Modern Languages & Literatures | CSULA

CSULA Graduate Student Handbook (download this pdf file) has information about applying to graduate programs, financing a graduate education, and important policies and services for graduate students.

The University catalog describes the general graduate requirements as well as the details of the Spanish M.A. program.  This document is intended to supplement the catalog and does not supersede it in any way.  For all official rules and requirements, please consult the current catalog.


I. Admission Requirements

Generally, applicants must have a baccalaureate in Spanish. A 2.75 GPA in the last 90 quarter units and a 3.0 GPA in Upper Division Spanish courses are required.  Students who do not meet the grade point requirements may be admitted by special action (see University Catalog and consult the Department Graduate Advisor). Applicants whose undergraduate major was not in Spanish, as appropriate, must consult the Department Graduate Advisor in order to determine prerequisites or their equivalents.  

II. Application for Admission

All applicants must apply to the University online at /  THIS REQUIREMENT MUST BE MET WHETHER THE CANDIDATE IS A GRADUATE OF CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, LOS ANGELES OR OF ANOTHER INSTITUTION. In addition to the University application, a departmental application is required, and an oral proficiency interview may be required.  This application may be obtained in the department office (KH-D1054), or requested by telephone (323) 343-4230.

III. Program Description

The M.A. degree in Spanish requires successful completion of a minimum of 48 quarter units of course work plus a comprehensive examination. Spanish candidates must complete a minimum of 28 units of 500 level course work. Individual programs are prepared in consultation with the Department Graduate Advisor.  Students who have been admitted to the University and have submitted the departmental application should make an appointment with the Department Graduate Advisor as soon as possible.

The M.A. program in Spanish at CSLA is intended to provide a basic, yet comprehensive preparation that will meet the needs of students for whom the M.A. will be a terminal degree, and for those wishing to pursue a doctorate. Candidates are required to select an area of emphasis, either Literature or Linguistics, but students are expected to evidence competence in both areas.  Questions on the M.A. examination in Spanish will be based on the Reading List that is in place at the time the exam is taken.  All the works on the Reading List are governed by the guidelines found below.  In cases where the term "selections" appears on the Reading List without qualification, it is expected that students will have read sufficient material by the author to enable them to discuss him/her in accordance with the guidelines. 

1. Questions on literary topics are designed to allow students to demonstrate the following with respect to the selections read:

a. A familiarity with the work in question: themes and their development; style; relevant narrative, theatrical or poetic techniques, etc. 

b. An awareness of ways in which the work is representative of its author. 

c. An ability to relate the work and author to the period or literary movement with which they are commonly associated.

2. Questions on linguistics are designed to allow students to demonstrate the following:

a. An awareness of the internal and external influences that contribute to the formation of the Spanish language through the centuries, with special attention to the major phonetic, morphological and lexical changes that Latin underwent to become Spanish.

b. An awareness of (1) the ways in which Spanish varies geographically and sociologically (i.e.,  its main “diatopic” and “diastratic” varieties) and (2) main concepts studied in sociolinguistic variation, including (but not limited to) those of a sociolinguistic variable, social factors conditioning variation and phenomena identified by the study of languages in contact.

The examination in Spanish will be administered over three days, on Fridays* of the 5th, 6th and 7th weeks of the Fall and Spring quarters. CANDIDATES MUST APPLY TO TAKE THE COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION AND ENROLL IN SPAN 596 NO LATER THAN THE END OF THE FIRST WEEK OF THE QUARTER IN WHICH THEY INTEND TO SIT FOR THE EXAMINATION.

Eligibility to take the Comprehensive Examination:

In order to be eligible to take the Comprehensive Examination for the first time, a student may not have more than one outstanding class or “Incomplete” on his/her M.A. program. Moreover, (a) all courses that expired BEFORE the quarter in which the exam is taken must be validated BEFORE the comprehensive exam is attempted;
 (b) courses that are expiring DURING the quarter in which the exam is taken do not need to be validated if the student passes the exam; (c) if a student fails the exam on that attempt and further courses expire, rules a and b will be reapplied for subsequent attempts.
 2. In order to be eligible to take the Comprehensive Examination for a second or third time, a student must have no outstanding courses or “incompletes” on his/her M.A. program.

IV. Structure of the Spanish Comprehensive Examination

The M.A. Comprehensive Examination in Spanish is a written exam structured to reflect the two emphases within the Master’s program:  literature and linguistics.  Students will be tested according to the emphasis they have chosen and followed at CSLA.  The various sections of the examination will be administered on each day according to the following schedule.  There will be a break on each day as appropriate.

Literature Emphasis:

Four literature examinations, each 135 minutes in length.  Three questions (out of five) on each examination to be answered.

Two linguistics examinations, each 90 minutes in length and divided into historical linguistics and sociolinguistics.  Two questions (out of five) on each examination to be answered.

Linguistics Emphasis:

Four literature examinations, each 90 minutes in length.  Two questions (out of five) on each examination to be answered.

Two linguistics examinations, each 135 minutes in length and divided into historical linguistics and sociolinguistics. A total of three (out of five) questions on each examination to be answered.

Please note: Questions for both emphases are the same. The difference is only in the number of questions answered, and the duration of each exam.


1.     Peninsular Literature: Beginning to 1700

2.     Peninsular Literature: 1700 to the present


1.     Latin American Literature: Beginning to 1910

2.     Latin American Literature: 1910 to the present


1.     History of the Spanish Language

2.     Sociolinguistics

*Subject to change. Check with Department.

Each exam receives a grade of Pass or Fail. Exams are graded independently by two readers, and must receive the equivalent of a “B” to pass. If the grades assigned by the two readers (who do not consult with each other in the process) do not coincide, either the two readers negotiate the final grade or a third reader is asked to break the tie.

Candidates will be notified of the results by the end of the quarter in which they took the exam. Failing candidates have the right to request a meeting with the Department Chair and/or the Spanish Exam Coordinator in order to be  informed of the reasons for failing.

A candidate in Spanish must pass all six parts in a maximum of three attempts in order to pass the comprehensive examination. Candidates are reminded that courses in M.A. programs expire after seven years.

NOTE: Grammatical correctness, spelling, coherence, and level of expression will be taken into account in the grading of the M.A. examination.

V. Other Requirements

All students must pass the Writing Proficiency Examination in English (UNIV 400) within two quarters semesters of admission.  See the Schedule of Classes for further information and examination dates.

The approved M.A. program must be completed within seven years, with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.  Failure to sustain a 3.0 average will result in probation and eventual disqualification from the Master's program.  The GPA must be raised to 3.0 after completion of two quarters in residence or 16 units, whichever is later.  Failure to meet this requirement will result in disqualification.

All applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose preparatory education was principally in a language other than English must demonstrate competence in English.  Those who do not possess a bachelor's degree from a postsecondary institution where English is the principal language of instruction must receive a minimum score of 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  For further information regarding this requirement, consult the University catalog.