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Overview & How to Apply


The Department of Romance Studies offers the MA and PhD degrees with concentrations in:

We also offer a dual track MA and PhD in Hispanic Linguistics with the Department of Linguistics.

Students apply directly to the PhD program (For the duel track program, students will need to apply to both the Department of Romance Studies and the Department of Linguistics). All students in the PhD program may receive the MA degree en route after satisfactory completion of all of the second year requirements.  Please follow the links above for more information about any of these concentrations.

Students applying to enter directly into the PhD portion of the program should:

  1. hold an MA (or international equivalent) in their chosen field of study;
  2. petition the department’s Director of Graduate Studies to receive credit for a maximum of 9 courses (27 credits) from their MA program, provided that these courses (or equivalent preparation, for international students) are pertinent to the degree they pursue at UNC.
  3. petition the department’s Director of Graduate Studies to waive the 2nd-year qualifying exams and research paper requirements, provided that the student has received transfer credit for 6 courses or more.

After completing all of the second-year requirements students will have the option of requesting an MA if they choose not to continue to the PhD or if they just want to have the diploma. Students are deemed academically ineligible to continue with the PhD program if they fail the 2nd-year qualifying exams twice, or have a failing grade, or have accumulated 9 credits of L grades.

Requirements for the PhD program include a minimum of 17 courses, a qualifying exam, 2nd-year research paper, PhD exam, and dissertation.Second-year qualifying exams are offered in spring semester only; fourth-year exams are offered in both fall and spring semester. Students on fellowships that entail a non-service year will take four courses per semester their first year. A Graduate School recruitment award, though it requires a minimal service assignment, is considered to be such a fellowship.

Students may choose to incorporate a year of study abroad into their program.

How to Apply

Prospective students will submit their applications electronically to the Graduate School.  Applications are only accepted for study beginning in the fall semester of each year. Recommenders must submit their letters electronically through the online application system. We do not accept any recommendations on paper or via email. To be considered for a competitive Graduate School fellowship, an applicant must have all materials in by December 10, 2024 for Fall 2025 admission. This includes transcripts, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, writing sample, and the mp3/wma file (all are submitted electronically). Please do not send hard copies of transcripts when applying – hardcopies of your final transcripts are due only to the Graduate School upon admission.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill welcomes all to apply regardless of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  Interested applicants can learn more about UNC’s commitment to diversity in its graduate programs from the Grad School.

Additional Department Requirements

Please note that in addition to the application materials that the Graduate School requests, the Department would like to receive the following three items:

  1. A one-page statement (written in English) in which you explain your reasons for pursuing your particular course of study. You should also detail the areas of your proposed field that interest you the most. This document should be saved as a .doc or .docx file. It will be uploaded when you initially apply.  Please do not email this file or send hardcopies.
  2. A sample of your writing, such as a term paper or a text that you have published in the language and discipline you are applying to study. This document should be saved as a .doc or .docx file. It will be uploaded when you initially apply.  Please do not email this file or send hard copies.
  3. A .mp3 or .wma file of a few minutes’ duration, in which you identify yourself by name in English; then, in the target language, chat about your professional goals and read a short literary passage of your choice. Please do not upload the file in any other format.  Please ensure that your recording is no larger than 5 MB. You will send this file to (This is particularly important if you are applying for a teaching assistantship.)

With few exceptions, all of our graduate students receive some form of financial support. Financial assistance,  if offered by the Department, consists of fellowship awards and teaching assistantships both of which are accompanied by a tuition award. Teaching assistantship stipends range from $20,600 to $24,935 (2024-2025), depending on how many courses the assistant teaches.  The stipend is subject to state and federal income tax.

No students will be admitted to the program for part-time study.

Graduate students who are awarded teaching assistantships also receive health insurance benefits; the Department also recommends them to the Graduate School for tuition support. The Grad School offers more information on competitive Graduate School fellowship awards. The Department may also offer other fellowships from its own trust fund. All applicants who submit materials by the December 10th deadline are automatically considered for these awards.

For further information on applying, please contact the Graduate Student Services Manager for Romance Studies, Lauren Lisinski (

The standard sequence of courses and assessments are as follows:

1st Year*

ROML 700 + 2 courses
ROML 800 + 3 Courses

2nd Year*

3 courses
Qualifying Exams + Research Paper (Thesis Substitute) credits (992) +1 or 2 Courses (optional, and with advisor approval)

3rd Year**

3 Courses
3 Courses

4th Year**

Dissertation credits (994) + 2courses + written examination (offered either in Fall or Spring)
Dissertation research and writing + defense of dissertation (994)

5th Year**

Dissertation research and writing (994)

* Students entering the PhD program with a Bachelor’s degree begin their studies in year 1. (Also referred to as a Shadow Master’s.)

** Students entering the PhD program with a Master’s degree begin their studies in year 3.

Graduate Support

Ellen Welch
Department Chair
Bruno Estigarribia
Director of Graduate Studies
Lauren Lisinski
Graduate Student Services Manager