About the Program
The Department of Spanish and Portuguese offers the PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures (HLL) with three possible tracks: Hispanic and Latin American Literatures and Cultures, Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Cultures, and Hispanic Linguistics. All graduate students are required to develop broad expertise across a number of programmatic fields (literary genres, historical periods, cultural and social geographies, or linguistic sub-fields such as sociolinguistics, contact linguistics, phonetics and phonology, morphosyntax, second language acquisition, psycholinguistics, etc.) that ensure their ability to interact with colleagues and their competitiveness in the academic job market. The research specializations of our faculty and graduate students span all of these areas, and furthermore reflect most of the trends in contemporary scholarship, from philology, history of the book, and intersections of literature with material culture, through to aesthetics, the relationship of literature to visual culture, performance studies, language variation and change, data science and quantitative modeling, raciolinguistics, and language pedagogy. As students progress through our graduate program, they are expected to formulate their own theoretical approaches to research questions regarding an individually defined area of expertise.
Admission to the University
Minimum Requirements for Admission
The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:
- A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
- A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
- If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
- Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.
Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree
The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.
Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.
Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.
The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:
- Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
- Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.
Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.
Required Documents for Applications
- Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable).
- Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
courses in English as a Second Language,
courses conducted in a language other than English,
courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
courses of a non-academic nature.
Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.
Where to Apply
Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.
Admission to the Program
Applicants for admissions to the PhD program in Hispanic Languages and Literatures must hold a BA degree with studies in Spanish, Spanish-American, Portuguese, or Luso -Brazilian Literatures, Linguistics, or Hispanic Linguistics; or another field with demonstrable bearing on Hispanic and/or Luso-Brazilian studies. Native or near-native proficiency in a primary language (either Spanish or Portuguese) is required.
The program requires a statement of purpose, a personal statement, and critical writing samples (Spanish, Portuguese, or English). Writing samples should be in the form of a thesis or research paper on a topic relevant to the fields of Romance and/or Hispanic Languages, Literature, or Linguistics (about 10-15 pages).
Applications are accepted for fall term only.
Doctoral Degree Requirements
In close consultation with faculty, the student will develop a specialization in one of three tracks:
- Hispanic and Spanish American literature and culture,
- Luso-Brazilian literature and culture
- Hispanic Linguistics
Each track is organized around student areas of interest. Course preparation will lead to the Qualifying Examination, followed by the completion of a dissertation in the field.
Normative Time Requirements
- Normative time to advancement: Four years
- Normative time in candidacy: Two years
- Total normative time: Six years
Upon arrival in Berkeley, students in one of these three tracks will meet with a designated First-Year Mentor, who will assess their preparation and advise them on appropriate coursework for their first four semesters. Advising after the first year will be done by the Department’s Head Graduate Adviser (HGA) or a designated assistant adviser. Although students during those first four semesters will naturally want to take courses in their main areas of interest and also look to fulfill requirements for the Ph.D., they are also expected to concentrate on coursework in areas that they have not studied before, in order to prepare themselves for the General Examination or First Qualifying Paper.
The immediate goal of the new graduate student is the General Examination (tracks 1 and 2) or First Qualifying Paper (track 3), scheduled for their fourth semester.
For both fourth semester milestones (General Examination and First Qualifying Paper), a Pass is required in order to continue in the program. Additionally, students who come to Berkeley with an M.A. or otherwise have a strong preparation may petition to take the exam or submit the first qualifying paper before the fourth semester.
After passing the General Examination or First Qualifying Paper, students will submit a Statement of Purpose that reflects greater intellectual maturity after two years of graduate study, as well as possible changes in primary area of interest, greater understanding of research areas, and other changes in a student’s conception of their own role in the field. The Statement, together with the results of the General Examination or First Qualifying Paper and the student’s performance in coursework will be considered by the faculty of the Department as a whole, who will then vote whether to allow the student to continue in the program.
Students invited to continue in the program will concentrate their coursework on remaining Ph.D. requirements including any Designated Emphases and/or Graduate Certificates they may have chosen (typically: Gender Studies, Applied Data Science, Indigenous Language Revitalization, Film, Media, Cognitive Science, Critical Theory, etc.). Formal advising will continue to be carried out by the HGA or an assistant. In addition, the specialist in the student’s chosen field will increasingly mentor the student.
The Qualifying Examination will normally take place in the student’s eighth semester, but may be moved forward in instances of adequate preparation. Early in the semester in which students plan to take the Oral Ph.D. Exam (QE), they will either write Three Field Statements, with accompanying bibliographies (Tracks 1 and 2), or submit a Second Qualifying Paper (Track 3).
With respect to the Field Statements, each will focus on a pressing topic or problematic, a “deep dive” within the student’s intended field of specialization. The intended field of specialization should generally track the common areas of specialization in the academic job market.
The Second Qualifying Paper will span at least one sub-field of Hispanic linguistics (e.g. Phonology/Phonetics, Morphology, Historical Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, etc.). The topic of the paper (as opposed to the sub-field in linguistics) cannot be the same as the previous First Qualifying Paper, and moreover must be of a higher caliber. The student should prepare the paper as if planning to submit it to a non-conference venue, professional linguistics journal (for example, Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, Phonetica, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Journal of Language Contact, Journal of Sociolinguistics, etc.) and should be formatted according to the style sheet of one of these professional journal venues.
After submitting either the three Field Statements and related bibliographies or the Second Qualifying Paper, the student will take a 2-day written exam based on questions related to either the Field Statements and bibliographies (Tracks 1 & 2), or two linguistic sub-fields of the student’s choosing (Track 3). The written exam along with either Field Statements or Second Qualifying Paper will be assessed by the student’s examination committee in order to determine whether or not the student is prepared to proceed to the oral examination.
After passing the Qualifying Examination, students will have two years to research and write a dissertation, embodying the results of original research on a subject chosen by the student. The degree should be completed within the program’s normative time of six years.
All incoming students will be assigned to a First-year Mentor (1 faculty member) responsible for assessing their preparation and helping the incoming students during their transition into the program. Curricular advising in years 2, 3, and 4 will be carried out by the Head Graduate Adviser or designated in consultation with appropriate faculty, according to students’ interests.
Mentoring for advanced students (years 3 and 4) continues to come from faculty likely to be part of the students Ph.D. Qualifying Examination.
General Examination – Tracks 1 & 2
As stated above, all second-year Ph.D students in Tracks 1 & 2 will take a written General Examination. This exam is based on a standard reading list of Spanish and Latin American literature, or Portuguese and Brazilian literature, that first-year students will receive when they enter the program (see appendix). The reading list represents literature from all of the traditional sub-fields (Medieval/ Early Modern/ Golden Age Literature; Modern Spanish Lit; Colonial Latin America Lit; and Modern Latin America Lit). The General Examination will be administered in the 4th semester (i.e., normally in the spring), although students will be able to petition for accelerated progress and an early exam. A four-person committee appointed by the Chair will conduct the exam.
This exam will be 4 hours, 1 hour per section, 1 day. It will be evaluated by 4 committee members. Notes and laptop permitted. It will be administered by a standing committee of the Department, so the same committee will evaluate every student. The exam will be scheduled for shortly after Spring Break, allowing a month for grading and assessment of student potential. Passing the exam is necessary for an M.A., and students who fail it would not receive that degree. Students may repeat the exam once if they fail it. Please note that UC Berkeley does not allow for duplication of degree, only students entering with a B.A. are eligible for the M.A. equivalency.
First Qualifying Paper – Track 3
Initial reception into the program and advising will proceed as in Tracks 1 and 2 above, with advising carried out by a designated Assistant Graduate Adviser for this track.
All second-year Ph.D. students in Track 3 will submit a First Qualifying Paper spanning at least one sub-field of Spanish linguistics (e.g. phonetics, language contact, morphosyntax, etc.). The paper should be formatted according to the style sheet of a reputable venue of conference proceedings, such as those from the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium (HLS) or the Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL). The paper will be evaluated by a committee of no fewer than two professors specializing in Linguistics (one of whom must be from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese), with the aim of determining whether or not the student is ready to continue on to advanced doctoral research in Hispanic Linguistics. A single revision is permitted if the First Qualifying Paper is deemed unsatisfactory. After a successful evaluation of the First Qualifying Paper, students will submit a Statement of Purpose. This, together with the First Qualifying Paper, will be considered by the faculty of the Department as a whole, who will then vote whether to allow the student to continue in the program.
Permission to Continue in the Ph.D.
The faculty of the department as a whole will decide if a student should continue in the program, based on performance on the General Exam or First Qualifying Paper, experience of the student in coursework, and the student’s Statement of Purpose.
All courses used to satisfy a requirement or courses taken toward the study program, must be taken for a letter grade option only. Passing grade for graduate students is a B or better.
A minimum of twelve courses are required for the Ph.D. This includes eleven courses in the department, and at least one course outside. Up to two Upper-Division courses would be allowed with permission of the graduate adviser. In addition to the 11, students will take courses for Designated Emphases, language study, etc. Courses numbered 298, 601, 602 would remain as options but do not count towards course requirements.
