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Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies


The Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies offers graduate certificates in Bilingual Reading Specialist and Teaching English as a Second Language (CertTESL), and three graduate degrees: the Master of Arts degree in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, the Master of Arts degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Culture, Literacy and Language.

Master of Arts Degree in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies

The Master of Arts degree in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies is designed to respond to a variety of societal needs through advanced multidisciplinary study in language, culture, and related disciplines. It has concentrations in Bicultural-Bilingual Education and Bicultural Studies.

Program Admission Requirements. The Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies offers an interdisciplinary program that encourages applicants from a wide range of disciplines. In addition to University-wide admission requirements, applicants must submit a one-page statement of purpose, in either English or Spanish, describing why she or he wants to pursue a master’s degree. Applicants who do not meet University-wide requirements for unconditional admission may be admitted conditionally if scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), letters of recommendation, and/or previous work in the field provide evidence of academic potential. Information on the GRE and applications for the test may be obtained from UTSA Testing Services or from the Educational Testing Service (www.ets.org/gre/). The institution code for The University of Texas at San Antonio is 6919 for the GRE.

Degree Requirements. Degree candidates are required to complete successfully a 36-semester-credit-hour program. Upon completion of at least 30 semester credit hours of coursework, the candidate is required to pass a written and oral comprehensive examination.

Candidates for the concentration in Bicultural-Bilingual Education must demonstrate proficiency in a second language. Candidates for the concentration in Bicultural Studies are required to give evidence of second language learning experiences acceptable to the department’s Graduate Program Committee.

Bicultural-Bilingual Education Concentration

This concentration is offered for students interested in advanced study in the design and implementation of bicultural-bilingual education programs. This interdisciplinary course of study presents systematic instruction in bilingualism, cultural dynamics, and applied linguistics. It also includes an examination of theory and research related to effective bilingual education. The Master’s degree is offered under two options: thesis and nonthesis.

Degree Requirements. Degree candidates must complete the following:

Option 1. Nonthesis Option

  1. Required coursework. 30 semester credit hours of coursework from six major areas as follows:

    Sociocultural Studies (6 hours from the following):
    BBL 5003   Foundations for Bicultural Studies
    BBL 5013   Multicultural Groups in the United States
    BBL 5023   Cultural Adaptation in Bilingual Societies
    BBL 5123   Sociolinguistics and Education
    BBL 5133   Latino Biculturalism in the United States
    BBL 6223   Anthropology and Education in Multicultural Contexts


    Bilingual Education Theory (3 hours):
    BBL 5113   Theoretical Foundations of Bicultural-Bilingual Education


    Linguistics and Second Language Studies (3 hours):
    ESL 5013   Foundations of Second Language Acquisition


    Bilingual Teaching Methodology (6 hours from the following):
    BBL 5033   Bilingual Content Instruction
    BBL 5063   Biliteracy in Bilingual Classrooms
    BBL 5193   Multicultural Literature for Children


    Research and Assessment (6 hours):
    BBL 5053   Assessment in Bilingual and ESL Programs
    BBL 6043   Advanced Topics in Bilingual and Dual-Language Education


    English as a Second Language (6 hours from the following):
    ESL 5033   Second Language Reading and Writing
    ESL 5053   Approaches to Second Language Instruction
    ESL 5063   Language and Content-Area Instruction


  2. Electives (6 hours):

    6 semester credit hours of graduate elective coursework in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, English as a Second Language, or in approved related areas.

Option II. Thesis Option

  1. Required coursework. 30 semester credit hours of coursework from six major areas as follows:

    Sociocultural Studies (6-9 hours from the following):
    3-6 hours from the following:
    BBL 5003   Foundations for Bicultural Studies
    BBL 5013   Multicultural Groups in the United States
    BBL 5023   Cultural Adaptation in Bilingual Societies

    and 3-6 hours from the following:
    BBL 5123   Sociolinguistics and Education
    BBL 5133   Latino Biculturalism in the United States
    BBL 6223   Anthropology and Education in Multicultural Contexts


    Bilingual Education Theory (3 hours):
    BBL 5113   Theoretical Foundations of Bicultural-Bilingual Education


    Linguistics and Second Language Studies (3-6 hours):
    ESL 5013   Foundations of Second Language Acquisition

    and the following if 6 hours are selected:
    ESL 5003   Linguistics for Second Language and Bilingual Specialists


