M.A. in Foreign Languages (German, French, Spanish)

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A Message from the Graduate Coordinator

The Department of Classical & Modern Languages and Literatures (CMLL) at Mississippi State University is a dynamic and growing M.A. program in Foreign Languages (French, German, and Spanish). CMLL currently offers both a traditional face-to-face program and, coming in Fall 2020, a fully online MA.

Our graduate courses focus on literature, culture, linguistics, and film, with a strong foundation in language pedagogy. Our program provides an extremely flexible and interdisciplinary course of study. Our M.A. students can also obtain, while working towards their degree, a teaching license, with a specially-designed Pathway to Licensure in World Languages

The majority of our M.A. students work for the department as Teaching Assistants, which covers the cost of their education and pays them a stipend for living expenses. Roughly one-third of our graduates go into teaching at the secondary or post-secondary levels, and another quarter of our graduates continue study in a Ph.D. program. Several of our graduates have also pursued work abroad following the completion of their degree. The department works to ensure that its graduate students receive advising related to academic and career options, and our faculty is happy to help cater the program to best position its students for future success. The department has also encouraged its graduate students to help coordinate its summer study abroad programs with an experienced faculty member, or to attend programs and earn graduate credit, with financial assistance. Overall, the program is designed to allow students the flexibility to earn a Master's degree that will best position them for their future, with faculty that are fully invested in the success of the department's graduates. If you have questions about our program or you would like to schedule a campus visit, please contact the CMLL Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Kelly Moser.

Program Specifics

Admission and Costs

Students interested in applying for the M.A. in Foreign Language will apply directly to the Graduate School (for tuition and fees, see the Office of the Controller and Treasurer website). Application materials will be reviewed by CMLL's faculty, and a decision is generally made within two to three weeks of submitting the completed application. Application deadlines are different for domestic and international applicants; deadlines can be viewed here. The Graduate School requires that all applicants have a minimum 2.75 GPA (or equivalent) on the last two years of undergraduate coursework. Provisional admission is possible for students not meeting this requirement.

All applicants will be required to submit their application, along with a statement of purpose (outlining their reasons for wishing to study in the department and plans following completion of the M.A.), three academic letters of reference, unofficial transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate coursework (official copies will be required upon admission), and the application fee. GRE scores are accepted but not required by CMLL.

International students from non-TOEFL exempt countries must have a TOEFL score of 54 iBT to be admitted. Students scoring below 79 iBT will be required to complete ESL coursework upon admission, and might not be eligible for a Teaching Assistantship. Students with questions about TOEFL scores may contact the Graduate Coordinator.


The Department of Classical & Modern Languages and Literatures provides Teaching Assistantships to qualified graduate students. The department provides Teaching Assistants with a 100% tuition remission, and a stipend to pay for living expenses. Teaching Assistants work with experienced faculty during the first year of their appointment, helping to lead class sessions of the department's first-year language courses. During their second year, many of our Teaching Assistants teach their own language class as instructor of record. Prospective graduate students interested in applying for a Teaching Assistantship should fill out and submit the Graduate Assistantship Application directly to the Graduate Coordinator.The Graduate Assistantship Application and the application for the graduate program must be complete (e.g., including all materials and TOEFL test scores if applicable) and submitted by March 1 for fall admission. Please note that this deadline is earlier than listed by the university to allow faculty adequate time to review materials.  Students receiving a Teaching Assistantship will be required to complete FL 8693 Advanced Foreign Language Pedagogy during their first year of appointment.

Degree Options:

Thesis Option

Students pursing the thesis option are required to take at least 30 hours of graduate-level coursework, including 21 hours within the major field of study (FLX), with at least 12 of those hours being at the 7000- or 8000-level. At least 3 of those hours must be coursework in FL classes (FL, FLF, FLG, FLS, etc.). No more than 6 hours of Directed Individual Study (FLX 7000) coursework may be used to complete these requirements. Students must 6 hours of Thesis Writing (FLX 8000) to count toward the 30-hours requirement, though these credits do not satisfy the 12 hours of 8000-level credit. The thesis option will require an oral defense of the thesis at the time of the qualifying exams (in the last semester of study).

Non-thesis Option

Students pursing the non-thesis option will be required to take at least 33 hours of graduate-level coursework, including 21 hours within their major language of study (FLX), with at least 15 of those hours being at the 7000- or 8000-level. At least 3 of those hours must be coursework in FL classes (FL, FLF, FLG, FLS, etc.). No more than 6 hours of Directed Individual Study (FLX 7000) coursework may be used to complete these requirements.  Non-thesis students will be required to complete a comprehensive examination with written and oral components, based on their coursework and a departmental reading list based on their language of study.

