M.A. in Spanish (Advancement to Candidacy)

University Requirements

  1. All graduate students at San Francisco State University must demonstrate proficiency in written English. (See #6 below under Department and Program Requirements).
  2. Graduate students must maintain at least a "B" average (i.e., 3.0) in all courses taken.
  3. No more than six units from other institutions may be transferred to graduate programs at San Francisco State University. Any units transferred must be approved by both the Graduate Division and the Spanish graduate adviser. Please see the University Bulletin, page 142 (if you follow the link, scroll down to “Transfer Credit From Other Institutions”).
  4. Degrees must be undertaken and completed within seven years (see University Bulletin page 144).
(For further requirements, please read the section, “Master's Degree Program Requirements” in the University Bulletin. Students are responsible for meeting all deadlines and requirements specified in the University Bulletin.)

Departmental and Program Requirements

  1. Students pursuing a Masters in Spanish must complete 30 units of graduate studies. At least 21 of these units must be at the graduate level, that is, courses numbered 700 through 899. Up to 9 units of upper-division courses numbered 500 through 699 may be applied toward the Masters provided none has been applied previously towards a B.A. degree.
  2. At least 24 units must be taken in residence at the SFSU campus.
  3. The candidate may elect to take 24 units of course work in Spanish and six units in a related field. The related field courses must have the prior approval of the graduate coordinator.
  4. When taking upper division classes, the student is responsible for informing the instructor that he or she is a graduate student. Graduate students in such classes can expect to meet higher standards than those imposed on undergraduates.
  5. The student should meet with the graduate coordinator (Professor Gustavo Calderón) every semester.
  6. The University requires all graduate students to demonstrate two levels of English proficiency. Level 1 proficiency must be met prior to admittance to the University. To meet this requirement, students submit to the Spanish Program a statement of purpose, written in English, as part of the application process. This statement must be between 500-700 words in length and should demonstrate clarity of expression, good reasoning, and solid structure. Level 2 English proficiency is met by passing MLL 701 Academic Writing and Research Methodology. This course should be taken during the student’s first year in the program. Students are required to pass the Level 2 English requirement before advancing to the screening interview (see 9, below).
  7. The student must submit an Advancement to Candicacy form (ATC) when he or she has no fewer than six units left to complete for the degree. It is the responsibility of the student to file the ATC on time.
  8. Following the successful completion of these 30 units, all students must pass comprehensive written and oral examinations (see below). A thesis is not required for the M.A. in Spanish.
  9. Before taking the written and oral exams, every Spanish graduate student must have a Screening Interview (fogueo) with a committee of Spanish faculty. Screening interviews take place twice a year, during the Fall and Spring semesters.
  10. Please see Exam Policy page for detailed information about fogueos and exams.


Visit the current University Bulletin for complete course descriptions and class schedule.


Checklist for completing the graduate program

  1. See the graduate advisor to discuss the course of study upon entering the program. All new graduate students should meet with the graduate advisor upon beginning the MA program at SFSU, or before entering the program. The MA degree requires 30 units of postgraduate coursework.  Up to 9 of those units may be upper division courses (500-level and above), but at least 21 of those units must be seminars.  With careful planning you should be able to complete all of your necessary coursework within two years (four semesters).
  2. Graduates are admitted to the program as “classified” or “conditional” students.  If you have been conditionally admitted to the program, you need to discuss with the graduate advisor the classes you will need to take to advance to “classified” status.  Depending on your preparation, you may end up taking 15 units of conditional work in addition to the 30 units you need for your degree.  You will advance to classified status when you have completed the conditional coursework.  Conditional coursework may not be used to meet degree requirements.  In other words, conditional coursework does not count toward the 30 units you need to complete the MA.
  3. File the ATC (Advancement to Candicacy form) with the graduate advisor/department chair. The ATC should show at least 6 units yet to be completed for the degree (file it before the semester in which you plan to graduate). The ATC form and more information about filing the ATC is available online.
  4. Complete the Culminating Experience requirement. The culminating experience for our program consists of a series of comprehensive written and oral exams covering Spanish Peninsular and Latin American. The oral exam is given one week after the written exams.

Procedures for completing the Culminating Experience requirement:

  1. Six months before taking the exams, students must have a pre-qualifying oral interview, called a fogueo.  This interview helps you assess your preparation.  If necessary, the fogueo committee will advise you to delay taking your exams until you are ready. 
  2. After the fogueo the candidate can request a copy of the questions for the written exams.  Exam questions will be drawn from the list given to the candidate. The candidate will have six months to prepare for the comprehensive exams.
  3. Comprehensive written exams are given twice annually over a two-day period, generally at the end of November/April or the first week of May/December.  The exam is given over two days and takes a total of five hours: three hours the first day and two hours the next. Students who pass the written exams will sit for their oral exam the next week. The oral exam takes one hour. 
  4. Receive the Graduate Coordinator's signature on "Report of Completion of Specified Graduate Program Requirements" and file it with the Foreign Language Department Office (which submits the report to the Graduate Studies). 

