The University of Chicago is a premier institution for graduate studies in the histories, cultures, politics, economies, and languages of Latin America. MAPSS students with a strong interest in Latin America and the Caribbean can complete the Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) concentration.

Through this program we closely mentor a diverse range of students, helping them to make the most of our rich curriculum in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, forge close ties with faculty, participate in our many conferences and events, and plan their research in the region. Students’ interests span a broad spectrum, but they all share the conviction that our individualized training will give them a strong, balanced foundation in Latin America and the Caribbean that will enhance their work in everything from public policy to NGOs to education, business, research, or the arts.

Upon entering MAPSS, each student works with the CLAS Assistant Instructional Professor, Diana Schwartz Francisco, who serves as the LACS concentration adviser, and student affairs coordinator, Lindsay Ortega, to develop a personalized program of study, cultivate their research interests, and identify a faculty adviser for their master's thesis.

Concentration Requirements

1 foundational course in Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Student choose from a list of appropriate courses, including Introduction to Latin American Civilizations I, II, and III, as well as other approved courses. Students with extensive undergraduate coursework in Latin American and Caribbean Studies may petition to replace the foundational course with an additional more advanced class.

3 additional courses in Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Students can select from among dozens that are cross-listed LACS courses or equivalent non-cross listed courses approved by CLAS. Recent course topics have included economic development; Mayan art and architecture; immigration; the environment; human rights; urban studies; revolution and dictatorship; law and citizenship; slavery and its afterlives; politics and public policy; crime and criminal governance; wealth and inequality; literature and society; religion; commodity capitalism; and many others.

demonstrated language proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Kreyol, or a relevant indigenous language

Proficiency should be equal to two years of language study and can be demonstrated by:

• Passing the Practical Language Proficiency Assessment, administered by the Chicago Language Center. This certification documents what a student can do with the language in a meaningful and impactful way and how their language abilities—listening, reading, speaking, and writing—will serve them in their professional and academic careers. The Practical Language Proficiency Certification also strengthens students’ resumes and expands their career opportunities. Students may take the exam either in the Autumn or in the Spring quarter.

• Completing a UChicago course beyond the second-year level in a regional language.

• Having received an undergraduate degree from a post-secondary institution in which the language of instruction is one of the languages listed above (e.g., a BA degree from a university in Latin America or Iberia)

an MA thesis on a theme or topic related to Latin America and/or the Caribbean

The thesis must be advised by a faculty member affiliated with CLAS, or approved for that purpose by the LACS concentration adviser.


Community Participation

The University of Chicago is a place devoted to intellectual engagement, which students and visitors infuse with creativity and ambition. LACS students are strongly encouraged to participate in CLAS-sponsored events and/or one of the two Latin America-focused workshops—Latin American History Workshop and Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean—which regularly bring students and faculty together in lively discussions of ongoing research and writing. Beyond the workshops, CLAS brings dozens of Latin American scholars, activists, writers, and policymakers to campus each year, and the broader University hosts prominent Latin American figures in the sciences, arts, and professions.

Field Research Funding

LACS concentration students are eligible to apply for funding to help subsidize two or more weeks of field research in their country of study. The CLAS Tinker Field Research Grant supports master's, doctoral, and professional school students conducting preliminary fieldwork in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of the Latin America and the Caribbean, excluding Puerto Rico. Grant support may be used toward international airfare and in-country transportation and living expenses. Applications for the competition open during the Winter Quarter and are awarded with the requirement that all MA field research will be conducted during the Summer quarter.