The Romance & Classical Studies Department (RCS) at Michigan State University is an exciting and supportive place to undertake graduate studies in a close-knit community on one of the nation’s largest campuses that is well-connected to Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Chicago, as well as the many educational and cultural institutions located in these cities and the region. All of our five graduate programs offer multiple teaching opportunities, as well as other forms of graduate assistantships, in addition to generous financial resources to participate in academic conferences and other professional activities on an annual basis. In addition to guaranteeing four years of funding to all our PhD students, which are typically extended by multiple years to those who remain in good standing, the department offers various sorts of summer funding to both MA and PhD students. All PhD students in good standing are also guaranteed a one-semester dissertation completion fellowship that releases them from teaching duties at a critical point in their program.
As an RCS graduate student, you will benefit from seminars offered within the department with a low student-to-faculty ratio that ensures direct access to professors working in a variety of fields. You can also supplement your program by completing one of the many graduate certificates offered by other units on campus such as College Teaching and Technology, Women’s Studies and Gender Studies, Global Studies in the Arts & Humanities, Film Studies and Chicano/Latino Studies. In addition, RCS is home to the TROPOS graduate student journal and hosts a graduate student conference that regularly attracts high-profile keynote speakers and graduate students from across Michigan and around the country, offering opportunities to make connections, share your work, and exchange ideas with peers from other institutions.
RCS is also home to the Journal of Gender & Sexuality Studies, which offers an Editorial Graduate Assistantship that is filled by one PhD student in Hispanic Cultural Studies each year, as well as the MSU Latinx Film Festival, which features an Organizing Committee consisting of several RCS graduate students and faculty members. The Organizing Committee works collaboratively with students, faculty and staff drawn from various campus units to put on what has rapidly become one of the most popular cultural events at MSU and the surrounding community. Graduate students in French can gain unique professional experience as an assistant for the summer undergraduate study abroad program in Tours, France, where they will complete logistic and managerial tasks. French graduate students also benefit from a Teaching Assistantship teaching English at the University François Rabelais in Tours, France for an entire academic year. Likewise, PhD students in Hispanic Cultural Studies have the opportunity to serve as an assistant for the summer undergraduate study abroad program in Santander, Spain.
In recent years, multiple RCS graduate students have won competitive grants and college-wide awards such as the Varg-Sullivan Award in Arts & Letters, which is given to the best published article written by a graduate student in MSU’s College of Arts & Letters. In fact, three PhD students in Hispanic Cultural Studies have taken home that prize in the past five years! One of those students went on to win the Premio Victoria Urbano for the best critical essay by a graduate student awarded by the Asociación de Estudios de Género y Sexualidades. The MSU Latinx Film Festival also won one of the very few “Excellence in Diversity” awards granted by the All-University Excellence in Diversity Recognition and Awards Program in 2021. Such achievements are evidence of the department’s mentorship of graduate students, as well as its vibrant intellectual and cultural life and demonstrated commitment to leading diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at MSU.
Just as importantly, RCS boasts an exceptional record when it comes to our PhD completion rates, time to degree, and job placement for our PhD students. Despite a very competitive academic job market, recent graduates of our PhD programs have landed tenure-track positions at institutions such as Colgate University, University of British Columbia, Central Connecticut State University, College of Charleston, University of Eastern Washington, Idaho State University, Graceland University, Colby College, Bates College, University of Southern Alabama, Western Michigan University and Saginaw Valley State University, as well as visiting professorships, postdocs and other types of academic appointments at the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Indiana University-Bloomington, Ball State University, Kalamazoo College, and Grand Valley State University.
While most of our MA students who continue their graduate studies choose to do so with us at the PhD level, several recent graduates of our MA programs have gone on to pursue PhDs at institutions such as Georgetown University, Brown University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Outside of higher education, recent graduates have found jobs working as high school teachers and at Michigan Virtual (online education), in addition to positions at museums and in community outreach programs, as well as in in bilingual customer service and other private sector occupations.
Finally, RCS stands by our graduate students. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, RCS faculty expressed solidarity with impacted students by reallocating department resources and offering additional forms of support, including special summer fellowships and the creation of a pair of academic specialist positions. When the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was under attack, RCS was a campus leader in advocating for the protection of Dreamers at MSU. Recently, the department’s DEI Committee organized a series of inclusive language workshops from the (non-binary) perspective of romance languages in order to make both RCS and MSU a more welcoming place for the diverse set of graduate students that come from around the world to study with us and to learn from each other.