The Department of Spanish at Western Michigan University offers both a master of arts degree and a doctor of philosophy degree in Spanish. These student-centered advanced degrees enable students to deepen and extend their knowledge of literatures, cultures, and linguistics in the Hispanic world. The course work is designed to introduce students to the broad field of Hispanic studies while at the same time enabling them to plan an individualized course of learning centered around their areas of special interest. Since its inception in 1988, the M.A. program has successfully attracted participants from the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico, and Spain, as well as the United States. Currently there are over forty students in the M.A. program, many of whom hold teaching assistantships. Great care is given in preparing and monitoring the classroom performance of students in assistantship roles. With the guidance and encouragement of department master teachers, assistants often profit as much from their teaching experience as they do from their own course work.
The Department of Spanish offers a master of arts degree with possible emphases in Spanish literature, Spanish culture, Spanish-American literature, Spanish-American culture or Spanish linguistics. Students also may design a general plan of studies encompassing all five areas of emphasis. In addition, graduate courses are available in foreign language methodology. The M.A. program consists of 30 credit hours of course work and normally is completed by full-time students in two years, although some students finish the program in less time. The one required course is SPAN 6000 Don Quijote. All remaining courses are selected by students in consultation with the graduate advisor. The program prepares students to pursue a doctor of philosophy degree in Spanish or to do further graduate study in other fields, such as European Studies, Latin American Studies, comparative literature, law, and translation and interpretation. It also offers high school teachers an excellent opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills as a means of career advancement.
For admission to the M.A. degree in Spanish, students must satisfy the following departmental requirements, as well as all other requirements listed in WMU's Graduate Catalog. Applicants who do not meet all of the departmental requirements may be admitted at the discretion of the Spanish graduate faculty. In such cases, students may be required to do preparatory course work to remove certain deficiencies.
A summary of program requirements follows. A complete list of requirements appears in WMU's Graduate Catalog.
Applicants use one of three processes to apply to WMU. The process students use depends on convenience and/or nationality and residency status.
U.S. citizens and resident aliens may apply using either the online application process or the self-managed application process. Students should submit their application materials by Feb.15 if seeking admission for fall semester that begins in early September and by Oct.15 if seeking admission for the start of the spring semester (January). The Department of Spanish may consider late applications. With the online application process, students complete the application form available on the WMU Graduate College site www.wmich.edu/grad. Instructions are provided for completing the online application and submitting materials. With the self-managed application process, students take responsibility for gathering all admission materials and submitting these materials to the appropriate offices before the published admission deadlines. Instructions for completing the Graduate Self-Managed Application and submitting materials are detailed on the application form. This form may be requested by contacting the Office of Admissions and Orientation information line at (800) 400-4WMU, by contacting the Department of Spanish (269) 387-3023/ fax: (269) 387-3103, or by contacting the Spanish graduate advisor (269) 387-3040.
International students can complete the online application or ask for the assistance of WMU's International Services and Student Affairs office (ISSA).
The ISSA fax number is (269) 387-5899 and the mailing address is
A411 Ellsworth Hall, Western Michigan University, 1903 West Michigan
Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5246. Students
should submit their application materials by January 1 if seeking admission for the
start of the fall semester (late August). Students requesting assistantships or other
financial aid should submit their applications by Feb. 15. Admission materials for
the spring semester (January) should be submitted by August 1. The Department of
Spanish may consider late applications, but early application is particularly important
for international students.
The Department of Spanish will consider late admission applications if enrollment
is not full and will consider late assistantship applications if all positions are
Students pursuing the Ph.D. in Spanish will study the culture of the Hispanic world in both broad and specific terms. The Spanish doctoral program is based upon the belief that advanced students ought to acquire the widest possible knowledge of Hispanic culture before they choose to limit their focus to selected portions of it in the doctoral dissertation. Students will be encouraged to develop a significant content base in the culture of Spain and Spanish America, from the beginnings to present day. They will be expected to understand the relationship between the myriad of specific components that have come to form Hispanic civilization and to appreciate them for their own esthetic and intellectual value, as well as for their particular contribution to the overall culture. Students are also expected to develop the methods and skills necessary to investigate and analyze language and 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 culture as it has evolved through time and across geography, and to enable students to formulate and express their own discoveries and conclusions regarding the enduring values and manifestations of that culture.
For admission to the Ph.D. degree in Spanish, students must satisfy the following departmental requirements, as well as all other requirements listed in WMU's Graduate Catalog. Applicants who do not meet all of the departmental conditions may be admitted at the discretion of the Spanish graduate faculty. In such cases, students may be required to do preparatory course work to remove certain deficiencies.
A summary of program requirements follows. A complete list of requirements appears in WMU's Graduate Catalog.
