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/option provides proof of area studies specialization and will be noted on the transcript.

Eligibility & Requirements

  • 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/option.
  • All courses may be double counted toward both degree requirements and the LACS certificate/option.
  • All courses must be taken for a quality grade.

A certificate/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. CLAS's online course lists include a notation of [F] for courses that meet this requirement. Students with extensive undergraduate coursework in Latin American and Caribbean Studies may petition to replace the foundational course with an additional more advanced class.
You can access a list of approved foundational courses here.

3 additional courses in Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Students can select from among dozens of 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 a high school diploma or undergraduate degree from an 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 a LACS workshop or other CLAS-approved event

Applicants to the certificate program must present their work at the Latin American History Workshop or Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean or another event approved by CLAS (e.g., the CLAS MA Symposium) and submit an evaluation form completed by a faculty member in attendance. This experience is foundational because it encourages students to develop the skills necessary to present their research to an interdisciplinary audience and serves as a capstone to their participation in our intellectual community. Workshop schedules are developed quarterly; CLAS will organize an MA Symposium every Spring. 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 their presentation. 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 or 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 encouraged to meet with LACS program adviser Diana Schwartz Francisco as soon as they decide to pursue the certificate/option so that she can provide guidance and answer questions. MA applicants are strongly encouraged to  meet early in their program with Prof. Schwartz Francisco to discuss their plan for completion of certificate requirements, cultivate their research interests, and work with her to identify a faculty adviser for the master’s thesis.


We ask students to submit their certificate/option application no sooner than two quarters prior to, and no later than the end of the first week of, the intended quarter of graduation. Please complete the LACS Graduate Certificate/Option application and submit it to CLAS Student Affairs.