Past Spanish Majors and Minors: Let Us Know Where You
Are and What you Are Doing.


   Spanish Major
   Spanish Minor
   Frequently Asked Questions

   Admission Requirements
   Master of Arts in Romance Languages
   Doctor of Philosophy in Romance Languages

Comprehensive Examination Format for the Degree of Master of Arts in Spanish

Ph.D. Exam Structure - Spanish


Michael Schnepf, Ph. D.
Phone (205) 348-4238
BB Comer 242
Office hours: Fall 2008 Tue & Thu 10:00 - 2:00  


The Department of Modern Languages and Classics offers an exciting major and minor in SPANISH: both are extremely popular as evidenced by the ever-increasing student interest. As of December 2001, for example, SPANISH had almost 150 registered minors.

Spanish Major

The SPANISH MAJOR requires 27 hours on the 300-400 level; a total that includes a mixture of required courses and electives. The curriculum also provides students with an attractive mixture of classes with both a Latin-American and a Spanish Peninsular grounding. Most students begin their 300-level course work with SP 353, Conversation (required). This course is taught by a native speaker and introduces students to total linguistic immersion in the target language. Please note that native or near native speakers are not permitted in this class. SP 356, Grammar and Composition (required), is a rigorous study of grammatical concepts such as the subjunctive. There are two civilization courses: SP 364 and SP 366 (one is required). SP 364 deals with Spanish Peninsular culture and history while SP 366 focuses on similar areas in Latin-America.

Students are also required to select TWO of the four literary survey courses offered: SP 371 and 372 in Spanish Peninsular literature and SP 375 and SP 376 in Latin-American Literature. In these courses, students are introduced to selections taken from important literary works from Spain and Latin-America. Students need not follow any sequence and they may mix and match courses. Please see the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Catalogue for the prerequisites for these and other classes (web site link).

All students are required to take SP 491, Cervantes and Don Quijote. This course focuses on the renowned Spanish novelist and provides students with an in-depth study of a world masterpiece. Please note that SP 491 is offered periodically (usually in the fall) and students should plan their schedules accordingly.

Students are also required to choose a second 400-level course from the wide variety offered by the Spanish faculty. Possibilities are SP 484 (Linguistics); SP 488 (Senior Seminar in Peninsular where topics may range from the Spanish Civil War to Galdós); SP 489 (Senior Seminar in Latin-American) and a series of popular literature classes (SP 421, 422, 425, 426, 434, 436, 441, 493, 494 and the 498 Honors Seminar).

The Spanish faculty is also quite proud of its specialty courses, some of which are offered virtually every semester. These include “senior seminars” in both Latin-American and Spanish Peninsular topics. Past areas of study have been: Spanish cinema, Galdós, the Spanish Civil War, and many others. Similar to these are the SP 490 courses (Open Topics) which may focus on anything from Cuba to Peruvian history to Hispanic women writers.

Spanish Business Courses:

For the remaining six hours of electives, students may select anything on the 300-400 level from Romance Linguistics (SP 361) to SP 421 (19th-century Spanish Peninsular literature). Many students, however, have found the three Spanish Business Courses especially attractive. A native speaker of Spanish trained in both business and pedagogy teaches all three. SP 360 (Commercial Business) serves as an introductory course while SP 390 (Technical Writing) trains the student in the intricacies of business correspondence and jargon. SP 390 (Economics, Politics, and Media) moves even deeper into the subtleties of business and economy.

***With the success of these business courses the Spanish program now offers a new type of major. Students may major in Spanish (College of Arts and Sciences) and international business (Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration). Requirements for the double major are multiple and vary slightly from the standard major. Interested students are encouraged to see their advisers, either in A&S or in C&BA, at the beginning of their college careers.***

Requirements for the major in Spanish. The Spanish major requires 27 semester hours in courses numbered 300 or above, including SP 353; SP 356; SP 364 or SP 366; 6 hours selected from SP 371, SP 372, SP 375, and SP 376; SP 491 and one additional course at the 400-level. A minimum of 12 hours at the 300 or 400 level must be earned on this campus.