    Bilingual Teaching Methodology (6 hours from the following):
    BBL 5033   Bilingual Content Instruction
    BBL 5063   Biliteracy in Bilingual Classrooms
    BBL 5173   Sociocultural Issues and the Teaching of Reading
    BBL 5193   Multicultural Literature for Children


    Research and Assessment (9 hours):
    BBL 5053   Assessment in Bilingual and ESL Programs
    BBL 6043   Advanced Topics in Bilingual and Dual-Language Education

    and 3 hours from the following:
    BBL 6003   Research Design and Inquiry in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies
    BBL 6063   Research Methods in Bilingual and Second Language Studies
    BBL 6073   Ethnographic Research Methods in Bicultural-Bilingual Settings
    ESL 6013   Second Language Acquisition Research


  2. Master’s Thesis (6 semester credit hours of Master’s Thesis)

Bicultural Studies Concentration

This program concentration offers students the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary study of cultural diversity and sociocultural dynamics in multicultural societies. Emphasis is on the study of biculturalism in the United States. Courses are designed for students with professional, policy, and research interests in intercultural relations within the various institutional settings of society, including business, education, government, health, social services, and cultural organizations. The curriculum complements a wide range of academic backgrounds including the humanities, social sciences, public policy, and business. At least 21 semester credit hours must be courses with a BBL designation. The Master’s degree is offered under two options: thesis and nonthesis.

Degree Requirements. Degree candidates must complete the following 36 semester credit hours of coursework:

  1. Required coursework. 30 semester credit hours of coursework from four major areas as follows:

    Sociocultural Foundations (12 hours):

    BBL 5003   Foundations for Bicultural Studies

    9 additional semester credit hours, selected from the following:
    BBL 5013   Multicultural Groups in the United States
    BBL 5023   Cultural Adaptation in Bilingual Societies
    BBL 5133   Latino Biculturalism in the United States
    BBL 6033   Topics in Bicultural Studies (Consult the program advisor.)
    BBL 6093   Chicana/Latina Feminist Methodologies
    BBL 6223   Anthropology and Education in Multicultural Contexts


    Historical Foundations (3 hours from the following):

    BBL 6103   Chicana/o Historical Thought
    HIS 5263   History of the Spanish Borderlands
    HIS 5313   South Texas: Rural and Urban
    HIS 5323   The U.S.–Mexico Border
    HIS 5423   Colonial Mexico
    HIS 5433   Modern Mexico
    HIS 6173   Latina/os in the United States


    Expressive Culture and Language Diversity (9 hours from the following):

    AHC 5823   Topics in Mesoamerican Pre-Columbian Art
    AHC 5843   Topics in Latin American Colonial Art
    AHC 5853   Topics in Contemporary Latin American Art
    BBL 5043   Ethnography of Communication
    BBL 5093   Multicultural Art and Folklore in the United States
    BBL 5123   Sociolinguistics and Education
    BBL 5193   Multicultural Literature for Children
    SPN 5473   Latin American Civilization
    SPN 5483   Studies in Hispanic Culture
    SPN 5803   Mexican American Literature
    SPN 5853   Spanish of the Southwest


    Research Foundations (6 hours):

    BBL 6003   Research Design and Inquiry in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies
    BBL 6073   Ethnographic Research Methods in Bicultural-Bilingual Settings


  2. Option I. 6 semester credit hours of Master’s Thesis

    or

    Option II. 6 semester credit hours of graduate elective coursework in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, English as a Second Language, or approved related areas.

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Master of Arts Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language

The Master of Arts degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) is designed for students interested in teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) to children or adults in schools and programs in the United States or in international settings. It is an interdisciplinary program that presents systematic instruction in applied/educational linguistics, second language acquisition theory, and ESL/EFL program implementation.

Program Admission Requirements. The Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies offers an interdisciplinary program that encourages applicants from a wide range of disciplines. Applicants who do not meet University-wide requirements for unconditional admission may be admitted conditionally if scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), letters of recommendation, and/or previous work in the field provide evidence of academic potential. Information on the GRE and applications for the test may be obtained from UTSA Testing Services or from the Educational Testing Service (www.ets.org/gre/). The institution code for The University of Texas at San Antonio is 6919 for the GRE. International students must have a minimum score of 80 on the TOEFL Internet-based Test (iBT), 550 on the TOEFL Paper-based Test (PBT), or 6.5 on the IELTS. See Chapter 1 of this catalog for information on exemptions from this requirement.

Candidates for a degree are required to give evidence of second language learning experiences acceptable to the Graduate Program Committee.

