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Frequently Asked Questions

These questions are frequently asked by both graduate students and prospective graduate students.
The questions are organized in four general categories to help you find the information you need.


What are the requirements for admission?

We usually require the following:

  • a 3.0 grade point average, based on the last 60 undergraduate hours.

  • a 1000 GRE score (combined verbal and quantitative) and GRE Analytical score of at least 4.5,

  • three letters of recommendation and an application.

However, there is no one criterion that determines whether one will be accepted into a program.

How do I apply?

You must apply online to UTA Graduate School. Send your official transcripts to UTA Graduate School. Your letters of recommendation should be sent to the Graduate Advisor of UTA Department of Modern Languages:

  • UTA Graduate School (UTA, Box 19167, Arlington, TX 76019):
    Send completed application and fee.

    • Official transcripts of all previous college work, translations and equivalencies if necessary.

    • GRE scores.

  • Department of Modern Languages (Graduate Advisor, UTA, Box 19557, Arlington, TX 76109):

    • Send the three letters of recommendations.

How do I find out more about the GRE?

For more information about the GRE: Taking the GRE.

Who should write the three required letters of recommendation?

Ideally, you should have your letters of recommendation completed by professors with whom you have studied, first by professors of Spanish, and second, by other professors with whom you have studied. If the time lapse between your undergraduate and graduate study is so lengthy that your former professors are no longer available, then supervisors who can judge your academic skills should be asked.

Should I waive my rights to see my letters of recommendation?

Although you are not required to waive your rights to see your letters of recommendation, your letters of recommendation may be taken somewhat more seriously if you do.

What form should the letters of recommendation take?

You can contact the UTA Virtual Admissions Counselor to request recommendation forms. Also, you can download a form from the U.S. Student Application for Admission page on the Graduate School Web site. Or the recommendation can be a letter if the person from whom you request the recommendation prefers.

To whom should the letters of recommendation be sent?

The writers of recommendations should send them directly to the Graduate Advisor, Department of Modern Languages, Box 19557, Arlington, TX 76019-0557.

I am an international student. What is different about my application?

You will fill out an application for international students, available through the Graduate School. International students must also take the TOEFL test and score 550 on the paper-and-pencil test or 213 on the computerized test in order to qualify for unconditional admission.

If I am a native speaker of Spanish, and I have a bachelor's degree, but not in Spanish, is it possible to pursue a Spanish Master's degree?

Yes, if you have the equivalent of 18 upper level undergraduate hours in Spanish. Native speakers can sometimes test out of three or more hours of grammar, composition, or conversation. The Spanish Section determines equivalence on a case-by-case basis. See the Spanish Section Head for more information.

I have a degree in a language, and would like to take graduate courses. May I do that without becoming a graduate student?

Yes. You may register as a degreed undergraduate through Admissions or a special student through the Graduate School. However, only twelve hours taken in such a status will transfer to a degree program leading toward a Master of Arts.

May I transfer graduate work I have completed at another university?

The decision to accept graduate hours from another institution is made with the graduate advisor in conjunction with the graduate school. The course equivalency will be reviewed by the section head of Spanish or French.

How do I transfer the three, six, or nine hours that have been approved by Graduate School, the Graduate Advisor and the Section Head?

When you file your Final Program of Work, you will list the transfer courses, and they will be approved at that time.

Will the transfer hours appear on my UTA transcript?


What do I do once I've been accepted?

Get advised, get registered, and get oriented! See the graduate advisor, and you will be cleared to register. You will also have the opportunity to attend three different orientations, depending on your needs: a university orientation for new graduate teaching assistants, a departmental orientation for graduate students, and an orientation for teaching assistants.

How do I become advised and register?

Meet with the graduate advisor to be advised, and follow the directions in the current semester schedule of classes. You may contact the Department of Modern Languages at (817) 272-3161 if you need more specific information.

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Teaching Assistantships

What is a teaching assistantship?

A teaching assistantship is a stipend received by graduate students. Teaching assistants (TAs) usually assist in the teaching of two beginning level courses each semester, working with the instructor of record to gain first-hand experience in the classroom. Teaching assistants are required to be registered for nine hours if they are assisting in two classes and six hours if they are assisting in one.

How do I apply for a teaching assistantship?

Fill out the Application for a Teaching Assistantshipand send it to the Graduate Advisor in the Department of Modern Languages (UTA, Box 19557, Arlington, TX 76019). For more information, please see the Graduate Studies: Financial Aid page on the MODL Web site.