Click to download the checklist for the Spanish major (.doc)

27 hrs 300/400 level

SP 353 Conversation
SP 356 Grammar & Composition
SP 364/366 Civilization (Peninsular or Latin American)
ANY TWO of the SURVEY Courses
SP 371 Survey of Span. Peninsular Lit. Pt I
SP 372 Survey of Span. Peninsular Lit. Pt II
SP 375 Survey of LA Lit. Pt. I
SP 376 Survey of LA Lit. Pt. II
SP 491 Cervantes and Don Quijote
SP 400 ELECTIVE (in addition to SP 491)

Spanish Minor

The SPANISH MINOR has emerged over the last few years as one of the most enticing options for students in business, criminal justice, political science and many other areas of study. To complete this minor students must take 15 hours on the 300-400 level where there are three required courses: SP 353 (Conversation), SP 356 (Grammar and Composition), and SP 364 or SP 366 (Civilization). The remaining six hours must come from courses on the 300-400 level. Students in business have found that the Spanish business courses (Commercial, Technical Writing, Economics, Politics, and Media) enhance their marketability significantly.

Requirements for the minor in Spanish. The Spanish minor requires 15 semester hours in courses numbered 300 or above, including SP 353, SP 356, and SP 364 or SP 366. A minimum of 6 hours at the 300 or 400 level must be earned on this campus.

15 HOURS on 300 or 400 LEVEL
2. SP 356 GRAM. & COMP.
3. SP 364 or 366 Civiliz. (Penin./LA)
4. SP 300-400 ELECTIVE
5. SP 300-400 ELECTIVE

Click download the checklist for Spanish minor (.pdf)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many literary survey courses must I take for the major?

A: There are four literary survey courses offered (SP 3171, 371 and 375, 376), but the student must take only two. These may be from either the Latin-American or the Spanish Peninsular offerings. Courses are not sequential, that is, you may take SP 372 before you take SP 371.

Q: What is meant by “Home Hours.

A: “Home hours” refer to hours taken on the Tuscaloosa campus as opposed to transfer hours or hours taken abroad with another institution. For the major, twelve hours on the 300-400 level must be taken on this campus. For the minor, six hours on the 300-400 level must be taken on this campus.

Q: Someone told me that I can take SP 353 (Conversation) and SP 356 (Grammar and Composition) a second time in Spain with the University of Alabama Summer Program in Spain. Is this correct?

A: The answer is yes. SP 353 becomes SP 352 when taken in Spain and SP 356 becomes SP 354 when taken in Spain. It is important to note, however, that this opportunity applies only to the University of Alabama Summer Program. The same does not apply to courses taken with different institutions.

Q: Is it important that I declare my major or minor in Spanish as early as possible in my career?

A: Once you make a decision about your major or minor it is important that you obtain the correct forms (from the major headquarters) and have them signed by the major/minor advisor in Spanish (Dr. Michael Schnepf). If you major in Spanish your registration packets will then be sent to the Department of Modern Languages and Classics.

Q: Do I need to be advised by Dr. Schnepf each semester?

A: Yes! If you are a major you need Dr. Schnepf’s signature to have your computer registration time released. Furthermore, Dr. Schnepf will talk to about what you should be taking in Spanish and in other areas. He will provide with a “check sheet” that will help guide you through the selection of classes. He might also have information about new or rarely offered courses.

Q: What exactly are “W” courses and how do they impact my choice of classes?

A: In Arts and Sciences each student must take two “W” or Writing Courses in which there are certain requirements concerning the amount of writing asked of the student. The “W” courses in Spanish at the present time are SP 491, SP 493, and SP 494. SP 491 (Cervantes) is a required course. Both “W” courses do not have to be in Spanish. Students should consult with Dr. Schnepf about other possibilities.

Q: Why does it state in the catalogue that a student may take the Open Topics courses for from 1 to 6 hours of credit?

A: The 1 to 6 hour range is there for highly special or unique situations ONLY! As a general rule, virtually all courses in Spanish carry 3 hours of credit. Students should verified any exceptional situtation with Dr. Schnepf.

Q: I know that the University of Alabama has an excellent summer program in Alcalá de Henares. How can I get information about that program and how many how hours can I take in one summer?

