PhD Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Cultures Concentration

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese offers a Ph.D. in Spanish with a concentration Luso-Brazilian and Hispanic American Cultural and Literary Studies.

This PhD concentration consists of 9 units in Luso-Brazilian studies and 9 units in Hispanic American studies, in addition to 6 units in each of two distinct secondary areas, and 18 units of electives.  Students majoring in Luso-Brazilian and Hispanic American Cultural and Literary Studies will write a dissertation which includes at least one author, genre or literary period from Brazil, and at least one from Hispanic America.

A fully staffed faculty in Portuguese and Spanish, in addition to an already established graduate curriculum, provide the students with a broad and solid comparative perspective of the literary and cultural production in Latin America.

This track responds to the current job market's need for Latin Americanists able to teach Portuguese and Brazilian literature in addition to Spanish and Hispanic-American literature.

Lusophone Research

Faculty in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese carries out research in literature, cultural studies, and linguistics.  

Professor Kátia Bezerra‘s current research focuses on the cultural production by marginalized groups in the Lusophone world in order to analyze how they develop new ways of thinking and conceptualizing the city, producing new cartographies. 

Professor Ana M. Carvalho works with issues related to Portuguese and Spanish Linguistics. Her research interests include language variation and change, bilingualism, and language contact, with an emphasis on the contact between Portuguese and Spanish.  

Professor Melissa A. Fitch's scholarship has been focused on forging a new path of inquiry within Latin American cultural studies that situates the region within its global context. An increasingly important dimension of this research assesses the role that digital technologies have played in changing the ways in which Latin American culture, including Brazilian, is understood around the world.  

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is involved in numerous publication endeavors in fields relating to Luso-Brazilian and Hispanic American literary studies including The Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies and Studies in Latin American Popular Culture.  

The Department has also hosted the Symposium on Portuguese for Spanish Speakers, and maintains a large and solid Portuguese Language Program. In addition, the Brazil Study Group, an interdisciplinary group of several scholars doing research in Brazil from numerous perspectives, sponsors guest-speakers, workshops, and several other academic activities related to Brazil.  

The Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona is a Title VI National Resource Center, which allows funding for Foreign Language Area Scholarships (FLAS). The FLAS fellowships support eight graduate students from across the University of Arizona to study Portuguese and Latin America during the academic year and at least six students for Portuguese and Indigenous language studies for summer fellowships.   


The applicant must hold, or anticipate completing by the time of admission, an M.A. degree from an accredited U.S. college or university or the equivalent degree from a university outside the U.S., have a minimum grade point average of 3.4 on a 4-point scale in the M.A. in Spanish, and meet the general requirements of the Graduate College.

Procedure for consideration

External M.A. candidates

See Application Checklist

Internal M.A. candidates

For admission to the Ph.D. program all internal M.A. candidates who wish to continue for the Ph.D. at the University of Arizona will be considered by the Graduate Studies Committee to ensure equitable treatment for all students. In their deliberations, the Graduate Studies Committee will give strong consideration to the report of the student's M.A examination committee, which specifically addresses the student's potential as a Ph.D. candidate. The Graduate Studies Committee will also consider the student's academic record (GPA, course work) and any pertinent information from the student's file. The student must also provide the following:

  • Three letters of reference, at least one of which must be from a professor who did not serve on the student's M.A. examination committee
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Statement of purpose written in Spanish by the student
  • A Writing Sample in Spanish
  • Graduate College Online Application

This procedure will ensure that each student will be considered fully and fairly. Admittance into the program will not be solely dependent upon performance on an isolated examination. In addition, this process closely parallels that followed by all other incoming Ph.D. candidates. (approved by unanimous vote of the faculty 5/4/95)


Upon entering the Ph.D. program, the student establishes his/her degree study program in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.  The student must complete the following:

  • (1) A diagnostic qualifying oral interview during the first semester of study.
  • (2) 51 graduate units of course work (up to 15 units of course work may be transferred from the M.A.).  A minimum of six units must be 600-level seminars.
  • (3) Present reading knowledge of one foreign language, other than English or Spanish, appropriate to the field of specialization (see page 13 for detailed information regarding the foreign language requirement).
  • (4) Pass a comprehensive examination, partly written and partly oral, which will include primary and secondary areas within the declared major field of study.
  • (5) Complete 18 doctoral dissertation units, write and defend a dissertation.

In addition, all Graduate Associates Appointments (GAs) in Spanish and Portuguese are required to complete a language teaching methodology course (SPAN-581A) before or during their first semester of classroom teaching.  This course counts as one of the student’s electives for the Ph.D.

