The RCS department updates the French and Spanish Graduate Student Handbooks during the summer session. Please consult these handbooks thoroughly, as they now contain added, updated, and edited information. Additions, updates and editions are made in response to requirements and recommendations by the MSU Graduate School and/or the Graduate Office of the College of Arts and Letters.

Both Graduate Handbooks are revised once in the academic year (usually by the end of the spring semester).  The latest editions will be posted on this page.

In the event that new additions, changes and editions are needed before next spring, please refer to the “Highlights” section below.

*RCS Graduate Student Hearing Procedures


The following list includes the latest changes in the French and Spanish Graduate Handbooks. This list will be updated as appropriate:

(For prospective students)

I. Admissions:

(1)   New TOEFL scores have been listed in both graduate handbooks and they apply to be considered for admission in all our graduate programs (MA and PhD in French Studies, MA in Hispanic Literatures, MA in Applied Spanish Linguistics (soon to be Spanish as a Second or Bilingual Language), and PhD in Hispanic Cultural Studies).  Such scores are listed as follows:

International Students must take the TOEFL test and, to be considered for regular admission, must receive a minimum score of 550 on the paper-based version or 80 on the internet-based version of the test. See the following chart for specific details.

a graphic of a table that shows the admissions information

TOEFL scores are valid for two years. Send your questions about the new test to See information on test centers in your area.

(2) After taking TOEFL, ETS  (Testing Services) will ask candidates the institutional, programs and/or department codes to send scores. Use the following:

  • Code for Michigan State University: 1465
  • Code for programs in French: 2603
  • Code for programs in Spanish: 2608

(For prospective and current students)

II. Programs and Graduation:

(1) As of Fall 2014, students in the MA Program in French Studies have three options from which to choose to complete the MA capstone:

  • FRN 899 MA thesis (Plan A, 4 credits)
  • FRN 897 MA exam (Plan B 1, 3 credits)
  • FRN 898 MA project (Plan B 2, 3 credits)

(2) Starting Fall 2014, The Master Program in Hispanic Literatures is available under Plan A (with Thesis) or Plan B (written examination). See details in the SPN Graduate Handbook.

(3) As of Fall 2016 the former Master Program in Applied Spanish Linguistics is now called  SSBL-Spanish as a Second or Bilingual Language. These changes have been approved by the Michigan State University Graduate School.

(4) For ALL graduate students enrolled in Doctoral Programs: PhD students, writing their doctoral dissertations, may earn no more than 36 credits of FRN 999 or SPN 999.  A minimum of 24 credits of FRN 999 or SPN 999 is required for the PhD.

The University Committee of Graduate Studies approved this change in 2012-2013.

Requests for exceptions (i.e. to go over 36 credits 999) should be presented with a documented rationale prepared by both, the doctoral student and the student’s dissertation director or primary adviser and sent to the The Director of Graduate Studies who, with the approval of the RCS chairperson, will forward such request.

Doctoral students, who defend their Ph.D. dissertations after December 2016, are required to fill out and submit their degree plans and subsequent graduate program activities in GradPlan (this is the login page, only Doctoral students have access and can start the process). For more information, read GradPlan at the MSU Graduate School. Guides for Doctoral students, Faculty and users in general are available in this page.

Each GradPlan will be approved by the primary advisor, doctoral committee members, departmental designee (Chairperson or Director of Graduate Studies), and the College of Arts and Letters Associate Dean. Any changes in any GradPlan will have to be submitted and approved at all these levels. Plan accordingly.


(5) Doctoral students must be enrolled in, at least, one credit during the semester they defend their doctoral dissertations. In consultation and agreement with their doctoral dissertation director or primary adviser, doctoral students should consider keeping at least one 999-credit for the semester in which they defend. If the student has exhausted his/her semesters of graduate assistantship (TA-ship or Research Assistantship) by the time s/he defends his/her dissertation, s/he should keep in mind the costs involved in paying one-999 credit. For detailed information, see the graduate handbooks. For submission deadlines, check out the deadlines dates page. 

(6) All graduating Masters and Doctoral students should also take in consideration the Graduate School surveys they are required to respond when applying for graduation. Plan your time accordingly. Information about these surveys may be found in item 3 here:

III. Language Instruction and Work Related Policies

The section “Work Related Policies” for teaching assistants of both language programs, French and Spanish, have been edited and updated in detail by the Director of Language Instruction and the French and Spanish Assistant Directors of Language Instruction.  Make sure you review these sections in your graduate handbook.