M.A. in Spanish (Graduate Study Checklist)

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 and 3 units of Culminating Experience.  Up to 3 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. We offer in our program two option for the culminating experience. The first one consists of a series of comprehensive written and oral exams covering Spanish Peninsular and Latin American, and the oral exam is given one week after the written exams. The second one consists in a thesis in Spanish and a master thesis defense two weeks after the submission of the thesis.

Procedures for completing the Culminating Experience requirement:

  1. Six months before taking the exams or submitting the thesis, students must have a pre-qualifying screening interview, called “prueba ensayo”.  This interview helps you assess your preparation.  If necessary, the committee will advise you to delay taking your exams until you are ready. The committee is formed by three professors. At least two of them have to be members of the Spanish Program.
  2. There are two options for the screening interview: OPTION A) After the screening interview the candidate can request a copy of the questions for the written exam. Exam questions will be drawn from the list given to the candidate. The candidate will have six months to prepare for the comprehensive exams. OPTION B), the candidate has to submit a three-page proposal, an exhaustive bibliography (around 30 books and journal articles), and a brief outline a week before the screening interview. The candidate will have six months to write the thesis.
  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.  If you take OPTION A, 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. If you take OPTION B the master thesis defense 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.


Culmination Experience Checklist 


Option A: Written and Oral Examinations

Students should contact the graduate advisor in order to arrange for a screening interview the semester before they plan to take the exams. The graduate advisor forms the committee.
By the time of the screening interview, the student should have read all of the books on the reading list (The list is on ILearn). In addition to the reading list, the student must bring an individual reading list with 20 titles (The Form is on iLearn). 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. 
The MA Program has two reading lists. The Official Reading list consists of 40, generally canonical, works from Spain and Latin America. The Individual Reading List, as the name implies, is a list of 20 works compiled by the individual student to supplement the Official Reading List. Depending on the student’s interest, it may be a list of Spanish works, Latin American works, or a combination of the two. Or, the student may prefer to follow other criteria, such as genre or period. 
After sitting for the screening interview the student begins preparing for the comprehensive written and oral exams. The questions for the written exam are posted to this section Culminating Experience of iLearn, usually before the end of the semester prior to the one in which the exam will be taken. Thus, at the end of the Fall semester, the questions for the Spring exam are made available, so the student can begin preparation. 
Students planning to take the exams should: 
  • Plan on studying and preparing 10 questions. The student will have access to 10 questions, from which five will be selected to appear on the exam. 
  • Turn in the Application for Graduation ((https://registrar.sfsu.edu/content/applying-graduation#Apply) to the graduate coordinator – The coordinator has to confirm that the student will be included on the exam schedule. 
Exams take place during the 12th and 13th week of classes. 
For help in compiling the Individual Reading List, consult the Graduate Coordinator, Dr Ana Luengo, or other professors in the Program. 

Option B: Thesis in Spanish and Oral Defense

The student should contact the three advisors the semester before he or she plans to write the thesis. The first and the second advisors must be professors in the Spanish program, and the third advisor may be from another department, but he or she has to be able to read and understand Spanish.
A week before the screening interview the student should present a three-page proposal, an exhaustive bibliography (around 30 books and journal articles), and a brief outline (3 pages). During the screening interview the student must convince the future advisors of the value and interest of their project. The screening interview is not an exam, is a conversation with the committee.
The master’s thesis is a carefully argued scholarly paper of approximately 12,000 words (roughly 50 pages). After the screening interview, the candidate has 6 months to complete it. The thesis 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 candidate must deliver a summary in English (10 pages) as well.
The student has to submit a copy for each member of the committee.
The last appointment of the master thesis involves an oral defense. At least two weeks prior to the meeting, all committee members shall have received copies of a final draft of the thesis. The candidate has to make an appointment with the three advisors. The oral defense is a presentation of the thesis, followed by an academic discussion.  
The oral defense of the thesis is open to the public.
Please see the Manual for Formatting and Submitting a Master’s Thesis at the Graduate Studies site.