In general, an undergraduate degree in Spanish or its equivalent, two letters of recommendation from professors who can comment on potential for graduate-level work, a statement of intent, and an essay/term paper you have written.

Typically, successful applicants need to have at least the advanced coursework required of a Spanish major, such as introduction to literary studies, surveys of Spanish Peninsular and Latin American literature, Spanish phonetics and/or history of the Spanish language, advanced grammar and composition, and other special-topics courses. Decisions to admit candidates not presenting an undergraduate major in Spanish are made on a case by case basis; contact the department for more information.

No, the GRE is not required.

Yes, unless you already passed the exam at a previous university, and this fact is recorded on your official transcript. Penn State requires that all international students receive a minimum of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section of the internet-based test (iBT), 550 for the paper-based test (taken prior to July 2017), and a combined total of 60 or greater taken July 2017 or later regardless of their degree program. IELTS scores are also accepted, with a minimum score of 6.5 required. In addition, arriving international teaching assistants are required to take an English proficiency exam in spoken English.

Normally, all students admitted to the graduate program receive graduate teaching assistantships. These currently pay a base rate of approximately $21,375 per year, plus full tuition reimbursement. Stipends are raised each year to adjust for inflation. Some competitive non-teaching fellowships are available.


Graduate teaching assistants normally teach three elementary or intermediate Spanish courses per academic year, spread over two semesters. Teaching assistants are required to be enrolled in at least three graduate courses (9 credit hours).


The Center for Language Acquisition has a small number of research assistantships. The Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese Department has occasional research assistantships available.

The department has exchange agreements with the universities of Salamanca and Valladolid in Spain, wherein a Penn State graduate student spends a year in residence at the Spanish university, teaches English classes, takes courses at the host university (credited towards the Penn State graduate degree). We also send a graduate student as assistant to the Penn State study abroad program in Salamanca in spring terms, and another assistant to Puebla, Mexico in summer terms.