*Description of the new graduate program, which went into effect in the academic year 2015/2016, with students admitted in the Fall 2015. The current requirements for the graduate programs are listed in the webpages of the individual language sections.

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

Students apply directly to the PhD program. 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.

For students applying to the doctoral program with the MA in hand, appropriate placement and course transfer will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) in consultation with the Graduate Advisors. The Department may transfer up to 4 courses (12 credits) into the PhD program and in very exceptional cases up to 9 (27 credits). For these students transferring a total of 9 courses (27 credits), the Research Paper (Thesis Substitute) and the 2nd-year qualifying exams are waived.

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.

The standard sequence of courses and assessments is as follows:


1stROML 700 + 2 courses3 Courses
2nd3 CoursesQualifying Exams + Research Paper (Thesis Substitute) credits (992) + 1 or 2 Courses if appropriate
3rd3 Courses3 Courses
4thDissertation credits (994) + 2 courses + written examination (offered either in Fall or Spring)Dissertation credits (994) + written examination (if not taken in the Fall) + Dissertation Prospectus
5thDissertation research and writing (994)Dissertation research and writing + defense of dissertation (994)

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.

The following policies apply to the Ph.D. program:

  1. Should any questions arise regarding the acceptability of any courses taken prior to admission to the PhD program, the Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the Graduate Advisory Committee, will review the student’s dossier and determine which courses will be acceptable.
  2. Upon consultation with the Graduate Advisor in their section, doctoral students may decide to take additional courses beyond the required number of courses, the purpose of which should be to strengthen preparation for the written comprehensive examination, to lay the groundwork for the dissertation, or to develop a wider range of teaching fields. Since interdisciplinary studies may be appropriate to some research projects and career plans, additional courses or even a minor may be recommended.
  3. All doctoral students are required to have proficiency in one additional foreign language. For students specializing in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, this language must be Latin.
    Students have several options for demonstrating proficiency in an additional foreign language.They may take a proficiency exam in Spanish, French, German, Latin and Italian offered annually by the Graduate School.They may take language courses such as:

    • Portuguese: PORT 401402 (Accelerated Brazilian Portuguese)
    • Italian: ITAL 401402 (Beginning Accelerated Italian)
    • French: FREN 601 (French for Reading)
    • Spanish: SPAN 601 (Spanish for Reading)
    • Latin: ROML 820 (Introduction to Latin for Romance Studies) or LATN 111 (Beginning Accelerated Latin)

    Please note that language courses do not count toward the 17 content courses required for the degree program.

     Competitive FLAS fellowships are available to support students who wish to study a less commonly taught language.

    Transcripts from another institution showing successful completion of equivalent language courses can also be used to demonstrate proficiency.
    Students wishing to demonstrate language proficiency through any other means should contact the DGS.

  4. Teaching experience is an essential part of professional training. Therefore, teaching at least three contact hours a week for two semesters, or until teaching competence is acquired, is required of all doctoral candidates.
  5. No students will be admitted to the program for part-time study.
  6. In most cases, incoming students receive guaranteed tuition and stipend support for 10 semesters.  Support beyond the 10th semester may be provided at the department’s discretion and depending on the availability of funds.
    • Strong candidates for continued support in the 6th year include students who have defended a dissertation prospectus and have demonstrated other progress on dissertation work.  Evidence of application for outside funding (Graduate School or external fellowships) is also encouraged.
    • Students requesting a 7th year of departmental support should be able to demonstrate excellent progress on the dissertation (two or more chapters completed) as well as evidence of fellowship applications and activity on the job market.  Except in special circumstances, a 7th year of funding is unlikely for students who entered the program with an MA or a significant number of transfer credits.
  7. Students approaching graduation should remain aware of the Graduate School deadlines for applying for graduation, defending, and depositing the dissertation. Students who need to graduate in August (e.g., in order to accept a job requiring PhD in hand) should inform their committee no later than March 1 and should hold their defense no later than mid-May. Please note that students who defend their dissertations before the first day of Summer Session I classes can avoid paying summer tuition.

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 12, 2017 for Fall 2018 admission. This includes GRE scores, 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 here.

Additional Department Requirements

Please note that in addition to the application materials that the Graduate School requests (such as the GRE), 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 send the file in any other format.  Please ensure that your recording is no larger than 5 MB.
      • 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 $15,700 to $20,200 per academic year (2015-2016), 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.

Students are responsible for the payment of appropriate fees ($981.58 in 2016-2017). Graduate students who are awarded teaching assistantships also receive health insurance benefits; the Department also recommends them to the Graduate School for tuition support. For information on competitive Graduate School fellowship awards, please click here. The Department may also offer other fellowships from its own trust fund. All applicants who submit materials by the December 12th  deadline are automatically considered for these awards.

For further information on applying, please contact the Graduate Student Services Manager for Romance Studies, Shavon Carey, shavon@email.unc.edu.