A: José A. Cano directs this fine program. Questions should be directed to him at the enclosed web site and e-mail address.

ALABAMA IN SPAIN (www.spain.ua.edu)

Q: How do I proceed if I am going abroad with another university?

A: It is very important that you speak with Dr. Schnepf before you make the trip. Transfer credit is sometimes difficult to determine. The best option is to decide if and how a course will transfer before you make your travel plans.

Q: I have heard of “Independent Study” courses where a student works individually with a professor on a certain topic. How do I go about arranging a study program of this sort.

A: “Independent Study” courses are available only under special circumstances. When a professor agrees to this sort of project he/she voluntarily accepts an increased teaching load. Students should consult their professors beforehand about the possibility of any such project. If an agreement is reached the major/minor advisor should be appraised in writing.

Q: How do I register as a Spanish major?

A: Go to Clark Hall 200 or your first major headquarters (if you are a double major) and ask for a major/minor form for Spanish. Make an appointment to see Dr. Schnepf in BB Comer 219. He will sign your sheet, which you must then have the chair of Modern Languages and Classics sign. It is your responsibility to see that this sheet is handed in at your headquarters. Dr. Schnepf will explain the various requirements and give you a checklist of the required courses in Spanish. He will also ask you to fill out and sign a form that he will keep and which shows that you have spoken with him.


Dr. Aida Toledo
Graduate Adviser of Spanish
B.B. Comer, office 237
Tel: 205-348-2863
Fax: 205-348-2042
Or: tatuana@bama.ua.edu

Admission Requirements

General requirements for admission to the Graduate School are set forth in the "Academic Policies" section of the Graduate Catalog 2001-03. All applicants to graduate degree programs in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics must submit test results from either the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test in support of the application.
For students with deficiencies in undergraduate preparation, admission may be contingent upon completion of designated undergraduate requirements. Qualified students who are holders of an appropriate undergraduate degree may be admitted directly to the doctoral program in Romance languages. However, in such circumstances completion of all requirements for the appropriate master of arts program, including comprehensive testing and subsequent awarding of the master of arts degree, will be a prerequisite for completion of the doctoral degree.
Qualified students can seek dual admission to the School of Law and to any master of arts program offered in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics. If admitted to both, the student will be exempted from at least 6 hours of coursework for the juris doctor degree.

Master of Arts in Romance Languages

A single degree program incorporates a variety of options and tracks:
There are three options: the French Option, the Spanish Option, and the Romance languages Option (which combines languages). All three options have thesis and nonthesis tracks. The French and Spanish options also allow for an applied linguistics track (thesis or nonthesis). Regardless of the option or track, all new graduate teaching assistants must enroll for the Practicum in Applied Linguistics (either FR 512 or SP 502).
Nonthesis track of the master of arts in Romance languages (Plan II). The nonthesis track for the French, Spanish, and Romance languages options incorporates 30 hours of coursework (or 36 hours of coursework for the applied linguistics version). Included in all nonthesis tracks of the master of arts in Romance languages is a core of five courses in the five areas listed below (approximately 50 percent of the major). Twenty-one hours of the coursework must be language specific.

1. Teaching Practicum/Topics in Linguistics
2. Proseminar: Research Methodology/Critical Theory
3. Topics in Culture and Civilization
4. Graduate Seminar
5. Special Topics/Directed Readings

All nonthesis tracks require success on comprehensive exams before granting of the degree.
Thesis track of the master of arts in Romance languages (Plan I). A description of the typical configuration for the various thesis tracks of the master of arts in Romance languages follows.

* Spanish Option, standard version with thesis (Plan I). Curriculum requirements: 24 hours of coursework and a thesis. The curriculum centers on Peninsular and Spanish-American literature. Requirements include success on comprehensive written and oral examinations before granting of the degree. The written examination is based on the coursework. The oral examination is based on the coursework and on a pre-established reading list.