Submitting an Application for Graduation

  • Submit an "Application for Graduation" form. Information about where, when, and how to submit this form can be found at the Graduate Studies website. Submit the "Application for Graduation" form to the Graduate Division typically before the third week of instruction of the term you expect to graduate. Check for the deadline in the Class Schedule.  Submission of this form is the responsibility of the student; without it you cannot receive your diploma.


The M.A. Comprehensive Examinations

Before taking the M.A. examinations students must first satisfy each of the following requirements:

  1. Successful completion of all required units and courses,
  2. Fulfillment of both levels of the written English requirement, and
  3. Have a screening interview (fogueo).


The Master of Arts examinations are given twice a year, in the fall and spring semesters. (See the graduate adviser for specific dates.) The exam has a written and an oral element, both of which are taken in the same semester. Oral examinations are given only if the student passes the written examination.

The Written Examination

  1. The semester prior to the day of the written examination, students are given 10 essay questions, four covering Spanish literature of all periods and six covering Latin American literature of all periods. On the days of the exam students answer 5 of the 10 questions. The written examination is five hours long and is given in two sessions — three hours the first day and two the second.
  2. Each participating professor will read the entire written exam, but grades only his or her own question with a number from 1 to 5, according to the following standards:
    0 = no response
    2 = lowest passing grade for each question
    5 = highest grade possible for any question
  3. In order for a candidate to advance to the oral exam, he or she must score at least 15 points for the entire exam (the maximum possible is 25). In addition to this total of 15, one must score at least two points on each of the five sections of the examination.
  4. If a candidate scores fewer than two points on one section, and only one section of the written exam, and still scores a total of 15 points for the entire exam, he or she may take another exam on the section not passed. If this make-up exam is passed successfully the candidate may then proceed to the oral exam. Should a candidate score less than two points on more than one section, regardless of the total points scored, the entire written exam must be repeated. Any repeated exams, partial or otherwise, may be taken no sooner than the semester following the original written examination. The written examination may not be attempted more than twice.

The Oral Examination

  1. Oral exam committees consist of three voting members from the Spanish faculty: a chair plus two other members, all of whom are appointed by the graduate adviser. Any other interested Spanish faculty members may attend and participate as a non-voting member.
  2. Unlike the written questions that concentrate on only a few topics, the questions during the oral exam are wide-ranging and cover all aspects and periods of Spanish and Latin American literature.
  3. The oral exam may not be attempted more than twice.
  4. The second attempt may not take place until the semester following the original exam.

Policy Governing the Oral Examination for the Master of Arts degree in Spanish

  • The oral examination, taken only after a student passes the written exam, is conducted by three members of the Spanish faculty, chosen by the graduate coordinator.  The exam lasts about an hour and is based on two lists of literary works: one, an “obligatory list,” which is the same for all students, and an “individual list,” created by the student.
  • The obligatory list, required of all students, contains works of acknowledged importance from Spain and Latin America. All students are expected to have read and analyzed all the works on the obligatory list; the list appears below.
  • In addition to and distinct from the works on the obligatory list, each student will prepare an individual list consisting of 20 works that reflect his or her particular interests in Spanish and/or Latin American literature.  

The following rules govern the creation and submission of one’s individual list:

  • Individual iists may not contain works from the obligatory list, though other works by the same author may be submitted; the Quijote may not appear on an individual list, for example, but a student with a special interest in Cervantes could include his novelas ejemplares or entremeses.
  • Works chosen for individual lists may be poetry, drama, fiction or essay.
  • In choosing the 20 works of an individual list, a novel, short story, drama or essay will count as a single work, and five poems by the same poet will count as a single work.
  • Regardless of their genre, all works on an individual list must be judged by the Spanish faculty to be significant for their originality, historical importance or the stature of their author.
  • For their individual lists, students may choose from the suggested works or works studied in classes or seminars. If works by a certain author appear on the suggested works list, any other work by that author, though not listed, may normally be included on an individual list.
  • Individual lists shall be submitted to the graduate coordinator at least two weeks before the screening interview, orfogueo, where the list shall be amended as necessary and approved by the committee members. All works on an individual list must be formally approved at the fogueo.
  •  Once approved, an individual list becomes part of the basis for the oral exam and the student should expect questions regarding the works he or she has chosen. We encourage students to start planning Individual Lists early in their coursework and consult with faculty members as they do so.