MA in Hispanic Applied Linguistics

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The Hispanic Applied Linguistics track of the Master’s Degree in Spanish at UMD offers rigorous interdisciplinary training for the study and teaching of Spanish as a second or heritage language. Our courses are taught by UMD faculty in collaboration with international experts, and combine a solid theoretical foundation in applied linguistics with hands-on applications. As an essential part of their experience at UMD, HAL students can expect to work closely with faculty to conduct research as well as apply their knowledge and skills to language teaching, editorial, and community projects.  



                  MA in HAL (Thesis Option)

             MA in HAL (Non-Thesis Option)

  • 15 credit hours in Hispanic Applied Linguistics
  • 6 credit hours in Latin American/Spanish/Latino(a) literatures
  • 3 credit hours in an elective course (to be determined by the student and advisor)
  • 6 credit hours of thesis research
  • 15 credit hours in Hispanic Applied Linguistics
  • 6 credit hours in Latin American / Latino(a) / Spanish literatures and cultures
  • 6 credit hours in elective courses (to be determined by the student and advisor)
  • 3 credit hours in a capstone project
       Total = 30 credits       Total = 30 credits




Hispanic Applied Linguistics (15 credits – 5 courses of 3 credits each)

You will complete 15 credit hours (5 courses) in Hispanic Applied Linguistics.

Download here the description of our HISPANIC APPLIED LINGUISTICS COURSES

Latin American/Spanish/Latino(a) Literatures (6 credits – 2 courses of 3 credits each)

You will complete 6 credit hours (2 courses) in Latin American/Spanish/Latino(a) literatures.



The following are some examples of capstone projects developed in recent years by graduate students in the MA:

  • Curriculum Development for Spanish Programs in Elementary Education
  • Available Lexicon of Hispanic Students at the University of Maryland
  • Bimodal vs. Reversed Subtitling: Effects on Foreign Language Reading Comprehension
  • Target Language Practice in Study Abroad Programs
  • Perceptions of Language by Heritage Language Learners of Spanish
  • The Effects of Parental Attitudes upon Bilingualism in Their Children
  • Vocabulary Retention Among Adult ESL Learners: Differences Between Ages
  • Linguistic Human Rights and Educational Policy in Guatemala
  • Learning Processes in Explicit Instruction
  • Assessment in Heritage Language Courses
  • Pedagogical Grammar in Teaching Spanish as an L2



The comprehensive examination is given three times per year, on designated days in January, May, and August. The examination is based a READING LIST prepared and periodically revised by the faculty. 

Further information about exams and the reading lists may be obtained from the departmental website.



Upon completion, students in the MA in Hispanic applied linguistics will demonstrate:

  • An understanding of key concepts in Hispanic Applied Linguistics and Sociolinguistics.
  • Advanced language capabilities essential for communicating in Spanish in a variety of academic and professional contexts.
  • Intercultural skills necessary for interacting with Spanish-speaking populations, in educational, business, or political venues.
  • An understanding of the social, cultural and political conditions of Spanish-speaking heritage communities, in general, and the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, in particular.
  • Mastery of specific major works and concepts of Latin American / Spanish / US Latina/o literatures and cultures, as relevant to the student’s professional goals.



The following are some of the possible options for students interested in participating in an internship as part of their MA in Hispanic Applied Linguistics. Specific details will be discussed with the advisor.

The requirements for application to the internship are:

  • Students are in their 3rd or 4th semester of MA program (it is highly recommended that students conduct an internship during their 3rd semester)
  • Excellent academic standing (3.0 GPA or higher)
  • Letter of recommendation from advisor
  • Statement of purpose after initial meeting with internship supervisor at host institution

The academic requirements to be completed during the internships are:

  • Biweekly written progress reports, to be signed by supervisor and submitted to internship coordinator
  • One report on a research issue/problem in the internship
  • Presentation at the end of the internship to faculty and students
  • A final evaluation of the placement
  • Updated resume to include the internship and a final portfolio of the internship



