Program Requirements

Graduate Program Requirements

Coursework

Students take a total of sixteen courses during their first three years at Brown: four courses per semester in the first year, three per semester in the second year, and two in the fall semester of the third year, one of which may be an independent study devoted to work on the major paper. (Students entering the program with an MA may be exempted from up to two courses, upon consultation with the director of graduate studies.) Students are required to take a course with each member of the literature faculty, which promotes exposure to a range of different texts and approaches, and encourages close interaction throughout the department. Course offerings are plentiful, as each faculty member teaches one graduate seminar each year; for sample offerings, see our listing of recent graduate courses. Students are also encouraged to explore their textual, theoretical, and interdisciplinary interests through courses in other departments at Brown.

Of the sixteen courses, two are required: a course on the History of the Spanish Language, taught biannually, and a methodology seminar, taken in the spring of the first year alongside students from other language departments, and which provides excellent training for future teaching. The Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown offers further training in specific aspects of teaching, and many of our students choose to follow certificate programs over the course of their degree to enrich their teaching acumen.

We ensure active interaction between students and faculty during the first years of the program, to mentor and support our students as they move toward more specialized and independent work in the dissertation-writing phase. Faculty members meet twice-yearly to discuss the progress of students still taking coursework, to confirm that all are performing well and in line with the timeline; students will receive letters with a brief assessment of their performance. Note: two or more incompletes jeopardizes good standing in the program; two or more B grades are considered unacceptable, and will result in a probationary period; no grades below a B are accepted.

Languages

Aside from fluency in Spanish and English, students must show proficiency in two further languages during their time at Brown: the first by the end of the second year in the program, the second by the end of the fourth year. These requirements can be fulfilled by taking a language course; passing a translation exam; taking a seminar in the chosen language; or showing credit for one of these options earned from another institution.

Preliminary exams

We have recently approved changes to the graduate program to ensure general coverage during the first two years of study, and more focused work in a specific area of interest during the third year. Students who entered the program from 2013 onward will take preliminary exams after their second summer in the program, in September of the third year. These exams will cover a newly-established reading list of 70 books, evenly divided between peninsular and Latin American, spanning medieval to contemporary texts. There will be two exams divided by geographical area, each lasting four hours, and each requiring students to answer three questions out of four. The exams will be discussed and approved by faculty at the first meeting of the new academic year.

Major paper

After passing the preliminary exam, students will begin work on a “major paper”, a 25-30 page study of a topic related to the dissertation topic. Students sign up for an independent study with a faculty member of their choosing to work on this paper; it can be thought of as the first draft of a chapter or article related to the dissertation, or as a methodological exploration of topics to be examined in the dissertation. The major paper should be completed within the semester.

Oral exams and dissertation proposal

The spring of the 3rd year is devoted to oral exams and the dissertation proposal. Students should at this point identify at least a primary advisor and a second reader, and may also choose at this point to include a third committee member, who may be drawn from the department, from another department at Brown, or from a related field at another institution.

Working closely with these committee members, students will put together specialized reading lists in a major and a minor area, for a one-hour oral exam with the faculty to take place the week after spring break.

The dissertation proposal, which should be no more than eight pages (plus a bibliography), is to be presented by the second-last week of the spring semester, and discussed in a meeting with the faculty in the final week of the semester.

Fourth and fifth years

After students have advanced to candidacy (once oral exams have been passed and the dissertation proposal accepted), research becomes more independent, and involves fewer members of the department. However, we remain actively involved with our students in professional development, through workshops and individual consultations, in fellowship and grant applications, in putting together articles and book reviews, and with careful guidance through the job market process. We encourage our students to apply in their fourth year for fellowships offered by different entities at Brown, as a way of sharing their research in multi-disciplinary environments, such as fellowships sponsored by the Cogut Center, by the John Carter Brown Library, by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Students who remain in good standing midway through the fifth year, but who need a little extra time to finish writing their dissertation, will be eligible to apply for dissertation completion support through the graduate school.

TIMELINE

 

 

Fall

Spring

1st year

4 seminars; no teaching

4 seminars (inc. Methodology); no teaching

2nd year

3 seminars; teach 1 course

 

3 seminars; teach 1 course

Fulfill 1st language requirement

3rd year

2 seminars; major paper; teach 1 course

Oral exams and dissertation proposal;

teach 1 course

4th year

Dissertation writing; teach 1 course

Dissertation writing; teach 1 course

Apply for internal fellowships

Fulfill 2nd language requirement

5th year

Dissertation writing; no teaching; job market applications

Dissertation writing; no teaching

Complete dissertation, or apply for dissertation completion fellowship