When should I apply for a teaching assistantship?

As soon as you decide to apply to graduate school at UTA.

How is it determined whether I will have one?

We normally try to accommodate all qualified students, i.e., all students accepted into our programs. However, due to budget constraints, sometimes we have to choose between candidates. Applying early and having one's transcripts sent to the Graduate School early will help, especially if the undergraduate grade point average is competitive.

When will I know if I have received a teaching assistantship?

Often in the summer before the fall semester or in December before the spring semester.

What is required of teaching assistants?

Teaching assistants (TAs) are required to take FREN or SPAN 5101 and 5102 over two semesters and to attend a pre-semester orientation, which usually takes place on the Thursday before the first week of the fall semester.

Tell me more about the stipend teaching assistants receive.

The stipend permits students to pay in-state tuition. It is paid monthly, like a salary, and the first payment is made October 1 of the fall semester and February 1 of the spring semester. Taxes are withheld.

What is the difference between a graduate teaching assistantship I and a graduate teaching assistantship II? (What is the 18-hour rule?)

A graduate student who has been a graduate teaching assistant I and has earned 18 graduate hours in FREN or SPAN becomes a graduate teaching assistant II and becomes the instructor of record, usually for two courses per semester. There is also a modest increase in the stipend received. GTAs are required normally to take nine graduate hours of courses.

Is there a minimum numbers of courses I must take in order to be a teaching assistant?

See the questions immediately preceding this one. Exceptions can be made during the final semester in which the GTA is taking the Masters Exam. A request must be filed, however, in a timely manner and preferably before the semester begins. If this form is filed late, payment of the stipend will be delayed.

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Programs and Requirements

From what programs may I choose, and what are the differences between them?

UTA offers you a variety of programs, depending on your interests and needs. The Department of Modern Languages itself offers an MA in Modern Languages and a Certificate in Spanish or French programs. Both programs provide you with the required number of graduate hours needed to teach the language at the community college level.

Masters Program in Modern Languages

You will want to study in this program especially if you are interested in pursuing your Ph.D. in literature or linguistics, and you are interested in taking most of your courses in the target language. In this program you will study Spanish or French literature and linguistics. You will take up most of the hours in the language and six or nine hours in MODL courses, for a sum total of 36 hours. The program in Spanish also requires 5300 and 5302 or 5303, and highly recommends several others (for details, speak with the Spanish Section head). The head of each language section can provide you with particulars. A reading list and reading ability in another language are required. (See below.)

Certificate in French or Spanish

This certificate program is designed for those students who have already earned a masters degreein a related field and need eighteen graduate hours in their target language to meet Texas State requirements to teach the language at a college level.

How do I know from which courses to choose when I register for classes? What courses are required in the program I have chosen?

It is best to be advised on an ongoing basis. Students should consult with the head of the respective language section. It is important that you work closely with the graduate advisor and the language section head, who will help ensure that you are prepared for your exams.

Is there a foreign language requirement for graduate study?

In addition to the language which you study at the graduate level, you will need to have reading knowledge in yet another language, such as French, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, etc. You can meet this requirement in various ways.

How do I satisfy the foreign language requirement?

There are three ways to satisfy the requirement:

  1. If you already know another language, you can be tested by a person approved by the Department, normally a professor of that language. Alternatively, if you have taken the required numbers of hours already, those hours will be approved.

  2. You can take a three-hour graduate readings course in French, German, or Spanish which will teach you how to translate a text in that language, with the help of a dictionary. If you pass that course, you will have satisfied the requirement. (However, those three hours do not count in the 36 hours of course work for the Master's degree.)

  3. You can also take fourteen hours of a language (first two years or four semesters) at the college level. if you eventually want to be able to use that language in speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Please note that 1) you would only be able to arrange a translation exam in one of our languages for which we have a major (French, German, Spanish and Russian) and 2) English or your maternal language does not fulfill this requirement.

When must I satisfy this requirement?

By the time you take your comprehensive exams at the end of your course work and before sitting for the masters exam. However, many students satisfy the requirement at some time before or during the time they take their courses

What if I want to write a thesis? Can I do that at the Master's level? Is it better to write a thesis or take an exam?

Most graduate students elect to pursue a non-thesis option. Students with a particular interest, if approved by the Graduate Studies Committee, the Section Head and the Graduate Advisor may wish to write a thesis instead. It is suggested that students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. pursue the non-thesis option in order to obtain a broader perspective before pursuing the Ph.D.

