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MA Program

The Department of Portuguese at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, in collaboration with the Departments of History, Political Science, and Sociology/Anthropology, offers a graduate program leading to the degree of Master of Arts in Portuguese Studies.

The MA in Portuguese Studies gives graduates an in-depth understanding of literary and cultural history of Portugal and the Portuguese-speaking world within a broad, interdisciplinary context of humanities and social sciences. Curricular offerings are complemented by a varied agenda of activities and publications sponsored by the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture, including frequent guest lectures and state-of-the-art colloquia, the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives, and an international, peer-reviewed academic journal, Portuguese Literary and Cultural Studies, among others.

The majority of core and elective courses comprising the MA curriculum are taught in the Department of Portuguese, in the disciplinary areas of literary and cultural studies of the Portuguese-speaking world and linguistics. These courses are offered in Portuguese. Students may also take courses related to the Portuguese-speaking world that are taught in English in the departments of Art History, History, Political Science, and Sociology/Anthropology.

In addition to regular curricular offerings, students take seminar-level courses taught by a rotating pool of distinguished visiting scholars, in residence at UMass Dartmouth as holders of the Hélio and Amélia Pedroso/Luso-American Foundation Endowed Chair in Portuguese Studies.

The flexible, non-specialized program of study for the MA is suitable both for students who terminate their academic career at the Master's level and for those who plan to pursue the PhD.

To the terminal MA student it affords the breadth of knowledge required for teaching Portuguese in secondary schools and community and junior colleges, as well as to succeed professionally in a wide range of employment opportunities available in our region, nationally and internationally.

To the potential doctoral candidate it provides the general foundation necessary for subsequent specialization.

The distinct needs and objectives of the two groups are addressed through the choice of two end assessment options: comprehensive exams based on a reading list (recommended for terminal MA candidates) or a two-tiered MA Research Project (recommended for students continuing to the PhD). Details are given below.

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge of literary and cultural practices in the Portuguese-speaking world;
  • Develop advanced understanding of critical and theoretical approaches relevant to the Portuguese language and Luso-Afro-Brazilian cultures;
  • Develop and apply research skills relevant to the chosen field of study;
  • Present research findings effectively in written and spoken communications.

Admission requirements

Applicants must submit the required application materials to the Graduate Office, with the following additional considerations:

  • Applicants who do not hold a BA degree in Portuguese will be considered on the basis of a BA or BS degree in another discipline and demonstrated oral and written competence in Portuguese. Written competence will be demonstrated by submission of a written sample (a 10-page personal essay or a course paper in Portuguese are acceptable examples). Oral competence will be demonstrated in the course of an interview conducted by the Graduate Studies Committee (in person or by phone).

  • The Department of Portuguese does not require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for admission to the MA, but candidates may strengthen their applications by submitting GRE scores. Either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required from all international students whose native language is not English. The minimum iBT TOEFL score is 72 for admission and 79 for the award of a teaching assistantship. For the IELTS, band 6 is required for admission and 6.5 for the award of an assistantship.

  • Three confidential letters of recommendation from professors or other senior professionals well acquainted with the candidate's qualifications are required.

Application materials and instructions are available here or by calling +1-508-999-8604.

Degree requirements

Completion of the MA in Portuguese Studies requires a total of 30 credits, including a minimum of 24 course credits. At least 12 credits (4 courses) must be at the 600 level, including POR 610: Topics in Literary and Cultural Analysis. The remaining credits may be taken through 500-level courses. Up to 9 credits may be taken outside of the Department of Portuguese, to be approved on a case-by-case basis.

MA students granted a Teaching Assistantship in Portuguese are required to take POR 521 (Teaching Portuguese as a Foreign Language) no later than in their first semester of teaching. MA candidates awarded a full-time assistantship are required to be enrolled as full-time students in all semesters in which they hold the assistantship. The degree is designed to be completed within two years and must be completed within six years of beginning course work.

Two distinct end assessment options are available to MA students. Option A (recommended, but not required, for terminal MA candidates) consists of comprehensive written exams in literature based on a reading list. Option B (recommended, but not required, for students planning to pursue a PhD) consists of a two-tiered Master Research Project (POR 660 and POR 661; 6 credits). Students will declare their choice of end assessment option by the end of their second semester in the program (full-time students) or following completion of eighteen course credits (part-time students).

Option A

Students choosing to take written MA examination will compose, with the assistance of their graduate advisor, a reading list for the exam by the beginning of their last semester in the program.  The graduate exam committee will consist of three faculty members of the Department of Portuguese. The committee will prepare questions for the student's written exam, evaluate the results of the exam, and grade it as pass, fail, or delayed decision. Students who receive a delayed decision on the written exam will also take an oral exam administered by their graduate committee approximately one week after the written exam for the purpose of clarifying their answers on the written exam.

Option B

Full-time students choosing MA Research Project Option will register for POR 660 in their third semester in the program and for POR 661 in their fourth and last semester; for part-time students this recommendation will be adjusted as appropriate. The scope and objective of the Research Project will be devised by the student in consultation with the graduate faculty. The project will be carried out under the direction of the student's faculty advisor, who will serve as chairperson of the student's graduate committee. The committee will consist of three members, including at least two from the Department of Portuguese.

The first stage of the Research Project (POR 660) will consist of a comprehensive review of pertinent critical literature on the subject chosen by the student; toward the end of the semester the student will submit a 20-25 page literature review essay and a 5-page description and justification of his or her own projected contribution to the existing body of criticism.

The second stage of the Research Project (POR 661) will consist in the elaboration of successive drafts of a 25-30 page manuscript with a view to submitting the approved and defended final draft for publication to an appropriate professional journal. The MA Research Project defense will take place toward the end of the semester before graduation and will consist of an oral presentation by the student and discussion of the project by the graduate committee. The student will be expected to show mastery of the material presented and be able to argue successfully in support of the insights and arguments developed in the manuscript.

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