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Antonio Medina Rivera, Department of Modern Languages Chair
Stephen Gingerich, Graduate Program Director
The Master of Arts in Spanish program provides advanced study in Hispanic language, literature, culture, and linguistics to individuals preparing for, or involved in, a career in teaching, or in other professional programs, such as law and international business. The program meets the needs of students seeking a terminal master’s degree and those who are preparing to enter a Ph.D. program, as well as individuals studying for personal enrichment or professional advancement.
The Master of Arts in Spanish degree program is housed in the Department of Modern Languages. The department also offers courses in support of the Master of Education degree with a specialization in Curriculum and Instruction in French, German, and Spanish. Thus, students have the opportunity to be part of a larger group of graduate students and to take related courses, when appropriate, in other language or focus areas.
The program is organized to support both full-time and part-time students, and particularly those holding teaching positions. Courses are offered throughout the academic year and during the summer. Study abroad programs in the summer allow full-time immersion in a Hispanic culture and intensive language study.
The Master of Arts in Spanish program has the following unique features:
1. A personalized program plan allows students to specialize in an area of interest and makes them consciously aware of their course work as a coherent whole.
2. The study abroad requirement obliges students to relate to native speakers in their own environment and to apply learning in a practical manner.
3. The option to include four hours outside of the Spanish area allows students to view their specialized training in a broader humanistic context. This reflects both national trends and the needs of students, especially those who are teachers and will continue in that career.
4. The inclusion of oral proficiency standards relates to rising enrollments in foreign language study at all levels. In addition, reassessment by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and professional associations devoted to specific languages, as well as recent trends in the general field of foreign language education, have made this inclusion timely.
Faculty Research and Publications
All members of the graduate faculty are active scholars who participate in regional, national, and international associations. In recent years, members of the faculty have made significant contributions by authoring books, book chapters, and articles in a wide variety of scholarly fields.
The members of the graduate faculty publish extensively in the areas of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, Arabic influence and presence in the Hispanic World, gender studies, Latin-American and Caribbean literature with special emphasis on women writers, Mexican and contemporary Peninsular poetry and prose. Faculty members also have published on foreign-language education, especially the teaching of foreign literatures and language acquisition.
A limited number of graduate assistantships and graduate tuition waivers are provided each year to qualified students. These students may assist in course instruction or other activities as assigned. Students interested in applying for an assistantship or graduate-tuition grant should write to the MA in Spanish Graduate Director, when applying to the program. Reference should be made to prior teaching experience and to the anticipated effect of an assistantship or graduate-tuition grant on the student’s plan of graduate study. An undergraduate grade-point average of at least 3.0 is required. Students who are selected as teaching assistants must take the graduate teaching methods course (SPN 631) as early as possible in their program as part of their supervised experience.
Graduates of the Master of Arts in Spanish program typically continue to be teachers in local secondary schools, teach at the community-college level, or enter Ph.D. programs in Spanish. Other careers are diverse, including government service, international business, librarian-ship, media, and management fields.
In addition to College of Graduate Studies requirements for admission, applicants must meet the following criteria:
1. An undergraduate major in Spanish, or the equivalent, as determined by the Graduate Studies Committee of the Department of Modern Languages. Students without an undergraduate major in Spanish may be admitted under special status and are required to take prescribed courses at either the undergraduate or the graduate level to ensure adequate preparation. Undergraduate courses taken to remediate deficiencies do not count toward graduate degree requirements. Graduate work may begin for any area as soon as appropriate course work or experience qualifies the student.
2. A speaking ability in Spanish equivalent to “intermediate high” level guidelines established by the ACTFL. Contact the Department of Modern Languages to arrange for an oral proficiency interview.
3. Applicants must submit a personal essay in Spanish. The essay must outline the applicant’s professional goals and how they relate to the program. The essay is considered both an example of the applicant’s writing ability and an expression of the applicant’s professional goals.
4. Each applicant must submit a sample of work in Spanish. It may be a test, a significant homework assignment, or a term paper.
After admission to the program, students may request transfer of a maximum of eight hours of graduate work completed in appropriate courses at other institutions. Transfer credit usually is not granted for courses taken more than four years prior to admittance to the program. Transfer credit is subject to approval by the Graduate Program Director and the Chair of the Department of Modern Languages. Transfer credit generally will not count toward meeting the core requirements of the program.
In addition to the graduation requirements of the College of Graduate Studies, a candidate for the Master of Arts degree in Spanish must complete a program of study for a total of thirty-two credit hours at the 500-level or above with a grade-point average of at least 3.0. The student works with an advisor to develop an appropriate plan of study that must be reviewed and approved by the Graduate Program Director and the Chair of the Department of Modern Languages. The program plan should be submitted for approval as early as feasible after the student has completed eight hours of acceptable graduate work. Upon approval of the Plan of Study, the student becomes a candidate for the MA degree. The program must include the following components:
1. The core requirement composed of a course in research methods and one course each in literature, language, and culture (the three traditional divisions within the field of Hispanic studies).
2. A field of concentration of at least twelve credit hours constituting a coherent and focused program of study developed by the student in consultation with an advisor. Distribution courses may be applied to the field of concentration as appropriate.
3. A maximum of four hours of graduate-level course work outside of the Spanish area may be applied toward the MA degree with the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee in the Department of Modern Languages. This is not an option when a student has chosen to transfer credit from another institution or when the student has chosen to write a thesis.
4. Students are required to participate in one of the Department’s Summer Study Abroad Programs, which are offered annually in Mexico, and bi-annually in Spain or Costa Rica.. Cleveland State has formal programs for this purpose that provide University oversight, faculty, and courses in combination with the work completed in these programs abroad. Student aid and both internal and external scholarship funding may be available. The credit earned in these programs applies directly toward the degree. Study abroad undertaken on an independent basis applies under the transfer credit provision. Students with appropriate foreign experience and achievement at the “advanced” level on the ACTFL oral proficiency test may petition to be exempted from this requirement. Students for whom the study abroad experience would create a hardship may petition to develop an alternative experience in consultation with their advisors. Students can participate in no more than two Summer Study Abroad Programs for credit toward the degree. A minimum of three courses/ twelve credits (including SPN 501) need to be taken in a regular CSU semester in which the students will have the opportunity to write three research papers for our regular Cleveland State faculty.
5. Demonstrated speaking ability in Spanish equivalent to ACTFL “advanced” proficiency is an exit requirement.
6. The MA program in Spanish does not accept more than one B- in the student program of study. Students obtaining more than one B- will need to take additional courses to cover for the deficiency, until completing thirty-two credits with no more than one B-.
Program and Course Approval
The MLA Spanish faculty closely monitor the academic quality of the programs in which students enroll. Students are required to meet with both the program’s director and their graduate advisor to discuss the courses they wish to take to ensure that they will receive credit on their return. The Spanish faculty may impose additional requirements for credit to be granted and will evaluate credits upon return from study abroad.
Each student must pass a final oral examination. In addition, each student must pass a written examination, covering three fields of the program reading list or must take two additional courses, which provide additional depth and breadth to the student’s area(s) of concentration.
For the written examinations, students are responsible for readings in three fields to be chosen from the fifteen that comprise the areas of Peninsular Civilization and Culture, Latin-American Civilization, Language and Linguistic Studies, Peninsular Literature, and Latin-American Literature.
With the approval of the departmental Graduate Committee, students may elect to write a thesis instead of taking eight hours of course work.