regardless of the concentration chosen in a Spanish master's program, students will take courses in different aspects of language, writing and literature. A literature concentration may include more in-depth coursework on specific literary periods, while a linguistics option typically focuses on word sounds, proper pronunciation and even teaching others how to speak Spanish.

Some master's programs require the completion of a thesis paper. A comprehensive exam for both thesis and non-thesis degree tracks may also be required and is typically completed during the program's last semester.

Before enrolling in a master's program in Spanish, students typically need a bachelor's degree in Spanish with a minimum GPA of 3.0. A competitive score on the GRE may be important as well. Additional requirements could include two to three letters of recommendation and a minimum number of approved semester hours in Spanish courses.

Master's Degree in Spanish

Classes often vary depending on the area of emphasis in literature or linguistics. Students who choose to focus on literature may take courses on Spanish and Latin American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Golden Age, medieval Spain and the 18th and 19th centuries. The linguistics option focuses on training students in phonetics, technical translation, linguistics research methods and methods for teaching Spanish. Students in linguistic-intensive programs may focus their studies around a specialty or concentration, such as applied linguistics or phonology and morphology. Some possible courses include the following:

  • Literary theory and criticism
  • Contemporary Spanish literature
  • Hispanic folk literature
  • Teaching Spanish in secondary school
  • Semantics and generative syntax
  • Great figures of Spanish literature

Career Outlook and Salary

Graduates of a master's degree program in Spanish will be able to compete for a variety of jobs where Spanish is commonly spoken. The publishing industry offers many opportunities, as do elementary and secondary schools where Spanish teachers are desperately needed. Some career outcomes include those as a Spanish teacher, a writer for a Spanish-language newspaper or periodical, literary critic, travel agent or interpreter. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, travel agents earned a median annual salary of $35,660 in 2015, whereas interpreters and translators earned a median annual income of $44,190 that same year (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Information

Students who want to continue their graduate education commonly pursue doctorates in Spanish. The degree is research-intensive, and it can be completed in four or more years of full-time study. Many graduates of a Spanish Ph.D. program teach and conduct research at a major university or college.

Students with an interest in Spanish and Latin American cultures have the options to further their education by earning a master's degree in Spanish. There are two common concentrations: linguistics and literature. Graduates from these degrees may find work as teachers, writers, travel agents, interpreters or translators, among other options.

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