MA in Latin American Studies
About the MA in Latin American Studies
The MA program is a flexible and rigorous two-year degree program that allows students to deepen their knowledge of Latin America by taking courses in a wide range of academic departments and professional schools.
The MA degree is flexible because students can design a program of study that best fits with their career or professional goals. Students can take courses in a wide range of departments and professional program, including the sciences, the social sciences and humanities, Social Work, Education, Nursing, Public Health, Business, Architecture and Urban Planning, Law, etc.
It is also rigorous because all MA students are required to develop strong language skills, acquire deep and broad knowledge of Latin American countries and cultures, and develop research skills and specialized knowledge in an academic discipline, professional program or interdisciplinary concentration.
The program requires a total of 30 credits, including 8 elective courses (24 credits), thesis hours (6 credits). While there are no required courses for the MA degree, all students must complete a foreign language requirement, complete the requirements for a disciplinary concentration, fulfill a methods requirement, fulfill a regional breadth requirement, and complete a substantial research paper (thesis). Disciplinary concentrations can focus on one of the departments participating in the program or can involve creative and practical interdisciplinary combinations of courses that fit with the student's career goals.
Students will be required to take classes or write a thesis that examines at least two of four broad regions in Latin America. The regions are defined as Mexico and Central America, South America (not Brazil), Brazil, and the Caribbean.
Typically students will satisfy the field or disciplinary concentration requirement by taking a minimum of four classes (12 credits) in a specific discipline or an interdisciplinary area of study (e.g. Environmental Studies).
The concentration can be based in any department or academic program at the university including professional programs (e.g. Social Work, Nursing, Urban Planning, Public Administration), or involve creative and practical interdisciplinary combinations of courses that fit with the students' career goals (e.g. Gender Studies or Environmental Studies).
Students must take at least one core methods course or research seminar appropriate to their discipline or field of concentration. This course should be chosen in consultation with their faculty advisor.
All students must demonstrate third-year proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese and first-year proficiency in a second Latin American language spoken. Language proficiency can be demonstrated by one of the following:
- Through successful completion of relevant language courses with a grade of B or better as indicated by an undergraduate transcript
- Through coursework completed as a graduate student in the MA program
- Through providing evidence of proficiency that is certified by the Second Language Teaching and Research Center at the University of Utah
Overall at least 15 credit hours (five courses) must come from approved LAS content courses. To qualify for the MA, courses must be taken at the 6000-level or higher. 6000-level courses may include advanced undergraduate courses in which students complete appropriate additional assignments and readings for graduate credit.
Students must complete 6 credits of thesis coursework, and in this time, will be working with their chosen supervisory committee on researching and writing their thesis.
Students must complete an MA essay and have it approved by their supervisory committee. An MA essay is a substantial research paper on an issue or topic related to Latin America. Typically, students will register for 6 thesis credits during their second year in the MA program in order to complete their essay. These credits count toward the overall credit requirement. The course is LAS 6975, which the student will set up with the program advisor. We encourage students to do the MA essay, although a thesis option is also available upon request.
Graduates confront a job market that demands knowledge of foreign cultures and languages, a reflection of both globalization and significant demographic shifts at home. Many graduates will pursue international careers in the public, private and non-profit sector. But immigration from Latin America to the United States also creates a need for expertise in Latin American culture and language domestically. This demographic shift now requires that social workers, school teachers, nurses, lawyers, and doctors have much greater linguistic and cultural competency to adequately serve this population.
A core purpose of the MA program is to provide students with the skills and expertise to become leaders in their chosen fields. The MA degree is ideal for both professionals seeking regional knowledge and students intending to pursue a Ph.D and academic careers. It prepares graduates for careers in government, public policy, academia, international law, international business, non-profit organizations, journalism, education, social work, and other professions.
All applications for the MA in Latin American Studies must be submitted online through the University of Utah's Graduate Admissions.
Sample Programs of Study
With an interdisciplinary degree, programs of study will include coursework from across academic disciplines. Below are examples of ways to build a program of study around a research topic of Latin America.