PHD Spanish Linguistics

Receive solid academic preparation, intensive professional development opportunities and strong pedagogical training and teaching experiences in this doctoral program.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: PHD Spanish Linguistics

The doctoral program in Spanish linguistics prepares students for entrance into an academic profession (teacher, scholar) as well as for a profession outside of academia.

This program offers advanced interdisciplinary graduate training that combines key areas in second language acquisition and teaching, applied linguistics, heritage language research and pedagogy, sociolinguistics and bilingualism with the supportive guidance of the student's advisor that best prepares the candidate for a productive career in the discipline of Hispanic studies.


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 linguistics.

Degree requirements Credit hours
Core course 3
Track courses 9
Other required courses 19
Electives or research  41
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

Focus areas

Spanish heritage studies and sociolinguistics: Advanced interdisciplinary graduate training that combines key areas in Spanish heritage language research and pedagogy, bilingualism and Spanish sociolinguistics

Second language acquisition and teaching: Advanced interdisciplinary graduate training that combines key areas in second language acquisition and teaching, applied linguistics, heritage language pedagogy and language program administration.

Degree Requirements

84 credit hours, a written comprehensive exam, a prospectus and a dissertation

Required core (3 credit hours)
SPA 543 Structure of Spanish (3)

Track (9 credit hours)*

Electives or research (41 credit hours)

Other requirements (19 credit hours)
COE 502 Introduction to Data Analysis (3)
GRD 791 Seminar Preparing Future Faculty and Scholars (PFx) (1)
SPA 544 Spanish Phonology (3)
SPA 546 Heritage Language Pedagogy (3)
SPA 598 Topic Research Methods for Linguists (3)
SPA 598 Topic Sociolinguistics (3)
SPA 598 Topic Spanish Second Language Acquisition (3)

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

Additional curriculum information
Students choose a track from two available: in Spanish heritage studies and sociolinguistics, or in second language acquisition and teaching. Students should see the academic unit for the approved course list for each track.

Other requirements courses may be substituted with approval of the academic unit.

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 toward this degree. If students do not have a previously awarded master's degree, the 30 credit hours of coursework is made up of electives or research to reach the required 84 credit hours.

*Track courses

Spanish heritage studies and sociolinguistics
Students are to select three (3) courses from the below list as deemed necessary by supervisory committee:

  • SPA 541 Spanish Language in America
  • SPA 542 Studies in the Spanish of the Southwest
  • SPA 598 Topic Bilingualism
  • SPA 691 Topic Advanced Sociolinguistics
  • SPA 691 Topic Heritage Language Research

Second language acquisition and teaching
Students are to select three (3) courses from the below list as deemed necessary by supervisory committee:

  • LIN 557 Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL)
  • SPA 598 Topic Bilingualism
  • SPA 598 Topic Language Program Administration
  • SPA 598 Topic Spanish Applied Linguistics
  • SPA 691 Topic Applied Linguistics

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 a related field from a regionally accredited institution.

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.

Applicants are required to submit:

  1. Graduate admission application and application fee
  2. Official transcripts
  3. Two letters of recommendation
  4. Written statement
  5. Professional resume
  6. 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.

How to apply

Spanish linguistics PhD candidates must fulfill the admission and residence requirements of the Graduate College. Candidates for the doctorate in Spanish linguistics 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 Jan. 1, for the fall semester. All other applications for the fall semester are due by April 15.

Application fee waiver

We are no longer accepting requests for application fee waivers for this admission cycle. We may offer waivers again after Sept. 1 when the admission cycle for fall 2024 opens.

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 the valued skills developed through this degree program can confidently move into academic, business, diplomatic, government and international fields.

Career examples include:

  • Area, ethnic and linguistics teachers and professors
  • Editors
  • Foreign language and linguistics 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

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