Masters Degree in Spanish: Program and Career Information

Learn about admission prerequisites and common coursework for a Spanish master's program. Find out about specialization options, career opportunities, employment statistics and continuing education at the doctoral level.

Essential Information

Master's degree programs in Spanish usually concentrate on either the linguistics or literature of Spanish and Latin American cultures, though some programs combine the two. In both concentrations, students learn about the history, cultures, literature and language of Spain and Latin America. Students who choose to focus on literature may take courses on Spanish American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, Spanish literature of the Golden Age, medieval Spanish literature and Spanish literature of 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.

Students who plan to continue their studies at the doctoral level are encouraged to complete a thesis. A comprehensive exam for both thesis and non-thesis degree tracks may also be required and is typically taken during the program's last semester.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants to an M.A. degree program in Spanish must hold undergraduate degrees in Spanish. Many schools require that applicants have at least a 3.0 GPA in Spanish courses. Additionally, scores for the GRE may be requested, along with 2-3 letters of recommendation. Many programs require a minimum number of approved semester hours in Spanish courses prior to admission into the program.

Program Coursework

Classes for a master's degree in Spanish vary according to the area of emphasis in literature or linguistics. Many courses in either program require analytical skills. However, students will also engage in language, writing and literature courses. Some possible courses include the following:

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

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 an average annual wage of $33,950 in 2010, whereas interpreters earned a mean income of $49,790 that same year (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Information

Students who want to continue their graduate education commonly pursue Ph.D.s 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.

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