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MA Program

M.A. ProgramLiterary PeriodsResearch Project, ExamsTimelineAppendices

Master of Arts Program

Students entering the M.A. program may specialize in French, Italian, or Spanish, or combine two of these fields for a major in Romance Languages. The Master of Arts program consists of course work, written examinations, and an M.A. Research Project. The program is designed to be completed in two years.

To help students navigate requirements, a faculty advisor is assigned by the department at the beginning of the first year. Students may change advisors later if they wish.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 52 graduate credits is required for the M.A. All courses counted toward fulfillment of degree requirements must be taken on a graded basis. Courses receiving a grade below B- and courses with a grade of “Incomplete” do not count toward fulfillment of degree requirements. The grade point average (GPA) of all graded courses must be 3.00 or better.

Students whose knowledge of the language(s) (French and/or Italian and/or Spanish) is found to be deficient will be required to supplement this 52-hour program with an advanced writing class or additional study abroad/immersion.

Distribution of Course Work

All M.A. students must take the Second Language Teaching Methods course (RL 608) in the fall of their first year of graduate studies, and the Introduction to Literary Studies in Romance Languages (RL 620) in the winter term of their first year. All M.A. students must also take Romance Languages Colloquium (RL 623) as a two- or four-credit graded course. Finally, students must take one 2-credit Preparatory Reading course (RL 605) during the summer following their first year in the program. The remaining course work should be done in French or Italian or Spanish or Romance Language courses. Students pursuing an M.A. in French, Italian, or Spanish must complete at least two 4-credit graduate-level courses in each of the four literary periods listed below.

Students doing an M.A. in Romance Languages must take:

  • at least one 4-credit graduate-level course in each of the four literary periods in their major language
  • one additional course in each of two periods of their choosing in their major language
  • at least one 4-credit graduate-level course in each of the four literary periods in their minor language

for a total of 24 credits in the major language and 16 credits in the minor language.

Upon written permission from their advisors or the Director of Graduate Studies, students may take as many as two courses outside of the Romance Languages Department toward the degree.

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Distribution of Literary Periods:


French Italian Spanish


Medieval and Renaissance Medieval Spanish Pre-modern, Renaissance, and pre-Columbian America (11th century to 1605)


17th and 18th centuries Renaissance and Baroque European and American Early Modern (1605 to 1810)


1830 to 1945 18th and 19th centuries From the Independence Movements to the Spanish Civil War (1810 to 1939)


1945 to the present 20th and 21st centuries From the end of the Spanish civil war to the present (1939 to the present)

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Master of Arts Research Project

In addition to successful completion of coursework and examinations, the Master of Arts degree requires an M.A. Research Project (either an M.A. Essay or a Pedagogy Portfolio) that allows students to expand their expertise in literary/cultural studies or in teaching language, literature and culture. By the ninth week of spring term of the first year of coursework, students identify a faculty member to direct the M.A. Research Project. A form submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies must include the project title and the signature of the faculty member willing to direct the project. This faculty member will oversee the development of the essay or portfolio and will evaluate the final project.

The M.A. Research Project must be between 6000 and 9000 words. In consultation with the Research Project director, the student will decide whether to write the project in a Romance Language or in English.

M.A. Research Projects are approved by the director and are referred to the student’s M.A. exam committee (see below) for remediation if the work is found to be deficient or in need of revision. The director submits a final copy of the approved Essay or Portfolio to the department office by the last day of classes in spring term of the second year.

M.A. Essay in literary/cultural studies

This essay allows students to widen their knowledge in a specific area of a Romance language, literature and/or culture. In addition, the essay permits students to focus in greater depth on writing formal academic prose, presenting an interpretation, constructing an argument, documenting sources and references, and honing persuasive strategies. At the end of the first year of study, the student chooses one of the seminar papers which he or she submitted during the first three terms of coursework. During the summer term immediately following, the student will expand and polish this paper.

M.A. Pedagogy Portfolio in teaching language, literature and culture

This project allows students to explore in depth specific issues of teaching language, literature and/or culture. The contents of this Portfolio are designed in consultation with the director and serve to demonstrate the student’s professional expertise. The Portfolio may include documents such as the following: a coherent collection of teaching materials supported by a theoretical rationale; a description, personal assessment, and third-party evaluation of an internship experience (e.g., Participatory Learning Experience at UO [PLE]); a formal “philosophy of teaching” statement; documentation of participation in a professional conference (e.g. Confederation in Oregon for Language Teaching [COFLT]); other components as recommended by the director.

N.B . Students who plan to apply for the Ph.D. program in Romance Languages at the University of Oregon must complete an M.A. Essay in literary/cultural studies.

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The Master of Arts examination is comprised of two four-hour exams, taken in the seventh week of the spring term in the second year.

For students doing the M.A. in French, Italian, or Spanish, the first exam consists of one specific question in each of the four periods. The second exam consists of a detailed analysis of a short text in two parts: a close reading of the text and a consideration of the text in its social, historical, cultural and/or literary contexts. The student, in consultation with the examination committee, will choose in which of the four periods this second exam will be done.

The exams for the Romance Languages M.A. are similar to those for French, Italian and Spanish; however, in the first exam students will be asked to draw on examples from both their major and their minor literatures in their answer to at least one of the questions. They are encouraged (but not required) to refer to both literatures in their answers to the other three short questions.

The graduate secretary will inform the students and the examination committee members of the scheduled exam date.

Examination Committee:

By the sixth week of the fall term of the second year, students submit to their advisors and to the Director of Graduate Studies (with a copy to the graduate secretary):

  • the completed M.A. Exam Committee form with the signature of the committee chair and the names of faculty members suggested to cover the other exam periods.

By the tenth week of the fall term of the second year, students submit to their exam committee members and to the Director of Graduate Studies:

  • a preliminary examination reading list of literary works on which to be examined.

Examination Reading List:

Using the Departmental Reading List and the syllabi and bibliographies of the seminars they have taken, as well as the summer readings done in preparation for the Fall Forum, students construct an Examination Reading List.

For students doing the M.A. in French, Italian or Spanish, the Examination Reading List will consist of at least 10 items in each of the four periods. This list should be drawn up in consultation with the exam committee. Of the 10 works in each period, at least 5 must be chosen from the Departmental Reading List. The other works can be suggested by the student, based on his/her own interests and readings.

For students doing the M.A. in Romance Languages, the Examination Reading List will consist of at least 12 items in each of the four periods: 8 in the major language and 4 in the minor language. Of the 8 works in the major language, at least 4 must be chosen from the Departmental Reading List. All 4 texts in the minor language must be chosen from the Departmental Reading List.

The Examination Reading List for all M.A. students will also contain 2 additional secondary readings (usually literary histories or general literary surveys) that cover the four periods. These supplemental readings will be drawn from the Departmental Reading List.

The final version of the Examination Reading List must be approved and signed by the student’s exam committee and filed with the graduate secretary by the end of winter term of the second year. Students are responsible for distributing the approved reading list to the M.A. committee members as soon as the list is approved.

Examination questions:

In all fields, one of the two exams must be answered in the candidate’s major language, the other one can be written in the major language or in English. Choice of language is to be determined in consultation with the committee chair.

The four members of the M.A. Exam Committee will work together to prepare the questions for the candidate.  The exam committee chair is responsible for collecting questions from the exam committee members and submitting them to the graduate secretary.  On the first exam the candidate will answer four questions, choosing between two questions in each of four periods.  On the second exam, the candidate will choose between two possible selections for the close reading analysis.   All four members read and grade both exams and come to an agreement on the final grade to be submitted for each exam.  The committee chair moderates this discussion, submits the grades to the graduate secretary, and communicates the results to the candidate.  The student passes when the average grade for each exam is satisfactory (“Low Pass,” “Pass” or “High Pass”).

The M.A. Exam is a closed book examination and therefore without footnotes or a bibliography. The exam must be typed using a 12-point font and should be double-spaced.

