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Doctor of Philosophy in Spanish

Students pursuing the Ph.D. in Spanish at Western Michigan University will study the culture of the Hispanic world in both broad and specific terms. The Spanish doctoral program is based upon the belief that advanced students ought to acquire the widest possible knowledge of Hispanic culture before they choose to limit their focus to selected portions of it in the doctoral dissertation.

Students will be encouraged to develop a significant content base in the culture of Spain and Spanish America, from the beginnings to present day. They will be expected to understand the relationship between the myriad of specific components that have come to form Hispanic civilization and to appreciate them for their own esthetic and intellectual value, as well as for their particular contribution to the overall culture. Students are also expected to develop the methods and skills necessary to investigate and analyze language and literature and be able to express their findings in clear, consistent and complete terms.

The goal of the Ph.D. program is, in sum, twofold:

Admission requirements

Program requirements for the Ph.D.

A summary of program requirements follows. A complete list of requirements appears in WMU's Graduate Catalog.

Areas of study and comprehensive examination for the Ph.D.

There are six areas of study, from which two are chosen for the exam:

All students are expected to prepare themselves through course work in two areas and through additional readings. They will select two areas of major interest and three areas of supporting interest.

Reading lists

The reading lists for each area will serve as guides for student preparation. Lists in the major areas are, of course, more substantial than those in the supporting areas.

Comprehensive Exam

Students should take the comprehensive examination as soon as possible after finishing required course work and passing the reading knowledge exam, but in any case they must take the examination within a period of six months after having completed those requirements.

The comprehensive examination will be given twice each year during a three-week period, in May and October.

The exam will be structured in this way:

A single grade will be given for the entire exam. Possible grades are: superior, good, pass and fail. Students who fail the exam may retake it once. At the discretion of the examination committee, they may be required to retake the entire examination or limited portions of it.


The dissertation is the capstone of the Ph.D. experience. It ought to be an original, high-quality, contribution to scholarship in an area of particular interest to the student. As in the case of course work, the dissertation is a learning experience to be guided by faculty. To be sure, the research and writing of this book-length manuscript requires considerable independent work and discipline on the part of the student. Nonetheless, we give great importance to the role of the faculty in this process, particularly to the duties of the dissertation director. It is recommended that the dissertation be designed so that it may be completed within one year after approval. Although university time limits for completion of the Ph.D. may be more generous, it is the expectation of the Spanish faculty that even the most ambitious dissertations be completed within two years. Expeditiousness is to the advantage of both the student and the faculty.