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Master of Arts in Spanish Program

In Residence at Sacramento State and Three Summers Overseas Program

The Master of Arts program in Spanish affords an opportunity for specialized work in Spanish linguistics and in Peninsular and Hispanic American literature and culture. The program is of particular value to those who plan to teach Spanish in secondary school or in junior college and to those who plan to continue more advanced work toward a PhD.

Admission to Classified Status in the Spanish M.A. Program

Admission as a classified graduate student in Spanish requires:

  • a baccalaureate degree;
  • a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 semester units (90 quarter units) attempted;and
  • completion of the following Sacramento State courses (or equivalents). NOTE: A minimum of 18 upper-division units are required in Spanish:
    • Spanish 100 or an equivalent course in critical literary analysis at another institution.
    • Spanish 102 or an equivalent course in the phonetic system of modern Spanish.
    • Spanish 103 or an equivalent course in advanced Spanish grammar.
    • Linguistics 130 or an equivalent introductory linguistics course.
    • One upper division course in Peninsular Literature.
    • One upper division course in Hispanic American literature.
    • One upper division course in Hispanic (either Hispanic American or Spanish) culture.

Students not meeting all these specific requirements may be admitted with conditionally classified graduate status and and work toward the MA degree while the admission requirements are being completed. (SPAN 102 and SPAN 103 may be met by challenge examination.) Units taken to remove admission requirement deficiencies do not count toward the MA program. Any such deficiencies will be noted on a written response to the admission application. The prerequisite courses may be satisfied concurrently with courses in progress for the M.A., but the prerequisites must be completed as soon as possible after entering the program. NOTE: 30 units required are required for the MA degree, and no more than six units earned prior to admission to classified status can be counted toward meeting requirements for a graduate degree.

Specific Requirements for the degree

  1. Writing proficiency requirement. All entering graduate students are expected to have demonstrated writing proficiency at the undergraduate level as prescribed by C.S.U. If you have not fulfilled this requirement because you graduated from a non-C.S.U. institution you are required to demonstrate writing proficiency as an admission requirement or before becoming classified in a graduate degree program. For campus guidelines, please read the campus guidelines carefully at
  2. Coursework requirements.
    A minimum of 6 units is required in each of four areas: Latin American Literature, Spanish Literature, Hispanic Culture, and Linguistics for a total of 24 units. Of these 24 units, a minimum of 18 graduate level units is required. An additional 3-unit Elective brings the total to 27 units and may be selected from appropriate upper division and graduate courses in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator. As a culminating requirement, the candidate will select Spanish 500 Thesis or Project, each worth 4 units or Spanish 500, Comprehensive Examination, worth 3 units, thus bringing the total units to the minimum required 30 units for the MA in Spanish.

  3. Not more than 3 units of Spanish 299 (Special Problems) nor 3 units of Spanish 199 (Special Problems) may be counted toward the degree.
  4. Of the total 30 units required for the M.A. degree, at least 18 units of Spanish 200 series graduate level coursework are required.

  5. After the candidate has completed 18 units of coursework toward the degree, including a minimum of four 200-level courses, and has registered for their remaining course work, he/she must formally apply for "candidacy" for the M.A. degree in Spanish by completing the Advancement to Candidacy form available from the Office of Graduate Studies. The candidate may not advance to candidacy if the GWAR writing requirement has not been met or if they have any remaining deficiencies in their admissions requirements.

  6. Time limit: all work presented for the degree must be completed within a seven-year time span. Should this 7 year time limit elapse, then those courses taken during the 1st semester of work or before become invalid and additional coursework will be required

The Culminating Requirement

  1. Depending on the special interest of the candidate, one of the following culminating requirements must be completed: thesis, project, or comprehensive examination. In the case of the thesis or project, the candidate must consult a faculty member whose area of expertise is in the area in which the thesis/project will be completed. The faculty member, after accepting the student's proposed thesis/project then serves as the student's Advisor. The culminating requirement cannot be completed in an overseas summer program and only CSUS full time faculty members may be members of the examining committee. The comprehensive exam is generally given in November and in April. Check with the Graduate Coordinator for specific dates. Notice must be given by the graduate candidate at least one semester before taking the exams.

    Graduate students registered for the culminating requirement (Spanish 500, Culminating Experience) [Comprehensive Exam], Spanish 500, [Thesis] or Spanish 500 [Project] who cannot complete the requirement during the semester of initial enrollment will normally be granted a grade of RP (research in progress) if so deemed by his or her advisor, for one additional semester, only if necessary. There will be no extensions of the RP grade after that time. The "RP" will turn into a "NC" (no credit) grade and the candidate will be required to reregister for the units.Students may be declassified for lack of satisfactory progress.
    Preliminary requirements for prospective writers of THESES and PROJECTS:

    The successful writing and presentation of a thesis or project at the graduate level requires a high level of competency not only in written expression but also in organization of subject matter. For that reason, the following steps must be followed before beginning work on a thesis or project:

