General Information

Admission to the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Spanish is a competitive process based on a comparative evaluation of all applications received; applicants should meet the following minimum requirements for admission:

Applicants to the M.A. program must have completed the equivalent of an under­graduate Spanish major with at least a 3.00 grade point average in courses for the major.  An undergraduate within no more than four semester hours (s.h.) of graduation may be admitted to the Graduate School provided all undergraduate requirements are completed during the first semester of graduate studies.  Applicants to the Ph.D. program must have completed the equivalent of an M.A. in Spanish with at least a 3.50 grade point average.

The Graduate College administers most of the advanced degree programs available at Iowa. Admission to the college requires a score of 550 or higher on the paper-based (PBT) version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), a score of 213 or higher on the computer-based test (CBT), or a score of 81 on the Internet-based test (IBT). Newly admitted graduate students who present TOEFL scores below 600 on the PBT (or below 250 on CBT, or below 100 on the IBT) are required to complete an English Proficiency Evaluation on campus before their first registration for classes.

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese only accepts the results of the Internet-based test and requires a minimum score of 100.

Some departments may require students to complete an English Proficiency Evaluation, regardless of their TOEFL score. Students are required to complete any English as a Second Language course work (typically within the first year of study) specified as a result of the English Proficiency Evaluation.

There is no conditional admission for graduate students whose TOEFL scores are below 550 on the PBT (or below 213 on the CBT, or below 81 on the IBT).

The TOEFL is given worldwide throughout the year. There is a fee for the examination and payment must accompany your order or it will be returned to you. The University's TOEFL school code is 6681.

The Graduate College is now accepting an alternative to the TOEFL. It's the International English Language Testing Service exam, or IELTS. The IELTS is run out of the UK and is offered in over a hundred foreign countries. It covers the same four basic skill sets as the TOEFL (speaking, listening, reading, writing) and is graded on a scale of 1-9. The University of Iowa is accepting the IETLS on a provisionary basis for 2007 graduate admissions. A minimum aggregate score of 7 is required with no one skill set exam being below 6.

Nevertheless, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese only accepts the results of the Internet-based test and requires a minimum score of 100.

The application procedure for both the M.A. and the Ph.D. program requires the submission of (1) the University of Iowa Graduate College application form, (2) three letters of recommendation from faculty members familiar with the student's record, (3) a one- to two-page clearly articulated statement of purpose, and (4) the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).  In addition, applicants to the M.A. program must also submit a paper which shows ability to do linguistic or literary analysis.  If this paper is written in English, then an additional writing sample in Spanish must also be submitted.  Applicants to the Ph.D. program must submit three research papers which demonstrate achieved excellence in literary or linguistic analysis and argumentation.  At least one of these papers must be in Spanish.

Initial review of graduate applications will begin the second week of December and continue on an on-going basis thereafter as completed applications are received.  Applicants for Spring admission will receive lower priority for financial aid in their first semester of enrollment.


The advising relationship between student and faculty advisor is an integral part of graduate education.  Each graduate student in the program is initially advised by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). In their second semester in the program, graduate students meet with either the DGS or their chosen and approved advisor before April 10th to ensure that they receive support in programming their third-semester course-work. New graduate students will not be required to have a full committee meeting in their first year in the program. Instead, committees for first-year students should be constituted no later than early in their third semester with a meeting to be held to verify the student’s preparedness for graduate exams. Linguistics students should be co-advised from their first semester by a professor from the linguistics section. In addition, each student may consult at any time with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Students meet with their faculty advisor for continued course and exam planning. A student may request a change of advisor at any time by writing to the DGS. The DGS will forward the request to the DEO (department chair) with his or her recommendation. If the request is granted, the assignment of the new advisor will again be made in accordance with the student’s areas of interest and the faculty member’s areas of research expertise.  At all times the selection of an appropriate advisor should be guided by academic concerns and reflect the student's chosen areas of focus.