Degree Requirements. Degree candidates are required to successfully complete a 36-semester-credit-hour program. Upon completion of at least 30 semester credit hours of coursework, the candidate is required to pass a comprehensive examination.

Students must take at least 21 semester credit hours of English as a Second Language courses and 9 hours of Bicultural-Bilingual studies courses. An internship is required: students who can document relevant teaching experience may petition to substitute an elective for the internship. The Master’s degree is offered under two options: thesis and nonthesis.

Degree candidates must complete the following 36 semester credit hours of coursework:

  1. Required coursework. 30 semester credit hours of coursework from four major areas as follows:

    Language Theory and Language Use (9 hours):

    BBL 5123   Sociolinguistics and Education
    ESL 5003   Linguistics for Second Language and Bilingual Specialists
    ESL 5013   Foundations of Second Language Acquisition


    Classroom Practice and Program Designs (12 hours from the following):

    9 hours from the following:

    BBL 5053   Assessment in Bilingual and ESL Programs
    ESL 6943   Internship in English as a Second Language


    ESL 5053   Approaches to Second Language Instruction
    or
    ESL 5063   Language and Content-Area Instruction


    and 3 hours from the following:
    ESL 5033   Second Language Reading and Writing
    ESL 5043   Listening and Speaking in Second Language Programs
    ESL 5073   Computer Assisted Language Learning
    ESL 5083   Pedagogical Grammar
    ESL 6043   Family and Adult Literacy in Language Minority Communities
    ESL 6053   Program and Syllabus Design
    ESL 6063   Advanced Second Language Literacy


    Research (6 hours from the following):

    BBL 6063   Research Methods in Bilingual and Second Language Studies
    or
    BBL 6073   Ethnographic Research Methods in Bicultural-Bilingual Settings


    ESL 6013   Second Language Acquisition Research


    Sociocultural Studies (3 hours from the following):

    BBL 5003   Foundations for Bicultural Studies
    BBL 5013   Multicultural Groups in the United States
    BBL 5023   Cultural Adaptation in Bilingual Societies
    BBL 5043   Ethnography of Communication
    BBL 6103   Chicana/o Historical Thought
    BBL 6223   Anthropology and Education in Multicultural Contexts


  2. Option I. 6 semester credit hours of Master’s Thesis

    or

    Option II. 6 semester credit hours of graduate elective coursework which must be approved by the student’s advisor and 3 hours of which must carry an ESL prefix.

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Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Culture, Literacy and Language

The Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies offers opportunities for advanced study and research leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Culture, Literacy and Language. The program focuses on interdisciplinary research in multicultural-multilingual contexts and is designed to provide a firm foundation in the fields of cultural studies, literacy development, and language learning and use. Successful Ph.D. candidates must demonstrate in-depth interdisciplinary knowledge in culture, literacy, and language, and must deliver an original contribution to the field.

The regulations for this degree comply with the general University regulations (refer to Chapter 2, General Academic Regulations, and Chapter 5, Doctoral Degree Regulations).

Program Admission Requirements. In addition to the University-wide admission requirements, the minimum requirements for admission to the Doctoral degree program in Culture, Literacy and Language (CLL) are as follows:

  1. A master’s degree in an area such as the following: anthropology, applied linguistics, bicultural-bilingual studies, foreign language education, history, international business, linguistics, psychology, sociology, and teaching English as a Second Language. Masters’ degrees in other fields may be accepted, subject to the approval of the Doctoral Studies Committee.

  2. A portfolio consisting of the following items will be evaluated by the Doctoral Studies Committee, comprised of members selected from the graduate faculty of the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies:

    • A master’s degree transcript documenting a grade point average of 3.5 or better in an approved master’s degree program.
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for exam taken within the last five (5) years.
    • Advanced proficiency in a language other than English to be demonstrated by examination or approved coursework.
    • For students whose master’s degree is from a non-English speaking university, submission of a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of no less than 550 on the Paper-based Test (PBT), 79 on the Internet-based Test (iBT), or 6.5 on IELTS.
    • Three letters of recommendation attesting to the student’s academic and personal attributes for success in the program and potential for contributing substantially to a field of study related to the degree.
    • Statement of Purpose: A description of research interests, reasons for seeking doctoral study, and connections between the applicant’s interests/professional goals and the program in Culture, Literacy and Language (limit of five pages).
    • Academic writing: A sample of academic writing such as a paper written for a course, a master’s thesis or a scholarly publication.

