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Learn to teach Spanish with MATL degree from Southern Miss!

Teaching of Languages (Spanish) MATL
Program Overview

Discover the world of language and teach Spanish with a Masters of Arts in the Teaching of Languages (Spanish) from Online at Southern Miss. Our hybrid degree program  is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States addressing language teachers’ needs. The focus of the MATL (Spanish) is developing and enhancing knowledge, skills, and theories in language, language acquisition, and language instruction, factors essential for effective teaching and successful learning.

This convenient and affordable degree brings together foreign language teachers and teachers-to-be from all parts of the United States and abroad. Our large variety of courses are aimed to meet the multi-faceted needs of today’s language teachers. This is your life, plus college.



The materials listed below are reviewed in the admission process.
Application Deadlines: November 1, April 1, and August 1
All applicants must submit the following before final acceptance into the MATL program

1. Official scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). For information on the GRE, go to You can also call 1-800-473-2255 to schedule an appointment for the test.

2. Official transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate studies. Successful applicants in the past have had undergraduate grade point averages over the last two years of undergraduate study that range from 3.0 to 4.0 on a 4.0 scale. Students who obtain “regular admission” typically have a GPA of 3.0 or better. Conditional admission may be considered for applicants whose undergraduate grade point average and/or test scores do not meet the admissions standard but who show promise for success in graduate studies. The requirements for a change to regular admission will be stated at the time of acceptance into the program.

3. A Statement of Purpose written in the language you will be pursuing (English, French or Spanish). Please write a 300-500 word statement indicating your career and professional goals and explaining why you want to pursue graduate study in language teaching. You might mention particular interests, academic accomplishments, travel abroad, teaching experience or other relevant preparation.

4. Non-native applicants to the French and Spanish emphases should have an undergraduate degree in the language or present evidence of equivalent language experience (30 hours in the language). Applicants who do not have an undergraduate degree in the language will be required to either complete more coursework before being allowed to take language emphasis courses or take the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview and score in the Advanced range. A copy of the test score must be sent to the MATL coordinator. In cases where an applicant does not have an adequate background in the emphasis language, conditional admission may be granted with undergraduate language requirements and/or the ACTFL OPI set for full admission; such graduate students can begin MATL core courses while completing the prerequisites. This information pertains to heritage language speakers but not to international students whose native language is Spanish or French. Please see the Graduate Student Handbook for more information.

5. For international students whose native language is not English, official scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are required. Successful applicants will have an Internet-based test a score of 83 with no section lower than 19.   Information on the TOEFL is available at The department will also accept an IELTS score of a 6.5 with no sub-test score below a 6. Please see the Graduate Student Handbook for more information.
For more information on non-US applicants see the information below. International students need to apply through the International Admissions Office (see below).

6. Three (3) letters of recommendation are required by professionals in the field who are able to comment on the student’s preparation to engage in graduate studies.

7. For all applicants from the United States to begin the admissions process you must go to Graduate Admissions at


Application Information and Forms

Please carefully read the application guidelines above. All international applicants must submit the following before final acceptance into the MATL program:

  1. Official scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  2. Official transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate studies.
  3. A Statement of Purpose.
  4. Official scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the IELTS
  5. A minimum of three (3) letters of recommendation.

For all international student applicants to begin the process you must go to:

International Student Admissions
International Student Affairs Office
The University of Southern Mississippi
Post Office Box 5151
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5151

Phone number: 601-266-4841
Fax number: 601-266-5839

Degree Requirements

General Program Academic Requirements

All students are expected to complete the following requirements:

  1. A total of thirty-three (33) hours of graduate-level courses, including eighteen (18) hours in courses numbered 600 or above. A 3.0 GPA is required for graduation.
  2. Plan of Study. Students must submit their signed, official Plan of Study Form to the Graduate School by the end of the first semester they are enrolled. The Plan of Study Forms are available at
  3. FL 561, FL 663, FL 664, and FL 665
  4. A practicum tailored to the teaching experience of each student (FL 694)
  5. For students in the TESOL emphasis, a minimum of nine (9) hours of courses with a TSL prefix, including the required TSL 612
  6. For students in the Spanish or French emphasis areas, a minimum of fifteen (15) hours of graduate-level courses in the specific language
  7. A language proficiency requirement, as determined by departmental policy, within the specific emphasis area. In addition, students in the TESOL emphasis whose first language is English must also meet a foreign language requirement by completing nine (9) hours of undergraduate conversational foreign language study (i.e., through USM 201 level) or equivalent with an average of “B” or better.
  8. Comprehensive examination which consists of a successful defense of a portfolio

All students are required to prepare an individualized Program Plan with an adviser.

Continuous Enrollment Requirement: Students must meet the requirement specified in the front section of this Bulletin.

Research and Scholarly Assurance Program
All graduate students must complete the training modules required by the Graduate School and their departments the first semester they are enrolled in graduate school. The policy and training information are found on the Graduate School web page – Contact the Dean of the Graduate School if you have any questions regarding the policy of training information. The completion certificate is good for 5 years. When completed, the certificate should be sent to the degree auditor in the Graduate School.

