Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Update on Master of Arts in Spanish - Online Program

Master of Arts in Spanish – Online Program

Visit these different areas for more information:

Degree Plan | Additional Language Requirement | TOEFL | Final Examinations | Tuition Costs | Area of Interest (Linguistics or Literature) | Reading List |

The Department of Languages and Linguistics offers a Master of Arts in Spanish, which may be completed through our program on the main campus or completely online. Students are asked to specialize in either linguistics or literature. For admission, students must satisfy general requirements of the Graduate School. Students must also complete a secondary admission packet which is detailed on our departmental website.

The Degree Plan

The degree plan requires a minimum of 36 credits in Spanish, of which at least 30 must be earned at the 500 level, and the remainder above the 450 level. The courses should be concentrated in the student’s chosen area of study (linguistics or literature) as each student will be tested on a reading list that corresponds to each area of study. A thesis is optional. Students who are authorized to complete a thesis may count a maximum of 6 credits of thesis work toward the degree. At the present time, the thesis option is not available for online students. There are no required core courses at this time and a student should work closely with his/her advisor and the Graduate Director to establish an appropriate individual degree plan.

All students in either the on-campus or online program may complete a minor at the master’s level by taking 9 credits (3 courses) at the 500 level or above, in another area (department) of study, or within the department itself. For instance, a student studying linguistics may wish to obtain a minor in literature or a student studying literature may wish to obtain a minor in linguistics. In either case, the minor credits count as part of the 36 total credits required for the degree. In all cases, the student should work closely with the Director of the Program to ensure his/her particular plan of study is acceptable to the program.

Additional Language Requirement

For both the on-campus and online degrees, the department requires that students fulfill a second language requirement (in addition to English and Spanish) by following an approved course of study. Typically, this is completed by taking a four-semester course of study, but may vary according to the languages available.

Options for completing this requirement include, taking classes at a local Community College or University, or online. Some students have met this requirement by studying abroad through NMSU.

Students should consult the Graduate Director to establish a plan and discuss how this requirement will be met.

TOEFL Requirement

Students are required to demonstrate proficiency in English before graduation. This may be met by presenting a score of at least 530 on the TOEFL and/or its equivalent as demonstrated to an examiner in the department. Students are expected to consult closely with the Graduate Director providing their plan on how they will complete this important graduation requirement.

Final Examinations

Students must successfully complete a final departmental examination (generally during the student’s final semester of coursework) that is partially written and partially oral. The online student has the choice of a variety of options. Either exam can be taken at a distance, via technology used in other courses. For example, the written exam may be done via Blackboard with the appropriate proctors. The oral exam can be done via Skype or similar technology once the written exam has been passed. Online students may also come to the Main Campus in Las Cruces, if they wish, to take either or both the written or oral exams. Please consult the Graduate Director for specific information on dates and format for these exams.

Students that have taken up to 9 credits in another area of study (a minor in that area) will receive one question (out of 6) on the written exam from that minor area of study. It is the student’s responsibility to coordinate with the Director of the Online Program to ensure that this takes place.

General format of written exams as of Spring 2011:

A written exam consists of 6 total questions, 3 questions delivered one day, and 3 questions delivered on a second day. Students taking the written exam will have 3 ½ hours on each day to answer the set of questions for that day. If you had a minor studies area, one of the six questions will be from that area.

The written exam is graded using the following system:

1. The grading scale for the 6 questions in the written portion of the Master’s Exam is from 1 to 5. 5 is the highest number a student may receive. 1 and 2 represent an unsatisfactory performance, 3 a weak performance, 4 and 5 represent a passing performance).

2. A minimum of 3 professors evaluate the written exams. Each one assigns a number to each written response in accordance with his/her own criteria following the previously described grading scale.

3. Once all graded tests are returned, the numbers for each question from all the evaluators are totaled and an average is calculated. In order to pass a question, the student must receive a minimum average of 3 on a question as graded by the evaluators.