Once selected by the student, the faculty advisor will propose an advisory committee for each student, consisting of four departmental faculty for M.A. advisory committees and five departmental faculty for Ph.D. advisory committees (or four departmental faculty and one faculty from a related department such as the Department of Linguistics or the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature).  It is the responsibility of the DGS to officially contact the relevant faculty members and to inquire as to their willingness to participate.  The student, of course, retains the right to meet with potential advisory committee members individually.   The advisor submits the proposed committee for approval by the graduate program director and the DEO.  As part of the approval process, there will be consultation between these individuals and the advisor.  A form for proposal of graduate committees is available from the departmental graduate secretary.

Advisors and advisory committees assess students' academic interests and needs and help students devise a coherent plan of graduate study.  The plan of study includes the selection of coursework as well as planning the areas for the M.A. or Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations.  Graduate students meet formally with their advisors and advisory committees at least once per year. Normally, such meetings occur between October 15 and February 15.  The purposes of the annual advisory committee meetings are (1) to assess the progress the student has made toward his or her degree objective and (2) to counsel the student on course selection, exam preparation, and other academic matters.  At this meeting, the plan of study form (available from the departmental graduate secretary) is updated and a copy is placed in the student's file.  Copies may also be given to the student and to the members of the advisory committee.

The departmental faculty meets in late February to evaluate the academic standing of all departmental graduate students.


Maximum registration is 15 graduate s.h. for Fall or Spring and 8 graduate hours for Summer.  Teaching assistants appointed for one-quarter or one-third time are permitted to register for the maximum 15 s.h. per semester and 8 s.h. during Summer.  Half-time assistants may register for not more than 12 s.h. in the regular semester or 6 s.h. in Summer.  Additional hours require approval of the Graduate College.

A normal full time course-load for graduate students who hold a 50% teaching assistantship is three graduate courses a semester.  Students who fail to register for a period of 36 months or more must apply for readmission to the Graduate College.  Please consult the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College for residence requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.

Financial Aid for M.A. and Ph.D. Candidates

Teaching and research assistantships are available to qualified graduate students. Students who maintain good academic standing may normally expect two years of support while completing the M.A. degree and four years of post-M.A. support while pursuing the Ph.D. Further support requires recommendation from the student's advisory or dissertation committee and approval by the Financial Aid Committee. Six years (post M.A.) is the maximum duration of allowable support for Ph.D. candidates. Please refer to the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Manual for Teaching Assistants. Students who wish to be considered for financial support should apply directly to the department office.

Graduate students in the Department are also eligible for a variety of funding opportunities from the Graduate College, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Opportunity at Iowa, the Graduate Student Senate, and other units in the University. Examples of such opportunities are the Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowships, the Graduate Opportunity Fellowships, the UI Fellowships, departmental research assistantships, CIC fellowships, and NEH pre-doctoral fellowships.

Academic Activities and Resources

Graduate students are strongly encouraged to participate in the variety of academic activities available at the University of Iowa, both at the departmental level and outside the department.  The Department of Spanish and Portuguese sponsors departmental colloquia in which both members of the department and invited speakers give presentations on their research or creative work.  Related departments, such as the Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature,  the Department of French and Italian, and the Department of Linguistics, also sponsor regularly scheduled colloquia and guest speakers.  The Department of Spanish and Portuguese also sponsors or co-sponsors screenings of Latin American films and participates in colloquia and events organized by International Programs. The Department also participates in invited lectures and workshops sponsored by the Foreign Language Acquisition Research and Education Program (FLARE).  A variety of academic activities is also sponsored by the Sociedad Hispánica, an association formed by the graduate students in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and funded by the Graduate Student Senate.

Students are also encouraged to familiarize themselves with the wide range of resources available on campus.  The catalog (Infohawk) of the Main Library is available on-line, as is accessibility to other databases such as the Modern Language Association Bibliography.  In the Main Library, specialized help on locating resources related to Spanish and Portuguese can be obtained from Marsha Forys, a reference librarian with graduate training in Spanish.  The Language Media Center in 120 Phillips Hall provides a broad range of services and facilities, and has an extensive collection of media resources in Spanish and Portuguese on audio tape, videotape, and videodisk.