    • 15 graduate hours in the language emphasis courses
    • One course elective (due to SACS’ requirements many students do their elective in the language emphasis courses).
    • 18 hours required in courses at the 600 level
    • 3.0 GPA for graduation
    • A language proficiency requirement as determined by departmental policy
    • See the Graduate Bulletin and click on the most recent bulletin and then click on “Course Descriptions” to see a listing of courses under Foreign Languages– FL, FRE, SPA and TSL regularly offered in the MATL: Graduate Bulletin
    • Plan of Study. Students must submit their signed, official Plan of Study Form to the Graduate Studies Office by the end of the first semester they are enrolled. The Plan of Study Forms are available at the Graduate School website.
    • Look up the form under “Teaching of Language”. It can also be saved as an Excel spreadsheet and sent to an advisor who can forward it to the graduate studies office.
    • A successful defense of a professional portfolio

  • FL 561 Teaching Second Languages: Theory into Practice
  • FL 663 Applied Linguistics in Second and Foreign Languages
  • FL 664 Second Language Acquisition Theory and Practice
  • FL 665 Sociocultural and Sociolinguistic Perspectives in Language
  • FL 694 Practicum in Second or Foreign Language (prerequisite FL 561)

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional course fees may apply.  Fees range between $20 – $60.

Yes, you can complete the program entirely online. It will take approximately 5-6 semesters to do so. We offer courses in the fall, spring, and summer online. In order to speed up your progress in our program there are study abroad options in French and Spanish as well as in-class options should you be able to come to campus.


Students are charged in-state tuition for online enrollment and for summer enrollment. For pricing information, click here.  For financial aid information, click here.  For detailed tuition information, click here.

The online program is designed for students who work and want to go to school part-time. We offer at least two courses a semester (fall, spring, and summer), with the goal of each student graduating in two years. 

Students may take up to 9 hours of non-degree work with the department chair’s approval. Students will be approved for this option if there are strong indications the student can do well in the courses. Taking courses as a non-degree student does not guarantee admission to the program.  Currently we are only considering non-degree enrollment in French and TESOL.

What are the application deadlines?

  • Fall – November 1st
  • Spring – April 1st
  • Summer – May 1st

What if I don’t have a degree in Spanish or French? Can I still do the MATL program in one of those languages?

You must first qualify for language study at the graduate level in Spanish or French. If you do not have a Bachelor’s degree in French or Spanish or its equivalent (generally 10 courses are required beyond the beginning levels of language study), then you may qualify for graduate level work by taking the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview and scoring in the Advanced range. Your OPI scores must be sent to the department before beginning the program. Past study abroad course work is also applicable. 

I am a heritage speaker of the language in which I would like to study, but I do not have a degree in the language. Can I still do the MATL program?

You may qualify to do the MATL program by taking the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview and scoring in the Advanced range. Your scores must be sent to the department before beginning the program. Study abroad course work is also applicable. Faculty will also review your Statement of Purpose which must be written in the target language to further evaluate your readiness for graduate level course work.


Can I transfer coursework from another program into the MATL?

Yes, you may transfer up to 6 hours of appropriate graduate level course work into our program. Coursework from a completed degree cannot be transferred, however.



How do I apply to the program?

Please review the Application Guidelines under the Graduate Program on the departmental website for more information on how to apply to the program.

What can I expect when I start taking classes?

The graduate online program (MATL Online) is very different from traditional face-to-face course work. There will be required chats and discussion groups in the target language that will allow you to be part of an online second language community. But this type of participation also requires more self-discipline and personal motivation. You may have to make more effort to connect with instructors and fellow graduate students. Keep in mind that graduate school requires a lot more reading and writing, and this is especially true in an online environment. Students should expect to spend a significant amount of time weekly studying, attending online class meetings, and completing projects.


What kind of technology do I need to complete this degree online?

It is recommended that you have a fairly new computer and a high-speed Internet connection. For certain chat group sessions you will need to purchase a headset with a built-in microphone.


Can I obtain a degree with a dual emphasis in French and Spanish or in Spanish and TESOL, for example?

Yes, as long as you qualify for the languages in which you would like the dual emphases. A dual-emphasis degree is 45 hours. Please see the Graduate Student Handbook for more information.

What do international students need to do to apply to the program?

All international students must follow the same application procedures as everyone else. In addition they must take the IELTS or TOEFL to qualify for the program.  Please see more information about International student enrollment in the Application Guidelines under the Graduate Program on the departmental Web site.



Do I have to participate in online chat groups at a specific time?

Yes, most courses have a chat component in the fall and spring semesters. You would need to be available to chat during those times. Times are listed on our department’s Web site under Course Offerings.  Teachers can work with you to make up missed chats, if necessary, but keep in mind that chat is included as part of your grade and is considered important for increasing interaction with your classmates and professors.  Chat usually occurs once a week and lasts about an hour. It occurs either in late afternoon or early evening making it convenient to working teachers.


Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

Ask professionals (e.g., professors, supervisors) who know your academic and/or professional work to write letters of recommendation for you. Letters of recommendation from former professors and other credentialed academics carry more weight.


Are you a military veteran or service member?

If yes, visit for more information on how Southern Miss can serve you and your needs.   We will help you with funding and scholarship information, admissions and course enrollment.

Will other classes besides the ones listed in degree requirements count towards my degree?

Other classes that aren’t listed may count towards your degree once your transcript has been evaluated and posted.

Do online students pay out-of-state tuition?

No, online students pay resident tuition.


What other online degrees are offered by Online at Southern Miss?

Please visit our programs page here: