International Letters and Cultures, PhD

The PhD in International Letters and Cultures, through courses and supervision of research, offers professional training that is linguistically well-grounded, historically and culturally informed, and methodologically trans-disciplinary. Central to the program is the critical inquiry of primary texts, media, and cultural expressions, aiming at an original understanding of cultures and social groups—in their formations, interactions, and transformations throughout history. The program is attentive to the various roles of language in societies, in the different perspectives language can be studied—in, among other aspects, its variations, transformations, hybridizations, and processes of acquisition. The PhD in International Letters and Cultures particularly focuses on research questions and themes that cannot be fully explored within the traditional disciplinary boundaries; instead, it fosters dynamic collaboration across disciplines in order to engage in the production of knowledge that is crucial to understanding transnational and transcultural interactions across time and space. This degree program provides an innovative intellectual platform that advances transdisciplinary research and teaching. In consultation with their advisor, students will do their coursework in a primary and a secondary area of emphasis. Both areas will be organized around interdisciplinary study and research in more than one language. For example, a student might choose to study medieval theater for the primary area of emphasis and medieval book culture for the secondary area, with a focus on France and Italy. The student would be required to have advanced proficiency in English and French, or Italian, or both, depending on the requirements of his research; for the third language, the student would have at least reading knowledge. Another student may be interested in multilingualism from a comparative sociolinguistic perspective and decide to compare trilingual communities like the Yaquis in Arizona and the Uros in Bolivia. Faculty members are drawn from various departments and programs in the humanities and social sciences.

As approved by the student’s supervisory committee, the program can allow 30 credit hours from a previously awarded master's degree to be used for the International Letters and Cultures PhD.

If admitted with a bachelor’s degree, students must complete a minimum of 84 semester hours. If admitted with a master’s degree, they must complete a minimum of 54 hours.


Second Language Proficiency Requirement

Students will demonstrate advanced proficiency in their primary (non-English) language of study during the program application process. Students must also have competency in a second (non-English) language, either upon application to the program, or to be acquired during the course of the program.

Written and Oral Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive examination will be given at the completion of the student’s course work. Students will demonstrate their command of the relevant languages, areas of emphasis, and methodologies.

Dissertation Prospectus

The dissertation prospectus should be developed by the student in consultation with the supervisory committee. The prospectus should specify the primary documents examined, the theoretical models to be engaged, and the tentative significance of the proposed research.


The dissertation is the document presented by a candidate for the PhD to demonstrate the ability to conduct research in conformance with the prevailing standards of scholarship.


All candidates for the PhD in International Letters and Cultures must fulfill the general requirements of the Graduate College concerning admission and residence.

The deadline for applications is January 15, 2018.

GRE requirements: Not required.

GPA requirements: Applicants must have a minimum of a 3.30 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of a student's first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum of a 3.30 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

Degree requirements: Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree, in the humanities or social sciences, from a regionally accredited institution. Advanced competency in English and in the language of primary emphasis (i.e. the language of most of their coursework and of most of the primary materials for their dissertation) is a condition of admission to the program; students must also have competency in a third language, either upon application to the program, or to be acquired in the course of the program. Students whose B.A. is not in foreign language must demonstrate proficiency by submitting a writing sample in the language of primary emphasis (and of secondary emphasis if applicable), unless the languages are ancient. An instructor’s letter addressing their competency is required.

Proof of English proficiency (International students only):

  • If you are from a country whose native language is not English (regardless of where you may now reside), you must provide proof of English proficiency. For more information including additional requirements for international students, visit the ASU Graduate Admission Services website.

  • Applicants to Non-Certification Masters, Graduate Certificates, and Doctoral Programs must meet the English Proficiency score established by ASU Graduate Education.

Teaching/Research Assistant Positions (according to availability): Students who wish to apply for a Teaching Assistant or Associate position should also submit the following items:

  • Application for SILC Teaching or Research Assistantship-- See SILC Graduate FAQS

  • Recording or Skype interview in the target language

  • At least one of the three letters of recommendation required should address the applicant’s teaching experience and ability

Items needed to apply: All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee

  2. official transcripts

  3. writing sample(s)

    1. A writing sample of 10-15 pages in English highlighting critical skills and writing ability, on a topic connected with the primary language or culture that the student has chosen (at the discretion of the admissions committee, a writing sample in the language of primary emphasis may also be requested).

  4. personal statement (in English)

    1. Personal statement should summarize the applicant’s educational and/or professional background and goals. The applicant must indicate the two languages of primary and secondary focus. Applicants should indicate how the plan fits with the description and goals of the Doctorate in International Letters and Cultures, and why the proposed plan does not fit some other degree program.

