Saint Louis University

Requirements for an M.A. in Spanish

Our MA program seeks to give the student a generalist foundation in the areas of Spanish Peninsular and Latin American literature as well as in the areas of applied linguistics and teaching. Students are therefore encouraged to take a balanced number of courses in all areas in addition to their required courses. Students should regularly consult with the Graduate Program Coordinator to ensure that they are making good progress towards graduation. Students are also encouraged to discuss classes and other academic matters with their assigned mentor.

To earn the MA degree, a student must take a total of 10 three-credit courses, present at the spring Student Symposium and pass the written exams and the final oral exam.


Courses requirements

A total of 10 three-credit courses are required for graduation. Click here for a list of our graduate courses. A maximum of six credits of course work may be approved for transfer toward fulfillment of degree requirements. (See regulations for transfer of credit).

Students beginning the MA program in Fall 2011 or later are required to take at least

A) Two courses in Peninsular Spanish Studies,
B) Two courses in Latin American Studies and
C) Two courses in Teaching or Linguistics/Applied Linguistics.

Students who started the MA program before Fall 2011 may choose instead to fulfill course requirements by taking two of the following four options:

1) SPAN 5040 Methods and Technology for the Teaching of Spanish

  • or SPAN 5930  Spanish Phonology and Its Place in the Spanish Classroom
  • or SPAN 5930/5080  Learning Texts: Tradition, Authenticity and Virtuality

2) SPAN 5180 Contemporary Spanish Culture and Civilization

3) SPAN 5190 Contemporary Latin-American Culture and Civilization

  • or SPAN 5380 Cultural Stereotypes: Latin America
  • or SPAN 5930 Las Tres Hispanidades

4) SPAN 5200 Introduction to Literary Criticism

Written Examinations

General Written Examination: These examinations cover the material on the general MA reading list. This is a four-hour exam in which the student must answer 1) one of three questions posed about Peninsular Spanish Studies, 2) one of three questions about Latin American Studies, and 3) one of three questions about teaching or linguistics/applied linguistics (The rules are slightly different for students admitted before Spring 2010. Please consult with your mentor and the Graduate Program Coordinator about these policies.)

Written Examination on Area of Specialty: Typically on the day following the general written exam, a three-hour block of time is scheduled for the student to answer two of the four questions posed to him or her by the examination committee. These questions are based on the reading list for the chosen area of specialty.

Grading: The questions are decided upon and evaluated by the three faculty members appointed by the Graduate Program Coordinator in consultation with the student. Use this form when establishing the committee.

After the student has completed the written exam, the committee members will read the student’s work, and complete an evaluation form. In addition to commenting on his or her view of the examination, each committee member will assign one of three grades: Excellent, Pass, or Fail. The student must have two passing votes in order to be eligible to take the MA Orals and receive the M.A. degree.

Please refer to the MA retake policy document for all questions on regulations about retaking the MA Written and Oral exams.

Starting in Fall, 2011, students are not allowed to bring any books with them to the exams.


  • Fall 2017 written exams: Thursday, November 9th and Friday, November 10th
  • Spring 2018 written exams: Thursday, March 29th and Friday, March 30th

Research Paper

Most students fulfill the written examination requirement by taking the written exams described above. However, under special circumstances, a student may pursue the option of a research paper instead. This requires the permission of the Graduate Program Coordinator and the support of a committee. The committee consists of three graduate faculty members (a chair and two readers) chosen by the student in consultation with the Graduate Program Coordinator. The subject matter is chosen by the student and must be approved by all of the committee members. The research paper should be between 30 and 40 pages in length. Two out of three votes are necessary for approval of the research paper. 

See research paper procedures.

Students using human subjects as part of their research will need to obtain permission from the Institutional Review Board.


Oral Examination

All students must pass the oral examination in order to receive the Master’s degree. The subject matter of the oral examination is the courses that the student has taken. An evaluation committee is composed of three members of the faculty, appointed by the Graduate Program Coordinator in consultation with the student. These members may or may not be those chosen for the written examinations.

This document explains the expectations for the oral exams.

The oral exam is one hour long or may last as long as necessary in order for the committee members to fully evaluate the student to his or her satisfaction. After the student has completed the oral exam, the committee members will evaluate the student’s performance immediately. The student must receive two passing votes in the oral examination in order to receive the MA degree.

The oral examination will not be scheduled until the student presents an acceptable written examination or research paper.


  • To be announced 

Please refer to the MA retake policy document for all questions on regulations about retaking the MA written and oral exams.


Other Graduate Education Regulations

  • Maintaining good standing in the program
    • A graduate student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 to remain in good standing with Graduate Education. Otherwise, the student will receive an academic warning and will be put on probation.
    • No more than one course with a grade of a C or C+ can count towards the student's MA. Courses with grades lower than this cannot be counted toward the fulfillment of degree requirements.
    • To be eligible for a Teaching Assistantship or a Research Assistantship, a student must maintain a GPA of 3.0 minimum.
    • If a student does not plan to enroll for a (fall or spring) semester during his/her graduate work, he/she must enroll for 0 credits in SPAN 5CR-90 (“continuous enrollment”) to avoid any penalties from Graduate Education and to continue to have access to university facilities such as the library. The penalty for failing to enroll when not taking classes is $100. Students may only enroll in SPAN 5CR-90 twice.
  • Graduation
    • Students who have completed coursework and are preparing for their exams must register for the zero-credit SPAN 595, Special Study for Exams, in order to remain in good standing with Graduate Education. Students may not enroll in this course more than twice.
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