MA Student Handbook
Graduate Coordinator:Dr. Jason Bartles
Enhance your knowledge and understanding of global languages with a Master of Arts in Languages and Cultures. The M.A. in Languages and Cultures at West Chester University features a dynamic curriculum that prepares graduates for a wide array of career opportunities through specializations in French, German, or Spanish as well as a vibrant community-centered intellectual environment. Options to pursue Pennsylvania K-12 Teaching Certification or an ESL Certificate are also offered.
This 33-credit M.A. (11 courses) provides students with access to courses and language experts at one of Pennsylvania's most respected institutions. Courses can be completed over the regular semesters (evening options) and in the winter or summer sessions, in a variety of formats: face-to-face, online, hybrid, and independent study. Options for fully online students may be available.
Our program is designed to develop linguistic and analytical skills at the highest levels through small seminars and opportunities for collaboration with faculty specializing in diverse fields such as comparative cultural studies, film and media studies, gender studies, language pedagogy, literary analysis, sociolinguistics, and more. Our graduates go on to doctoral study as well as careers in industries that value or require foreign language and cultural competency skills including:
- Health care
- Immigration policy
- International development
- Law enforcement
- Legal interpreting
- National security
- Nonprofit leadership
A complete application to the Master of Arts in Languages and Cultures program consists of the following:
- Application. Completed online application at wcupa.edu/applynow (you may apply for a Graduate Assistantship in the form, check “yes” or “no” to indicate your interest).
- Statement. A one-page goals statement in the target language (French, German, or Spanish). State your educational background and relevant training, related professional or cultural experiences, your career goals, and reason for applying.
- Letters. Two letters of recommendation.
- GPA. Minimum GPA of 2.8 in collegiate coursework.
- Transcripts. Official transcripts for an undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution
in your language of study or related field, and official transcripts from every higher
education institution attended. Applicants may also be recommended for admission based
on previous linguistic and cultural proficiency.
- Students who completed their undergraduate degree in another country must submit a course-by-course credential evaluation by one of the NACES approved accreditation agency, such as World Education Services-WES; the full list of agencies is available at: https://www.naces.org/
- The official credential evaluation copy for international students should be sent directly from the accreditation agency to the Graduate Admissions office at: firstname.lastname@example.org. If they do not offer electronic option, it should be sent in a sealed envelope to the following address: Graduate Admissions, McKelvie Hall, 102 W. Rosedale Ave. West Chester, PA 19383.
- Scores. TOEFL scores are only required for non-native speakers of English (this requirement may be waived for permanent residents)
We accept applications on a rolling basis.
For international students: application deadlines are July 1 for the Fall term, December 11 for the Spring term, and March 15 for the Summer term.
Students may enroll in up to three courses in the program while they are finalizing their application. Students may apply for a Graduate Assistantship which typically provides for 3 credits of tuition waiver and a graduate stipend in exchange for 5 hours of work a week with the department and graduate faculty.
Find out now where a degree from WCU can take you: wcupa.edu/MALC
Apply now for Fall or Spring admission: Apply for Fall or Spring
For more information The Graduate School’s policies visit: wcupa.edu/grad
The M.A. in Languages and Cultures offers a vibrant interdisciplinary curriculum that develops a critical foundation on issues regarding literary traditions, cultural production, and linguistics in French, German, or Spanish, as well as knowledge of the methods of scholarly research, critical analysis, and advanced pedagogical tools. The program consists of 11 courses (33 credits) and an exit requirement as follows:
- 3 Core Required Courses (9 credits). Three online seminars taught in English that focus on the development of a strong
background in linguistic, literary and cultural theory:
- LNC 501 Linguistic Studies
- LNC 502 Interpretive Strategies
- LNC 503 Comparative Cultural Studies
- 6 Courses in your Target Language (18 credits). Select two courses from the Culture Area, two courses from the Communication Area, and two electives in any area in the language of your program (French, German, or Spanish).
- 2 Elective Courses (6 credits). Any two graduate courses in your target language or in another language such as French, German, Spanish, or English, including Culture, Communication, Education, ESL Certificate, Internship in the Target Language (LAN 525), Language Pedagogy, Linguistics, PA K-12 Certification courses, or Study Abroad.
- Exit Requirement. The Exit Requirement consists of one of the following three options: 1) Research Portfolio,
2) Original Research Project, or 3) Comprehensive Exam (see full Policy on Graduate
Exit Requirements). The student must notify the Graduate Coordinator of their decision
at least one semester prior to graduation. Students select one of the following options:
- Research Portfolio. This option consists of three substantially revised 12-15 page research papers presented as a portfolio to a faculty committee during a defense. Conference papers officially presented at a research conference may substitute revised essays as part of the portfolio upon consultation with the committee Chair. A minimum of two of the selected papers must be written in the target language.
