MA | Program Requirements


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Upon entering the program, students will 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.


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. Placement examinations will be administered to allow entering students to register at the appropriate level of language instruction. Students may meet all or part of the language requirement through the placement examination in Spanish or Portuguese.


MA students are eligible to participate in the Chicago Language Center's Summer Language Institute in the summer prior to or following matriculation at the University. Students in the 2017-18 and 2018–19 cohorts who are interested in the program may apply for the CLC Summer Language Scholarship here.


The University calendar is on the quarter system. Full-time quarterly registration is for three units. The Unit is the measure of credit at The University of Chicago. One full Unit (100) is equivalent to 3 1/3 semester hours or 5 quarter hours. Courses of greater or lesser value (150, 050) carry proportionately more or fewer semester or quarter hours of credit.

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

Each quarter CLAS compiles a list of University-wide courses with Latin American content. Courses that focus on disciplinary, methodological, or comparative topics (such as International Relations Theory or Indigeneity) may also be counted toward this requirement, provided the student completes a paper or other major project treating a Latin American theme. 

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.

Credits towards the Master of Arts in Latin American and Caribbean Studies must be taken at the graduate level (courses designated as 30000 or above). However, certain lower level courses may be accepted, at the discretion of the Program Adviser.

A possible course outline for the Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters might look something like this:

Proseminar Content Course Content Course
Content Course Content Course Content Course
Elective Elective Elective


For an MBA/MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies the student must complete the requirements indicated above. Elective courses are expected to be chosen from the Social Sciences or Humanities course offerings. A student in the joint program will need to complete 24–29 courses:  15 (including the LEAD course) in the Graduate School of Business and 9–14 in Latin American Studies, depending on the student's foreign language preparation. Courses may not be counted twice.

For an MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Public Policy Studies the student must complete the requirements indicated above. Elective courses are expected to be chosen from the Social Sciences or Humanities course offerings.  Consult the Harris School of Public Policy for specific requirements. 


Courses pertinent to Latin America and the Caribbean are offered through individual departments and committees of the Divisions of the Humanities and the Social Sciences, and through the University's professional schools. Additionally, special courses are offered by senior visiting Latin Americanist faculty through the Center's Tinker Visiting Professorship. Please see our Courses page for specific quarterly offerings.


  • All courses must be taken for quality grades except one, which may be taken for a "P." 
  • An explanation of the grading system can be found here.
  • With the exception of language training courses, all courses must be at the 3000 level or above.
  • Under no circumstances will credit be awarded for courses taken at a university other than the University of Chicago. Joint MA/MBA students should note that they cannot receive credit toward their MA for courses taken abroad through the GSB's foreign exchange program.


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.

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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.



Contact Student Affairs Coordinator Jamie Gentry
773.702.8420 |