The University of Chicago is a premier institution for research, teaching, and graduate study in the histories, cultures, politics, economies, and languages of Latin America and the Caribbean. Our faculty’s research helps shape the disciplines of history, anthropology, literary criticism, political science, and art history, as well as interdisciplinary fields such as human rights, migration, and Latinx studies. More than 50 faculty members from throughout the graduate divisions and professional schools of the University focus their teaching and/or research on Latin America and the Caribbean, offering a wide range of disciplinary and regional coverage.

The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at the University of Chicago offers a certificate (or option, for students enrolled in MAPH) in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS), open to all graduate students within the University. The LACS certificate (or option) provides proof of area studies specialization and will be noted on the transcript.

Requirements + Eligibility

All students who are enrolled full time in a graduate degree program at the University of Chicago are eligible to apply for the LACS certificate (or option). All courses may be double counted toward both degree requirements and the LACS certificate (or option), and all courses must be taken for a quality grade.

A certificate (or option) will be granted when an applicant has fulfilled all course requirements in their degree program and the following LACS requirements:

1 foundational course in Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Students choose from a list of appropriate courses, including Introduction to Latin American Civilization 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.

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 in one of the following ways:

•  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; students must be registered to take it by the time they submit their LACS application.
•  Completing a UChicago course beyond the second-year level (above 20300) in a regional language. For students in the MAPH Two-Year Language Option, completion of six courses through the second-year level also demonstrates proficiency.
•  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)

A major research project (typically an MA thesis or doctoral dissertation) on a theme or topic related to Latin America and/or the Caribbean

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

Presentation of academic work at the Latin American History Workshop or Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean

Applicants to the certificate (or option) program must present their work at one of the LACS workshops (Latin American History Workshop, Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean), and submit an evaluation form completed by a faculty member in attendance. Workshop schedules are developed quarterly; special sessions comprising panels of MA students are scheduled each year. CLAS staff will work with MA certificate/option applicants to ensure that they have the opportunity to present during these sessions. Presentation in another workshop with relevant subject matter will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Students should reach out to appropriate faculty members in advance of the workshop. CLAS staff will work with MA certificate/option applicants to identify a faculty evaluator. Students should complete the top portion and then provide the form to their evaluator for completion.

In addition, doctoral students are required to demonstrate at least one year of active workshop participation 

Doctoral students must participate in one of the LACS workshops (Latin American History Workshop, Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean) for three quarters in accumulation and at least four times per quarter; the workshops will maintain a sign-in sheet for attendees. Participation in another workshop with relevant subject matter will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Interested students are strongly encouraged to meet with CLAS staff as soon as they decide to pursue the certificate (or option) so that CLAS can provide guidance on requirements and monitor progress toward the certificate. Each MA applicant should meet early in their program with LACS certificate adviser Diana Schwartz Francisco to discuss their plan for completion of certificate requirements, cultivate their research interests, and identify a faculty adviser for the master’s thesis.


Students may submit an application at any stage of their master’s or doctoral programs, but must do so no later than the end of the first week of the quarter of graduation. Please complete the LACS Graduate Certificate application and submit it to Lindsay Ortega.