Degree Requirements. The Doctoral degree requires a minimum of 60 semester credit hours beyond the master’s degree. The CLL foundational curriculum consists of 24 semester credit hours of required coursework (foundation, core, and designated electives). A minimum of 12 semester credit hours in research methods and 15 semester credit hours in doctoral research must be completed. The remaining 9 semester credit hours consist of elective courses selected with advisor’s approval.

Program of Study

  1. Foundation Course (3 semester credit hours required):

    BBL 7003   Proseminar in Culture, Literacy and Language

  2. Research Methods Courses (12 semester credit hours required):

    BBL 7013   Research Design and Statistics for Culture, Literacy and Language
    BBL 7023   Qualitative Research Methods for Culture, Literacy and Language
    BBL 7043   Research Design and Qualitative Analysis for Culture, Literacy and Language
    EDU 7043   Educational Research Statistics: Descriptive and Comparative
    (Or other approved statistical methods course.)

  3. Core Courses (9 semester credit hours required):

    BBL 7123   Sociocultural Contexts of Literacy
    BBL 7133   Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition
    BBL 7213   Ethnological Theory

  4. Designated Electives (12 semester credit hours required). Students, in consultation with their academic advisor and the Graduate Advisor of Record, will select 12 semester credit hours for an emphasis in a coherent interdisciplinary area. As part of these 12 hours, students will be required to take a minimum of 6 semester credit hours of advanced Doctoral seminars.

    Advanced Doctoral Seminars
    BBL 7033   Seminar in Discourse Analysis
    BBL 7113   Seminar in Cultural Studies Research
    BBL 7203   Seminar in Mexican-American and Latina/o Biculturalism
    BBL 7223   Seminar in Biliteracy and Second Language Literacy
    BBL 7233   Seminar in Second Language Learning & Multilingualism
    BBL 7243   Seminar in Applied Linguistics
    BBL 7253   Seminar in Mexican-American & Latina/o Issues in Education


    Other Designated Electives
    BBL 5043   Ethnography of Communication
    BBL 5123   Sociolinguistics and Education
    BBL 6043   Advanced Topics in Bilingual and Dual-Language Education
    BBL 6073   Ethnographic Research Methods in Bicultural-Bilingual Settings
    BBL 6093   Chicana/Latina Feminist Methodologies
    BBL 6223   Anthropology and Education in Multicultural Contexts
    BBL 6233   Advanced Topics in Language Policy
    BBL 7083   Technology for Qualitative Research
    ESL 5073   Computer Assisted Language Learning
    ESL 6013   Second Language Acquisition Research


  5. Free Electives (9 semester credit hours required). Students will select additional graduate-level courses within the University in order to complete a coherent emphasis area. Selection must be made with the approval of their academic advisor and the Doctoral Program Coordinator (Graduate Advisor of Record). Selection of this coursework will be driven by two primary factors: the discipline in which a student has completed the Master’s degree and the research goals for that student.

  6. Doctoral Research (15 semester credit hours minimum):

    BBL 7303   Directed Doctoral Research (3 hours minimum)
    BBL 7313   Doctoral Dissertation (12 hours minimum)

The entire program of study must be approved by the student’s dissertation advisor, Dissertation Committee, and the Doctoral Studies Committee and must be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School through the Dean of the College for final approval.

Qualifying Examination. Students, in consultation with their Academic Advisor, will submit the names of three faculty members representing the areas of culture, literacy, and language to the Doctoral Studies Committee for approval. The approved Qualifying Examination Committee will design, administer, and evaluate a two-part (written and oral) examination. The written portion of the examination covers the areas completed in all foundation, core, and designated elective courses and cannot be taken until after the completion of 36 semester credit hours. In order to pass this examination, the student must demonstrate a broad knowledge of culture, literacy, and language. The oral portion of the examination takes place within two weeks of the written portion and focuses on clarifying the student’s ideas from the written portion. The purpose of the examination is to ensure that the student has a sufficient grasp of the theoretical and methodological fundamentals to conduct independent research in the chosen dissertation area. No more than two attempts to pass qualifying examinations are allowed.

Dissertation Committee. Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Examination, the student is eligible to defend his/her dissertation proposal. In preparation for the dissertation research, the student will identify a Dissertation Chair. The research topic will be determined by the student in consultation with their supervising professor. A Dissertation Committee of four members—selected by the student and their Dissertation Chair—must be approved by the Doctoral Studies Committee and Graduate School prior to the proposal hearing/defense.

