Home » Academics » Masters Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (MARSLAC)

Welcome to MARSLAC

Director of Graduate Studies: Gustavo Azenha, 834 International Affairs Building
Student Affairs Coordinator: Eliza Kwon-Ahn, 827 International Affairs Building


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, and graduate with the expertise to be leaders in their chosen fields.  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.

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.

The MARSLAC program gives students the flexibility to focus on both the disciplines and themes that interest them. Students choose one (or a few related) disciplines from which to study Latin America and the Caribbean, for example history, economics, sociology, political science, or anthropology. Through these disciplinary lenses, students explore specific topics, for example development, political transitions, or migration. Students also can focus on a specific country or region.

MARSLAC Students

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. Our alumni have moved on to jobs in those sectors and to prestigious Ph.D. programs.

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 other countries throughout the globe.  This diversity of professional and national backgrounds creates a highly enriching environment for education and innovative scholarship.

Studying at Columbia University

The program provides access to the significant resources Columbia offers for the study of Latin America and the Caribbean.  The university’s distinguished faculty in the social sciences and humanities provide instruction and supervision of individual study.  Please click here for the complete list of ILAS affiliated faculty.

Columbia's significant research resources, especially its libraries, support study and thesis preparation. In addition to the university's extensive faculty and expansive libraries, MARSLAC's institutional home, Columbia's Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) provides our students an intellectual home that sponsors a wide range of academic events that attracts visiting scholars from throughout the Americas. MARSLAC students participate in the various lecture series, conferences, and other activities sponsored by the Institute and the university.

ILAS also provides merit based and need based financial support to MARSLAC students in the form of FLAS fellowships, partial departmental fellowships, work study opportunities and research support. For more information visit our student funding page.

The program itself encourages student engagement beyond Columbia with the significant opportunities New York City presents to those studying Latin America and the Caribbean.  MARSLAC students benefit from the unique synergy created between the programs of the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) and various institutions in New York City.

These range from the vast Latin American holdings of the New York Public Library to our 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). Students also benefit from the ILAS’s associations with a variety of other financial, diplomatic, corporate and cultural centers and other research universities in the area, including Moreover, studying in New York, a truly multinational community with a large population from Latin America and the Caribbean, offers MARSLAC students myriad opportunities to enrich their educational experience.

Learn more about the program

  • I learned quite a deal from my professors. And the staff was always helpful during my two semesters

    - Kate Koenigsknecht
    MARSLAC Graduate May 2010

  • My professors were true scholars offering decades of experience and knowledge adding value to my academic experience.

    - Kelly Maslick
    MARSLAC Graduate May 2010

  • My experience was great. Columbia offers a variety of Latin American courses in history, anthropology, economics, and political science.

    - Diana Duarte
    MARSLAC Graduate May 2010


Deadline for Spring semester: November 1st

Deadline for Fall semester with FLAS and financial consideration: February 1

General deadline for Fall semester: April 1


We can send you an email when it’s closer to the application deadline. We’ll also send occasional emails about new courses, programs, and other news about MARSLAC.


Have any specific questions about MARSLAC? Please email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).