The following must be included within the 11-course requirement for Tracks 1 and 2:
- One graduate seminar in Portuguese (track 1) or Spanish (track 2)
- One graduate seminar outside of the historical period and geographic area of student’s major emphasis
- One graduate seminar in literary theory or containing a strong theoretical component
- One course in Spanish and/or Portuguese language pedagogy (Spanish 375)
- Two courses related to field of interest, approved by adviser
The following must be included within the 11-course requirement for Track 3:
- One graduate seminar in Hispanic Linguistics in the student’s primary linguistics sub-field
- Two graduate seminars in Hispanic Linguistics
- One graduate seminar covering the linguistic structure of a language other than Spanish (C201/2 permitted)
- One graduate seminar in the Linguistics Department in the student’s primary linguistics sub-field
- One course on quantitative/qualitative methods for social sciences/humanities OR 1 graduate seminar covering linguistic theory
- Three additional courses in linguistics
- One course in Spanish and/or Portuguese language pedagogy (Spanish 375)
- Two courses related to field of interest, approved by adviser
Foreign Language Requirement
For students in Tracks 1 & 2, two foreign languages pertinent to the specialization are required. Of these, Spanish for students of Luso-Brazilian studies and Portuguese for students of Hispanic literatures are required, and must be fulfilled through graduate course work taught in the pertinent language (not English). The second language requirement must be satisfied by passing the Language Reading Examinations administered by the respective language department.
For students in Track 3, two languages other than the primary concentration is required. A graduate course in the language or the language reading examination will satisfy the requirement in the Linguistics program.
The requirement for all tracks should be satisfied as early as possible in the student’s doctoral career and must be completed prior to Admission to the Qualifying Examination.
Qualifying Examination (QE)
The examination committee (constituted the semester prior to QE) is made up of five members, including at least one person from outside the Department. One member of the committee will chair the exam; this person may not direct the dissertation. All members of the committee, including the “outside” member, must be Academic Senate members. All five members of the Qualifying Examination Committee must be present and voting at the oral examination.
Final composition of the Qualifying Examination Committee is approved by the Head Graduate Adviser. Final versions of the field statements and bibliographies or second qualifying paper will be turned in no later than one-month before the date set for the oral examination.
Student must complete the QE application form with the Graduate Assistant at least four weeks before the exam. Students may not take the Qualifying Examination if they have more than one Incomplete grade.
The oral portion of the QE will consist of a three-hour examination conducted by a committee of five, at least one of whom must be from outside the Department.
After passing the QE, students will have two years to research and write a dissertation, embodying the results of original research on a subject chosen by the student. The degree should be completed within the program’s normative time of six years.
For Tracks 1 and 2:
Early in the semester in which they hope to take their oral Ph.D. Qualifying Exam, students will write three 5- to 8-page statements, with accompanying bibliographies. Each statement will focus on a pressing topic or problematic, a “deep dive” within the student’s intended field of specialization. The student will then take a 2-day written exam based on questions related to the statements and bibliographies. The field-statements and the written exam will be assessed by the student’s exam committee in order to determine whether or not the student is prepared to proceed to the oral portion of the QE.
For Track 3:
Early in the semester in which they hope to take their Ph.D. Qualifying Exam, students will submit a Second Qualifying Paper spanning at least one sub-field of Hispanic linguistics (e.g. Phonology/Phonetics, Morphology, Historical Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, etc.). The topic of the paper (as opposed to the sub-field in linguistics) cannot be the same as the previous First Qualifying Paper, and moreover must be of a higher caliber. The student should prepare the paper as if planning to submit it to a non-conference venue, professional linguistics journal (for example, Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, Phonetica, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Journal of Language Contact, Journal of Sociolinguistics, etc.) and should be formatted according to the style sheet of one of these professional journal venues. Having submitted this Second Qualifying Paper, the student will then take a 2-day written exam based on two linguistic sub-fields of the student’s choosing. Exam questions will reflect the student’s proposed reading list for each sub-field. The second Qualifying Paper and the written exams will be assessed by the student’s committee in order to determine whether or not the student is prepared to proceed to the oral portion of the QE.
Once the Qualifying Examination has been passed and formal Advancement to Candidacy is approved by the Graduate Division, the student will submit a dissertation proposal (10-15 pages on average), with selected bibliography, to the Dissertation Committee before the end of the first semester following the Qualifying Examination. It is expected that the proposal will describe the intended research, provide a basic bibliography and, if possible, set the project within current research in the field . After examining this material, the dissertation committee will meet with the student to discuss the proposal, to set up a timetable, and to give final approval to the dissertation project. A signed copy of the report must be given to the GSAO for the student’s file and verification of completion of requirement.
It should be remembered that the prospectus is not intended to be a dissertation in miniature, so that there is normally no compelling reason why its completion should be delayed beyond the appointed deadline. Rather, it should be a concise preliminary description of the dissertation project, including: the primary materials to be investigated; the descriptive or analytical approach to be taken to those materials; the project’s relation to existing scholarly work. The prospectus should be accompanied by references and/or a bibliography.
Upon constituting the dissertation committee, the student will apply for Advancement to Candidacy. Doctoral students should bear in mind that it is to their advantage to be “Advanced to Candidacy” as soon as possible following completion of the Qualifying Examination, preferably by the end of the semester in which the Qualifying Examination is passed.
The student will write a doctoral dissertation under the guidance of a director or co-directors and faculty committee (selected by the student and their Graduate Advisor and approved by the Graduate Division), embodying the results of original research on a subject chosen by the student in consultation with the dissertation director(s).
Dissertation committees are made up of a minimum of three members, including one person from “outside” the Department, who serves as the Academic Senate Representative. The Chair of the student’s Qualifying Examination Committee cannot direct the dissertation.
After completion of the QE by the 8th semester, students will have two years to research and write a dissertation according to the program’s normative time of six years.
All instructions for filing the Dissertation can be found at:
The department provides every student with an opportunity to gain teaching experience as part of our graduate training. We are committed to training students in the most recent methods of language pedagogy and to providing them with diverse teaching opportunities. There are opportunities for teaching during the summer as well as during the regular academic year.
Applications for graduate student instructorships for the teaching of Spanish, Portuguese, and/or Catalan are accepted from applicants newly seeking admission to our graduate program. Formal appointments cannot be processed until official confirmation of admission is received.
Faculty and Instructors
* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Natalia Brizuela, Associate Professor. Spanish, Portuguese.
Anthony J. Cascardi, Professor. English, comparative literature, literature, Spanish, Portuguese, philosophy, aesthetics, early modern literature, French, Spanish Baroque.
Justin Davidson, Associate Professor. Spanish linguistics, romance linguistics, contact linguistics, bilingualism, Catalan, sociophonetics, language variation and change, quantitative methods.
Ivonne Del Valle, Associate Professor. Colonial period in Mexico, internal colonialism in Mexico, Jesuits (Loyola, Acosta, Baegert), Baroque and Enlightenment from a colonial perspective, technology and environment, drainage of Mexico City lakes, Christianity and Pre-Hispanic religions .
Daylet Dominguez, Associate Professor. Modern and Contemporary Latin American and Caribbean Literatures and Cultures.
Michael Iarocci, Professor. Spanish, literature.
Tom McEnaney, Associate Professor. Connections between Argentine, Cuban, and U S literature, the history of media and technology, sound studies, linguistic anthropology, computational (digital) humanities and new media studies.
Nasser Meerkhan, Assistant Professor. Transcultural, transtemporal and translinguistic texts, Medieval Iberia.
Ignacio Navarrete, Professor. Spanish literature: poetry, poetic theory, narrative and culture, history of the book, Cervantes, Don Quixote, Medieval and Early Modern Spanish literature Modern Spain .
Alexandra Saum Pascual, Associate Professor. Spain, electronic literature, contemporary literature, digital humanities, new media.
Candace Slater, Professor. Spanish, Portuguese.
Estelle Tarica, Associate Professor. Latin America, Mexico, race, nationalism, Spanish, mestizo, Indians, Andes, Bolivia, Peru, Holocaust, Quechua.
Nathaniel Wolfson, Assistant Professor. Avant-garde poetry and aesthetics, media studies, literature and philosophy, comparative modernisms and the history of science and technology.
Amir Effat, Lecturer.
Jose Roman Lujan Perez, Lecturer.
Oscar Perea Rodriguez, Lecturer.
Jhonni Carr, Lecturer.
Clelia Francesca Donovan, Lecturer.
Miriam Hernandez-Rodriguez, Lecturer.
Ana Belen Redondo Campillos, Lecturer.
Victoria Martinez Robertson, Lecturer.
Donna A. Southard, Lecturer.
Tanya Varela, Lecturer.
Amelia R. Barili, Lecturer Emerita.
Arthur L. Askins, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Milton M. Azevedo, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, Spanish, Portuguese.
Emilie L. Bergmann, Professor Emeritus. Early modern Spain, colonial Spanish America, Spanish literature, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, visual studies, gender and sexuality studies.
Jerry R. Craddock, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Dru Dougherty, Professor Emeritus. Poetry, stage history, Valle-Inclan, Spanish poetics, war and literature.
Charles Faulhaber, Professor Emeritus. Medieval Spanish literature, medieval rhetoric, codicology, paleography, computerization of scholarly methodology.
* Francine R. Masiello, Professor Emerita. Gender theory, culture, globalization, comparative literature, Spanish, Latin American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, comparative North and South literatures.
John H. R. Polt, Professor Emeritus. Spanish literature, 18th century, 19th century.
Jose Rabasa, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Julio Ramos, Professor Emeritus. Spanish, Portuguese.
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
5319 Dwinelle Hall