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Graduate Student Handbook for Master's Degree in Spanish

Catalogue Year 2023-2025

Table of Contents


The Graduate Student Handbook contains information on all aspects of the M.A. program in Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages at Ohio University, such as departmental policies, regulations, requirements, etc. Although most of this information is specifically departmental, some of it also concerns the College of Arts and Sciences and the university. For further details in these areas, you should consult the Graduate Catalog for your entry year.

Department Organization

The Department of Modern Languages is part of the College of Arts and Sciences and employs 16 full-time faculty members who teach German, French, Italian, and Spanish. The department services the college’s language requirement as well as the requirements of other colleges and teaches approximately 2,000 students each year in the 1000- and 2000-level sequence. The department offers majors leading to a B.A. in Spanish, a B.A. in French; minors in German, French, and Spanish; certificates in German Studies and in Italian Studies; and an M.A. in Spanish.

Department of Modern Languages Mission Statement

The study of language is fundamental to the liberal arts tradition of higher education. As a department that offers major, minor, and/or certificate programs in French, German, Italian, and Spanish, the Department of Modern Languages firmly believes that to study another language and culture adds multiple dimensions to education. Consequently, we are committed not only to developing communication skills in a second language, but also to teaching students to analyze cultural and literary texts, conduct and present original research, access and evaluate multiple points of view, and develop life-long learning strategies. We help students develop the ability to appreciate diversity and think critically from beginning language through M.A.-level literature, culture, pedagogy, linguistics, translation, and film courses. Our study abroad programs provide students the opportunity to experience, analyze, and understand cultural differences while improving their language skills. Students in Modern Languages acquire tools needed for professional success as global citizens.

Spanish Graduate Faculty Profiles

José Delgado-Costa, Ph.D. University of Virginia. Contemporary Spanish-American Narrative and Theater.

Muriel Gallego, Ph.D. Purdue University. Applied Linguistics–Spanish, Second Language Acquisition, Language Teaching Methodology.

Esther Hernández Esteban, Ph.D. Florida State University. Contemporary Peninsular Literature and Cultural Studies, Contemporary Spanish Women Writers, Migration Studies.

Nelson Hippolyte, Ph. D. University of Pittsburgh. Spanish and Latin American Film, Hispanic Literature, Culture and History.

Joanna Mitchell, Ph.D. University of Rochester. Contemporary Latin American and U.S. Latinx narrative and theater, Jewish Latin American literature, literature of immigration.

Betsy Partyka, Ph.D. University of Oxford. Contemporary Spanish-American Literature; Oral Narrative & Folklore; Spanish American Women’s Literature; Paraguayan Literature.

María Postigo, Ph.D. Universidad de Valladolid. Translation and Interpreting Studies; Applied Linguistics and Cinema

Anne Scott, M.A. The Pennsylvania State University. Hispanic Linguistics; Second Language Acquisition, Language Teaching Methodology.

Daniel Torres, Ph.D. University of Cincinnati. Colonial & Contemporary Spanish-American Poetry; Literary Theory.

Learning Outcomes: Spanish M.A.

Successful graduates of our M.A. programs will:

  1. Analyze literary and other cultural products and practices through appropriate theoretical and historical lenses.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of phenomena in different subfields of Hispanic linguistics.
  3. Implement teaching strategies in line with current language acquisition theories.

Career Goals

The M.A. program in Spanish prepares students for a range of professional pursuits. Our M.A. graduates often pursue doctoral work in Spanish language and literature, others teach Spanish in institutes and schools, and some work in non-teaching careers in business, government, or administration. Our learning outcomes emphasize familiarity with Hispanic cultures and cultural products, analytic skills, research, as well as oral and written communicative competence, all of which apply to numerous professional fields. Students are encouraged to discuss career goals with their graduate advisor, a mentor, or another member of the faculty as soon as they begin their studies. It is also helpful to visit the Center for Advising, Career and Experiential Learning (Baker Center 417), where students can seek advice and tap into many resources for career planning. Spanish M.A. students have the option of obtaining certification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) here on campus through coursework in the Department of Linguistics (see "Degree requirements and Course Offerings"). The department also offers valuable volunteer opportunities teaching Spanish in local elementary schools (see "Community Involvement" below). Visit the Department of Modern Languages website for a listing of possible careers.

Professional Involvement

Graduate students should acquaint themselves with the major professional organizations and societies and their publications. Of special interest are the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP), which publishes Hispania; and the Modern Language Association (MLA), which is responsible for the MLA International Bibliography, and the MLA Handbook, the standard reference for graduate student papers. Also of interest are the American Council for Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), which publishes Foreign Language Annals and administers the official Oral Proficiency exams, and the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Association (NFMLTA), which publishes the Modern Language Journal. These organizations have inexpensive student membership rates, and students should consider joining at least one of them.

There are also regional MLA organizations and regional AATSP and ACTFL organizations. These groups meet on a regular basis, have special programs, and will be of interest and value to graduate students. They provide students with professional contacts and a good look at the profession as it operates in other institutions and other areas of the country. Our local Ohio Valley Foreign Language Alliance (OVFLA) meets at Ohio University and provides a forum for high school and university language instructors to share ideas. You may attend and/or present free of charge.

Special areas within Hispanic studies also have their own organizations. Examples are the Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana (Revista Iberoamericana), Linguistic Society of America (LSA, Language), the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL, Applied Linguistics) and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA, Latin American Research Review - LARR). For additional information on these groups, consult any faculty member whose focus is the area in question.

Here on campus, the Institute for the Empirical Study of Language (IESL) is an interdisciplinary forum offering an environment for students interested in language research to interact and connect with other students and faculty. Students can become IESL members and involve themselves in joint research projects and institute-sponsored colloquia as attendees, participants, and/or presenters. For more information, please visit the IESL website.

In recent years, M.A. students from the Department of Modern Languages have served as representatives on Graduate Student Senate (GSS). GSS is one of the five shared governance bodies within Ohio University administration and acts as the official representative body of graduate students enrolled at Ohio University. If you are interested in serving, please visit the Graduate Student Senate website.

Community Involvement

Ohio University and the city of Athens sponsor various organizations and events related to languages and cultures that provide an excellent opportunity for graduate students to learn and to become a more integral part of the university and Athens communities.

  1. Sigma Delta Pi (National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, founded in 1917): The department sponsors a chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, Pi Rho/Tau founded in 1986. Membership is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Most of our faculty are also members. Those interested in membership in the society should contact Dr. Betsy Partyka for information. This award-winning organization is very active and requests your participation in all events.
  2. FLES (Foreign Languages in Elementary Schools): Graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in community service by teaching Spanish at area elementary schools. See Dr. Betsy Partyka for information.
  3. Colloquium / OLAC (Ohio Latin Americanist Conference): Sponsored by the Spanish section of the Department of Modern Languages at Ohio University and/or in collaboration with the Center for Latin American Studies at The Ohio State University. The conference and/or colloquia seek to promote interest in the Spanish-speaking world.
  4. Translation Club – The club hosts guest lecturers to describe the details and process of translation, and interpreting workshops for practical purposes and fostering a dialogue between different languages. See Dr. María Postigo for information.
  5. International Education Week: This week of activities takes place in November. All students and faculty are encouraged to participate in the many presentations and events.

Mentoring Program

The Graduate Chair assigns each graduate student a full-time faculty mentor for the two-year program. This relationship provides opportunities for the student to dialogue with an experienced professional in the field. Students should develop a relationship with their mentor from early in the program and seek out that person for advice regarding preparation for comprehensive exams. Mentors do not act as academic advisors. Consult with the graduate chair for academic advising.

Summer Teaching

The department staffs first-year Spanish language classes during the summer with TAs. Compensation for summer teaching is in addition to the normal stipend. Since there are fewer classes available than instructors interested in teaching, TAs should not expect a summer teaching assignment. During spring semester, the graduate chair will solicit requests for summer teaching. We assign summer teaching at the end of spring semester using the following criteria:

  1. Previous teaching performance (based on classroom observations, course evaluations, and input from TA supervisors). TA supervisors do not oversee summer teaching; therefore, summer instructors must be qualified to work effectively independent of direct supervision.
  2. Experience.
  3. Financial/professional/academic need (TAs who need compensation in order to remain in Athens may receive preference, for example).
  4. Academic performance (TAs who have not performed well in their academic program will be considered less qualified for summer assignments).
  5. Previous summer or prior additional assignments (a TA who has taught two sections during one semester in the previous year might not be considered for summer teaching, for example).
  6. Year in the program (first-year TAs receive assignments before second-year TAs for 1000-level classes, provided the first-year TAs meet several of the above criteria).

We assign most classes to first-year TAs. Second-year TAs receive lower priority because they will have completed our program by their second summer.

As the above policy indicates, the process of distribution of summer teaching assignments is complex. We are determined to make decisions based on fair and reasonable application of the criteria and we request your understanding that we cannot accommodate everyone.

Grievance Procedures

If a graduate student has a grievance concerning course work or teaching duties, he or she should first discuss the complaint directly with the instructor or supervisor involved. If this action does not resolve the problem, the student should then consult the Graduate Chair, then the chair of the Department, and then the Associate Dean at the College of Arts and Sciences. The department convenes a grievance committee for issues that remain unresolved, and students have recourse to university resources such as the Office of the Ombudsperson.

Outstanding Teaching Associate Award

The Department of Modern Languages faculty recognizes one outstanding graduate teaching associate each spring. The College of Arts and Sciences established this prestigious award in 1972 to recognize the contributions of outstanding Graduate Teaching Associates at Ohio University. The Spanish faculty hopes that this award will encourage graduate students to strive for excellence in teaching. The recipient receives a modest monetary award and a certificate of recognition from the College of Arts and Sciences. The TA supervisor proposes a candidate to the Spanish faculty for confirmation taking into consideration classroom observations (her own and those of other TAs), course evaluations, contributions in SPAN 5640 and 6920, as well as cooperation and collaboration with other instructors in the language program. Although excellence in teaching is the key criterion, the awardee must also have demonstrated academic strength.

Teaching Associates — Duties and Responsibilities

The Department of Modern Languages trains Graduate Teaching Associates to help them become better teachers and to ensure that high-quality instruction is offered in our basic courses in Spanish.

Degree Requirements &  Courses

The Spanish M.A. requires the successful completion of four semesters of graduate-level course work, in which students/TAs must enroll in a total of 48 hours (TAs will enroll in a total of 50 hours).

Comprehensive Exams

Students in their final semester of course work for the M.A. degree may take the comprehensive exams.