M.A. in Spanish (Information for Applicants)

The Master of Arts in Spanish at San Francisco State University offers students a challenging and enriching experience in the study of Spanish and Latin American literature and culture in one of the most fascinating cities of the world. San Francisco has a rich Hispanic heritage and a vibrant culture. At San Francisco State you will study literature and culture from the Middle Ages to the present and receive training in academic writing, and in literary research methodologies and cultural theory. Over the course of their graduate studies in Spanish, students acquire in-depth knowledge of Spanish-speaking countries and their cultures and challenges, along with the critical skills for academic analysis. Our objective is to inspire our students to develop their knowledge in specialized fields of the Spanish speaking cultures in order to educate responsible, creative and competent citizens of a global and connected world.
It generally takes two years to complete all the requirements for the M.A. program in Spanish, but it may take more time, according to other personal conditions. A maximum of seven years is allowed.


Admission to the Program

Admission to the MA Program in Spanish is a two-part part process. First, the prospective student must apply for admission to the university through the Graduate Division. Meanwhile, the applicant must also send two letters of recommendation, statements of purpose and a writing sample directly to the Spanish Graduate Coordinator.
In addition to the requirements established by the University and the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, a student must also meet the following admission requirements established by the Spanish M.A. Program:
  1. All applicants are expected to have the equivalent of a B.A. in Spanish, that is, 30 units of upper-division work in Spanish, with a GPA of 3.0 or better. If the student has not met this requirement, he or she may, at the discretion of the Program, be admitted as a “conditionally classified” graduate student. Students thus admitted must satisfactorily complete a number of specified courses before they become fully classified. These courses are not included in the 30 units required for the Masters.
  2. Applicants must arrange for two letters of recommendation to be sent to the program. 
  3. Applicants must demonstrate to the Spanish faculty a record of prior scholastic achievement indicative of potential success as a graduate student.  This means that applicants must submit a brief writing sample (essay) in Spanish or English which shows the scope of the applicant’s critical preparation and analytical ability. Ideally this will be a paper written in an undergraduate class, from 1,000 to 1,200 words in length.
  4. Applicants must also submit two copies of a brief statement of purpose (500 words), one written in English, the other in Spanish.
  5. Applicants are responsible for meeting appropriate deadlines.  Materials sent directly to the Spanish Graduate Coordinator must be postmarked by May 1 to be considered for Fall admission, or by October 1, to be considered for Spring admission.



The MA in Spanish consists of 30 units of coursework, and is completed through comprehensive exams or a thesis. Of those 30 units, a minimum of 21 must be from graduate-level (700-800 level) courses. The Program allows a maximum of 9 units from upper-division courses. Up to six units from a related field may be counted toward the degree.

  • Graduate courses (700-800 level): 21 units, minimum (of which at least 15 should be courses in Spanish). 
  • Upper division: 9 units, maximum.
  • At least 8 courses (24 units) must be taken within the program (allowing for up to 6 units from a related field to count toward the degree). Any courses taken outside the Spanish Program must have prior approval of the Graduate Advisor.


Culminating Experience

The student of the Master of Arts in Spanish has two options in order to complete the culminating experience.

  1.  OPTION A is to take the Spanish comprehensive written and oral examinations. The student should contact the graduate advisor in order to arrange for a screening interview the semester before he or she plans to take the exams. By the time of the screening interview, the student should have read all of the books on the reading list. The screening committee assesses the candidate’s preparation and advises her or him on any areas of study that need more attention, especially before the examinations. Candidates will NOT be screened until they have satisfied the English proficiency requirement.
    The student is admitted to the oral examination upon passing the written examination. The exam consists of 5 questions on Spanish and Latin American literary topics. The grading scale ranges from 0-5 points. Students must receive a minimum of 2 points on each question and must receive at least 15 total points to pass the exam. Both examinations may be attempted a maximum of two times.
  2. OPTION B is to write and defend a thesis in Spanish. The master’s thesis is a carefully argued scholarly paper of approximately 12,000 words (roughly 50 pages). It should present an original argument that is carefully documented from primary and secondary sources. The thesis must have a substantial research component and must be written under the guidance of an advisor from the Spanish program. The thesis committee is comprised of three faculty members, at least two of whom must be members of the Spanish faculty. The third advisor may be from another department, but he or she has to be able to read and understand Spanish. The student should contact the three advisors the semester before he or she plans to write the thesis. At the time of the screening interview the student should present a three-page proposal, an exhaustive bibliography (around 30 books and journal articles), and a brief outline. During the screening interview the student must convince the future advisors of the value and interest of their project. Candidates will NOT be screened until they have satisfied the English proficiency (GET) requirement.
    Please see the Manual for Formatting and Submitting a Master’s Thesis: https://grad.sfsu.edu/sites/default/files/assets/forms/thesis-dissertati...