The Department aims to recruit students with a strong background in the fields of Latin American and/or Iberian literatures and cultures or in a closely related field.

Requirements for Admission

  • B.A. or M.A. (or an international degree equivalent), preferably in Spanish and/or Portuguese 
  • Preparation in a related discipline, literary tradition, and/or literary theory and criticism desirable
  • Fluency in English and in either Spanish or Portuguese (both desirable)
  • Applicants must provide unofficial transcripts, detailing all academic work, from each educational institution they have attended. Official transcripts are only required for applicants that have been admitted and have chosen to enroll at Northwestern. If the originals are not in English, a literal English translation must be supplied as well.
  • Writing Sample (15-20 pages, may be in English, Spanish, or Portuguese).
  • Two recommendations from professors familiar with the student’s academic qualifications.  Letters may be written in English, Spanish or Portuguese.
  • Statement of Purpose, which should describe your purpose and objective for undertaking graduate study, any special research interests or qualifications you possess, as well as, why you chose to apply to Northwestern University. We will use the essay to rank applicants and to assess each applicant's fit for our graduate program given the research and teaching areas of the faculty. Be as specific as possible about your research interests and qualifications. The statement should be written in English and 1-2 pages in length single spaced.
  • TOEFL (minimum scores: 550 on paper-based test, 213 on computer-based test, or 90 on the internet-based test) or IELTS (minimum score: 7.0)
  • Diversity statement (encouraged but not required).  The Graduate School at Northwestern University considers having a diverse student population a key element to the educational experience of its graduate students. Diversity presents itself in many different forms such as: socio-economic status, race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or place of origin, disability, unique work or life experience, etc. We invite you to use this to tell us how you may contribute to the diversification of, The Graduate School, your program and Northwestern University.  The statement should be 1-2 pages in length single spaced.  *Please add the Diversity statement with the Statement of Purpose as one document in the online application.
  • Please note that the GRE is NOT required for admission to this program.

Students interested in pursuing a PhD in Spanish and Portuguese are encouraged to find a second intellectual “home” in an interdisciplinary cluster.

  • Students who wish to participate in a Humanities and Non-Quantitative Social Science cluster initiative may indicate this interest in the on-line application. Once a cluster has been selected in Apply Yourself, the option to attach a “cluster statement” will become available; these statements provide an opportunity to describe to the cluster faculty the ways in which your research interests make you a suitable candidate for a Mellon Cluster Fellowship. While students may choose to participate in clusters at any point throughout their graduate careers, select students will be named Mellon Interdisciplinary Cluster Fellows at the time of admission; this designation indicates the student’s strong fit for the cluster and carries additional benefits.

 In addition, the department may choose to interview applicants in the final stages of the admissions process.

Application Deadline:  December 31st

To apply, go to:

Northwestern University - The Graduate School

For further questions, contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Alejandra Uslenghi.

  • English Language Instructions for newly admitted students

The International Summer Institute provides intensive language instruction and acculturation to international students admitted to a Ph.D. program at Northwestern in the summer before they begin coursework. Students are nominated by their admitting departments; this program is not open to the public. The program includes coursework, tutoring, an extensive calendar of social events, and special sessions devoted to integration into the academic community, including a one-day research conference

  • Brazil Research Program for Advanced Doctoral Students

This program is designed to encourage academic exchange among advanced doctoral students between social science and humanities departments at Northwestern University and various universities in Brazil. Host institutions agree to waive tuition and other fees for participating students.  Students would be otherwise financed (stipend, heath insurance, travel, etc.) by their home institution or government in the case of Brazilian students participating in the “sandwich year” program.  Visitors to Northwestern would be “non-degree students” and could enroll in graduate seminars in the host department, subject to instructor approval, and would be expected to participate in the ongoing activities of the Program in Comparative-Historical Social Science (CHSS) or the Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS).

To facilitate the participation of Northwestern students in this exchange, students can use their university fellowship to provide release from teaching responsibilities.  To be eligible, Northwestern students must have passed their qualifying exams and be advanced to candidacy before the start of their stay abroad.  Final fellowship approval is contingent on acceptance of the student by the partner institution in Brazil.

The admission materials required of Brazilian students applying to Northwestern would include:

  • a curriculum vitae;
  • a five page research proposal, including an indication of the applicants preferred departmental and programmatic affiliation (CHSS or LACS);
  • two letters of recommendation;
  • a graduate transcript;
  • proof of competence in written and spoken English.

Admission would also be contingent on acceptance into the Brazilian “sandwich” program.

For more information on this exchange program, please contact Professor Bruce Carruthers.

Questions about the Graduate Program?  Contact