- Original Research Project. This option consists of a new research project completed by the student under the guidance of a faculty member, and presented to a faculty committee during a defense. The student will produce a 25-page research paper in the target language. Multimodal formats in the target language may also be an option.
- Comprehensive Exam. A comprehensive written exam followed by an oral defense in the target language, based on a reading list on topics from three courses. The three courses are selected by the student and the professor that taught each course provides a reading list of 5-10 titles based on their course topic (the complete reading list will have a minimum of 15 titles and a maximum of 30 titles). A minimum of two of the selected courses must be in the target language.
The Exit Requirement for the Master of Arts in Languages and Cultures in French, German, or Spanish with optional Pennsylvania K-12 Teaching Certification or ESL Certificate consists of one of the following three options: 1) Research Portfolio, 2) Original Research Project, or 3) Comprehensive Exam. The student must notify the Graduate Director of their decision at least one semester prior to graduation.
Research Portfolio. This option consists of three substantially revised 12-15 page research papers presented in a single file as a portfolio to a faculty committee during a defense. Conference papers officially presented at a research conference may substitute revised essays as part of the portfolio upon consultation with the committee Chair. The semester prior to graduation, or earlier, the student must notify the Graduate Coordinator of their plan to graduate and contact the three professors who will form the Committee. One of the three faculty members will serve as the Chair. The student works individually with each the three professors to substantially revise the final essays from their respective courses. A minimum of two of the selected papers must be written in the target language. Papers should have obtained a grade of A in the course and should be revised according to feedback received by the professor at the end of the course before including it as part of the portfolio. No paper may be submitted without the approval of the professor who assigned the paper. Prior to the defense, the revisions must be approved by the faculty member who assigned the paper. The defense of the Research Portfolio must take place by week thirteen of the semester when the student is scheduled for graduation. The defense will be approximately one hour long, and it will be structured as follows: a 20-minute student presentation of their research (preferably with slides); 20 minutes of dialogue and discussion with the Committee; 10 minutes for the Committee to meet behind closed doors and discuss the student’s achievements without the student; and 10 minutes to inform the student of the results and to discuss future research and potential career steps. The Chair of the Committee will notify the Graduate School of the results for Graduation Clearance.
Original Research Project. This option consists of a new research project completed by the student under the guidance of a faculty member. The research for this project begins early in the semester prior to graduation (or earlier) and requires the selection of a Committee of three faculty members. The faculty member who guides the research will serve as the Chair. The student will produce a 25-page research paper writing in the target language, not counting notes and bibliography. Multimodal formats in the target language may also be discussed with the Committee as an option. The defense of the Original Research Project must take place by week thirteen of the semester the student is scheduled for graduation. The defense will be approximately one hour long, and it will be structured as follows: a 20-minute student presentation of their research (preferably with slides); 20 minutes of dialogue and discussion with the Committee; 10 minutes for the Committee to meet behind closed doors and discuss the student’s achievements without the student; and 10 minutes to inform the student of the results and to discuss future research and potential career steps. The Chair of the Committee will notify the Graduate School of the results for Graduation Clearance.
Comprehensive Exam. This option consists of a comprehensive written exam followed by an oral defense in the target language, based on a reading list on topics from three courses. The three courses are selected by the student. A minimum of two of the selected courses must be in the target language. The professors who taught the selected courses must agree to be part of the faculty Committee for their course to be an option. Each professor in the faculty committee then provides a reading list of 5-10 titles based on their course topic (the complete reading list will have a minimum of 15 titles and a maximum of 30 titles). Each professor also writes the questions for their portion of the written exam and participates in the oral defense portion of the exam. The written part of the comprehensive exam consists of a four-hour proctored time period to respond to two questions per course topic on a campus computer with no internet access. Students receive three questions for each course and must choose two to answer (for a total of six). For each question answered, the response must be 300-500 words long. The Committee will inform the student of the results of their performance on the exam within 5 working days of the written examination date. Students who successfully respond to the written portion of the exam go on to the oral defense portion the following week. The oral defense consists of a 30-minute period of dialogue and discussion with the Committee regarding the answers the student provided in their written responses and related topics, approximately 10 minutes per course; then 10 minutes for the Committee to meet behind closed doors and discuss the student’s achievements without the student; and 10 minutes to inform the student of the results and to discuss future research and potential career steps. Preparation for comprehensive exam should begin one semester (or earlier) before the student contemplates filing for graduation. The Chair of the Committee will notify the Graduate School of the results for Graduation Clearance.
The suggested timelines for the Graduate Exit Requirements for Spring or Fall graduation are as follow. Committee Chairs should work closely with their graduate student advisee to ensure their selected timeline is met.