MA students interested in participating in research projects in the area of Hispanic Applied Linguistics should schedule an appointment with Dr. Lacorte or Dr. Gironzetti to discuss available opportunities. Current faculty members specialize in the following areas:

  • Discourse Analysis
  • Sociocultural theory
  • Language Program Management
  • Pragmatics
  • Curriculum Development
  • Language Teaching Pedagogy & Methodology 
  • Humor Studies
  • Language Teaching Materials Design



Kim Pinckney-Lewis. My research and training in the MA program prepared me both to return to the classroom (I was hired in several MD and VA districts upon graduation) as well as to pursue a Research Assistant position at UMD, CASL. For 3 years I worked within CASL's SLA and Performance Improvement/Expertise areas of research. I also worked as an Adjunct Spanish Instructor at Prince George's Community College. From there, I completed a Graduate Certificate in Instructional Systems Design and worked for consulting firms (Booz Allen & ICF, International) as a contractor to the federal government. I was sought out for a project preparing analysts for work in Afghanistan and Pakistan on behalf of DIA - there I was a lead designer for all of the language learning and cultural familiarity in person and online modules. For NSA, I was the lead researcher on a training needs assessment to ascertain the best training pipeline for new military language analysts in 5 targeted languages.


Milvia Hernández. Mi experiencia educativa en UMD comenzó en el año 1999 cuando entré para tomar clases de literatura y así entrar al programa de graduado. Sin embargo, en el 2002 hice una de mis mejores decisiones profesionales, entrar al programa de HAL, y en el 2005 me gradué. El programa ha sido muy beneficioso no sólo en mi preparación profesional sino también en mi vida personal. Allí no solo encontré el programa que me prepararía en lo que realmente quería hacer, enseñar español; sino cultivé amistades que aún perduran. Hoy en día soy profesora y coordinadora del nivel intermedio de español en la Universidad de Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), y puedo decir con orgullo que todas las enseñanzas aprendidas aún las aplico.


DʼJuan Lyons. Ahora soy intérprete médico (freelance) y trabajo como profesor adjunto en Delaware County Community College dando clases de nivel básico e intermedio en Philadelphia, PA, además de enseñar en línea para el Delaware Technical Community College en Dover, DE. El programa de HAL me ha beneficiado mucho con mis metas profesionales con el español. Todo que aprendí del programa en cuanto a la lingüística y los diferentes métodos que un docente puede usar para mejor su pedagogía me ha ayudado en mi carrera. Hoy en día aplico muchas técnicas que aprendí en mis clases de español y sé cómo integrar la cultura con la lingüística en mis clases. También, el programa de HAL me ha dado la oportunidad de ser intérprete médico porque me dio la base que necesitaba para ampliar mis habilidades. Honestamente, tener un Masters en Lingüística Aplicada siempre lleva empleo y oportunidades para avanzar y crecer en la industria.


Susan Hills. Soy editora de adquisiciones para libros en el departamento de publicaciones de una organización sin ánimo de lucro que apoya a los educadores K-12 y la educación publica. Mis áreas de especialización son la administración y los hablantes de inglés como idioma adicional, así que lo que aprendí en la maestría HAL me ayuda mucho con la segunda especialización. Me ayuda a entender los retos de aprender un idioma, los desafíos específicos de la población hispanohablante a la hora de dominar el inglés y español, y lo que esto significa para su educación. 


Helen Winder. After graduation, I got a job teaching Spanish at a private high school in Washington, DC.I taught several different levels and implemented a Heritage Language track at the school. I taught for 12 years before leaving the workforce when I had my youngest child. My coursework in the HAL program allowed me to appreciate the developmental steps of learning a second language, which in turn allowed me to teach more effectively. I also learned the importance of differentiated instruction and authentic resources. I also gained a more thorough understanding of the grammar and linguistic structure of Spanish, which helped me immensely when explaining concepts to my students.


