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Hispanic Applied Linguistics M.A.

The Hispanic Applied Linguistics track of the Spanish MA 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. 

The Hispanic Applied Linguistics track can be completed as a Thesis Option or a Non-Thesis Option. 
If you choose the Thesis Option, you will complete:

  • 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

If you choose the Non Thesis Option, you will complete:

  • 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

Program Information

Course Descriptions

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.

Capstone Projects

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

  • Integrating Pragmatic Instruction in the L2 Curriculum 
  • A Critical Discourse Analysis of Maryland Language Education Policy
  • 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 on a READING LIST prepared and periodically revised by the faculty. 

Further information about exams may be obtained from the Spanish MA Program page

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion, students in the M.A. in Hispanic applied linguistics program 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, D.C. 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.

Internship Opportunities

The following are some of the possible options for students interested in participating in an internship as part of their M.A. in Hispanic applied linguistics. Specific details will be discussed with the advisor.

  • Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, D.C.
  • Prince Georgeʼs County Schools, MD
  • World Bank, Washington, D.C.
  • National Foreign Language Center, UMD
  • National Geographic, Washington, D.C.
  • CASA de Maryland
  • CARECEN, Washington, D.C.
  • Latin American Youth Center, Washington, D.C. and MD
  • La Clínica del Pueblo, Washington, D.C.
  • EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages
  • Foreign cultural institutes and embassies
  • Immersion schools in Spanish

The requirements for application to the internship are:

  • Students are in their 3rd or 4th semester of M.A. 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

Research Opportunities

M.A. 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

Who to Contact

Elisa Gironzetti

Associate Professor, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese

2204 Jiménez Hall
College Park MD, 20742

Meet Our Students

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 lo que aprendí del programa en cuanto a la lingüística y los diferentes métodos que un docente puede usar para mejorar 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 pública. 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 los 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 lingüística aplicada, sociolingüística, pragmática, pedagogía, didáctica 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 proporcionado los fundamentos teóricos y prácticos que me hacen ser una mejor profesora para mis estudiantes. 


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 M.A.?

A full-time student typically completes the M.A. in two 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 M.A. students have a limit of 5 years to complete their degree.

How much does it cost?

Students can determine the cost per semester from the UMD Bursar 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.

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 B.A. is from a different field or area?

It is not necessary to have a B.A. 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.