Suggested Timelines for Graduate Exit Requirement
Follow Spring Graduation Dates if student plans to graduate in May. Follow Fall Graduation Dates if student plans to graduate in December.
|Spring Graduation Dates||Fall Graduation Dates||Graduate Exit Requirement Steps|
|Nov. 1 (Week 10)||April 1 (Week 10)||
All Options: Student contacts three professors and asks them to be part of their Exit Requirement Committee. One of the professors should be selected as Chair of Committee. The Chair should guide the student to establish and meet the suggested timeline.
Portfolio: Student selects three research papers and begins revising their work in conversation with their professors who will form the committee
Original Research Project: Student selects and proposes a topic they would like to research with the guidance of a faculty member. Student and professor meet, discuss the proposed research project, and establish a research timeline.
Comprehensive Exam: Student works with the Committee to design and evaluate a written comprehensive exam. Student meets with the Chair of the Committee to discuss areas of study and establish a study timeline.
|Dec. 10||May 1||
Student should inform the Graduate Coordinator of the names of Committee members and Chair, their selected Exit Requirement option, and an outline of their proposed timeline with specific dates. Student should apply for graduation.
|Dec. 15||May 5||
Students submits to their committee a portfolio consisting of 3 research papers (corrected and revised according to original course feedback) in a single Word document, or submits their original research project developed under the supervision of the Chair of the Committee. For the Comprehensive Exam, students discuss progress on areas of study with the Chair of their committee and any updates to the timeline.
|Feb. 15||Sept. 1||
All Options: Student coordinates with their Committee to set a date for the Exit Interview or Comprehensive Exam and informs the Graduate Coordinator.
The Committee returns the portfolio or original research project to student with feedback and suggested revisions. Committee members reading a portfolio are only expected to give feedback for the specific paper written for their class. Any revisions needed should be requested by this date. For the Comprehensive Exam, students should again discuss progress on areas of study with the Chair of their committee.
|March 15||Oct. 1||
Student submits the final revised portfolio or original research project to the Committee in a single Word document or other multimodal format previously agreed upon. This is the final version to be presented at the Exit Interview.
|Mid April||Beginning of November||
Defense of Portfolio or Original Research Project:
The duration of the Exit Interview is approximately one hour, consisting of a 20-minute student presentation of their research with optional slides; 20 minutes of dialogue and discussion with the committee; 10 minutes for the committee to meet and discuss the student's achievements; 10 minutes to inform student of results and discuss future research and potential career steps.
Comprehensive Exam: Student completes the written comprehensive exam on the established date. The Committee evaluates the exam and informs students of the results within 5 working days.
The Chair of the Committee will notify The Graduate School of the results for Graduation Clearance.
In addition to the above requirements, graduate students pursuing the Pennsylvania K-12 Teaching Certification (as a single track or as a dual track together with the MA in Languages and Cultures) also need to complete a Research Project – Interdisciplinary Content Assessment (RPI) known as “ACTFL/CAEP Assessment 7” for certification purposes, prior to student teaching. This assessment requires that the student develop a research project in the target language, written to fulfill the requirements of a graduate division course in linguistics, literature, or culture, and subsequently submitted to the LAN 503 (specialized methods) portfolio for use as a key assessment for certification purposes. The project provides certification candidates with opportunities to develop expertise in literary, cultural or linguistic areas of academic or professional interest. Candidates work with their course instructors or advisors to develop and revise the project, which is subsequently submitted to their LAN 503 portfolio prior to student teaching. The papers range from 8-12 pages in length. Students are required to integrate a consistent bibliographic style sheet (e.g., MLA or APA) and to integrate and cite multiple sources according to the criteria established by the instructor. Courses in which candidates complete this Advanced Writing Sample include graduate level courses in the target language at the 500 level. Any deviations or changes must be approved by the Languages and Cultures Supervisor of Teacher Education (Prof. Meg Niiler) in advance.
The research paper should be reviewed by the professor teaching the selected 500-level graduate course, using the Assessment 7 Rubric (see below). For Graduate Certification students for whom the language requirement is waived (e.g. post-baccalaureate students, native speakers, heritage speakers, etc.), the language advisor will oversee the completion of the Assessment 7 assignment in its entirety. If the certification student does not have a language advisor, the Section Coordinator of the language in which the certification student is seeking certification will oversee the completion of the assignment. Upon assessing the Assessment 7 assignment, the language advisor should put a copy of the evaluated assignment and the graded rubric in the student’s file (Second floor, Mitchell Hall) and return the original copies to the advisee. The advisee should submit the original copies to the Languages and Cultures Supervisor of Teacher Education (Prof. Meg Niiler) during the course LAN 503. The assignment and the evaluated rubric will go in the advisee’s/teacher candidate’s Teaching Portfolio.