Jesu Serna. HAL me ha ayudado a fortalecer mi conocimiento sobre el español en varios aspectos: históricos, sociolingüísticos y literarios, por mencionar solo algunos. También ha expandido mis intereses a otras áreas más allá de mi campo de trabajo y estudio. La maestría en HAL me ha brindado la oportunidad de conocer y colaborar con colegas de otras instituciones y de otros países con lo cuales he establecido relaciones profesionales fructíferas y benéficas. Por último, pero no menos importante, me ha dejado muy buenos amigos y experiencias.


Mary Ely Hernández. En primer lugar, la maestría me ayudó a ampliar mis conocimientos en áreas como la lingüísitca aplicada, sociolingüística, pragmática, pedagogía, dicáctica y literatura. Fue bastante enriquecedor también el aprendizaje sobre las diferentes teorías sobre la adquisición de segundas lenguas. Por otro lado, la maestría en HAL me ha hecho más consciente y sensible a los diferentes factores que influyen en el proceso de enseñanza y aprendizaje de lenguas. En este sentido, lo aprendido durante la maestría ha cambiado mi manera de ver la sala de clase, el rol del profesor y del estudiante y cómo enseño. He sido profesora de español durante 16 años, pero la maestría en HAL me ha ayudado a consolidar y fortalecer mi enseñanza y me ha rproporcionado los fundamentos teóricos y prácticos que me hacen ser una mejor profesora para mis estudiantes. 



Manel Lacorte (B.A., University of Barcelona, M.A., University of Illinois at Chicago, Ph.D., University of Edinburgh, Scotland) is Associate Professor of Spanish Applied Linguistics, and Director of Spanish Undergraduate Studies. He also works as associate director of undergraduate studies at the Spanish School at Middlebury College, Vermont. His research focuses on second language (L2) and heritage language (HL) pedagogy and teacher education; L2 classroom interaction and context(s); and sociopolitical issues in L2 and HL teaching and learning. Manel has published over 50 book chapters and journal articles, and edited or co-edited 7 books, among them Multiliteracies Pedagogy and Language Learning: Teaching Spanish to Heritage Speakers (Palgrave Macmillan 2017), and The Routledge Handbook of Spanish Language Teaching (Routledge 2018). He is associate editor of the Journal of Spanish Language Teaching (Routledge).

Elisa Gironzetti earned a doctorate in Spanish Language Teaching (University of Alicante, 2013) and a Ph. D. in English Applied Linguistics (Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2017). Her articles and chapters were published in Humor, the Journal of Literary Semantics, the Routledge Handbook of Language and Humor, and the Journal of Spanish Language Teaching. She is the founding editor of E-JournALL and associate editor of the Journal of Spanish Language Teaching. She is currently co-editing the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Spanish Language Teaching: Metodología, contextos y recursos para la enseñanza and conducting experimental research on humor integrating eye-tracking, facial action coding, and discourse analysis.

Ana  Patricia Rodríguez is associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and U.S. Latina/o Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she teaches courses in Latin American, Central American, and U.S. Latina/o literatures and cultures. Her research interests include Central American and U.S. Latina/o literatures and cultures; Central American cultural production in the U.S.; transnational migration and cultural production; diaspora studies; violence and postwar/trauma studies; gender studies; U.S. Latina/o popular culture; community-based research; and Latina/o education (K-16). Professor Rodríguez has published numerous articles on the cultural production of Latinas/os in the United States and of Central Americans in the isthmus and in the wider Central American diaspora. She is the author of Dividing the Isthmus: Central American Transnational Histories, Literatures, and Cultures (University of Texas Press, 2009) and co-editor (with Linda J. Craft and Astvaldur Astvaldsson) of De la hamaca al trono y al más allá: Lecturas críticas de la obra de Manlio Argueta (San Salvador: Universidad Tecnológica, 2013).

