Programs / Graduate

Ph.D. Student Handbook (since 2016)



Students must complete satisfactorily a total of sixteen (16) 6000-level course units, with a minimum grade of B, for a total of 60-64 credits.  Normally a student will complete a minimum of 32 credits during the first year, 24 credits during the second year, and 8 credits in the third year. During the second year, students must take the mandatory course on Pedagogy (“Didactics of Spanish Language and Culture”). The third year will be devoted to a research workshop (4 credits) and one independent research study: SPAN GR9811 (4 credits), in which the student will prepare for the M.Phil. essay.

To ensure a combination of breadth and depth, during the first two years students should take courses in most of the areas available in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures. Areas of study are defined in each  individual professor’s profile: All sixteen courses must be taken for a letter grade (not Pass/Fail). Each student may opt to enroll in one 4000-level course toward the doctoral degree, upon approval of the DGS. Courses beyond the required sixteen may be taken for a grade or “R” (Registered for the course; no qualitative grade assigned).

Two yearlong workshop series are required of all students in the first year:

1. Research and Professional Development | SPAN GR6100 (4 credits)

The Research and Professional Development workshop series (SPAN GR6100) will focus on research strategies and will provide students tools and resources to work with archival materials and to plan their research inquiries. These workshops will offer guidance on how to draft seminar papers, articles, and research proposals. The workshops will foster the professional growth of students, introducing them to the world of academic journals, to professional associations, and to general resources that may facilitate or enhance their research. All workshop sessions will be required of all students and will be coordinated by the Director of Graduate Studies, who will invite specialists to address each of the different topics proposed.

The fall series on Research and Professional Development may include sessions on: introduction to research, library resources, Digital Humanities, New York City resources, summer research, grants and fellowships, and professional associations. The spring series may address questions of academic writing, such as seminar papers and abstracts, how to write a paper for a conference, and how seminar papers become publishable journal articles, among other topics.

2.  Lecture Series | SPAN GR9045 (4 credits)

The Lecture Series (SPAN GR9045) will require that students participate actively in the guest lectures and workshops that the department sponsors throughout the academic year. Students must attend each lecture and will fulfill various roles throughout the year: they will introduce guest speakers, coordinate panels, serve as discussants, or moderate debates following lectures and presentations. This series will train students to assume different professional roles. The workshop component of the Lecture Series, also required of all students in the program, will be led by the series coordinator along with the relevant event’s organizer, who will engage every first-year student as a collaborator in a particular role.

The faculty recognizes that students may need to supplement their studies with courses in other departments and programs. A total of four 6000-level courses may be taken outside the department with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). During their first year in the Ph.D. program, students may not take any of the six minimum required courses outside the department, except in unusual circumstances, and then with the approval of the DGS. Courses beyond the sixteen seminars required for the doctoral degree may be taken within or outside the department. Courses outside Columbia University (Inter-University Doctoral Consortium) cannot be taken within the first year.

New and continuing students should meet with the DGS each semester to discuss course selections for the following term. New students meet with the DGS during orientation in early September. Continuing students meet with the DGS during pre-registration. Anticipated dates of registration are listed in the Office of the Registrar’s schedule.

After selecting courses, discussing their choices with the DGS, and obtaining course approval, students may register for classes through Student Services Online (SSOL). For more detailed registration information, refer to the GSAS Registration page. Registering in courses through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium requires a registration form and consultation with the DGS.

The expectations of a typical doctoral career (60-64 credits) in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures are:

first year


•  3 doctoral seminars at LAIC (12 credits)


•  3 doctoral seminars at LAIC (12 credits)

•  First language examination

Two Yearlong Series:

1. Research and Professional Development | SPAN GR6100 (4 credits)

2.  Lecture Series | SPAN GR9045 (4 credits)

second year


•  2 doctoral seminars (8 credits)

• Didactics of Spanish Language and Culture | SPAN GR6000 (4 credits)


•  3 doctoral seminars (12 credits)

•  Second language examination

1 Yearlong Teaching Fellowship:  Teach 1 language section per semester

third year


•  Supervised Independent Research for the M.Phil. list | SPAN GR9811 (4 credits)


•  Prospectus research workshop and discussion | SPAN GR6200 (4 credits)

1 Yearlong Teaching Fellowship:  Teach 1 section of 3300, 3349, or 3350 per semester

fourth year


•  First dissertation chapter


•  Second and third dissertation chapters

1 Yearlong Teaching Fellowship or Professional Development Internship

fifth year

•  Dissertation Writing Fellowship (no teaching)

•  Application for an external fellowship

Last Updated 3 years ago