Areas of study are the following:
All students are expected to prepare themselves through course work in two areas,
and through additional readings. They will select two areas of major interest and
three areas of supporting interest. The Ph.D. general reading
list and specialized reading list for each area
will serve as guides for student preparation. Lists in the major areas are, of course,
more substantial than those in the supporting areas. Students should take the comprehensive
examination as soon as possible after finishing required course work and passing
the reading knowledge exam, but in any case they must take the examination within
a period of six months after having completed those requirements.
The comprehensive examination will be given twice each year during a three-week period, in May and October. The exam will be structured in this way: (1) Two four-hour written exams, one over each of the two areas of major interest; (2) One three-hour written exam over the three areas of supporting interest; (3) One oral exam lasting approximately two hours. All parts of the comprehensive examination will be conducted in Spanish.
A single grade will be given for the entire exam. Possible grades are: superior, good, pass, fail. Students who fail the exam may retake it once. At the discretion of the examination committee, they may be required to retake the entire examination or limited portions of it.
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 course work, 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. It is recommended that the dissertation be designed so that it may be completed within one year after approval. Although university time limits for completion of the Ph.D. may be more generous, it is the expectation of the Spanish faculty that even the most ambitious dissertations be completed within two years. Expeditiousness is to the advantage of both the student and the faculty.
The Department of Spanish is very supportive of students' efforts to study abroad, given that its faculty place a high priority on mastery of the Spanish language and the acquisition of cultural insights gained during residence in Spanish-speaking countries. It is expected that before graduation, all Ph.D. students will spend at least six months in residence or study in a Spanish-speaking country. Many students will have fulfilled this expectation as undergraduates, but they are urged to seek additional opportunities to study abroad. Graduate students are eligible for scholarships offered by the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in Mexico and the Universidad de Burgos in Spain, institutions with which WMU has exchange agreements. Graduate students are also eligible for a President's Grant for Study Abroad awarded by the University, as well as certain departmental scholarships.
The role of the Spanish graduate program advisor is to assist potential students in the application process and to help all students plan a curriculum suited to their needs and interests. Graduate Advisor Patricia Montilla in 511 Sprau can be reached by email, telephone (269) 387-3040, or fax (269) 387-3103.
The Department of Spanish offers teaching assistantships to qualified master's and doctoral students. Teaching assistantships provide a stipend, which is normally sufficient to support a frugal student. Awards are for one year, with the possibility of renewal (maximum total of two years for M.A., four years for Ph.D. students). Renewal or continuation of assistantships depends on satisfactory performance in both teaching and graduate studies, as well as on availability of University resources. Teaching assistants are generally responsible for teaching three courses per year, two in one semester and one in the other semester, and are required to take at least two courses (six credit hours total) per semester. Doctoral associateships are available to a limited number of Ph.D. students. The associateship, which may be awarded either for teaching or research, covers full-time tuition and also provides a stipend for an entire year (as opposed to two semesters). Applications for departmental assistantships and associateships are available online and from the department. They should be returned to: Graduate Advisor, Department of Spanish, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5338. The deadline to apply is Feb. 15 for students planning to enroll for the fall semester and Oct. 15 for those planning to enroll for the spring semester. The department may consider late applications if enrollment is not filled.
WMU offers graduate students assistantships, dissertation fellowships, research funds, tuition remission, tuition grants and assistance for historically underrepresented students. Information about these non-departmental forms of aid is available from the Graduate College. For information about student loans and other federal, state and WMU need-based programs, call the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships at (269) 387-6000. The application deadline for aid from WMU and Michigan is Feb. 15.
Graduate students studying Spanish have access to the the language technology center, as well as to the language library, both located in Brown Hall. The library receives subscriptions to many popular Spanish-language periodicals and also offers a sizable collection of dictionaries and other reference materials. All students have access to the substantial collection of Hispanic materials in Waldo Library, WMU's main library, as well as to the prestigious collection of rare books and manuscripts in the Institute of Cistercian Studies and internationally renown Medieval Institute. WMU offers study abroad programs in collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in Querétaro, Mexico; the Universidad de Cantabria in Santander, Spain; and, the Universidad de Burgos in Burgos, Spain. Interested graduate students may do part of their work abroad. Details are available by contacting the Department of Spanish.
The Spanish faculty at Western Michigan University are guided by their conviction that the Spanish language is the basis for comprehension and appreciation of Hispanic culture. Spanish is the language of the faculty and of all graduate courses and activities. Students who study in our programs will benefit from this conviction on a daily basis. Graduate students also benefit from personal contact with a faculty dedicated to them. Teaching and student-centered research are the Spanish faculty's highest priorities. Courses developed and offered take into account both the needs and the preferences of students. Constant academic discourse, exchange of knowledge and development of skills are greatly enhanced within this student-centered environment.