Roberta Z. Lavine received her PhD from the Catholic University of America in 1983. She is currently Director of Undergraduate Program and Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She has 25 years of teaching experience and has taught all levels of Spanish language, Business Spanish, Cross-cultural Communication, and methodology, among other courses. Her current research interests deal with learner variables in language learning, especially learning disabilities, Language for Specific Purposes, and technology. She has extensive experience in technology and the use of computers for instructional purposes, and currently teaches business language and cross-cultural communication in a technology-enhanced environment. She has won the University of Maryland Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology as well as a Fellowship from the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. She has published in all of the above-mentioned areas and has lectured and given workshops all over the world.




To be considered for admission to the MA in Hispanic Applied Linguistics, candidates must have completed a minimum of four (4) courses at the advanced undergraduate level in either Spanish or Latin American/US Latina/o literature, Hispanic applied linguistics, or a combination.

Prospective students should submit the following:

  • Writing sample in Spanish produced in an undergraduate literature/linguistics course.
  • Statement of purpose.
  • Three letters of recommendation from professors/professionals in related fields.
  • Official transcripts.

Shortlisted candidates may be interviewed by the Graduate Director in person or by phone.

For further information about admissions to the Graduate School, please consult:



What is Applied Linguistics?

The American Association for Applied Linguistics defines Applied Linguistics as an interdisciplinary field of inquiry that addresses a broad range of language-related issues in order to understand their roles in the lives of individuals and conditions in society. It draws on a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches from various disciplines–from the humanities to the social and natural sciences–as it develops its own knowledge-base about language, its users and uses, and their underlying social and material conditions. 

How long does it take to complete the MA?

A full-time student typically completes the MA in 2 years if s/he is only taking courses during the Spring and Fall semesters. However, part-time students typically need more time to finish the program, depending on how many courses per semester they are taking. Keep in mind that MA students have a limit of 5 years to complete their degree.

How much does it cost? 

Students can determine the cost per semester from this website or contact the Office of the Bursar for clarification (, Tel. 301-314-9000).

Should I choose the thesis or non-thesis option? 

The answer to this question depends on your goals. If you are planning to pursue a Ph.D. at UMD or other institutions, we recommend the thesis option. You can choose one of these options at the beginning of the program or later, until the third semester (depending on what electives you may have taken). The non-thesis option may be more convenient for those students who are not interested in further graduate work. 

What is this degree good for? 

This program is not only for people who want to become teachers of Spanish. Other career options include pursuing a Ph. D. in a related area (such as Applied Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, Curriculum and Instruction, or Higher Education), work at companies in the fields of communications or editing services, or enter the educational administration field. Learn more about current and past students do here.

Does this program lead to teacher certification?

This program does NOT provide you with a teacher certification for USA schools K-12. If you are interested in obtaining this certificate, please refer to any of these sources:

Can I start the program in the Spring semester? 

Yes, but only if you start as a part-time student and you are not applying to a Teaching Assistantship. 

Are there assistantships available? 

Yes, but these are very competitive and the number of TAships offered varies on an annual basis.

What if my BA is from a different field or area? 

It is not necessary to have a BA in Linguistics to apply, but you should have a minimum of four (4) courses at the advanced undergraduate level in either Spanish or Latin American/US Latina/o literature, Hispanic Linguistics, or a combination of these. Please refer to the Admissions process and requirements section of our webpage

I am not a native speaker of Spanish…

This is not a problem, provided that you can demonstrate at least a low advanced (ACTFL) or C1 (CEFR) proficiency in Spanish. Keep in mind that as part of your application you will need to submit a writing sample in Spanish and participate in an oral interview. If you are not a native speaker of English, please see UMD requirements.

I am an international student…


Is there an application deadline? 


Are there study abroad opportunities? 

There are no study abroad opportunities for graduate studies. 

Can I take summer classes or online classes? 

Yes. You can take summer classes at the 400 level up to a maximum of two or as many classes as you want if these are offered above the 400 level. You can take online classes only as electives. 

Can I access a MA Spanish program’s student profile? 


Other useful links from the Graduate School

If you have any other question please email Dr. Lacorte or Dr. Gironzetti