Welcome to MARSLAC

About the MARSLAC Program

The interdisciplinary M.A. program in Regional Studies—Latin America and the Caribbean (MARSLAC) provides a broad social science-based approach to modern and contemporary Latin America and the Caribbean. MARSLAC students deepen their knowledge of the political, economic, social and cultural processes shaping the region. The Program uniquely combines a highly interdisciplinary core curriculum, with ample flexibility to allow students to develop a custom-tailored program of study.

The Curriculum

The curriculum combines core seminars on region-specific scholarship and research with the opportunity to take courses in different disciplines throughout Columbia University, including, for example, history, economics, political science, anthropology, international affairs, law, and business.

Students develop a highly interdisciplinary understanding of the region through exposure to relevant scholarship on key issues of contemporary Latin America (democratization, rule of law, urban development, environmental change, trade and immigration, gender relations, cultural expression of diversity, among others). Students also hone their regional knowledge and research and analytical skills through developing their own original projects under the advisement of ILAS affiliated Columbia faculty. The program’s capstone project is a Masters thesis in the student’s selected topic and cultural/geographic area of interest.

Learn more about the program


The Columbia Advantage

Why study at Columbia?

The MARSLAC program provides a one-of-a-kind experience that distinguishes itself from other MA  programs in several important regards:

  • Graduates receive a degree from an ivy league institution, considered one of the best universities in the globe with world renowned faculty in many disciplines
  • Ample opportunities for financial support through fellowships, assistantships and other resources
  • New York City location provides unparalleled:
    • opportunities for networking and professional advancement through ILAS’ associations with a variety of other financial, diplomatic, corporate and cultural centers and other research universities in the area
    • public programming at ILAS, Columbia, and other NYC-based academic, non-profit, and other institutions
  • Flexibility and freedom to design your course of study to support your individual professional goals
  • Partnership with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University (CLACS), with which we form the New York City Consortium for Latin American Studies,  which allows our students to enroll in designated NYU courses every semester
  • Hands-on support from our dedicated staff in academic pursuits and professional development
  • Access to vast Latin American holdings of the New York Public Library, NYU, and Cornell University (through an inter-library loan program)

MARSLAC Students

Who participates in our program?

The MARSLAC program presents a unique and innovative opportunity for students seeking a solid foundation in the history and contemporary sociocultural and economic dynamics of the region.

The Program is ideal for both professionals seeking regional knowledge and students intending to pursue a Ph.D., the program prepares graduates for careers in government, public policy, non-profit organizations, journalism, education, the private sector, and academia.

MARSLAC students come from a diversity of undergraduate disciplines and career backgrounds, for example, health professionals collaborating with Latin American countries, government and NGO professionals working in the region, public school educators.

The program also includes, and greatly benefits from, the cultural diversity of its participants, including students for the U.S., Latin America, and countries throughout the globe. This diversity of professional and national backgrounds creates a highly enriching environment for education and innovative scholarship.

Students with an interest in PhDs: Our one year program has proven to serve as a successful launchpad to doctoral studies. About a third of MARSLAC alumni are pursuing or have completed further graduate studies in a diverse range of disciplines.

Our alumni have gone on to PhD programs in Political Science, History, Sociology, Anthropology, Urban Planning, and Comparative Literature in a number of prestigious institutions such as Cambridge, Chicago, Columbia, Northwestern, Stanford, UC San Diego, Vanderbilt, and Yale.

Students with interest in the public, non-profit, and private sectors: Our program serves as an excellent way for those with non-academic professional interests to build their knowledge of the region, research and analytical skills, and professional networks to support their career development.  About two thirds of our graduates go on to work in the nonprofit/educational sector, the government sector (US State Department, US Department of Defense, and foreign governments), or in the private sector.

Our alumni have secured employment in the State Department, the Department of Defense, and foreign governments, as well as NYTimes, CNN, Linkedin, NPR and Reuters.


What Our Students and Alumni Say

Our students and alumni in our program are overwhelmingly satisfied with their experiences at Columbia and their investment in a Columbia degree. Below we share some comments from them about our program, its strengthens, and their experiences:

“Having had the privilege to participate in a world-class program at Columbia University, the Institute of Latin America Studies has provided me with an invigorating and refreshing experience that has unquestionably prepared me for my next job…”

“The best part of the program is the horizontal and personal relation with some professors, the student affairs coordinator and my academic adviser, as well as the curricular flexibility of the program.”

 “ILAS has provided me with the distinct opportunity to meet World Leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean, participate in campus-wide discussions involving prominent issues in the region, intellectually engage with a diverse student body, and learn from an incredible array of professors.  It is these unique experiences and opportunities that have shaped my time here in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.”

“The program has surpassed my highest expectations of what a Master’s Degree in Latin American Studies and the Caribbean should entail, increasing my desire to continue my educational and life-long pursuits in the future.”

“MARSLAC is the most rapid, comprehensive, and focused MA program on Latin America and the Caribbean. If you are anything like me, diverse educational background and unsure of your next step, this program will give you give you a wide array of opportunities, it is your decision which ones you take as you begin to shape your path. If you are not at all like me and are completely sure of where you’re headed, MARSLAC will help you get there with expert faculty, and wonderful, supportive staff. The reason I got my dream job is because of this program.”

“The best aspect of the program was the student support provided by the DGS and the student coordinator. They consistently provide support and advice, and are always available to students.”

 “The best part of the program is the tireless support of the ILAS staff. I am truly grateful. Always ready to lend an ear, patient, and cheerful.”

“While the opportunity to study one of the most diverse and exciting regions in the world is already a sufficient reason to be part of MARSLAC, this program offers so much more.  The complete freedom to tailor your degree according to your research interests means that you not only remain motivated because you are doing the courses that you want to do, but also that, as an added perk, you get to rub shoulders with faculty and students across Columbia’s wide range of Graduate schools, thus expanding your insights as you learn from different perspectives. Even if you specialize in a particular field, MARSLAC’s exceptional calendar of events on topics ranging from agriculture to urban planning and security will ensure that you are never left wanting for knowledge.  Add to that an active alumni and a truly brilliant staff always ready to provide guidance on everything from course options to study tips and job opportunities, the MARSLAC program has proven to be one of the most rewarding decisions I have taken in my academic journey.”

“I have developed a list of resources and networks that will be of great use in the future.  The diverse backgrounds, experiences, and wealth of knowledge from my classmates have also enhanced and enriched my understanding and perspective of Latin America as a whole.”

“Knowing so many people with diverse backgrounds is my best experience from this program.”

“With courses ranging in focus from the historical, philosophical and sociological contexts, to the political and economic successes and challenges faced by various countries, I have exponentially improved my awareness and understanding of the region.”


Director of Graduate Studies: Gustavo Azenha, 828-A International Affairs Building

Senior Manager of Business & Student Affairs: Eliza Kwon-Ahn, 827 International Affairs Building