Qualifying Oral Interview

During the first semester of studies at the University of Arizona all incoming external Ph.D. students participate in the diagnostic oral qualifying interview. Each student, working in collaboration with the Director of Graduate Studies, propose two topics that represent knowledge in the relevant major and that reflect the student’s academic preparation from the M.A. In addition, the student will submit a writing sample (that is, a Masters-level term paper written in Spanish) to the Director of Graduate Studies no later than three weeks prior to the date of the Qualifying Oral Interview. The writing sample will be read by the members of the Qualifying Oral Interview and will be discussed with the student during the interview. The interview lasts a minimum of one hour and a maximum of two hours. The interview starts with a brief fifteen-minute presentation by the student on the two chosen topics. During the interview, the committee, established by the Graduate Studies Committee, will question the student on these topics. The purpose of this interview is to assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses so that s/he can be effectively mentored.

Ph.D. Coursework

In consultation with and the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, the student selects one primary field of study from the following areas:

  • (1) Medieval, Renaissance, and Golden Age Spanish literatures and cultures
  • (2) Eighteenth through twenty-first century Spanish literatures and cultures
  • (3) Spanish American literature and cultures from the Pre-Columbian period to Independence
  • (4) Nineteenth through twenty-first century Spanish American literatures and cultures
  • (5) Border Studies
  • (6) Luso-Brazilian and Hispanic literatures and cultures
  • (7) Language Structure 1
  • (8) Language Use 1

In addition to the primary field, the student selects two secondary areas of study from the following:

  • (1) Thirteenth-century through eighteenth-century Spanish literatures and cultures
  • (2) Nineteenth through twenty-first century Spanish literatures and cultures
  • (3) Pre-Columbian through eighteenth-century Spanish American literature and cultures
  • (4) Nineteenth through twenty-first century Spanish American literature and cultures
  • (5) Mexican and Mexican American literature and cultures
  • (6) Luso-Brazilian literatures and cultures
  • (7) Literary and cultural theories
  • (8) Language Structure 2
  • (9) Language Use 2

At least 18 units must be taken in the primary field of study and 6 units in each of the two secondary areas of study. The remaining 18 units are electives. 

If the student elects his/her area in one of the Spanish Peninsular Primary Areas, at least one of the secondary areas must be in Latin American literatures and cultures and vice versa. Similarly, in Hispanic Linguistics, if the student elects his/her Primary Area in Language Structure, at least one of the secondary areas must be Language Use and vice versa.

Foreign Language Requirement

In addition to the above requirements, all students entering the Ph.D. in Hispanic Literature program  are required to pass a proficiency exam in a language other than English or Spanish prior to taking their comprehensive exams.

It is a necessary academic requirement that all Ph.D. candidates in Spanish demonstrate "reading knowledge" of a natural language other than Spanish and English, preferably a Romance language (otherwise, a language that has a direct bearing on the candidate's research and/or studies). The level of proficiency expected is that of passing an advanced 300-level grammar and writing course with a grade of B or higher.

The candidate must meet this language requirement BEFORE--and as a condition towards--taking the written Comprehensive Exams.

The foreign language requirement may be met in one of the following ways:

  • For students who complete the requirement at the University of Arizona: Successful completion of course work to the advanced level in a language other than English or Spanish, with an average grade of B or higher. The course work must include a 300-level intermediate/advanced grammar course taught and examined in the target language (typically xxxx-325 or 305, depending on the department).*
  • For students with course work in a language other than English or Spanish from an accredited institution: The student will meet with the Graduate Advisor to determine whether or not the course work satisfies the foreign language requirement. The Graduate Advisor may require, at his/her discretion, that the student takes additional course work and/or pass a proficiency exam in the language of choice. The format and content of the exam will be determined in conjunction with the Graduate Advisor and a qualified instructor of the chosen language.
  • Students who are native speakers of a language other than English and Spanish may have this requirement waived with the approval of the Graduate Advisor.

*Note: Students without any formal instruction in a language other than English or Spanish may complete the foreign language requirement in two semesters if they choose to study Portuguese. In this case, the student must complete the following courses with an average grade of B or higher:

  • PORT 305: Portuguese for Spanish Speakers
  • PORT 325: Intermediate Grammar and Conversation
  • PORT 305 and PORT-325 reflect the minimum course work required to complete the foreign language requirement. An exam or term paper may NOT be used in lieu of one of these courses. However, the student may substitute a 400- or 500-level Portuguese course for PORT-325 with the permission of the Portuguese faculty and the Graduate Advisor.


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