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Spanish and Portuguese, Deparment of Languages, Literatures and Cultures


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are your minimum acceptable GRE scores?

    We do not have a minimum requirement; in past years however, the average score on the Verbal exam has been around 610 or 620 (in the old scoring system), with Math scores in the 500s. We give less weight to the Writing score because we can see ourselves the quality of the applicant's prose and ability to construct and argument in the Writing Sample

  2. What are your minimum acceptable TOEFL scores?

    The minimum acceptable scores vary by style of test and are as follows:

    Paper-Based Test: 550
    Computer-Based Test: 213
    Internet-Based Test:80
  3. What are your minimum GPA requirements?

    We do not have a minimum requirement. GPAs should be over 3.0 to be competetive in admissions decisions; 3.5 and up are most competetive.

  4. What are you looking for in an applicant?

    There are two questions before the admissions committee. The first -is the candidate ready for advanced study in the discipline?- is assessed via the GPA and the GRE scores, the Writing Sample, and the letters of recommendation (for that reason, letters from professors or others who can speak to your academic skills are more valuable to the committee than letters from employers or other sorts of personal references). The second -are the applicant's aims a good match for our strengths? -is assessed via the Personal Statement, where we learn what it is about the Spanish & Portuguese Program at UMass and in the Five Colleges that is a strong match for the student's intellectual aims and scholarly objectives.

  5. Can applicants with a Bachelor's Degree apply directly to the PhD program and receive their MA in the process of working toward their doctorate?

    No. Applicants with a BA or BS must apply to the MA program; only applicants with a Master's degree in hand (in Spanish/Portuguese Languages & Literatures, Linguistics or another closely-related field) may apply to the PhD program. If you have a Master's degree already and are unsure whether it would count for the purposes of admission to the PhD program, contact the Graduate Program Director. You may be asked to provide a transcript (to assess the content of MA coursework), or syllabi.

  6. Will applicants be able to transfer in graduate courses taken at another university?

    MA candidates may transfer up to 6 courses, upon approval from the Graduate Studies Committee, but the courses must have been taken no more than 3 years prior to the student's acceptance into the M.A. Program. PhD candidates are not allowed to transfer in courses, as per Graduate School policy.

  7. In what language should the applicant submit the Writing Sample? How long should it be?

    The Writing Sample is a tool used by the Graduate Studies Committee to gauge your writing in the target language of your proposed track.

    Hispanic Linguistics: English or Spanish
    Lusophone Literatures & Cultures: Portuguese
    Hispanic Languages & Cultures: Spanish or Catalan

    In regards to the length, there is no real limit: applicants may even submit their completed thesis. The sample should be an example of academic work that includes analytical and critical discourse.

  8. When will applicants be notified of our decision?

    Review of the applications begins after the February deadline passes; in the first weeks, members of the admissions committee begin reviewing and evaluating materials. The committe typically meets for the first time during the second month of classes -that is the last week in February. Deliberations usually take about a month and a half. So the earliest people should expect to hear any result is April. Although we try to offer funding to all admited students, these decisions often take longer than expected; thus students could still be accepted with funding as late as June.

  9. What is the Five College connection? How does it work? Can students take classes at other schools? Work with other professors?

    The Five College Consortium allows students in the Five College Graduate Program the opporunity to draw not only on the faculty at UMass Amherst, but also on the area's other colleges: Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst and Hampshire. Typically those additional faculty memembers lead Independent Studies and supervise exam fields, though sometimes students enroll in five-college courses for graduate credit.

Have more questions?

Many common questions about the Spanish & Portuguese Program can be answered by reading our Requirements. For more general questions, it would be best to consult the Graduate Student Handbook with the Graduate School.