The Department aims to recruit students with a strong background in the fields of Latin American and/or Iberian literatures and cultures or in a closely related field.
Requirements for Admission
- B.A. or M.A. (or an international degree equivalent), preferably in Spanish and/or Portuguese
- Preparation in a related discipline, literary tradition, and/or literary theory and criticism desirable
- Fluency in English and in either Spanish or Portuguese (both desirable)
- Applicants must provide unofficial transcripts, detailing all academic work, from each educational institution they have attended. Official transcripts are only required for applicants that have been admitted and have chosen to enroll at Northwestern. If the originals are not in English, a literal English translation must be supplied as well.
- Writing Sample (15-20 pages, may be in English, Spanish, or Portuguese).
- Two recommendations from professors familiar with the student’s academic qualifications. Letters may be written in English, Spanish or Portuguese.
Academic statement: write a statement that answers the following questions (1,000 words max):
- What are your academic interests, and why do you wish to pursue graduate studies in this specific program?
- How has your academic and professional background prepared you for graduate study? (Please include any research, training, or educational experiences that align with the program you are applying to.)
- How will our program help you achieve your intellectual and professional goals?
- (For research-focused programs) Please make sure to address any scholarly questions you wish to explore in the program and name any specific faculty members in this program whose research interests align with your own.
Personal statement: write a statement that addresses the following prompt (500 words max):
- The Graduate School values diverse backgrounds, approaches, and perspectives, understanding them as essential ingredients for true academic excellence. As a Northwestern graduate student, how could you contribute to an intellectual community that prioritizes equity, inclusion, belonging, and cultural humility? Your answer may draw upon past or present experiences, whether in academic work, extracurricular or community activities, or everyday life.
- English Language Proficiency: all applicants must provide proof of English language proficiency. There are two ways this may be done:
- Submit Scores – Provide official IELTS Academic, Michigan English Test or TOEFL iBT test scores.
- Request a Waiver – Applicants may request a waiver if they earned an undergraduate or graduate degree from an institution that instructs primarily in English. Documentation may be requested, and waiver approval is at the discretion of your program and The Graduate School.
- Test Score Guidelines: TOEFL (minimum scores: 550 on paper-based test, 213 on computer-based test, or 90 on the internet-based test), IELTS (minimum score: 7.0), or MET (minimum score: 61). Please note that the GRE is NOT required for admission to this program.
Students admitted to PhD programs will also be required to fulfill The Graduate School's English proficiency requirement to become eligible for funding as a teaching or graduate assistants. Please see the Graduate and Teaching Assistantships page for details.
The Michigan English Test has provided The Graduate School with a discount link . To take the MET Digital at a discounted rate, navigate to the Michigan Language Assessment Customer Portal using this link. Then click the yellow button "Create an Account" and fill out the identifying information. Then you will see your homepage, where you can click "Register for a Test." The fee shown will reflect the discount.
Students interested in pursuing a PhD in Spanish and Portuguese are encouraged to find a second intellectual “home” in an interdisciplinary cluster.
- Students who wish to participate in a Humanities and Non-Quantitative Social Science cluster initiative may indicate this interest in the on-line application. Once a cluster has been selected in Apply Yourself, the option to attach a “cluster statement” will become available; these statements provide an opportunity to describe to the cluster faculty the ways in which your research interests make you a suitable candidate for a Mellon Cluster Fellowship. While students may choose to participate in clusters at any point throughout their graduate careers, select students will be named Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellows at the time of admission; this designation indicates the student’s strong fit for the cluster and carries additional benefits.
In addition, the department may choose to interview applicants in the final stages of the admissions process.
Application Deadline: December 31st
To apply, go to:
For further questions, contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Jeffrey Coleman.
- English Language Instructions for newly admitted students
The International Summer Institute provides intensive language instruction and acculturation to international students admitted to a Ph.D. program at Northwestern in the summer before they begin coursework. Students are nominated by their admitting departments; this program is not open to the public. The program includes coursework, tutoring, an extensive calendar of social events, and special sessions devoted to integration into the academic community, including a one-day research conference
- Brazil Research Program for Advanced Doctoral Students
This program is designed to encourage academic exchange among advanced doctoral students between social science and humanities departments at Northwestern University and various universities in Brazil. Host institutions agree to waive tuition and other fees for participating students. Students would be otherwise financed (stipend, heath insurance, travel, etc.) by their home institution or government in the case of Brazilian students participating in the “sandwich year” program. Visitors to Northwestern would be “non-degree students” and could enroll in graduate seminars in the host department, subject to instructor approval, and would be expected to participate in the ongoing activities of the Program in Comparative-Historical Social Science (CHSS) or the Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS).
To facilitate the participation of Northwestern students in this exchange, students can use their university fellowship to provide release from teaching responsibilities. To be eligible, Northwestern students must have passed their qualifying exams and be advanced to candidacy before the start of their stay abroad. Final fellowship approval is contingent on acceptance of the student by the partner institution in Brazil.
The admission materials required of Brazilian students applying to Northwestern would include:
- a curriculum vitae;
- a five page research proposal, including an indication of the applicants preferred departmental and programmatic affiliation (CHSS or LACS);
- two letters of recommendation;
- a graduate transcript;
- proof of competence in written and spoken English.
Admission would also be contingent on acceptance into the Brazilian “sandwich” program.
For more information on this exchange program, please contact Professor Bruce Carruthers.
Questions about the Graduate Program? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org