  5. resume or curriculum vitae

  6. three letters of recommendation

    1. At least 2 letters should be from a tenured or tenure-track faculty member

    2. If a Teaching Assistantship (TA) application is submitted, then at least one of the letters must discuss the applicant's teaching abilities. Applicants may apply for a TA position in languages such as Spanish, Chinese, French, and German. Other languages may be approved on a case by case basis.

  7. proposed plan of study

    1. Proposed plan of study should briefly explain the topic(s) that the student proposes to study based on SILC’s current course offerings and faculty areas of interest.

  8. proof of English proficiency

There are multiple funding opportunities available to current and prospective SILC graduate students.

Teaching Assistant positions

The department offers funding in the form of Teaching Assistant positions to support students throughout their graduate degree program. TA positions include tuition remission, student health insurance, and a stipend ($16,000 for the 2018-19 academic year). TA positions are highly competitive, and only offered to the most qualified applicants. SILC does not hire TAs who are not enrolled in one of its graduate programs.


Students may be eligible for internships through the Connected Academics initiative at ASU. Arizona State University is one of three universities nationally chosen by the Modern Language Association and the Mellon Foundation to re-imagine PhD education in the humanities for the twenty-first century. Through the MLA-Mellon Connected Academics Grant, we have designed programs that advances your career goals. Connected Academics enriches the experience of earning a doctoral degree in languages and literatures through augmented curricula, expanded para-curricular development, and extensive mentoring.

As you develop your areas of expertise, you may pursue an internship opportunity within an organization outside your academic program. Internships may involve work in other disciplinary areas at ASU, partner educational institutions (K12, community college, or four-year), cultural organizations, other non-profits, or industry.

Internships are designed to extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom as they allow you to gain hands-on experience in professional work environments related to your academic and career interests. An internship will provide you with a breadth and depth of experience, opportunities for you to apply principles learned in and outside the classroom, observe professionals in action, develop specific skills, and better understand structures of structures of diverse work environments.

School of International Letters and Cultures Fellowships and Awards

Visit SILC’s Scholarships and Awards page for more information.

Graduate College Fellowships and Awards

The ASU Graduate College offers a variety of opportunities for students to fund their graduate education. Awards that SILC students have previously received include:


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Fellowships and Awards

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is proud to offer a variety of fellowships and awards to our graduate students. These fellowships may be awarded based on merit, financial need or specific academic criteria. Unlike loans, scholarships do not have to be repaid.

Study Abroad Assistantships

Each study abroad program in SILC selects one graduate teaching assistant to assist the program director. For more information about these programs, visit SILC’s study abroad page.

ASU Financial Aid office

There are a variety of other ways to pay for your graduate education. ASU’s Financial Aid office website outlines information about Loans, Grants, Federal Work Study, and other on-campus jobs.

Other Sources

Many SILC graduate students receive funds from other sources like nonprofit groups and private organizations.

There are a variety of funding opportunities in varying scales and forms, and students are encouraged to use these resources as well as conduct their own research for opportunities.

How long will it take to complete the program?

Full time students typically complete the International Letters and Cultures PhD within 5 years.

What is the profile of the successful International Letters and Cultures PhD applicant?

Students in SILC’s graduate program represent diverse cultural, educational, and experiential backgrounds. Successful applicants will demonstrate advanced proficiency in their primary language of study, proficiency in their secondary language of study, as well as analytical and critical skills. Many applicants have obtained an undergraduate or graduate degree in foreign language.

Do I need to take the GRE?

The GRE is not required as part of the application, however it is encouraged. There is no recommended score, as the GRE will be evaluated as portion of the entire application.

What is the GPA requirement?

Students should have achieved a 3.30 cumulative GPA in the final 60 hours of their undergraduate degree, or a 3.30 cumulative GPA in their Masters degree.

What is the English Proficiency requirement for international students?

Information about English Proficiency requirements may be found here.

How much is tuition?

The cost of tuition varies from one student to another based on several factors such as residency status, number of credits, and course load. You can learn more about tuition and fees here.

Is funding available?

Funding is available in the form of Teaching Assistant Positions or Research Assistant positions. Funding is highly competitive and is limited to the most highly qualified applicants. Fellowships and awards are also available on a competitive basis.


Important information for international students

Graduate teaching assistants/associates whose native language is not English are required to take the TSE/SPEAK test or TOEFL iBT test. In order to assume primary teaching responsibilities students must earn a minimum score of 55 on the TSE/SPEAK test or 26 on the TOEFL iBT. A score of 50 on the TSE/SPEAK test is acceptable if the position is for a lab assistant or tutor. International students should apply to the program as early as possible in the fall semester.

Degree Offered

International Letters and Cultures, PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

With a PhD in International Letters and Cultures, combine the study of language, literature, and cultures to address questions that cannot be fully explored within traditional disciplinary boundaries. The program fosters dynamic collaboration across disciplines to deepen our understanding of transnational and transcultural phenomena, from antiquity to the present.

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