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Overview of Admission Requirements for the MA/PhD Program

For questions about the graduate program in Literature or the graduate program in Linguistics, contact Dr. Rena Torres Cacoullos, Director of Graduate Studies.It is often the case that the questions from potential graduate applicants need to be addressed by the Director of Graduate Studies in conjunction with the Graduate Administrative Assistant. Because these individuals do not necessarily speak Spanish, we kindly ask that you correspond with us in English.

All applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, with the equivalent of an undergraduate Spanish major (roughly 30 semester hours of third-and fourth-year coursework, including surveys of Spanish Peninsular and Latin American literature, advanced grammar, Spanish phonetics).

International students for whom English is not a native language, or who do not hold a baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited university whose language of instruction is English, must take the TOEFL; the minimum score for the internet-based test (iBT) is a total of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section. For the paper-based test, a minimum score of 550 (taken prior to July 2017) and a combined section total of 60 or greater (taken July 2017 or later) is required. IELTS scores are also accepted, with a minimum score of 6.5 required. All applicants will submit a narrative statement of purpose outlining their background and the reasons for pursuing graduate work.

To complete the admissions process follow steps 1 & 2 below:


If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Graduate School requirements, please visit Requirements for Graduate Admission.

If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application: Apply to the Graduate School at Penn State

Note that there is a non-refundable application fee for electronic application (for more fee information visit Requirements for Graduate Admission). Applications without the included fees cannot be processed. Make payable to The Pennsylvania State University (International money order or a check must be drawn on a U.S. bank. Canceled check serves as your receipt. Credit cards can be processed with the PDF downloadable Graduate School application form).

  • Please attach the generated Fee Form if you filed your application electronically and you did not pay by credit card.

Mail fee to:
Graduate Enrollment Services
114 Kern Building
University Park, PA 16802

The Department will reimburse the application fee to applicants who have the credentials to be nominated by the department for a University Graduate Fellowship or a Bunton Waller Award.

You will be prompted to submit or complete the following items electronically when filing your online application:


If you are recommended for admission into the Spanish graduate program you will be notified that official/original transcripts/documents must be sent from the originating institutions for review by the Graduate School, in order to finalize your admission.  Official transcripts will be submitted directly to the Graduate School (not the department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese).  The Graduate School will include instructions for the submission of the official transcripts at this time.

International applicants must submit official or attested university records, with certified translations if the records are not in English (notarized copies are not sufficient).

GRE and TOEFL Scores

GRE scores - GRE scores are not required. 

TOEFL scores - TOEFL scores are required for all international students (non-native English speakers) and must be submitted to the University by Educational Testing Services (ETS).  The Penn State University code to reference is 2660.


The deadline for applicants to be considered for the Fall semester is January 15 of that year. 

Frequently Asked Questions