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Courses and Languages


Individualized programs of study tailored to students' diverse interests and levels of preparation are supported. Students are encouraged to seek coursework and advisors from among departmental faculty and affiliated faculty at Northwestern.

1. Required Courses

During the first two years, our graduate students must take two courses each quarter within our department.  The following three courses are required as part of their coursework.

SPANPORT 401 - Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, when offered

SPANPPORT 495 - Practicum in Scholarly Writing and Publication

SPANPORT 496 - Dissertation Prospectus Colloquium

2. Additional Extra-Departmental Courses

Students are required to take at least 2 courses germane to their areas of interest outside the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. These courses will be chosen in consultation with the DGS.

3. Transfer Credit

In rare instances, at the end of their first year of study, students who have completed significant graduate-level coursework before enrolling at Northwestern may petition the Graduate Studies Committee for up to two course exemptions.


Students must be fluent in English.  Students must also be fluent in either Spanish or Portuguese.  If Spanish is the primary language of research, students must demonstrate knowledge of Portuguese, or vice-versa. Furthermore, depending on their area of specialization, students will be encouraged to demonstrate knowledge of an additional language germane to their area of research. This requirement recognizes the linguistic plurality of Latin America, Iberia, and their diasporic and formerly colonized populations worldwide, and stresses the importance of working cross-culturally in these contexts.

Students may demonstrate proficiency either by placing into SPAN 201 or PORT 201 (as applicable) or by completing coursework (minimum grade of B+) equivalent to the prerequisite for SPAN 201 or PORT 201.  The requirement regarding proficiency in the secondary language(s) must be fulfilled by the end of the fall quarter of the third year; students are encouraged to satisfy this requirement by the end of the first year.

In the summer or early fall before the first academic year, incoming graduate students will take the diagnostic exam used at Northwestern to determine the competence of entering freshmen in non-English languages.  In consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, the student will take the exam in his or her secondary language/s (Portuguese or Spanish and another language if necessary) as administered by the Spanish or Portuguese Language Programs (and, if appropriate, another Northwestern language department or program) and/or the Northwestern Council on Language Instruction.