Frequently Asked Questions about Admission to the PhD Program

What materials are required to apply to the program?
To apply, all applicants must submit the online GSAS application, a writing sample in Spanish or Portuguese, a statement of academic purpose written in English, three letters of recommendation, GRE and TOEFL scores (if applicable) and previous academic transcripts.  More information about how to apply is available on the GSAS Application Resource Center website.

What is the deadline to apply?
The deadline for Fall 2018 admission is January 4th, 2018.  

Does the Department offer spring or summer admission to the PhD?
No.  Applications are only accepted for the fall admission cycle.

Do I need to have a Master’s degree to apply to the PhD program?
No.  The Department does not require that applicants already have a Master’s degree. Accepted students who have already completed a Master’s degree may transfer credits from that degree to count towards the 72 credits required as part of the PhD program, per consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.

If I don’t already have a Master’s degree, will I receive one as part of the PhD program?
No.  The PhD program in Spanish and Portuguese at NYU does not award a Master’s “en-route” to the PhD.  The Department offers a terminal one-year MA program at NYU Madrid for applicants interested in a Master’s degree.

If I complete the MA program at NYU Madrid, can I continue on to the PhD?
The terminal MA program at NYU Madrid is completely free standing.  While the Department encourages graduates from the MA program to consider continuing their studies in the PhD program, these students must follow the regular PhD admissions procedure.

Do I need to have a degree in Spanish or Portuguese to apply to the PhD program?
It is not required that applicants have a degree in Spanish or Portuguese to apply. Candidates with previous degrees in other literary fields, or related fields like Philosophy, Area/Cultural Studies, or Art History (among others) are welcome to apply.

Is there a Linguistics track in the PhD program?
No.  We do not currently offer a concentration in Spanish or Portuguese linguistics in the PhD program.  Prospective students interested in pursuing a PhD in Linguistics should apply to the Department of Linguistics.

What kind of writing sample do I need to submit with my applications?
Applicants must submit a writing sample of literary criticism or critical analysis of a cultural topic as part of their application.  This may be, for example, a term paper, Master's thesis, or published article and should be written in Spanish or Portuguese.  The Department recommends that writing samples be no more than 30 pages in length. Students must also submit a statement of academic purpose in English and three letters of recommendation. 

I’m a native Spanish/Portuguese speaker, but my undergraduate/Master’s degree is from the US/Canada/UK.  Can I submit my writing sample in English?
No.  The Admissions Committee wants to see how you develop an argument and articulate your ideas in Spanish or Portuguese.  All applicants must submit a writing sample in one of the two languages.  You may submit a secondary writing sample in English if you feel it represents your best work, but it will be considered as supplementary to your writing sample in Spanish/Portuguese.

Can my letters of recommendation be written in Spanish or Portuguese?

Do I need to speak Portuguese to apply?
No.  All students must demonstrate proficiency in both Spanish and Portuguese by the time of graduation from the program, but not at the time of application.  The Department offers the zero-credit course “Portuguese for Spanish Speakers” each spring, which may be used to satisfy the Portuguese language requirement. 

Is there a minimum GRE score or GPA requirement?
No.  The Graduate Admissions Committee takes your entire application into consideration and does not set a minimum GRE or GPA threshold.  Your academic record, writing sample, statement of academic purpose, and letters of recommendation are given the most weight in the review of your application.

Do I have to take the GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS?
All applicants must submit GRE scores.  This is a requirement set by the Graduate School of Arts and Science.  Please do not contact the Department asking to be waived from the GRE requirement.  The Graduate School requires applicants who are not native English speakers to submit official TOEFL or IELTS score results. The TOEFL/IELTS requirement is waived if your baccalaureate or master’s degree was (or will be) completed at an institution where the language of instruction is English.  For more information about TOEFL, IELTS, and GRE requirements, please see the GSAS Application Resource Center.

What kind of financial aid do you offer?
All students admitted to the PhD program will receive funding through the Henry M. MacCracken fellowship program.  For more information, please see our financial aid page.

Can I teach while in the program?
Yes.  PhD students are not required to teach as part of their MacCracken fellowship packages, but all students are given the opportunity to teach for at least four semesters as a language instructor or recitation leader if they choose to do so.  All students will receive the same MacCracken fellowship package whether or not they choose to teach. Students who decide to teach will receive extra compensation in addition to their MacCracken stipend.

How long is the program?
The length of the program varies from student to student.   Students generally receive funding for five years.  Some students finish in less time than this, though many take longer.

Do you have all my application materials?
All application materials are processed by the Graduate School of Arts and Science before being sent to the Department for review.  The Graduate School asks that applicants submit all transcripts and recommendation letters online via the Embark system.  For questions about application materials, please contact GSAS Admissions.

When will I hear back about my application?
The Department will contact selected applicants for interviews in February.   Final decisions will be made in March and April.

Can I make an appointment to meet with someone to talk about the program?
The Director of Graduate Studies will occasionally meet with prospective students during his office hours to discuss the program.   For the sake of fairness, he will not discuss specific applications or proposed research projects with prospective students.  Applicants who would like to make an appointment to discuss the program may email Edgardo Núñez ( to schedule a meeting.