Master of Arts Program

To complete the Master of Arts Degree in Regional Studies—Latin America and the Caribbean, students take a minimum of 30 points of graduate course credit, fulfill two concentrations, and submit an M.A. thesis. Students must also satisfy two Residence Units (RU’s) and maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00 (B).

During the first semester of the core seminar students explore approaches to Latin American studies and develop a thesis topic. In the second semester, they undertake the writing of their theses in a workshop-style seminar. Students are free to pace their coursework according to their own needs and interests, although most find that they can finish in three semesters or two plus a summer session.

Students can start in the Fall or Spring semesters, but must complete the required Core seminar in a Fall-Spring sequence, preferably in consecutive semesters. Students typically finish in two semesters, with some students taking the option of completing the thesis project over the summer.

Students may complete the program on a part time basis by registering for half RU’s (up to three courses per semester) or quarter RU’s (one-two courses per semester) in order to complete the program in four academic years (up to eight semesters, including summer). More information may be found here.

Students should become familiar with the requirements and policies of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences found here.

Please use the MARSLAC degree checklist to record your credits and grades for the program.



LCRS G6400, G6401

The two-semester core course sequence, LCRS G6400 and LCRS G6401, Scholarly Literature and Research on Latin American and Caribbean Studies I and II, must be taken in sequence starting in the Fall.

The first semester core course gives students a critical understanding of the major theoretical approaches, principal research methods, and current trends in Latin American and Caribbean studies. Class meetings are organized around discussion of key texts or approaches, structured through the historical evolution of recent interpretive and research models. Latin Americanist and Caribbeanist faculty at Columbia University participate as guest lecturers to introduce students to their research. During the first semester, students develop a proposal for a M.A. thesis in consultation with the Director of Gradaute Studies (DGS) and another faculty member from the specific field of the student’s interest who serves as co-advisor or second reader. The second semester core course is a seminar in which students conduct research on sources and methods necessary to write the M.A. thesis. The two-semester core course sequence culminates with the presentation of the completed M.A. thesis. Students who required more than two semesters to complete a satisfactory thesis will receive a grade for LCRS G6401 based on their work during the second part of the seminar, including substantive advance toward the thesis.


Written in conjunction with the core seminars and under the supervision of the Director of Graduate Studies and  second reader, the M.A. thesis will deal with a historical or contemporary topic that focuses on Latin America and the Caribbean. The M.A. thesis is meant to demonstrate the student’s ability to apply formal training in Latin American and Caribbean studies toward a specific and original research problem.

If students require more than two semesters to complete a satisfactory thesis they can do so in consultation with the DGS and second reader. Please refer to the complete thesis formatting guidelines. The deadline to submit the final thesis is September 15 for October graduation and November 15 for February graduation. Normally, the thesis advisor is the instructor for the core seminar.


Upon entering the program, students select two concentrations, or main areas of study, which could be a particular country or group of countries, discipline, topic or problem. They must take two classes on each concentration.

The Institute compiles a list of designated or eligible courses on Latin America in Anthropology, Economics, History, Business, Political Science and other Arts and Sciences departments as well as the Schools of Business, International Affairs and Law, and in Teachers College. Students can also take methodological courses that would help them develop their thesis research on Latin America as long as they produce paper or reports focused on Latin American themes. Students consult with the DGS to select a combination of concentration courses that together cover multiple countries, regions and time periods. In other words, the depth of training is balanced with a breadth of courses in different topics.

With the approval of the DGS, up to two 4000 level undergraduate courses may be counted as designated or elective courses if they produce a graduate-level research paper or literature review at the end of the course. Language courses under 4000 level can be counted as one of the two undergraduate courses in some circumstances, such as Comprehensive Elementary Portuguese if that language will fulfill their second language requirement. History Department 4000 level seminars can be counted as graduate courses.

In cases where there is a lack of relevant courses to fulfill their specialization requirements, the program advisor can approve individual reading courses. Students can take any Latin American or Caribbean course in addition to the concentration courses to complete the 30 credits required for graduation, with the exceptions noted below.


Up to two elective courses that do not pertain specifically to Latin America and the Caribbean may be taken with the prior approval of the DGS. Any graduate-level course in any department or school of the University may qualify as an elective. In those courses, the student must produce a research paper of direct relevance to Latin America and the Caribbean.


Students must demonstrate intermediate-advanced proficiency (in accordance with ACTFL standards) in either Spanish or Portuguese (through a language proficiency test administered by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese or by completing a 4000-level Spanish or Portuguese class with a grade of B or above).

Only one 4000-level language course can count toward the 30-point requirement.

For further information, lease refer to the language fulfillment guidelines


All students must register for the appropriate residence unit every semester. All students must satisfy TWO RU’s in order to graduate. Details can be found on the GSAS website: