The world is getting smaller. Every year, we see more examples of the need to communicate across cultures, to find language to speak with one another.
For that reason, it’s hard to think of a more important degree than a master of arts in Spanish. In these programs, students don’t just gain the basic knowledge of the language that they’ll need to read and speak Spanish. They’ll also get insights into the culture and arts of native Spanish speakers.
In fact, most of the MA programs in Spanish focus on linguistics or literature and culture. The former is great for those who want to work as translators for a business or a government agency. The latter is best for those who wish to become teachers or academics.
Furthermore, most programs distinguish between the language and culture in Latin American countries such as Mexico or Iberian countries such as Spain.
As that description demonstrates, anyone who wants to get an MA in Spanish needs to look at the options carefully. It’s essential to decide which track is best for you, both in terms of your interests and your future career path.
But reading this list is a great start! We’ve collected 10 of the best MA in Spanish programs in the U.S. We’re covering both literature-focused and linguistics-focused programs here, to give you an idea of all the available options.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Department of Spanish and Portuguese (Urbana, IL)
Languages cannot be learned in isolation. That’s a founding principle of the graduate programs in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Students in the MA program study not only the language of their choice, but also its relation to other romantic languages, such as French and Italian. With this interdisciplinary approach, students can take advantage of the school’s numerous resources, such as the Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education Program (SLATE), the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the European Studies Center, and more.
Of particular note is the school’s innovative research labs. The Phonetics and Phonology Lab provides students with advanced technology to study languages. In the Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab, students have all the support they’ll need for their research projects.
Indiana University Department of Spanish and Portuguese (Bloomington, IN)
At Indiana University, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese takes the study of language to the next level. Recognizing language as a point of entry for understanding the way people live, the MA in Hispanic Literatures + Cultural Studies foregrounds the people who use Spanish to make their lives meaningful.
Students within the program benefit from several resources and support systems. Working alongside the Department of Comparative Literatures, the Cultural Studies Program, and the Cognitive Program, students have access to centers such as the Center for Theoretical Inquiry.
With a selective program, students have unprecedented access to instructors.
The small class sizes operate according to a student-to-teacher ratio of only 3:1, giving students plenty of attention from professors such as Anke Brirkenmaier, author of Alejo Carpentier y la cultura del surrealismo en América Latina and The Specter of Races. Latin American Anthropology and Literature between the Wars.
Arizona State University School of International Letters and Cultures (Tempe, AZ)
Taking advantage of its proximity to the border with Mexico, the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University emphasizes practical experience. Students have ample experience to put their language skills to use by interacting with native speakers.
Students in the 30-hour MA program can choose from two tracks. The focus on literature and culture puts an emphasis on the artistic works produced by Spanish speakers. This track prepares students to go onto careers in academia or professional fields, including law or business.
For those who would like to become teachers, the linguistic track will give them everything they need. The program culminates with the creation of a portfolio, which will show schools your teaching abilities.
Regardless of the track they choose, students at ASU are supported by social events. The School’s Café allows students learning various languages to practice and interact with one another. The SCIL Cup pits 5-person teams of language students against one another in a fun soccer tournament.
Florida State University Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics (Tallahassee, FL)
Most language programs force students to limit their interests, but not the MA in Spanish from Florida State University. FSU’s Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics prioritizes variety. With three available tracks, students study the culture, language, and linguistic structures of both Iberian and Latin American Spanish.
The thirty-hour degree gives students the option of taking a thesis or a course-based approach. But no matter which track they choose, all students gain the research skills and problem-solving abilities valued by businesses and academic institutions around the world.
FSU allows students to gain practical speaking experience with its two study abroad offerings. For those interested in Latin American Spanish, the immersion project at Costa Rica provides not only ample opportunity to develop speaking skills, but also a lush environment and vibrant cultural life. Iberian Spanish students can travel to Spain’s third-largest city Valencia, where they’ll explore modern and historical areas.
UCLA Department of Spanish and Portuguese (Los Angeles, CA)
The University of California – Los Angeles has long been one of the best schools in the country, so it’s no surprise that its graduate Spanish program would fall on this list. The MA degree from UCLA’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese goes beyond just learning to speak Spanish.
In fact, students gain exposure to every facet of Spanish-speaking life, from the history of medieval Iberian culture to film releases from Latin American directors to the theory of Mexican politics.
The strength and diversity of the program can be seen in its exciting course offerings. MA students enjoy foundational classes in literary theory and morphology, as well as advanced specializations, such as the poetry of the golden age.
Students can also advance their research agendas with the help of resources such as the Chicano Studies Research Center. The Center connects students with academics around the world, giving them the support and access they need to advance our understanding of Spanish-speaking culture.
University of Maryland School of Languages, Literature, and Cultures (College Park, MD)
Focus and clarity are the hallmarks of the MA program at the University of Maryland’s School of Languages, Literature, and Cultures. Rather than spread their attention across several fields, students put their energies toward one of three areas.
By choosing Spanish literature, Latin American literature, or Hispanic applied linguistics, students become experts in the concentration that interests them most.
Whichever concentration they choose, students enjoy exposure to various fields of study, thanks to U Maryland’s progressive approach.
Since 2007, the Juan Ramón Jiménez Distinguished Lectures and Seminars Series brings to the university respected thinkers and scholars from across the Spanish-speaking world. Past guests include Mexican author Juan Villoro and Universidad Complutense de Madrid Medievalist Ángel Gómez Moreno.
Hoy, the school’s bilingual study group, puts language students into conversation with experts across the university, including students of political science, art history, sociology, and more.
UC Santa Barbara Department of Spanish and Portuguese (Santa Barbara, CA)
Like many of the schools on this list, the MA program offered by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California – Santa Barbara features concentrations in Hispanic Literatures, Iberian Linguistics, or Portuguese and Brazilian Literatures. However, the program distinguishes itself with its optional emphases.
The translation studies option puts students’ training to practical use. Here, students learn how to bridge the gap between English and Spanish speakers, making them valuable resources to businesses and governmental agencies.
In the feminist studies option, students examine issues of gender and sexuality in the Spanish-speaking world. Bringing together linguistics, cultural studies, sociology, and more, this cross-disciplinary option looks at some of the most pressing issues in modern culture.
Along with options in applied linguistics and medieval studies, UC Santa Barbara features one of the most comprehensive programs in the world.
UC Irvine Department of Spanish and Portuguese (Irvine, CA)
The third school from the University of California system to appear on this list, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UC Irvine wins top billing because of its academic rigor.
The MA degree covers every aspect of Spanish literature and culture, from medieval Spain to colonial Latin America to our current trans-global reality.
To cover such a broad range of possibilities, the department features some of the field’s most respected academics. Professor Ivette N. Hernandez-Torres teaches Latin American literatures and is the author of El contrabando de lo secreto: la escritura de la historia en el carnero.
Professor Santiago Morales-Rivera holds a Ph.D. from Harvard and has written several academic monographs, including Anatomía del desencanto. Humor, ficción y melancolía en España.
With a program that emphasizes faculty mentorship, students at UC Irvine enjoy close working relationships with these outstanding teachers.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Spanish and Portuguese (Madison, WI)
Rather than break up their program into linguistics, literature, and culture, the MA program in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese puts all these elements together. This multi-disciplinary approach underscores the way language affects every part of a person’s life.
The quality of this comprehensive approach can be demonstrated by the awards and distinctions conferred upon the faculty at U Wisconsin.
In 2018, Professor Guillermina De Ferrari won a four-year senior fellowship from the Institute for Research in the Humanities. The funding helps Professor De Ferrari complete the project “Community under Duress: Moral Luck and the Caribbean Novel.”
In 2020, Professor Guillermina De Ferrari won a Guggenheim Fellowship, thanks to her remarkable contributions to the scholarly field.
With these remarkable teachers at their disposal, MA students at U Wisconsin learn to approach Spanish in all of its complexity.
Georgetown University Department of Spanish and Portuguese (Washington, DC)
One of the nation’s most competitive graduate language programs, the accelerated MA at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Georgetown University allows students to earn their degree just one year after completing their bachelor’s.
Designed for exceptional undergraduates in their junior year, the program gives double credit for certain 400+ courses.
While this accelerated program is undoubtedly quicker, it is not lighter or easier.
Georgetown applies to its students all the rigors and challenges of its standard program. Students study under some of the most accomplished faculty in the nation, including Professor Héctor Campos, a leader in the field of romance languages. However, Georgetown ensures that the hard work is worth it, thanks to its unique academic offerings.
Students have the opportunity to participate in events such as a lecture from the College of William and Mary’s Carlos Rivera Santana, covering the challenges of decolonizing Latin American studies.