What is the difference between the thesis option and the non-thesis option?

With the thesis option you will write a thesis instead of taking comprehensive exams, as you would in the non-thesis option. A minimum of 30 hours is required for the thesis option.

How many hours do I have to take to be considered a full-time student?

Nine graduate hours.

How long do I have to complete my Master's degree?

Six years from the time you begin.

May a graduate student take a 4000-level course and apply it towards his/her Master's degree?

Only in rare circumstances, and if approved by the your committee or language section.

I have completed all my course work (36 hours), but I will not take my exams until next semester. Must I be registered in a course?

Yes, you must be registered in a course. You may register for a one-hour course, SPAN or MODL 5190. Please note that you must be registered in the semester preceding the semester in which you take your exam. If you haven't filed a leave of absence with the UTA Graduate School and you are not registered in the preceding semester, you will have to reactivate o your student status in the program or reapply to it.

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Master's Committee, Master's Exam, and Graduation

How do I prepare for graduation? Is there paperwork?

Yes. You will file an application for graduation at the Graduate School right after the beginning of your last semester. You will pay a graduation fee. You will also file your Final Program of Work in the semester preceding the one in which you will take your exams (forms available on our dept. web pages). Then you will meet with the MA committee during the semester to aid in your preparation. Finally, you will have your committee sign the report that you have filled out concerning the outcome of your exam. You then need to take that form over to the Graduate School by a certain that can be found on the Graduate Academic Calendar. Be sure to prepare these forms in a timely manner, before the deadlines, as there are several signatures you will need to obtain, including those of your committee members, the chair of the departmental Graduate Studies Committee, and the Graduate Advisor. For detailed deadline information, please see the UTA Graduate Calendar

What is a Master's exam committee, and how is it constituted?

A Master's exam committee is comprised of three professors or four, who will contribute questions to the Master's Exam and evaluate the candidate's answers. They will also conduct the oral exam, as determined by each language section in the department.

How is my Master's committee chosen?

The Spanish section appoints the professors to the Masters exam committee each year on a rotating basis. You should contact the graduate advisor or section head to find out the rotation for the year in which you are coming up for the exam. The four professors of the French section serves as the committee. You will ask one of them to organize the exam for you. This will be your committee chair.

Preparing for the Master's Exam: Is There a Reading List?

Yes, there is French reading List and a Spanish Reading list. Both are posted on the Current Students page of the Graduate Studies section of the MODL Web site. In the meantime, you can obtain a copy from the Graduate Advisor or from the section head of your particular language. Some of the works on the reading list will be explored in your course work. However, not all of them will be. You should be preparing the list in your language as soon as you start the program.

What is the format of the Master's comprehensive exams? How long is it? What is expected?

The exam is taken over three days, usually Monday, Wed. and Friday. It covers Literature and Linguistics. See the graduate advisor and your section head for details.

How do I prepare the reading list for the Master's Exam?

Keep in frequent contact with your committee, especially the chair of your committee, as you read the works on the reading list. Take conference readings courses, if applicable. During the last six hours of course work, students may decide to work one-on-one with their committee members in order to explore all works in the reading list, which may not have been studied in a formal course. Reading secondary criticism on the primary texts is very important.

Should I be reading works from the reading list all through my graduate program?

Yes, that would be ideal. In addition to reading many of the works in your courses, you will want to be reading the other works from the reading list as well.

How do I study for the Master's Exam?

  • Literature/(Linguistics) Program:
    You can prepare by doing the following:

    • Study the primary (literary) and secondary sources and understanding their place in the field of study.

    • Study the research in other fields as determined by your committee and the Spanish or French Section (linguistics, language acquisition).

    • Check the library for help.

    • Study with friends in the program.

    • Read reviews and broad literary histories.

    • Ask people who have already taken the exam about it.

    • Keep in frequent contact with your committee members.
      Plot summaries are not what you will write about. When discussing literature, you will go beyond plot summaries to address the importance of the work in the particular literary movement, the time, as well as the style, structure and its place in time or literary movement. Keep in contact with your committee!

If I fail, may I retake the Master's Exam?

If a student should fail the Master's Exam, he/she may, at the discretion of the student's exam committee, be permitted to schedule a retake of the examination. If the student fails the second time, he/she will be dismissed from the program, unless the committee agrees there is just cause for him/her to take the exam yet a third time. No more than three attempts may be made.

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