Students who fail the Master of Arts examination in whole or in part will be allowed to take it over (in whole or in part) once. They are encouraged to do so during the course of the following term (usually the summer) and no later than 6 months after failing. If they fail again, they are disqualified.

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The typical timeline for completion of the M.A., with requirements common to all programs indicated, is given below:

Fall Winter Spring Summer

Year 1

RL 608 RL 620 RL 623Week 9: M.A. Research Project Plan Approval form dueWeek 10: Summer Reading List form submitted with faculty signature RL 605 reading
[registration for this course is in fall term]

Year 2

Week 3: Forum PresentationWeek 6: M.A. Exam Committee form dueWeek 10: Preliminary Examination Reading List submitted Week 10:Final Examination.
Reading List filed with graduate secretary.
Week 7: M.A. examsWeek 10: M.A. Research Project due

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Appendix A: Practicum (RL 609) and Research (RL 601)

Students who hold a GTF appointment may register for two credits of Practicum or one credit of Research in order to complete the nine credits per term required by the graduate school (two graduate courses constitute 8 credits). During the first quarter of their first year students holding a GTF appointment use Practicum to develop their teaching skills in practical application. Students not holding a GTF appointment are encouraged to take a third course (for a total of 12 credits) or one credit of Research to work on an independent research project.

Appendix B: Reading and Conference (FR, ITAL or SPAN 605)

Students may request to do a reading and conference course in order to address a specific problem or project on which no course currently exists; they may not request to do as a reading and conference a course which is simply not being taught in a given academic year. Before the end of the term preceding the term in which the reading and conference course would be taken, the student will prepare a project proposal and submit it to the faculty member with whom he or she wants to work. The project proposal should include a statement of the problem the student wants to explore and a tentative reading list of primary and secondary sources. The student who requests a reading and conference course, in other words, should be largely self-directed and self-motivated, with an independently conceived project in mind for which he or she requires only moderate guidance. Only one four-credit reading and conference course may be used to satisfy requirements for the M.A. degree.

Appendix C: Preparatory Reading and Forum (RL 605)

The purpose of this required independent reading course is to motivate students to begin reading during the summer following their first year in the M.A. program in preparation for the M.A. exams that will take place in the spring term of their second year.

During the spring term of the first year of the M.A. program, students will present to their advisors a reading list of 8 to 10 works to be studied during the summer. The books must belong to no more than two of the periods defined by the M.A. program, and five of the books must be taken from the Departmental Reading List. At least one of the texts should be a literary history or a similar text about the period. This approved list (signed by the faculty advisor) will be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies before the end of the spring term.

In fall term, students will register for a 2-credit, graded RL 605 with the Director of Graduate Studies as instructor of record.

In the third week of the fall term of the second year, students will present the findings of their summer study in a public Forum. This Forum will last one day (8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.), and will be organized as a professional meeting. There will be a chair for each session, a discussion will follow the presentations, and the department will provide refreshments. Two or three faculty members will be present during these presentations, as well as all M.A. students.

Presentations will be 15 minutes long and will be delivered in English. Presentations should focus on the main themes that students have explored in their readings. Students should be able to discuss both literary techniques and historical context of the period selected, providing examples from the books they have read. Plot summaries should be avoided completely.

At the end of the presentations, the faculty members will meet to evaluate the presentations. Upon satisfactory completion of this exercise, students will receive 2 graded credits for the RL 605 course. If the faculty members find that a presentation was deficient, they will recommend that the student do supervised reading with the faculty specialist in the period before being assigned a grade and receiving course credit.

Appendix D: Incompletes

Incompletes are strongly discouraged. However, students who find it necessary to ask for an incomplete are urged to complete their incompletes as rapidly as possible. Agreements for obtaining and completing incompletes must be filed with the department. Graduate students must convert a graduate course incomplete into a passing grade within one calendar year of the assignment of the incomplete. Any student who has more than 5 credits of incompletes is not making satisfactory progress toward the degree.

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