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Doctoral program - Internal regulations for the PhD in Spanish


Applicants must have an MA in Spanish or an equivalent degree, with an average of at least 75% (B+). (Please note that our program reserves the right to raise the required grade point average above the level set by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies [FGPS] in its calendar). All applicants will be required to submit a two-page summary of their proposed doctoral research project, as well as a master’s thesis or research work of equivalent value.

Doctoral research project

a) Identify the main area(s) of your research project (Hispanic linguistics, Latin American literature and culture, Spanish Peninsular literature and culture, etc.).

b) Outline the topic to be addressed and describe the theoretical approach or framework to be used (gender studies, intercultural studies, narrative theory, discourse analysis, textual criticism, sociocriticism, language acquisition, bilingualism, contrastive grammar, etc.).

c) Situate your project in relation to the relevant scholarly literature (add a bibliography identifying up to 10 critical or theoretical sources).

d) State the major hypothesis or hypotheses you would like to explore in your research.


Admission procedures

The faculty of the Spanish section will review each application to the PhD program and, if a candidate meets the required standards, will suggest a thesis supervisor (or co-supervisors) from the core faculty (including adjunct professors). The selection of the thesis supervisor will be made on the basis of the professor’s research expertise and workload.

The Graduate Committee will then recommend the candidate’s admission to the FGPS. Candidates with a grade point average of 8 or above will also be recommended for an admission scholarship.


Students will take a minimum of six graduate seminars, but after considering their background and preparation, the Graduate Committee may recommend additional courses. One of the compulsory courses must be ESP 5901 (Research Methods and Bibliography). Since this course is also compulsory in the MA program, students who completed their MA in Spanish at the University of Ottawa or at another institution where they took an equivalent course will be exempt (and therefore required to complete only five courses while in the PhD program). One of the six courses might be a directed studies course supporting the development of the thesis topic. Depending on their research project, students may be encouraged to take courses outside the department. Course work is expected to be completed during the first three sessions.


Thesis committee

Within six months of a student’s admission, the thesis supervisor, in consultation with the student and the graduate committee, will nominate a thesis committee composed of the thesis supervisor and two other members, who could be professors in the core faculty, adjunct professors, or, where appropriate, professors from other universities. The thesis committee will provide academic guidance for the student’s research program and thesis writing and will be available to discuss thesis-related issues.

Doctoral examinations

At the beginning of their second year, students will present a more developed and precise version of their research project accompanied by a bibliography, which will form the basis of their doctoral examinations. Each thesis committee, in consultation with their student, will prepare a reading list whose scope will depend on the nature of the research project and the student’s background. In the field of literary and cultural studies, the reading list should cover areas and issues related to the thesis project such as genre, cultural and historical context, and theoretical and critical approaches.

The thesis committee will prepare the exam questions. The examinations will consist of two take-home exams, each on a field of research related to the thesis, and an oral exam. In the field of literature and culture, the first written exam will focus on theoretical, historical and methodological questions relevant to the thesis project, while the second one will ask the student to apply those questions to a sample of the student’s specific subject of study. In the field of linguistics, the first exam will focus on the theoretical field(s) of a topic, and the second on an aspect of the topic itself. Alternatively, students may choose to carry out an empirical study (40-50 pages) of publishable quality, as a prelude to the thesis research itself.

The exams will be completed within 18 months of entering the program, and one week will be allowed for each exam. Two weeks after the second written exam, there will be an oral exam before the thesis committee, based on a student’s written exams. A student may be required to repeat the exams partially or in their entirety. A student who fails the exams on a second attempt will be required to withdraw from the program.


Registration of the topic

By the end of the third session, the topic of the thesis must have been determined. After being approved by the Thesis Committee, it will be submitted to the FGPS for registration. The form used for this purpose will be signed by a student’s thesis supervisor, the academic unit's Director of Graduate Studies or Director, and the student.

Thesis project

Within six months of passing the doctoral examinations, a student will be expected to present a revised and extended version of the initial thesis project (approximate length: 30 pages plus bibliography), which will then be considered the definitive thesis proposal. The proposal will be evaluated by the Thesis Committee and the results communicated to the student within two weeks. Approval of the proposal will signify the thesis committee’s authorization for the student to proceed with the research and the final writing of the thesis.

Progress reports

During the second year of registration and again a year thereafter, a progress report will be submitted to the FGPS. Any concern regarding the progress of the thesis will be addressed in these reports.

Approval of thesis

Prior to being deposited in the FGPS, the thesis must be approved by the thesis supervisor in consultation with the thesis committee.
For regulations concerning the thesis defence, please click here.



First year

Completion of course work (6 seminars). This may include fall, winter, and spring/summer sessions. Registration of the thesis topic by the end of the third session.

Second year

At the beginning of the first session:

  • Preparation of the research project and of the reading list for examinations

During the second session (18 months after entering program):

  • Doctoral examinations.


Third session:

  • Revising, extending and defending research project


Third year

Research and writing of thesis

Fourth year

Completion and defence of the thesis.


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