    1. The graduate student must contact a Faculty member whose area of expertise is the same as that in which the student intends to present a thesis or project.
    2. The prospective writer of a thesis or project must provide the following as a preliminary to beginning a thesis or project:
      1. A description, in a carefully organized paragraph, of the problem to be examined in the proposed thesis or the project to be developed.
      2. An initial bibliography of at least ten items that address the topic that the student plans to explore.
      3. A sample of expository writing provided under controlled conditions. (This will ordinarily be a one-page essay in Spanish on an assigned topic to be written for the prospective faculty advisor.)
      4. If in the judgment of the prospective faculty advisor the graduate student is deficient in the skills necessary to produce a graduate level thesis or project, then the comprehensive exam will be suggested as an alternative culminating requirement.
    1. The Master's Thesis (Spanish 500, 4 units).

      The thesis is a systematic study of a significant problem. There will be a clear and concise statement of the problem, its major assumptions, its significance, the various methods and sources to be used for gathering data, the analysis of said data, and finally, the conclusions and recommendations which have grown out of the research on the thesis.

      The Project (Spanish 500, 4 units).

      The project is a systematic development of a plan for a significant undertaking or a creative work such as a novel, play, or similar literary creation, the development of teaching materials, or a specialized project in civilization and culture such as an annotated presentation of a cultural topic. Criteria employed in developing the project, or in making the evaluation of the plan, including an evaluation of the task, the details of the plan or creation, the methods to be used and the supporting data to be incorporated in the final draft, must be clearly stated. The completed project could very well serve as a reference/source instrument for those individuals involved in this academic discipline. If you are planning on continuing studies toward the PhD in Spanish, you should check with your specific graduate school(s) to see if they accept the Project as a bona fide culminating requirement in their program(s).

      No academic distinction is made between thesis and project. Either one is equally acceptable as a means of fulfilling the requirements for the master's degree. Whether a student is submitting a thesis or a project, it should be noted that quality of work is a major consideration in judging acceptability. The finished product must evidence originality, organization, clarity of purpose, critical analysis and accuracy and completeness of documentation. Independent thinking should characterize every thesis or project; mere cataloging, compilation, description, or other superficial procedures are not adequate. Once the thesis/project has been approved by the thesis/project advisor and a second reader, the candidate may, if he or she wishes, present his/her findings before the Spanish area faculty. A copy of the thesis or project will be deposited in the library and another copy will be deposited in the department office. It is important for the candidate choosing the option of project or thesis that you should not plan on "rushing" your writing. You should develop your topic early in your studies so as to avoid a last minute rush to meet a deadline. Faculty cannot be expected to be pressured at the last minute to advise you to a swift completion. Also, it should be remembered that faculty are not obligated to direct theses or projects during the summer months so you should plan accordingly.

      The Comprehensive Examination (Spanish 500, Culminating Experience, 3 units)

      1. The comprehensive examination for the Master of Arts in Spanish shall consist of four written parts:
        • Latin American Literature
        • Spanish (Peninsular) Literature
        • Hispanic Culture
        • Linguistics.
      2. The Examination Committee shall consist of those faculty members administering the four parts of the examination. Each examiner shall be responsible for the content, the administration and the evaluation of his/her part of the graduate examinations. Faculty members responsible for each part of the examination must provide candidates with a study list of topics and sub-categories in their specialty, based on the existing reading list for the M.A. (There may or may not be a relationship between the sub-area of the reading list and classes that the student may have taken.) The individual faculty member may delete or add selections to his/her sub-area list. (A reading list, accessible from this "link", is available from which the candidate selects a sub-area from each of the four main areas identified in "1", above.) It is imperative that the candidate consult with each faculty member who will serve as an examiner as soon as possible after selecting the option of the comprehensive examination.
      3. Examination periods: The comprehensive exams for the M.A. in Spanish are scheduled only once each semester: in November of the Fall semester, and in April of the Spring semester. Two 90-minute exams are taken on Friday and the final two 90-minute exams are taken on Saturday.
      4. Any one of the exams judged to be less than 80% correct shall be considered deficient.
      5. If any exam receives less than 80% correct, the committee will recommend additional preparation to retake that part or parts of the exams at a future date. In no case will a candidate be allowed to retake that part or parts of the exams found to be deficient until after the lapse of one semester during which the candidate will have adequate time to prepare for the retake.
      6. Candidates who show deficiencies in more than one graduate examination must request, in writing, to the Graduate Coordinator, to meet with the Examination Committee for special consideration to remain in the M.A. program. The candidate has one week from the date of the meeting with the examination committee to file a request for consideration. Failure to make such a request will result in the candidate being officially dropped from the M.A. program by the Graduate Coordinator.
      7. Once all requirements for the degree have been met and the four examinations have been passed, the committee shall certify that the candidate has earned the M.A. in Spanish and all appropriate university forms will be completed for the awarding of the degree.


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