Graduate Program Information


The Ph.D. program in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese explores the dynamic fields of Latin American, Luso-Brazilian, Latinx, and Iberian studies in all their rich and diverse linguistic, literary, and cultural traditions, and adopting multiple intellectual approaches. The Ph.D. program encourages students to engage with related disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including African American Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Film and Media Studies, History of Art, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, and Early Modern Studies (formerly Renaissance Studies), as well as emerging multidisciplinary fields such as Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Digital Humanities.

The department participates in a combined Ph.D. program in Spanish and Portuguese and African American Studies offered in conjunction with the Department of African American Studies and a combined Ph.D. program in Spanish and Portuguese and Early Modern (formerly Renaissance) Studies offered in conjunction with the Early Modern Studies Program. Ph.D. students are also encouraged to obtain certificates from programs and areas complementary to their teaching and research interests; at Yale, such certificates exist in connection with the programs in Film and Media Studies; Public Humanities; Translation Studies; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

The program is typically five or six years long. The first two years are devoted to course work and the fulfillment of the two language requirements; the third year, to the Qualifying Examination and the preparation of the Dissertation Prospectus; the fourth and fifth (or fourth through sixth) years, to the writing of the dissertation. The student participates in the Teaching and Pedagogy Program during years two through four, taking the required course in modern languages pedagogy in the second year, and teaching one course per semester in the department’s basic language sequence during the third and fourth years. Assisting in literature courses is offered as available. No teaching is done during the two years of course work or during the dissertation fellowship year.

All Ph.D. candidates at Yale can receive six years of full funding. This consists of a 12-month stipend in each of years one and two, during which students complete their course work, a 12-month stipend in each of years three and four, during which students are expected to assist in teaching in one course each semester, and a 12-month stipend during the year (usually year five) in which students take the dissertation completion fellowship. With progress on the dissertation confirmed, Yale guarantees again a 12-month stipend in the sixth year typically through teaching assignments. The University also covers the premiums for basic health care and hospitalization at the University Health Service for students, 50% of that premium for spouses, and 100% for families with children during the entire period in which a student is registered, even if registration is extended beyond the five years of the financial aid package.

Program Requirements 

The following requirements apply to students entering Fall 2021 or later. Students who entered Fall 2020 or earlier can find the previous requirements here.

1. Course work consists of fourteen elective seminars (up to four outside the department); four of the fourteen seminars as auditor (no exam or paper required), inside or outside the department; and a required course, SPAN 790, Methodologies of Modern Language Teaching.

2. Two language requirements: proficiency in two languages other than English and the primary study language (either Spanish or Portuguese); these languages could be other Romance languages, Latin, or other language families pertinent to the research interests of each student.

3. Participation in the Teaching and Pedagogy program.

4. Qualifying Examination, consisting of written and oral components.

5. Dissertation Prospectus, prepared in consultation with the student’s adviser and approved by the faculty.

6. Doctoral Dissertation, prepared in close consultation with the adviser, approved by the faculty and Graduate School, and completed during the fifth or sixth year of study.

Special Admissions Requirements

Thorough command of the language in which the student plans to specialize and a background in its literature, as well as command of at least one of the two additional languages in which the student will need to fulfill requirements, are required.

Application must include a personal statement and an academic writing sample in the language of the proposed specialization, not to exceed twenty-five pages in length. GRE scores are not accepted.

Students whose native language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

For more information on the application process, please consult the website of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences:

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Graduate Student Handbook