The emphasis of the Graduate Program in Spanish and Portuguese is on doctoral study, of which the M.A. degree is viewed as the initial phase. Applications are accepted only for full-time work in the Ph.D. program beginning in the fall semester. Applications for a terminal M.A. degree or part-time study are not generally considered. Students interested in part-time study or a terminal Master's Degree (in particular, the Master of Liberal Arts) should contact the University of Pennsylvania's College of Liberal and Professional Studies.

Instructions, forms, and a link to the online application are located here.


Admissions Requirements

Candidates for admissions to the Ph.D. program should have fluency in Spanish as well as an excellent undergraduate record, strong letters of recommendation, and demonstrated skill in academic writing.

We encourage you to submit an online application, which you can create by clicking here.

Following are the required components of the application, which MUST be received by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences via an online application no later than the deadline on December 15.


  • Copies of all undergraduate and graduate transcripts - Your application must include an UNOFFICIAL transcript from any and all institutions where you did previous academic work at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The transcripts should be scanned and submitted electronically with your application. If you are admitted to the program, you will be required to confirm the information by sending an official copy of the transcript before matriculating.

  • Three letters of recommendation

  • A personal statement (1-2 pages in length) - Your personal statement is an important part of your application. The admissions committee looks not only at the general background and qualifications of the applicants, but also at the fit between your specific goals and interests, and the kind of research conducted by the members of the graduate group.

    In the personal statement, all Ph.D. applications within the Graduate Division of Arts & Sciences should address the following:

    Please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.

  • A writing sample in Spanish (10-15 pages) - A writing sample, such as a substantial term paper or thesis from previous undergraduate or graduate work, is necessary for the faculty to assess your research experience. The document should be converted to .pdf format and submitted electronically with your application. In the event that your writing sample exceeds the application platform's file size limit, you may e-mail the document to the Graduate Coordinator.

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores - This applies to all international students who are not native speakers of English, unless they have received a post-secondary degree at an American college or university. Please arrange to take the TOEFL test (if applicable) by a date that will guarantee that your scores will be forwarded to the University of Pennsylvania by the deadline.  For testing dates and locations, refer to TOEFL. The Institution Code for the University of Pennsylvania is 2926. You do not have to include the Department/ Major Field Code.

The application fee is $90.00. Payments must be made by credit card, check, or international postal money order written in U.S. currency and made payable to the "Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania."   Application fee waiver inquiries and requests can be sent to


Instructions, forms, and a link to the online application are located here


Applicants must ensure that their complete materials — including transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and supporting documents — are submitted by December 15 in order to be considered for financial aid from or through the university. Please do not telephone the Graduate Division or the Department of Spanish and Portuguese to confirm their arrival; we will contact you if any materials are missing.

The University of Pennsylvania values an inclusive and diverse learning community and seeks talented students, faculty, and staff from a variety of backgrounds and with a wide range of experiences.  The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected class status in the administration of its admissions, financial aid, educational or athletic programs, or other University-administered programs or in its employment practices. Questions or complaints regarding this policy should be directed to the Executive Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, Franklin Building, 3451 Walnut Street, Suite 421, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106; or (215) 898-6993.


For Further Information

Laura Flippin
Graduate Coordinator
University of Pennsylvania
514 Williams Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
Telephone: (215) 898-1980
Fax: (215) 898-0933