Program Overview

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A Message from the CMLL 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). Our program provides an extremely flexible, interdisciplinary program of study that focuses on literature, culture, and film, with a strong foundation in language pedagogy. We also work with the English department to provide instruction in linguistics to interested students. 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. Brian Davisson.

Program Specifics


Students interested in applying for the M.A. in Foreign Language will apply directly to the Graduate School. 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. 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

The thesis option is strongly recommended for students planning to continue study in a Ph.D. program. Students wishing to complete a thesis will be required to complete 21 hours of coursework in their major language, as well as 6 hours of Thesis Writing credit, and 3 additional hours of graduate-level coursework, for a total of 30 hours. Students completing the thesis will be required to conduct a defense of the thesis during their comprehensive exam in the last semester of coursework.

Non-thesis Option

Students choosing the non-thesis option will be required to complete 21 hours of coursework in their major language, as well as 12 additional hours of graduate-level coursework, for a total of 33 hours. Non-thesis students will be required to complete a comprehensive exam with written and oral components, based on their coursework and a departmental reading list based on their language of study.

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 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. 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. Students completing a minor will be required to have a representative from their minor field as a member of their qualifying exam committee.


Student Testimonials

I have always felt welcomed at MSU in Starkville. The University is home to students, staff and professors from everywhere in the United States and the world. As a large SEC school with a long tradition of excellence, MSU has so much to offer you. You will discover and come to rely on the legendary southern hospitality, the impressive and festive tailgates before football games, the delicious food, clement weather and relaxing pace of life.
I have truly fond memories of my time at MSU that culminated in a Master’s degree of which I am extremely proud. I can sincerely say that I made lifelong friends, and had the pleasure to work with dedicated Professors, experts in their fields. So, come on over, bring your cowbell and go Dawgs!!

Maud Barthes, M.A., Mississippi State University,
Ph.D. Candidate, The University of Alabama

I'm a student from Mexico. I have been a student at MSU for 2 years. These have been some of the best years of my life. During this time, I have been fortunate to have studied and worked with excellent faculty and staff that not only care about delivering a world class education, but they also care about the human aspect of education. They always strive to be a positive influence and guide for everyone they come into contact with. I would gladly recommend MSU to any student interested in having a complete education while being a part of a department that will ensure their students get everything they need to be successful.

Hugo Guerra, M.A. Candidate in Spanish, Mississippi State University

La décision d’étudier au Département des Langues Modernes et Classiques et des Littératures à Mississippi State University a été facile à prendre pour moi. Je recherchais un programme d’enseignement ouvert sur le monde francophone avec un cadre d’études et de vie sobre; deux aspects importants pour un étudiant international qui commence une expérience académique et socioculturelle nouvelle. Mon expérience au département a été au-dessus de mes attentes et j’ai vite compris que j’avais fait le bon choix: la sympathie des enseignants et l’accueil bienveillant du département m’a permis de vite trouver la confiance et l’équilibre dont j’avais besoin face à un nouvel environnement. Mon intégration s’est faite sans effort dans un département où j’ai trouvé de nombreux étudiants étrangers encadrés par des enseignants dévoués tant à leur succès qu’à leur bien-être. La complicité et l’amitié qui existent entre les enseignants et les étudiants m’ont permis de m’exprimer, de développer mes capacités en classe et en dehors du cadre académique et d’enrichir mes perspectives. Pour moi, mon passage au Département des Langues Modernes et Classiques et des Littératures à Mississippi State University restera la meilleure expérience académique et socioculturelle aux USA qui m’a le plus marqué et dont l’unique évocation suffit à rappeler de vrais moments de convivialité et de sincère amitié , de joies et d’extases uniques, d’apprentissages et d’initiations authentiques. Le cadre universitaire, l’ambiance académique vibrante, la formation et le suivi dévoués de mes enseignants resteront à jamais mes repères et les sources d’inspirations qui guident ma vie professionnelle actuelle.

  Panagnimba Parfait Bonkoungou, M.A. Mississippi State University,
  Ph.D., The University of Louisiana, Lafayette

MSU was a wonderful and welcoming home for me for not only my undergraduate degree, but also for my Master's. The faculty and staff were extremely helpful and knowledgeable about their fields and helped challenge me for greater success. Through my degree programs I was able to experience more inside and outside the classroom through new experiences such as being a teaching assistant and helping in student organizations such as the Language [Emissaries]. Other fantastic opportunities await with study abroad and clubs for all languages. All of these experiences came together to prepare me for my future outside of my MSU home.

Victoria Schwalm, M.A., Mississippi State University