Computing Services and Student Funds

The Computing Center, located in the Lindquist Center, offers a wide variety of academic computing services. Available facilities include hundreds of computers, terminals and printers in several Instructional Technology Centers (ITCs) on campus, many open in the evening.

Student Services and Student Organizations

1. SPONSORED PROGRAMS: Located in 6 Gilmore Hall (lower level), the Division of Sponsored Programs maintains a repository of information on federal and nonfederal sources of funding for study and research projects by faculty, staff and graduate students.  The division searches out potential support, helps faculty, staff and students take advantage of funding opportunities, and matches proposed projects with potentially interested funding agencies.  Its staff members specialize in major discipline areas.  Of particular interest to graduate students is the volume Graduate Student Awards, which lists (limited) sources of research support funding.

2. CONFERENCE SUPPORT: This Department may provide up to $100 to defray travel expenses for up to four of our graduate students per year who read papers or make similar academic presentations at regional or national scholarly conferences, when funds are available. Application for this small but symbolic assistance is by writing a letter to the Department chair, specifying the event (name, location, dates) and the nature of one's active participation.

3. STUDENT HEALTH SERVICE is located in the Steindler Building on the University health center campus. All students registered at the University, except those registered in off-campus courses, are eligible for outpatient care at the Student Health Clinic. Visits are free, but charges are made for laboratory procedures, X-rays, accident examinations, minor surgery, and some special procedures. A University-sponsored group insurance is available for students in individual or family plans. This insurance policy must be obtained prior to or during the registration period and is available through the Business Office in Jessup Hall.

4. UNIVERSITY COUNSELING SERVICE maintains a staff of professional psychologists, social workers, and advanced doctoral students offering learning disability assessment and career and personal counseling and therapy in individual, couple, or group sessions. UCS also offers programs, workshops, and consultation activities. Most of its services are available to students without cost, but there is a minimal fee for psychological testing.

5. WOMEN'S RESOURCE AND ACTION CENTER provides services to meet educational, cultural, social, and personal needs of University and community women. WRAC provides a resource for many women's organizations; sponsors a Brown Bag luncheon program; offers evening and weekend workshops, lectures, films and classes; provides a wide variety of support and discussion groups for women; offers one-to-one problem-solving sessions for women; and publishes a newsletter nine times a year. WRAC maintains an information and referral system, a speakers bureau, and an active volunteer program.

6. GRADUATE STUDENT SENATE is the graduate student representative organization. Representatives are elected annually from each University department that has a graduate degree program. The senate's primary purpose is to serve the interests of the graduate student body in matters affecting its welfare. The senate advises the dean of the Graduate College on matters pertaining to the college.

7. CULTURAL CENTERS  (The Afro-American Cultural Center, The Chicano/Indian American Cultural Center, The Asian Pacific American Cultural Center, and the International Center).

The Cultural Centers provide a permanent setting where students from various cultures can be nurtured and enhanced on The University of Iowa campus. The centers have become the focal point of cultural enrichment and diversity, academic development, and personal growth. They also create an atmosphere that allows students, faculty, and staff to interact with the Iowa City community in order to establish cultural ties and exchange knowledge.

The major purpose of the Cultural Centers is to meet the needs of students through a variety of programs and services. In conjunction with the Office of Student Life, they offer students a wide array of cultural, academic, and personal support services to facilitate their growth, success, and adjustment to the University. These programs and services include: liaison with community organizations and services; conferences, workshops, forums, and discussion groups; private rooms for confidential consultations, study, and meetings; typewriters and computers for public use; library and other resource materials; newsletter; employment listings; film series, TV lounge, and games; party and social areas; fully-equipped kitchen facilities; wheelchair accessibility.

There are a variety of cultural celebrations and programs sponsored by the centers. In addition, when students make their needs and interest known, staff develop and implement new programs. Students also have an opportunity to develop leadership skills through participation with program planning and evaluation committees.

The International Center serves members of the University community who have international interests. Its facilities and programs are designed to encourage interaction among people of all cultures.

Online Application

Download Application