Mar 03, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Modern Foreign Languages Major, PhD

The PhD with a major in modern foreign languages requires advanced training in a major language (French, German, or Spanish) and either a second language, applied linguistics, or Latin American Studies. Students may also choose to take courses in a cognate field.

Concentrations (Required)

  • First concentration — French, German, or Spanish
  • Second concentration — Applied linguistics, French, German, Italian, Latin American Studies, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • Generally, applicants will have completed an MA in French, German, or Spanish to be accepted into this program, but consideration will also be given to those with significant graduate training in any of these areas. Both graduates of institutions in the United States and those with graduate degrees from institutions outside the United States must have a grade point average of at least 3.00.
  • Submit online application to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

First Concentration — French, German or Spanish

The Department of World Languages and Cultures promotes, at the PhD level, an area studies approach (French and Francophone, Germanic, Hispanic) with offerings in literature, film, translation, and gender/ethnic studies.

Credit Hours Required

A minimum of 87 graduate credit hours (a minimum of 63 credit hours of graduate coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree in addition to 24 credit hours of doctoral research and dissertation)

Required Courses

First Concentration in French, German, or Spanish: A minimum of 39 graduate credit hours in the chosen field (45 if the student chooses not to do a cognate field) beyond the bachelor’s degree, distributed as follows:

Second Concentration

A minimum of 18 graduate credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, taken in the field of Latin American Studies, Applied Linguistics, or a second language, either French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish. Twelve (12) of these credit hours must be at the 500-level or above.

  • Second concentration in applied linguistics in French, German, or Spanish:


  • French: students must take

  • 9 credit hours of appropriate electives in English or French. The student’s graduate advisor must approve the electives chosen.

  • German: students must take

  • or
  • MFLL 512 - Teaching a Foreign Language  

  • 3 credit hours of German linguistics; such as

  • 6 credit hours of linguistics electives in English or German. The student’s graduate advisor must approve the electives chosen,

  • Spanish: students must take

  • MFLL 512 - Teaching a Foreign Language  
  • 9 credit hours of appropriate electives in English or Spanish. The student’s graduate advisor must approve the electives chosen.

  • Second concentration in Latin American Studies. Students choosing Latin American Studies as their second concentration will take 6 graduate credit hours in an appropriate language area that is outside their primary concentration (either French, Portuguese, or Spanish), and in addition 12 graduate credit hours in Latin American Studies classes outside of the primary concentration. This combination reinforces a student’s first concentration that requires 45 graduate credit hours beyond the BA degree in the primary language and literature area. Although the principal target audience consists of doctoral students in Spanish, and especially those with a Latin American specialization, the second concentration in Latin American Studies is available to all PhD students in Modern Foreign Languages. The 18-credit hour concentration in Latin American Studies consists of the following requirements:

    • Two courses (6 credit hours) at the 400- or 500-level in French, Portuguese, or Spanish, but outside of the student’s first concentration language. Both classes must be taken in the same language area and need to be conducted in the target language.
    • A graduate course (3 credit hours) with Latin American content offered by a unit outside of MFLL (preferably History). This course must be approved by the student’s graduate advisor.
    • Three additional graduate courses in at least 2 disciplines outside of the student’s primary concentration; (e.g., Anthropology, Cinema Studies, French, History, Political Science, Portuguese, Sociology, Spanish). These graduate courses must be approved by the student’s graduate advisor, and at least one of these three courses (a minimum of three graduate credit hours) must be taken at the 500-level. Consult with the Chari of Latin American Studies for course selection.

Optional Cognate Field

A maximum of 6 graduate credit hours. With the approval of their advisors, students may choose to take six credit hours in graduate courses numbered 400 and above in a field outside the department or language family of the first concentration but related to the student’s principal area of research. Students choosing applied linguistics as a second concentration are strongly urged to take their cognate work in a second language; students choosing Latin American Studies do not have the option of taking courses in a cognate field.

Non-Course Requirements

A comprehensive examination must be passed before the student may be admitted to candidacy.

  • The candidate is required to defend his/her dissertation in an oral examination. Central emphasis is put on the doctoral dissertation as a final test of the candidate’s scholarly qualifications.
  • Graduate Teaching Assistants with a second concentration in another language should have the opportunity and will be strongly encouraged to instruct in the languages of both their first and second concentration, subject to staffing needs.
  • Doctoral students are strongly encouraged to reside and study abroad and will be assisted in identifying potential sources of financial support (e.g., Fulbright, McClure, Rotary fellowships).