The Assessment 7 Rubric measures global writing proficiency, linguistic elements of the target language, accuracy, discourse competence/organization, lexical development and quality of content. The research project in the target language must develop:
- A close examination of cultural products and practices, as well as their potential relationship with relevant, culturally-bound perspectives.
- A recognition on the candidate’s part of the value of literary, cultural or other academic texts in identifying the distinctive viewpoints accessible through the development of proficiency in the target language of specialization.
Writing assignments may vary, but address the following ACTFL/NCATE/CAEP standards:
- Standard 1a. Demonstrates a high level of proficiency in the Target Language (TL).
- Standard 1b. Knows the linguistic elements of the TL system.
- Standard 2a. Demonstrates an understanding of connections among cultural perspectives, practices and products.
- Standard 2b. Recognizes the value and role of literary and cultural texts.
- Standard 2c. Identifies distinctive viewpoints accessible only in the TL.
Research Project – Interdisciplinary Content (RPI) Assessment1
(ACTFL/CAEP Assessment 7)
|PTS||CULTURES, LITERATURES, LINGUISTICS & RELATED PERSPECTIVES (ACTFL/CAEP 2A, 2B)||LITERARY, CULTURAL AND ACADEMIC TEXTS/RESOURCES (ACTFL/NCATE 2B, 2C)||LITERARY AND CULTURAL CONTENT (ACTFL/CAEP 2A, 2B)||CITATIONS & NOTES||DISCOURSE COMPETENCE2 (ACTFL/CAEP 1A, 1B, C)||SYNTAX (ACTFL/CAEP 1A, 1B)||MORPHOLOGY (ACTFL/CAEP 1A, 1B)||LEXICON (ACTFL/CAEP 1A, 1B)||ORTHOGRAPHY (ACTFL/CAEP 1A, 1B)|
|Target 9-10||The project successfully integrates and addresses connections among cultural products or practices and potentially relevant cultural perspectives. The discussion demonstrates significant depth of thought and discussion||The project integrates a well-articulated recognition on the candidate’s part of the
value of literary, cultural or other academic texts in identifying the distinctive
viewpoints accessible through the development of proficiency in the target language.
Highly appropriate texts are selected and utilized within the designated scope of the topic.
|Candidate presents a broad and well-articulated literary and cultural content appropriate to the research project. Different cultural products, practices, and perspectives are presented.||The project includes the use of the APA, MLA or other designated style sheet for citations and in-text attributions. Appropriate choices are made for crediting the ideas of others. Appropriate density of such references.||Excellent cohesion and coherence are demonstrated at the level of extended discourse. Arguments, details and transitions are well-balanced. Discussion is thorough, with sufficiently-supported ideas throughout. Writing reflects intentions of an introduction through logical development toward a conclusion.||Rules of word order are followed for subj./verb/obj., noun/adj., pronouns, etc. Punctuation, coordinating & subordinating conjunctions are used successfully.||Successful use of noun and verb endings to convey person, number, tense, aspect, & mood. Gender & number agreement observed between nouns/adjectives.||Vocabulary is diverse, terms and descriptors reflect the norms of an academic register. The project demonstrates knowledge of register(s) appropriate to the discourse of the essay. Word choice is appropriate to context (creative, transparent, etc.).||No spelling errors made. Use of diacritics provides evidence of a nuanced understanding of rules.|
|Acceptance 7-8||The selected topic touches on connections among cultural perspectives, practices &
Acceptable topic, with possibility for further refinement through additional consultation with instructor +/or more thorough initial research.
|Appropriate literary, cultural or other academic texts are selected and utilized in
support of the topic; the candidate’s value statement regarding viewpoints and accessibility
might profit from expansion or clarification.
Sufficient in number, but not all resources are perfectly suited to the research question or topic. Bibliographic content is sufficient. Too many Internet sources may subtract from the presentation. Note 2.
|Candidate presents some literary and cultural content appropriate to the research project. Some cultural products, practices, and perspectives are presented, but some other important ones are not present.||Follows the designated style sheet, but has some irregular formatting in quoting or attributing sources. May have too many or too few such references. Footnotes are effectively uses, though some errors may be evident.||Coherent development, but language may sometimes lack cohesive transitions. Focus (flow of argument) can be followed, but is occasionally vague. Quoted sources not always used to benefit argument. Paragraph level discourse is evident, but imperfect.||Largely successful regarding word order issues. Could refine use of punctuation, conjunctions, subordinated and coordinated clauses, etc.||Generally accurate morphological structure, with some inconsistencies in verb endings, in noun-adjective agreement, etc.||Solid, with limited inappropriate word choice +/or unnecessary repetition of words, +/or more limited range in selected passages.||Very few spelling errors. Occasional confusion or inconsistency in use of diacritics.|
1 Sources: ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines (Writing); WCU faculty.
2 Canale 1982, Scarcella & Oxford (1992).