* Spanish Option, applied linguistics track with thesis (Plan I). Curriculum requirements: 30 hours of coursework and a thesis. In addition to the thesis, the applied linguistics track involves three components: language, linguistics, and applied linguistics. The language component consists of 15 hours of course credit in Spanish language, literature, and culture (a minimum of 6 hours must be in Peninsular literature and 6 hours in Spanish-American literature). The linguistics component is comprised of a 3-hour descriptive linguistics course (SP 556). The applied linguistics component consists of 12 hours of coursework in second language acquisition and pedagogy (SP 502, EN 613, and two of the following: SP 581, EN 610, EN 612, CIE 577, or other approved courses; for descriptions of courses bearing the EN prefix, see the Department of English section of this catalog; for a description of CIE 577, see "Curriculum and Instruction Course Descriptions" in the College of Education section). Requirements include success on comprehensive written and oral examinations before granting of the degree. All examinations are based on the coursework.

* Romance Languages Option, with thesis (Plan I). Curriculum requirements: 24-30 hours of coursework and a thesis. The curriculum requires study of French and Spanish, one as the major and one as the minor. The major includes a minimum of 18 hours. The minor includes a minimum of 12 hours. More than the minimum is recommended for both the major and the minor. Graduate courses in Italian studies are also available (see the RL prefix in course listings below). Requirements include success on comprehensive written and oral examinations before granting of the degree. All exams are based on the coursework.

Click here for the Masters READING LIST

Doctor of Philosophy in Romance Languages

Two options are available:

Spanish option. The curriculum is centered on Spanish, though up to 12 hours of coursework in a related discipline is admissible. All new graduate teaching assistants must take SP 502. At the conclusion of the coursework, a qualifying examination must take place before work on the dissertation can begin. The qualifying examination includes written and oral components. The written examination is comprised of seven sections, all pertaining to the standard periods of Peninsular and Spanish-American literature. Prior to the written examination, the candidate will determine two periods to be of primary interest, and these will figure more prominently in the exam structure.

Romance languages option. Candidates for the Romance languages track will be allowed to tailor their programs individually, with the advice of a graduate faculty committee. The goal will be to meet the interests and career requirements of the candidate by utilizing the full resources of the department and of cognate graduate programs offered by the University. Normally, students choosing this option major in French or Spanish, with a minor in the other language. However, both the major and the minor are understood to be flexible and possibly interdisciplinary. For example, a variety of alternative minors are possible, depending upon the student's needs, and limited only by his or her qualifications and the cooperation of other faculties. Some pre-approved minors for qualified students include German, TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language), and Latin American studies. Other customized programs can be made to incorporate combinations of coursework in linguistics, applied linguistics, Italian studies, history, art history, women studies, English, anthropology, etc. All new graduate teaching assistants must take SP 502. The qualifying examination for the Romance languages option takes the following form. The written examination is formulated by a graduate faculty committee and is based on the candidate's fields and coursework. It has as its goal the cognitive and conceptual understanding of the material actually studied, including the synthesis of possibly disparate fields in the student's curriculum. It is conceived of as a "defense and illustration" of the student's program. The oral examination coincides with the presentation of the dissertation proposal and focuses on the coursework and the preliminary research for the proposed dissertation.

General Departmental Requirements for the Ph.D.

In addition to the program-specific requirements presented above, all doctoral candidates, regardless of the option selected, must adhere to the following. The minimal formal coursework required is 60 semester hours, which may include up to 30 hours of transferred credits earned at another institution. Students who have completed a master's thesis, however, need accumulate only 54 hours of coursework. Once all coursework is completed, an additional 24 hours of dissertation research are required. All doctoral candidates must possess reading knowledge of one language in addition to English, their native language, and their language of specialization. It is strongly recommended that, before the termination of studies, all doctoral candidates reside for a period in a country or location requiring constant interaction in the language of specialization.


Comprehensive Examination Format for the Degree of Master of Arts in Spanish

Modern Languages and Classics
The University of Alabama

The Master of Arts degree in Spanish consists of 30 hours of graduate coursework, of which, 27 hours must be taken in the Spanish section. The students must take a minimum of three (3) courses in Peninsular literature, three (3) courses in Latin American literature and two (2) courses in Spanish linguistics; they must add one more course, taken as well in the Spanish section in any area of their choice, in order to obtain 27 credits, divided in the following areas of study:

Twentieth-Century Latin America
Latin America before 1900
Golden Age Peninsular
Nineteenth-Century Peninsular
Twentieth-Century Peninsular
Spanish linguistics.

