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Advisor: Patricia Montilla,
511 Sprau Tower
Telephone: (269) 387-3040
Students who pursue the Ph.D. in Spanish at Western Michigan University will study the cultures of the Hispanic world in depth. The Spanish doctoral program is based upon the belief that advanced students should focus their knowledge of Hispanic cultures from the beginning of their doctoral studies through coursework in their chosen area of specialization, culminating in their doctoral dissertation. Additionally, students should develop the methods and skills necessary to investigate and analyze language and/or literature and be able to express their findings in clear, consistent, and complete terms. The goal of the Ph.D. program is, in sum, twofold: to lead students to comprehend and appreciate the breadth and uniqueness of Hispanic cultures as they have evolved through time and across geography, and to enable students to formulate and express their own findings and conclusions regarding the enduring values and manifestations of those cultures.
- The M.A. in Spanish at Western Michigan University or an equivalent degree from another university.
- Satisfaction of the general requirements of the Graduate College.
- Three letters of recommendation from persons qualified to assess applicant’s academic potential for Ph.D. study in Spanish.
- A 500-word statement written by the applicant in which s/he describes principal academic and career interests and goals, as well as reasons for desiring to study in the Spanish program at Western Michigan University.
- A writing sample in Spanish. This would ordinarily be a paper written in a course taken during the M.A. program.
- An official copy of transcripts for all completed coursework.
- A recent version of a curriculum vitae or résumé.
- An interview in Spanish, either in person or by telephone.
1. Complete a minimum of 36 hours of coursework at the 6000-level or above, and beyond the M.A. level.
With written prior approval from the Spanish graduate advisor, a maximum of 12 of the 36 hours may be taken in supporting coursework outside the department.
2. Complete successfully:
SPAN 6000 and SPAN 6600. All courses count toward the required 36 hours.
3. Maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in all doctoral-level courses combined.
4. Demonstrate reading knowledge:
Of a third language beyond Spanish and English that is relevant to one of the student’s major research interests.
Competency will be measured by either:
- passing a reading or translation examination, the exact format of which will be determined in consultation with the Spanish graduate advisor, or
- passing a Language for Graduate Study course (e.g. FREN 5020, GER 5020, ITAL 5020), whose level will be determined in consultation with the Spanish graduate advisor.
5. Pass the Ph.D. comprehensive examination.
The comprehensive examination consists of three parts, namely, two written examinations and one oral examination conducted in Spanish. All coursework and the reading knowledge examination (see 1 through 4 above) must be completed before the comprehensive exam is taken.
There are six areas of study, from which two are chosen for the exam:
- Spanish literature and culture I: Medieval and Golden Age periods
- Spanish literature and culture II: 18th century to present
- Spanish American literature and culture I: Colonial period through Modernismo
- Spanish American literature and culture II: 20th and 21st centuries
- Spanish linguistics I: Spanish linguistic systems and their acquisition
- Spanish linguistics II: Linguistic variations, uses, and changes in Spanish
The comprehensive examination consists of two four-hour written sections and a two-hour oral section. All sections cover coursework completed during doctoral studies. The first written section is based on:
1) a specialized reading list of works corresponding to a primary area of study, and
2) an additional reading list developed in consultation with the future dissertation director.
The second written section is based on a non-specialized reading list of works corresponding to a secondary area of study. The oral section is comprehensive.
A single grade will be given for the entire exam. Possible grades are: superior, good, pass, or fail. Students who fail the exam may retake it once. At the discretion of the exam committee, they may be required to retake the entire examination or portions of it.
Students should take the comprehensive examination as soon as possible after finishing required coursework and passing the reading knowledge exam, but it is recommended that they take the examination within a period of four months after having completed those requirements.
6. Prepare and defend a dissertation.
The topic of the dissertation is chosen by the students in consultation with the director. At least 15 hours of dissertation credits (SPAN 7300) are required.
The dissertation is the capstone of the Ph.D. experience. It ought to be an original, high-quality contribution to scholarship in an area of particular interest to the student. As in the case of coursework, the dissertation is a learning experience to be guided by faculty. To be sure, the research and writing of this book-length manuscript requires considerable independent work and discipline on the part of the student. Nonetheless, we give great importance to the role of the faculty in this process, particularly to the duties of the dissertation director. The goal is that the entire process be realistic, fair, collegial, and expeditious. We believe that this student-centered approach to research will be significant for the achievement of our overall objective, i.e., the formation of first-rate teacher/scholars in a reasonable period of time.
7. Fullfill all general and specific requirements of the Graduate College.
Recommendations in Addition to Requirements
- Teaching - It is expected that most Ph.D. students in Spanish will have an interest in teaching. Thus, at some time during their graduate career at Western Michigan University, all Spanish Ph.D. students will be given the opportunity to gain teaching experience, usually through a teaching assistantship. Opportunities for teaching exist in a variety of courses at the undergraduate level. This experience will be guided by faculty supervision. Renewal or continuation of assistantships depends on satisfactory performance in teaching and in graduate studies, as well as on availability of university resources.
- Study abroad - It is recommended that before graduation, all Ph.D. students in Spanish will have spent at least six months in residence or study in a Spanish-speaking country. Many students will have fulfilled that expectation as undergraduates, but they are urged to seek additional opportunities to study abroad. Students in our program are eligible for teaching assistantships offered by the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in Mexico with which we have an exchange agreement. Six hours of graduate credit from this institution may be counted toward the 36-hour Ph.D. course requirement. Study at other universities in Mexico, Spain, Ecuador or other countries is also possible with the approval of the graduate advisor. Research and writing for the dissertation may be carried out during residence abroad, provided that arrangements are approved by the dissertation director. Since the faculty places a high priority on mastery of the Spanish language and the acquisition of cultural insights gained during residence in Spanish-speaking countries, the department will be very supportive of students’ efforts to study abroad. Graduate students are eligible for the President’s Grants for study abroad awarded by the University, as well as for some departmental scholarships.
Additional Program Information
For additional information about the Ph.D. in Spanish and for forms needed to apply for admission, students may write to WMU’s Office of Admissions or to the department’s graduate advisor. Students are encouraged to consult information available at www.wmich.edu/spanish.
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