Spanish, PhD

Develop an advanced knowledge of Peninsular, Latin American and Mexican American literature and cultural production. Mentoring by renowned faculty and coursework in a number of available tracks help you develop a sound knowledge of genre, periodization and scholarly research in the field.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: PHD Spanish

The Spanish PhD program consists of specializations in Spanish literature or culture and tracks in early modern, Mexican-American studies and visual cultures.

The specializations in Spanish literature or cultural studies, which are intended to be as flexible as possible, establish broad areas of competence through an individualized program of study set with the supportive guidance of the student's advisor.

In addition, the tracks in literature consist of five courses that allow for a specialization in early modern, Mexican-American studies or visual cultures.

Graduate courses in literature and cultural studies focus on the production, distribution and reception of texts and their linguistics, either written or visual (photographs, films, visual narratives, etc.), their linguistic, rhetorical and literary structure and functions, with an emphasis on literary theories and aesthetics. Many literature courses explore issues relating to gender, class, race, ethnicity, globalization, environmental humanities, disability theories, post-human theories and digital humanities.


The 84-hour program of study includes a written comprehensive exam, a prospectus, and a dissertation. Prospective doctoral candidates should have a passion and interest in Spanish language and culture.

Degree Requirements Credit Hours
Core Courses 3
Track Courses 18
Program Specific/Electives 39
Research 12
Dissertation 12
Total Credit Hours 84

Courses and electives

The coursework for each student is individualized and based upon the student's previous training, research goals, and mentor and committee consensus. Our research heavy program requires students to complete a written comprehensive exam, prospectus, and dissertation.

At a Glance: program details

  • Location: Tempe campus
  • Additional Program Fee: No
  • Second Language Requirement: No

Fields of Study

Literature Studies, A typical doctoral program with a specialization on Literature will consist of a variety of graduate SPA courses in literature, selected among various geographical areas and historical periods, as approved by the student’s supervisory committee.

Cultural Studies A typical doctoral program with a specialization on Cultural Studies will consist of a variety of courses in culture, literature, and linguistics, diversified between geographical areas and historical periods, as approved by the student’s supervisory committee. 


Visual Studies, the meanings and practices of looking across periods of the Pan Hispanic culture. Under the Cultural Studies umbrella, Visual Studies applies mainly to photography, film, television, performance, video, comics and popular culture.

Mexican American Studies, as displayed in literature, language, visual arts and cultural practices. This track prioritizes the historical, political and socioeconomic experiences of Mexican American citizens in the US, particularly in the Southwest, establishing links to all US Latinos, Latin America and Spain.

Early-Modern Iberian Studies, historical interconnections between literatures and cultures of the Iberian Peninsula, and global systems of exchange from the Middle Ages to modernity and postmodernity. It challenges divisions between genres, periods and regions and will cover transatlantic, Mediterranean, pan-European and colonial texts, performances, visual artifacts, maps, buildings and so on.

Degree Requirements

84 credit hours, a foreign language exams, a written comprehensive exam, an oral comprehensive exam, a prospectus and a dissertation.

Required Core (3 credit hours)

Track (18 credit hours)

Electives (39 credit hours)

Research (12 credit hours)
SPA 792 Research (12)

Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
SPA 799 Dissertation (12)

Additional Curriculum Information
The doctoral program in Spanish has four available tracks: early-modern Iberian studies, Spanish linguistics, Mexican American studies, and visual studies.

The candidate must present an acceptable dissertation based on original investigation. The dissertation must represent a significant contribution to knowledge and demonstrate the candidate's ability to do independent, scholarly research.

Each candidate is expected to demonstrate a reading knowledge of one language other than English and Spanish. This language requirement must be satisfied before the candidate is eligible to take the comprehensive examination.

The written and oral comprehensive examination, designed to ascertain the candidate's knowledge and orientation in the field of study and competency to proceed with the dissertation, is required at or near the end of coursework.

When approved by the student's supervisory committee and the Graduate College, this program allows 30 credit hours from a previously awarded master's degree to be used for this degree.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in Spanish or equivalent from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants from other academic backgrounds with relevant coursework in Spanish language and cultural studies also may be evaluated by the admissions committee.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.75 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.75 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. writing sample
  4. personal statement
  5. resume
  6. three letters of recommendation
  7. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency.

It is recommended but not required that students applying for admission to the program submit GRE scores; this is especially advisable for applicants for the Spanish Graduate Fellowship Award.

Candidates for the program are required to demonstrate a near-native oral proficiency in Spanish and to show that they have developed a high order of expository prose in English and Spanish by presenting a term paper or a chapter of the master's degree thesis as their writing sample.

How to apply

Spanish PhD candidates must fulfill the admission and residence requirements of the Graduate College. Candidates for the doctorate in Spanish must demonstrate a near-native oral proficiency in Spanish, as well as a high order of expository prose in English and Spanish through a specified writing sample. Letters of recommendation validating the applicant’s command of Spanish and readiness for doctoral work are required. Candidates may also have a personal interview.

Students who wish to be considered for a teaching assistant position must apply by January 1st, for the Fall semester. All other applications for the Fall semester are due by April 15.

Application Fee Waiver

Applicants facing financial hardship may request a waiver for their application fee. Please complete the online application up to the fee payment page. Please send both Monica Hopkins ( and Francoise Mirguet ( a brief essay (about 150 words) describing why paying the application fee is difficult in your situation, along with your application ID number. If your request is accepted, we will let you know that you can submit your application without paying the fee. The School of International Letters and Cultures has established a limited budget for these waivers. Requests will be considered as they are received until the budget is spent.

Career Opportunities

Professionals with this degree can confidently move into the academic profession, careers in education (including in museums and libraries) and professions outside academia such as in the publishing industry, media, nonprofits and international relations. Skills developed through this program are valued for teaching positions, translation work or work in a larger sector such as governmental, diplomatic and international business career opportunities.

Career examples include:

  • area, ethnic and cultural studies teachers and professors
  • editors
  • foreign language and literature teachers and professors
  • instructional design coordinators
  • interpreters and translators
  • lawyers
  • reporters and correspondents
  • social and community service managers


Under-Represented Minorities


Students in PhD Programs


International Students


"The School of International Letters and Cultures has been very supportive. My advisor's guidance has been crucial in the development of my research. In addition, I have learned a lot from my peers. SILC has fostered a very inclusive and friendly working and learning environment." 
Edurne Beltran de Heredia Carmona, PhD

Contact Information

Next Steps to attend ASU

Learn about our programs

Apply to a program

Visit our campus

Global Opportunities

Global Experience

With over 250 programs in more than 65 countries (ranging from one week to one year), study abroad is possible for all ASU students wishing to gain global skills and knowledge in preparation for a 21st-century career. Students earn ASU credit for completed courses, while staying on track for graduation, and may apply financial aid and scholarships toward program costs.

Program Contact Information

If you have questions related to admission, please click here to request information and an admission specialist will contact you directly. For questions regarding faculty or courses, please use the contact information below.