A student who has already completed the requirement of 27 credits may take the remaining three credits outside the Spanish section in order to complete the 30 required credits. The student must ascertain that he/she has taken at least one course with each professor in his/her area of specialization.

Requirements for the Comprehensive Examinations of the
Master of Arts in Spanish.

The examination is based on the courses the student has taken during his/her course of study; thus, it is important that the student keep an archive of the course syllabi of every course taken. Should the student for some reason, not take a course in one of the assigned areas, he/she will have to make up for this omission by supplying readings from the existing Reading List for the Master of Arts in Spanish.

The Comprehensive Examination in Spanish contains no oral examination. There is only the written examination.

The examinations are administered only in the Spring and Fall terms. In the Fall, the exam is taken in October. In the Spring, the exam is taken in March. The students must make a request in writing (via electronic mail or written letter) to the Graduate Advisor. A student must do this in the semester prior to taking the examination. For example, should one wish to take the exam in the Fall semester, he/she should inform the Graduate Advisor in the Spring semester.

The comprehensive examination in each area will run for one hour in each area. Because students are taking exams in six subject areas, they will have an hour to prepare for the exam followed by an hour to write it. The examination is taken over a period of three days, with a day of rest between each day. A typical sequence for taking the exam would follow this schedule: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (2 hours each morning and 2 hours each afternoon).

The professor in the area of specialization decides if the student passes his/her examination. In order to pass the exam, a student must pass in five of the six areas.

Should the student fail in more than one area, he/she must repeat the TWO AREAS two weeks later. In this case, the questions will be the same with one or two modifications that the professor may deem necessary for better understanding. Should the student fail in one of these two exams, then number four as mentioned above is applied again. Should the student fail both sections, then he/she has one more opportunity to retake the failed exams. IN THIS CASE, THE STUDENT MUST WAIT TO RETAKE THE EXAMINATION UNTIL THE FOLLOWING SEMESTER.

Should the student fail more than two areas, he/she must repeat the failed areas in the following semester. In this case, it is up to the professor to decide if the examination questions will remain the same or be changed.
The student may retake the failed areas twice.



Ph.D. Exam Structure

1. Five (5) sections: 20 Century Peninsular, 19 Century Peninsular, Golden Age, 20th Century Latin America, Latin America before 1900.

2. One major area to be chosen from the above five. Two-hour exam.

3. Four (4) minor areas. One-hour exams for each.

4. All professors vote on each written section, pass or fail, majority rule.

5. All written sections must be passed before the student passes on to the oral exam. Students may retake a section twice. There must be at least three weeks between first and second retakes. The third attempt may not be made in the same semester as the first two.

6. The student has successfully passed the written section once all sections are passed.

7. Each professor constructs the oral exam (pass/fail) based on the possible need to rehabilitate questions answered on the written, questions asked but not answered on the written, and the Ph.D. reading list.

8. All professors vote on whether the student passes each section of the oral exam, pass or fail, majority rules.

9. Student passes the oral exam if a) he/she passes the exam in the major area, and b) he/she passes three (3) of four (4) oral sections.

10. Sections of the oral exam may be retaken twice. There must be at least two weeks between the first and second retakes. If a third attempt is necessary, it must not occur in the same semester as the first two tries.

11. The student is deemed to have passed the Ph.D. qualifying exams after successfully passing both the written and oral exams.

12. The Ph.D. Reading List will be a base, upon which in consultation with the professor in each area, works may be added according to student's dissertation topic.

13. Ph.D. course work will be taken in the following ratio:
Option I
15 hours of Penninsular Literature
9 hours of Latin American Literature
3 discretionary hours to be used to complement the major area (Peninsular lit.)
3 hours - SP 502. If student does not need 502, these hours must be used to complement the major area.
Option II
15 hours of Latin American Literature
9 hours of Peninsular Literature
3 discretionary hours to be used to complement the major area (LA lit)
3 hours - SP 502. If student does not need 502, these hours must be used to complement the major area.