For more details, consult the Graduate Catalog

Dual-Language Option

Students have the option of completing a dual-language degree by completing 18 hours of coursework in each of the languages of study. This is a rigorous course of study, but will enable graduates to teach in both languages upon completion of the degree, or to be well-positioned for doctoral study. Dual-language students will be responsible for the reading lists of both languages when completing their comprehensive examination, and will have faculty from both languages on their exam committee. All other requirements listed above for the thesis or non-thesis options still pertain to the course of study for a student choosing to complete coursework in two languages.

Minor Option

All students working toward an M.A. in Foreign Language have the option of completing a minor in a field related to their course of study and their academic interests, in addition to the major courrsework. Many of CMLL's M.A. students have worked toward minors in fields such as Linguistics, Business, History, or Political Science, or have completed the requirements for a TESOL certificate. Requirements for the minor are determined by the department offering the minor, and generally include either 9 or 12 hours of graduate-level coursework. In addition, a professor from the minor field of study must be included in the student’s comprehensive exam committee. Students should speak to a professor or the department head of the department they wish to work with to determine the specific requirements for completing the minor.


Your adviser is the department’s graduate coordinator. You will be released to register for classes after completing advising every semester with the graduate coordinator.

You will need to declare your degree by filling out a Program of Study form with the graduate coordinator. You will also need to complete a Committee Request form, also with the graduate coordinator, once you have determined who will sit on your comprehensive examination committee.

You will declare the minor when you complete the Program of Study and Committee Request forms, by including the minor professor from your minor field of study. Once you have passed your comprehensive examination, the Graduate School will be informed of your completion of both the major field of study and of the minor field of study.

You can transfer up to 9 hours of graduate coursework from another university, provided those courses are related to your M.A. degree at MSU and will have been taken no more than eight years prior to the completion of the degree. Any minor coursework that you wish to transfer will need to be approved by the minor department. Speak to the graduate coordinator to arrange for these credits to transfer.

Yes, CMLL currently offers a study abroad program every other year in Central America that regularly takes graduate students in Spanish. Students in all languages may participate in study abroad programs through direct exchange programs or through provider companies that coordinate with MSU’s Office of Study Abroad. (See the Office of Study Abroad website for program options.) You should consult with the graduate coordinator to ensure that all of the credits earned on the program will transfer. All study abroad credits transfer as S grades and not as letter grades, unless the course is taught by MSU faculty. In addition to study abroad options, the department’s study abroad program coordinators may at times invite graduate students to assist with the coordination of a study abroad program. The opportunities are limited, and at the discretion of the program coordinator.

The department offers some graduate courses during the summer, generally determined by student demand. If you are interested in completing summer coursework, you are encouraged to consult with your professors to see what options might be made available.

We do offer some hybrid courses (open to both on-campus students and distance learners), and are constantly working to increase our online offerings to better accommodate students who need to complete coursework away from campus. Some of our summer courses are also available as online courses. As with our summer classes, we are best able to meet specific needs if we determine that there is demand, so contact your professors to see if their courses might be offered online.

You may take a DIS course by speaking with the graduate faculty member in the department that you would like to work with. Together, you will choose a field of study and determine the course requirements. The professor will then arrange with the department to create the course in Banner. Remember that you are limited to two DIS courses to count toward completion of the M.A.

You may take a leave of up to two calendar years without having to reapply to the program. You are encouraged to stay in contact with the department while you are not taking courses, so that we can best advise you when you decide to return to campus.

The Graduate School requires that you complete your degree within eight years of your acceptance into the program. CMLL places no other requirement on the completion of your degree, but the department generally only guarantees funding through a Teaching Assistantship for four semesters. You should consult with the graduate coordinator if you will need a fifth semester and would like to continue to work as a TA; TA positions are contingent on departmental funds, and no guarantee can be made that funding will be available for a fifth semester as a Teaching Assistant.

The composition of the examination committee is determined by you. The department makes no further requirements for the examination committee, provided the committee complies with the requirements of the Graduate School (a minimum of two professors from CMLL, a professor from a minor field of study if applicable, and a minimum of three graduate faculty members overall on the committee). You are encouraged to select faculty members with whom you have completed graduate coursework, and who will best be able to evaluate your mastery of the reading list, your course of study, and the contents of your thesis (if applicable).

In general, it should take you at least two semesters to complete the thesis, though in practice students sometimes take three semesters. In order to stay on target for graduation, you are encouraged to speak with your professors as soon as you decide to complete a thesis. Your major professor will be your best resource to determine a reasonable timeline for completion of the thesis.

The Graduate School requires that you complete a minimum of 9 hours of coursework in your major field, with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, and no grades lower than a C. Once you have completed these requirements, your change in status should be automatically processed by the Office of the Graduate School. You will be informed of your change in status once it has been processed.