Latin American Studies Graduate Program

Brief Overview

The M.A. program is a two-year program that allows students to pursue a diverse curriculum in Latin American Studies spanning a wide range of departments and professional schools, including the schools of Natural Resources, Public Health, Public Policy, Social Welfare, Journalism, Law, Education, and Environmental Design.

Students begin by taking courses that offer a broad overview of the field of Latin American Studies and introduce them to the Latin Americanist research at Berkeley. Students then work closely with individual faculty to define their particular areas of interest and research. Further coursework, research and field work culminate in either a thesis project or comprehensive oral exam.

The M.A. program provides an opportunity for collective learning and collaboration as students develop research skills and specialized knowledge in the field. Students are encouraged to draw on the considerable resources of the Center for Latin American Studies .

Overview of Requirements

Required Core Courses: 2 courses

  • LAS 200, a 1-unit seminar in which students meet with over a dozen of the Latin American faculty and learn of their research interests and current projects.
  • LAS 250, a 4-unit seminar for new graduate students providing a comprehensive overview of the field of Latin American Studies.

Foreign Language Requirement

  • Primary language (either Spanish or Portuguese): a high level of proficiency indicated by a strong ability to do research in the language and the ability to speak and write in the language with substantial fluency.
  • Secondary language (either Portuguese or Spanish; other languages can be considered on an exceptional basis): completion of advanced level language instruction.

Proficiency in one foreign language (either Spanish or Portuguese) is required for admission; proficiency in two languages is required for graduation.

Methods Requirement: 1 course appropriate to student’s field of study, identified in consultation with faculty advisor

Electives Requirement: 4-6 courses
Courses must be concentrated primarily in two or three disciplines, though a broader range of courses may be taken if appropriate to the student's academic objectives. Courses focus explicitly on Latin America or have a comparative, theoretical, or methodological focus that contributes to the student's work on Latin America.

Capstone Requirement: Thesis or Oral Exam
Either a written thesis or a comprehensive oral exam based on the focus of study is required to complete the LAS M.A. degree.

  • Thesis: an in-depth study of an issue or subject related to Latin America, chosen in consultation with a faculty adviser and two additional faculty members. M.A. theses generally range in length from 75-150 pages.
  • Comprehensive Oral Exam: a 2-3 hour comprehensive exam conducted by three faculty members from at least two different departments. It covers the disciplinary areas in which the student has completed coursework.

How to Apply

The application to the program, along with its instructions, is on the website of the UC Berkeley Graduate Division.

For questions, please contact our Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Susan Joerling, at joerling@berkeley.edu

After graduation

LAS master’s graduates move into various careers in non-profits, government, and international firms. Additionally, this program offers excellent preparation for students planning to pursue Ph.D.s and academic careers in social science disciplines and professional schools.