4. If a student receives less than 3 (according to the average) for one or two questions (maximum), he or she is asked to repeat the question(s). The question(s) will be different from the ones that appeared on the first round of the written exam. This process can be done in the same academic cycle (semester) in which he or she took the first round of written exams.

5. If the student receives less than 3 (according to the average) on three (or more) questions, he or she is asked to repeat the entire written exam. That is, the student receives 6 new questions as part of an entirely new written exam.

In cases where one of the 6 questions is from the student’s Minor, that question will be evaluated separately. If the student passes this question in the first round of testing, he or she will not have to repeat the question dealing with the Minor and will only be asked to repeat 5 questions. If a student is asked to repeat the entire written exam, he or she must wait until the next academic cycle (semester) in order to continue with this process. For example, a student that took the written exams in the fall semester and did not pass the exam must wait until spring semester to take the exam again.

Students are generally notified of the exam results either by a phone call or via email from the Director of the Program.

General format of oral exams as of Spring 2011:

Once a student has passed the written exam, s/he must take an oral exam. The oral exam consists of sitting with a graduate oral exam committee made up of at least two graduate faculty from the MA in Spanish Program and one member of the Graduate Faculty from outside the department. Students will be asked to prepare a 20-30 minute presentation on a subject in his/her area of interest. This subject will be decided upon by the departmental examination committee members and will be given to the student once they have passed the written exam so they will have time to prepare for the presentation. This presentation is to simulate either presentations at conferences and workshops or a class that someone might teach on the given subject. The presentation is designed to be interactive with the committee asking questions as the presentation proceeds.

After the presentation, members of the committee will ask the student questions based on (but not limited to) courses s/he has taken, the reading list for the specific area of interest, and any deficiencies noted in the written examination. After the oral examination is complete (generally after 1 ½ to 2 hours), the graduate student is excused for a moment while the Oral Exam Committee deliberates the exam. A vote is taken and the student is invited back and informed of the results of the deliberation.

Please work closely with your Oral Exam Committee Chair and/or the Director of the Online Program to clarify any questions you may have before the oral exam.

Please work closely with the Director of the Online Program to ensure that the proper forms are submitted and if you need help selecting committee members (especially for graduate faculty outside the department).

Tuition Costs

Online students automatically qualify for in-state tuition as long as they take no more than 6 credits (generally 2 classes) per semester/session. Please consult the current tuition fee schedule in the Graduate Catalog and on the NMSU website. If you are a non-New Mexico resident and wish to take more than 6 credits, please note that the fees increase GREATLY. Please contact the Director of the Online Program with questions on this.

Areas of Interest

As stated previously, each student needs to select an area of interest – Linguistics or Literature. At the end of a student’s degree, the final examinations (written and oral) will be based on the readings from the readings list in the student’s selected area of study. So, if I am a student that has opted to study literature, I am responsible for reading all the materials listed in the Literature Reading List section. Likewise, if I am a student that has opted for studying linguistics, I am responsible for reading all the materials listed in the Linguistics Reading List section. You are responsible for the reading list was in place the year you started the program.

Reading List

Each student is responsible for covering the reading materials listed. Please contact the Program director for a detailed reading. Note that the list is dated, so make sure to refer to the correct list that covers the year/semester you started your program and remember that you are responsible for covering ALL the readings on your own even if you did not cover them as part of your work done in class.


  1. What classes are being offered this semester? (fall 2011)

  2. I am happy to know that there is an online Master'degree in Spanish. I've been thinking about graduating studies since I graduated two years ago. However, I have children and I'm working part-time. As a result, it's very hard for me to attend face-to-face classes at any university. Online classes are perfect for me. I will definetly consider this program.

  3. How intensive is this reading list? What can I expect to learn? I know that online can sometimes be more challenging than in class...

  4. What is the current reading list? The links on your site are not coming up.