Our one-year MA program offers students the chance to expand their knowledge of the history, politics, and culture of Latin America through a personalized program of study. Through interdisciplinary training we aim to share our curriculum and rich intellectual environment with students from diverse backgrounds and varied interests. Upon entering the program, students work under academic direction of the CLAS Student Affairs Coordinator and the CLAS Lecturer to develop a specific program of study, cultivate their research interests, and identify a faculty adviser for their master's thesis. The basic components of the master's program are described below.

Language Proficiency

A fundamental requirement of the program is proficiency in one of the spoken languages (other than English) of Latin America and the Caribbean, equivalent to five quarters of study at the University of Chicago. This requirement normally will be met in Spanish or Portuguese. However, substitution of an Amerindian language (such as Aymara, Yucatec Maya, or Nahuatl) or a language spoken in the Caribbean, such as French, is permissible with the approval of the program adviser. Petitions for substitution will be evaluated in light of the student's prior competency and curricular program and the adequacy of instructional resources in the substitute language. Students will complete the language requirement through a placement examination.

Language Acquisition

While students are expected to enter the program with language proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese, they are encouraged to pursue further language study through summer study at the SLI (Summer Language Institute).


The University calendar is on the quarter system. Full-time quarterly registration is for three units (one full unit (100) is equivalent to 3 1/3 semester hours or 5 quarter hours), or 3 courses per quarter. Students in this program will complete 3 quarters of coursework.

To satisfy the coursework required for an MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, students must complete the following courses:

MA Proseminar in Latin American Studies
Through the MA Proseminar, the required common core of the master’s program, students gain an introduction to the variety of disciplinary approaches, discourses, and foci that fall under the large rubric of Latin American Studies. The Proseminar introduces students to specialists in the field at the University of Chicago and to the research and investigation in which they are involved. Led by the CLAS Lecturer, the Proseminar meets weekly during the Autumn Quarter. Supplemental workshops take place throughout Winter and Spring Quarters.

5 Latin American Content Courses
1 Pre-Twentieth Century Course
(Enhances foundational knowledge in the region’s early history); 1 Course on Contemporary Latin America (Students will be required to take Latin American Civilizations III. If undergraduate transcript indicates a similar civilizations course has been taken, students may replace Civ III with another approved course on contemporary Latin America); 3 Additional Content Courses (Each quarter CLAS compiles a list of courses University-wide with Latin American content.  Students may choose which quarters they wish to take these courses).

3 Disciplinary Elective Courses
These courses may have Latin American content, but they are often taken in order to gain a specific disciplinary grounding, to explore a particular theoretical framework, or to develop skills in a particular research methodology. Non-degree graduate-level courses taken and completed at the University prior to admission to the master's program may be used in fulfillment of elective requirements, upon approval of the Program Adviser.

MA Thesis

Every master's degree candidate is required to submit a master's paper. This paper is meant to demonstrate the student's ability to apply formal training in Latin American and Caribbean Studies toward a specific research problem developed over the course of the program. The research and writing of this paper will be conducted under the guidance of a faculty adviser.


An important and exciting element of academic life at the University of Chicago is the diverse and bountiful offering of academic eventscareer and professional development events, and CAS workshops that take place throughout the year. To encourage participation, students are required to attend a minimum of one CLAS event and one scholarly workshop per quarter, as well as schedule a minimum of two career services meetings.

Field Research

While conducting field research is not a requirement, some students do choose to embark upon a few weeks of research in their country of study.  To help cover the cost of research trips, students may apply to the yearly CLAS Tinker Field Research Grant competition.  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.

The CLAS Tinker Field Research Grant supports work in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of the Western Hemisphere (excluding Puerto Rico).  Financial support may be used toward international airfare and in-country transportation and living expenses.  Please visit the CLAS Tinker Field Research Grant page for more info.