Master of Arts in Hispanic Studies

Students in classThe Department of Spanish at Western Michigan University offers a Master of Arts in Hispanic studies degree, which consists of 30 credit hours of course work and normally is completed by full-time students in two years, although some students finish the program in less time.


The mission of the MA program is to provide students with a broad humanistic foundation in Hispanic studies. It fosters critical thinking and an understanding of the Spanish-speaking world in all of its cultural, linguistic, demographic, historical and social complexities. Toward this end, the MA in Hispanic Studies transcends traditional learning boundaries with a cross-disciplinary approach.

MA students have the unique opportunity to pursue coursework with every member of our graduate faculty during their first four semesters of study at WMU. Students have the flexibility to design, in consultation with the Graduate Advisor, a personalized program of study incorporating, any combination of courses offered by the Department of Spanish in the diverse areas of Hispanic studies, in order to learn to research theories and methodologies appropriate to their chosen fields of study.

Students who graduate with an MA from the department of Spanish at WMU demonstrate, orally and in writing, the ability to analyze different forms of linguistic, literary and/or cultural expression in the Spanish-speaking world. The program prepares students to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in Spanish or for further graduate study in other fields, such as European Studies, Latin American Studies, translation and interpretation, comparative literature, and law. The program also offers high school teachers an excellent opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills as a means of career advancement. In the broadest sense, this humanistic foundation prepares students to be critical thinkers who can make meaningful contributions to society throughout their entire lives as multilingual, multicultural citizens of an ever-changing world.


The Spanish faculty are guided by their conviction that the Spanish language is the basis for comprehension and appreciation of Hispanic culture. Spanish is the language of the faculty and of all graduate courses and activities. Students who study in our programs will benefit from this conviction on a daily basis. Graduate students also benefit from personal contact with a faculty dedicated to them. Teaching and student-centered research are the Spanish faculty's highest priorities. Courses developed and offered take into account both the needs and the preferences of students. Constant academic discourse, exchange of knowledge, and development of skills are greatly enhanced within this student-centered environment.

Faculty research fields of expertise include:

  • Iberian medieval studies
  • Early modern Spanish literature and social history
  • Spanish Golden Age literature and culture
  • Colonial Spanish America
  • Modern and postmodern Peninsular literature and culture
  • Modern and postmodern Spanish American literature and culture
  • Caribbean and Central American studies
  • U.S. Latino literature and culture
  • Spanish phonetics and phonology
  • Spanish morphology and syntax
  • Spanish historical linguistics and dialectology
  • Contact Spanish and language documentation
  • Latin American linguistic and sociocultural anthropology
  • Semiotics and discourse analysis
  • The sociology and pragmatics of Spanish
  • The acquisition of Spanish as a second language

Since its inception in 1990, the M.A. program has successfully attracted participants from the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico and Spain, as well as the United States. There are over 30 students in the M.A. program, many of whom hold teaching assistantships. Great care is given in preparing and monitoring the classroom performance of students in assistantship roles. With the guidance and encouragement of department master teachers, assistants often profit as much from their teaching experience as they do from their own course work.

Application and Funding

The Department of Spanish offers Teaching Assistantships to qualified master's and doctoral students. They provide a stipend, which is normally sufficient to support tuition, room and board, health insurance, transportation, administration fees, etc. Renewal or continuation of assistantships depends upon satisfactory performance in both teaching and graduate studies, as well as availability of university resources.

Students wishing to apply for a Teaching Assistantship position must submit their complete application no later than February 15. See details and application form:  Here

Additional aid is available from The Graduate College and The Office of Student Financial Aid.

Program Requirements
A complete list of requirements appears in WMU's Graduate Catalog.

The format for the MA program and MA exam in Hispanic Studies
Our MA students are given the freedom to choose the courses that best fit their academic goal throughout the program (30 credits, at least 21 of which must be taken at the 6000 level). They can select any class according to their interests and with the consistent guidance of the Graduate Advisor. For Teaching Assistants the only basic requirement is a course on teaching methodology which must taken during the first semester of graduate study at WMU. Students must also attend a minimum of two professional lectures or presentations per year of graduate study.

Toward the end of the third semester in the program, each student must propose an examination committee of three faculty members with whom he has taken classes, and on the basis of these classes the student will be examined. The MA Final Exam will cover the readings listed as required on the syllabi corresponding to the courses the student has taken with each committee member, as well as additional readings either suggested by committee members or provided as recommended readings on the syllabi.

The exam will be administered on the first Friday after spring break, during the spring semester, or alternatively on the first Friday of November, during the fall semester. The student will be given three essay questions on topics broadly related to the chosen coursework, and will develop written essays that address the three questions (two questions will be given and answered on Friday, and the third question will be given and answered the following Monday). Each essay must demonstrate critical thinking, primary source interpretation, as well as appropriate argumentation and analysis (linguistic, cultural, ideological, literary, philosophical, theoretical, historical, etc.).  One week after the written exam, the student will meet with the committee members for a follow-up closure conversation.

The committee will evaluate the student based on general progress and skills acquired, merits displayed in the completed coursework, the quality of the written component in the final examination, and the student's performance on the oral component of the exam. In addition, the committee will consider the student's level of involvement and participation in the cultural life of the Department of Spanish and WMU (lecture series and similar professional activities).


Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, allowing students to begin coursework in the fall and spring semesters. However, applications cannot be reviewed over the summer between the end of the spring semester and the start of the fall semester. To be considered for funding, the application deadline is February 15. See the admission requirements for this program.

Apply Online

Additional Program Information

For additional information about the Master of Arts in Hispanic Studies and for forms needed to apply for admission, students may write to WMU's Office of Admissions or the department's graduate advisor. Students are encouraged to consult information available at