Dissertation Proposal. The approved Dissertation Committee will guide and critique the student’s dissertation proposal. The student should give a complete draft of the dissertation proposal to the Supervising Professor (Dissertation Chair) one month before the proposal hearing/defense and to the other committee members at least three weeks in advance. The proposal hearing/defense must be advertised to the University community two weeks prior to the set date. Upon successful defense of the proposal, and before conducting the study, the student must secure UTSA Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for any dissertation research that involves human subjects.

Advancement to Candidacy. Advancement to candidacy will require a student to complete all University and program requirements:

  • Have an approved program of study
  • Pass written and oral qualifying examinations
  • Select a supervising professor and Dissertation Committee
  • Successfully defend a dissertation proposal before the Dissertation Committee
  • Secure approval of appropriate human subjects research forms.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination. Candidates must demonstrate their ability to conduct independent research by completing and defending an original dissertation. The Doctoral dissertation must make a substantial contribution to a field within culture, literacy, and language. The final draft of the dissertation should be given to all committee members one month before the oral defense date. The Dissertation Committee must unanimously approve the completed dissertation. The dissertation shall be defended publicly before the student’s committee and interested members of the University community. Therefore, the dissertation defense must be advertised to the University community two weeks prior to the set date. Following an open presentation of the dissertation findings, a final oral examination covering the dissertation and the general field of the dissertation will be administered and evaluated by the student’s Dissertation Committee.

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Graduate Certificate in Bilingual Reading Specialist

The Bilingual Reading Specialist certificate is a 15-semester-credit-hour graduate certificate program for those who wish to become bilingual reading specialists as well as for educators who wish to obtain increased knowledge of reading instruction and literacy development in bilingual contexts.

The Bilingual Reading Specialist certificate offers specialized training for those who possess a valid teaching license and wish to become better prepared to provide appropriate reading instruction to students in bilingual programs in public schools. The program is available to students who have been admitted as special graduate students and seek the certificate independent of a degree, as well as graduate students pursuing an M.A. degree in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies with a concentration in Bicultural-Bilingual Education.

Certificate Program Requirements. The Bilingual Reading Specialist Certificate requires successful completion of the following five graduate courses:
BBL 5053   Assessment in Bilingual and ESL Programs
BBL 5063   Biliteracy in Bilingual Classrooms
BBL 5173   Sociocultural Issues and the Teaching of Reading
BBL 5193   Multicultural Literature for Children
ESL 5033   Second Language Reading and Writing

Linkages with other UTSA programs. Students who complete the Bilingual Reading Specialist certificate program may choose to complete an additional 12 graduate hours in Curriculum and Instruction to meet the state certification requirements for the Reading Specialist certification and subsequent Master Reading Teacher certification. This option would be in consultation with the literacy education faculty in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching.

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Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language

The Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (CertTESL) is a gateway to the English language teaching profession. It provides students with the specialized training needed to begin a career in English language teaching in the U.S. or abroad, explore a career change, add specialized training to current professional skills, or teach English in retirement. No prior training in language teaching or linguistics is required.

Practical, hands-on courses offer a general foundation in methods, techniques, and strategies for teaching English language learners of all ages. The program places a special emphasis on teaching English in multilingual settings, preparing students to offer socially responsible and linguistically appropriate lessons to help English language learners develop strong intercultural communication skills.
Note: This is a non-degree-seeking program. Admission to the certificate program does not imply admission to any degree program. The certificate in TESL is not equivalent to K–12 teacher certification in ESL or bilingual education in Texas, although some courses may overlap.

Certificate Program Requirements. The CertTESL consists of 15 semester credit hours (five graduate courses). All students take ESL 5013, ESL 5043, and ESL 6943. Teaching methods and literacy courses are selected in consultation with a student’s advisor, based on career objectives.


  1. Core (3 semester credit hours):
    ESL 5013   Foundations in Second Language Acquisition

  2. Language Skills (6 semester hours):
    ESL 5043   Listening and Speaking in Second Language Programs

    and 3 hours in literacy from the following:
    ESL 5033   Second Language Reading and Writing
    ESL 6043   Family and Adult Literacy in Language Minority Communities
    ESL 6063   Advanced Second Language Literacy

  3. Teaching Methods (3 semester credit hours from the following):
    ESL 5053   Approaches to Second Language Instruction
    ESL 5063   Language and Content-Area Instruction
    ESL 5073   Computer Assisted Language Learning
    ESL 5083   Pedagogical Grammar

  4. Practicum (3 semester credit hours):
    ESL 6943   Internship in English as a Second Language

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