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MA in Latin American Studies

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The Center for Latin American Studies houses the interdisciplinary Master's degree in Latin American Studies. Our students benefit from working with faculty from various disciplines and from creating a degree plan tailored to their research interests. 

In addition to the information contained in the Graduate School Handbook, our incoming and current students should familiarize themselves with the LATAMST Graduate Handbook below.

Master of Arts in Latin American Studies: Graduate Handbook

The M.A. in Latin American Studies is an interdisciplinary degree granted by the Graduate School, administered by the Center for Latin American Studies and overseen by the Latin American Studies Graduate Studies Committee. The program is designed to prepare students who desire to continue their undergraduate studies in international relations and diplomacy, economic development and globalization, languages and literatures, history and anthropology, business and economics, to acquire a broader knowledge of Latin America or concentrated training in specific disciplines and/or topics regarding Latin America. This encompasses different scenarios, such as students who want to a) prepare to continue graduate studies in a discipline-specific Ph.D. program; b) complement with further specialization on Latin America in a discipline-specific M.A. or Ph.D. graduate program they are currently enrolled in; or c) pursue a non-academic career in government (including the foreign service and the military); pre-college and community college education; educational institutions or other non-profit institutions with a cultural mission; or in the private sector, such as law, journalism, international business, etc. 

This program is intended to serve undergraduate students who desire to continue graduate studies, and graduate students who wish to pursue a dual degree and complement with a rounded interdisciplinary formation on Latin American Studies the discipline-specific degree they are currently pursuing (e.g. in Anthropology, History, Economics, Spanish, etc.). It constitutes a well-defined, intellectually cohesive structure that provides students with a balanced, solid foundation for their future careers, but nonetheless, it is flexible enough to accommodate students who enter with different levels of preparation and allows for its completion in normally two academic years. 

Students pursuing a M.A. or Ph.D. at Ohio State in any department or discipline (Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology, etc.) and who wish to complement it with further specialization in Latin American Studies can apply to the M.A. in Latin American Studies (LAS) as a dual degree. The application process for the dual degree program is very simple, and the coursework needed is significantly reduced, since up to 50 percent of the credits used for one degree can be used for the second degree. In other words, it will require only 15 credit hours (normally International Studies 5640 plus 12 credit hours in an area of concentration other than their primary discipline) to fulfill the requirements for the M.A. in LAS as a dual degree. 

Admission of students to the program is the dual responsibility of the Graduate School and the Latin American Studies Graduate Studies Committee. Candidates for admission to the program must hold at least a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants will be expected to meet or exceed minimum Graduate School requirements for GPA levels. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 for all previous undergraduate work and 3.2 for all previous graduate work is required. Applicants should demonstrate at the time of admission intermediate-high writing and speaking proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese, or the equivalent of at least six semesters of undergraduate work in these languages. Applications will be due in the Spring semester for students matriculating in the next Fall. 

GRE scores are no longer required of applicants. However, any student, international or domestic, wishing to be considered for nomination to one of the University's Fellowship awards must submit their GRE scores. 

Application is done through the Graduate School Admissions website. Applicants should complete the appropriate admission forms, and submit a transcript from each college or university attended; a curriculum vitae; three letters of recommendation from people who have direct, first-hand knowledge of applicants' intellectual capability and academic potential; a statement of purpose detailed past achievements, present research interests, educational objectives, career plans, and reasons for choosing a field of study. When applicants apply a number of years after completing their last degree, admission will also take into consideration experience-based language acquisition, social work and any similar pertinent non-academic endeavors 

International Students 

Students whose first language is not English, and who have not earned a degree in an English-speaking country, are required, as a condition of admission, to take and pass an English language proficiency exam. As per Ohio State's Graduate School guidelines, for the TOEFL exam the minimum score is 19 on each section of the paper-based TOEFL, 79 on the TOEFL iBT or TOEFL iBT Home Edition, or 550 on the TOEFL ITP for students in the American Language Program; for the IELTS exam the minimum score is 7.0 on the IELTS Academic test or IELTS Indicator. 

International students who fall into the category specified above and who wish to be given appointment as a Graduate Teaching Associate (GTA) must, additionally, according to the laws of the State of Ohio, certify their proficiency in spoken English before assuming GTA duties involving direct student contact. They may become certified by scoring acceptably on the TOEFL or the Oral Proficiency Assessment

Internationa students whose first language is not English, and who have not earned a degree in an English-speaking country should also be aware that they are required to take a written English placement examination upon arrival on this campus. Based on the testing result, students needing English instruction will be placed in corresponding English courses. These courses do not count toward graduation. For further information of importance to students from abroad, please see the International Students page of the Office of International Affairs. 

All applications for admission are processed through the Office of Graduate and Professional Admissions. The online application is found at the Office of Graduate and Professional Admissions website. Among the materials that all applicants (domestic or foreign) are required to submit are: 

  • The completed application; 
  • A current CV/resume; 
  • A statement of purpose detailing your past achievements, present research interests, educational objectives, career plans, and reasons for choosing your field of study; 
  • Three levels of recommendation, preferably from faculty members who are familiar with your work; 
  • Unofficial transcripts from each college or university (Official transcripts will be requested upon admission; if from a foreign institution the transcript must be accompanied by an English translation) 

The statement of purpose should be concisely written and not exceed two pages in length. Non-native English speaking applicants from foreign countries must also submit the results of their English language proficiency exam, and international applicants must submit a certified statement indicating that financial resources are available to defray the cost of graduate education. (Ordinarily, the awarding of a GTAship, GRAship, or another fellowship is sufficient to meet the requirements of this statement. All those applying for a dual degree that wish to be considered for appointment as GTA in other programs are asked to fill out a separate application for that position. This application is available at the corresponding department's website. 

For full consideration for admission, materials should be submitted by February 1 on the Spring for admission in the following academic year. 

More information about graduate applications at Ohio State can be found at the Graduate School Handbook. Graduate students who take a leave of absence for 3 or more semesters may be asked to re-apply to the program.

The primary funding source for LAS M.A. students is the U.S. Department of Education's Title VI Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. There are two types of FLAS fellowships (Academic Year and Summer), with separate competitions held for each. The purpose of the FLAS is to increase the number of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who study and speak Latin American Languages. The graduate level academic year FLAS includes tuition and fee authorizations for full-time enrollment for the two semesters of the academic year, and a $20,000 stipend. In exchange for receiving the FLAS, students agree to enroll full-time, including a 3-credit-hour Latin American language course and a 3-credit-hour Latin American Studies course each semester in addition to the regular course load. Summer FLAS fellowships provide students with a $3,500 stipend and up to $5,000 in tuition and fee authorizations for intensive summer language programs in the U.S. and abroad. FLAS applications are available through CLAS and are due February 1. 

Additionally, highly-qualified applicants are eligible for fellowships awarded by the Graduate School, and need to be nominated by the Latin American Studies Graduate Studies Committee. The purpose of these highly prestigious awards is to permit students of unusual promise to be freed from teaching duties in order to devote all their time to their studies. Most awards are for one year only,  although some carry stipends that cover two years, and a small number cover three years. All Graduate School fellowships provide a waiver of tuition and academic fees, in addition to the basic stipend. 

The Center for Latin American Studies cannot appoint Graduate Teaching Associates (GTAs) or Graduate Research Associates (GRAs). 

The university also offers several grants and fellowships available for travel for research abroad. 

Applicants should demonstrate at the time of admission of the following: a) a native or near-native proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese; b) a bachelor’s degree in Spanish or Portuguese; c) communicative competence in Spanish or Portuguese equivalent to six semesters of undergraduate work. Knowledge of another Latin American language, including any indigenous language, is a plus.

A minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate level (5000 level and above) courses are required of all students. Students are required to earn a grade of at least “B” (3.0) in all courses to remain in the program. At least 18 credits must be from courses with a minimum of 25 percent Latin American content as assessed in the syllabi. Courses with less than 25% Latin American content that have comparative, theoretical, methodological, or professional relevance to the student’s program can be taken in consultation with the academic advisor and the final approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. Some courses offered at the 4500 level can be taken as independent studies with the concurrence of the course instructor, the academic advisor, and the final approval of the Graduate Studies Committee. In all cases, the student must write a research paper focused on Latin America as part of the coursework.  

Required Courses (6 credits) 

  • International Studies 5640, Globalization and Latin America: Multi-Disciplinary Approaches 
  • One course on research methods, related to the student’s primary area of concentration, selected in consultation with the advisor from a number of qualitative and quantitative methodology courses offered in different departments, with the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.  

Two Areas of Concentration (21 credits) 

Students will choose or design, in consultation with their advisor and advisory committee, two areas of disciplinary or interdisciplinary concentration. They will take at least 4 courses for a total of 12 credit hours in the primary concentration, and at least 3 courses for a total of 9 credit hours in the secondary concentration. Students writing a thesis may use up to 3 of the 12 credit hours allocated to the primary concentration toward their thesis writing. Each student is required to take at least 2 graduate seminars, one in each area of concentration, in which they will produce a research paper that indicated that they have mastered the skills of research, synthesis, and analysis required for academic scholarship. Thesis track students may use these papers as the basis for their thesis. The areas of concentration may be chosen from any of the following options: 

Disciplinary concentrations 
  • Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics 
  • Anthropology 
  • Brazilian Literature and Cultures 
  • Business 
  • Education, Teaching and Learning 
  • Film Studies 
  • Geography 
  • Hispanic Linguistics 
  • History 
  • Latin American Literatures and Cultures 
  • Political Science 
  • Sociology 
  • Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies 
Interdisciplinary concentrations, such as: 
  • Border and Latinx Studies 
  • Democratization and Globalization Studies 
  • Development and the Environment 
  • Gender Studies 
  • Latin American Cultural Studies 
  • Postcolonial and Indigenous Studies 
  • Transnational Migration 

Each student, in consultation with their advisory committee and with the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, may design additional ad-hoc interdisciplinary concentrations.  

Electives (3 credits) 

After completing their requirements students will be able to choose one elective course, which could be related to any of the two areas of concentration nor not, insofar it contains a minimum of 25% Latin American content. 

By the end of the first academic year (if pursuing the degree in the regular two-year model) or by the end of the first semester (if pursuing the degree in the fast-track one-year model), all students will be required to choose, in consultation with their M.A. advisory committee, either the thesis or non-thesis track. 

Thesis track 

If a student chooses the thesis track, they will be expected to complete a substantial monograph (of approximately 80-100 pages in length, depending on the subject) on an original topic (theses overlapping is not allowed), in which they will be required to utilize their primary Latin American language as one of the main research tools. The principal purpose of the thesis is to demonstrate the student’s ability to conduct sustained independent research on a Latin American subject related to one or both areas of concentration. The student must produce a written thesis prospectus that must be approved by the advisory committee at least one semester before the final defense. The thesis will be defended orally before the M.A. advisory committee in the last semester of the program. 

Thesis track students may register for up to 3 credits of thesis research which will count as part of the 12 credits toward the main specialization without special permission. It is strongly recommended that students planning to apply to a Ph.D. program choose the thesis track. 

Non-Thesis Track 

If a student chooses the non-thesis track, they are required to take two take-home examinations, followed by an oral examination, in both areas of concentration. 

Students receive authorization to take the examination only after they have presented to the Director of the Latin American Studies M.A. Program an updated Curriculum Plan and the Reading List endorsed by their advisor. The length and content of the reading lists will be determined in consultation with the student’s committee members, but as a general guideline the total length of the combined reading list should be between 75 and 100 items (books and/or articles). This document should be submitted by the end of the the semester preceding the semester during which the student intends to take the examination. Students must be registered for at least three graduate credit hours during the semester in which the M.A. examination is taken. 

The Master’s Examination is a test of the student’s knowledge of their two areas of concentration. They are the ultimate validation of performance within the M.A. program. Students receive authorization to take the examination only after they have presented to the Director of Graduate Studies an updated Curriculum Plan endorsed by their advisor. Ideally, this document should be submitted by the end of the semester preceding the semester during which the student intends to take the examination, but must necessarily be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies at the time of the filling of the Application to Graduate form. The student must be registered for at least three graduate credit hours during the semester in which the examination is taken. 

The M.A. examination is a single examination consisting of two portions, written and oral. Both portions deal with the student’s two areas of concentration. The written portion consists of a thesis (thesis track) or two take-home examinations (non-thesis track). In the latter case, the student will receive the exam questions electronically on the date and time pre-arranged with the M.A. advisory committee, and will submit the written responses electronically no more than 48 hours later. Responses should be written either in English, Spanish, Portuguese, or other appropriate Latin American language. The oral portion of the examination will not be more than 120 minutes in length, and is scheduled to take place no later than one week after the completion of the written examinations. The M.A. in Latin American Studies exam has four evaluation categories: High Pass, Pass, Low Pass, and Fail. The M.A. examination is based on the course work that the student has taken and on a short, selective reading list prepared by the student under the guidance of their M.A. advisory committee. This reading list must be submitted to the Graduate Secretary alongside the M.A. Curriculum Plan. 

For the thesis, take-home exams, and oral examinations, the student will be guided by their academic advisor and advisory committee. The academic advisor chairs the examination committee and for students completing the non-thesis track, their advisor is responsible for: 1) soliciting and collecting questions for the written portion from the other members of the committee; 2) putting the written examination in final, fully edited, form; and 3) making sure that the candidate and the committee members receive the questions and written responses by the date required. 

The oral examination is not restricted to the questions asked on the written examination. It may, in fact, include any topic covered in the course that the student has taken or included on the reading list. The oral examination is regarded as an integral part of the total examination, and is not graded separately from the written portion. The language of the oral examination may be English, Spanish, or Portuguese, depending on the conditions set by the examining committee. All members of the examination committee must be present during the entire oral examination and are expected to participate fully in the questioning and the discussion of and decision on the result. 

At the conclusion of the oral portion of the exam, the examining committee will determine if the student has passed the entire examination and will inform the student of the examination result. The student is considered to have completed the Master’s Examination successfully only when the decision of the committee is unanimously affirmative. Each examiner indicates judgement by signing the Master’s Examination Report that must be submitted to the Graduate School no later than two weeks prior to commencement. 

If the examination committee does not evaluate the examination as passing, the committee will recommend whether the student may retake the examination, and which portions will be retaken. If a second examination is held, the examination committee must be the same as the original one, unless a substitution is approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. The second examination will normally be scheduled no earlier than the semester following the semester of failure, particularly in the event that both areas of the examination need to be retaken. The timing of the second examination is left to the discretion of the Examination Committee. 

On written appeal by the student or a member of the Master’s Examination Committee, the Policy and Standards Committee of the Council on Research and Graduate Studies will review the Master’s Examination to ensure its conformity to the Graduate School rules and to determine if it was conducted fairly and without prejudice to the student. 

A dual degree program is defined as a graduate student’s pursuing any two graduate degree concurrently, with the exception of two PhD programs. A dual degree program can be the concurrent pursuit of a master’s degree and any other graduate degree (master’s, PhD, or a professional doctorate) or a PhD and a professional doctorate. The dual program does not apply to students pursuing a master’s and a PhD in the same graduate program. 

The student and advisor(s) in each graduate program must plan an integrated course of study to satisfy the requirements of both degree programs. The program plan form for dual degree students must be completed and submitted to the Graduate School within one semester of planning the integrated course of study with both advisors. 

Students who are interested in pursuing a concurrent second degree are not required to reapply through the Graduate Admissions Office. Rather, they should contact the Graduate Studies Committee chair and/or the Graduate Coordinator in the proposed second degree program to gain a clear understanding of the graduate program’s application process and deadlines. 

Typically, students will complete a separate master’s examination for each degree program. However, if the following conditions are satisfied, a student pursuing two thesis option master’s degree programs may be required to complete only one master’s examination and one thesis. The Graduate Studies Committee in each graduate program must approve. 

Students pursuing a master’s degree in one graduate program and a PhD in a separate program must submit a Dual Degree Program Plan form to pursue the two degrees concurrently and to be listed on the university’s student database as a dual degree student. Students must satisfy the credit hour requirements for each degree program. A minimum of 50 percent of the hours counted toward the credit hour requirement for each degree must be unique to that degree and cannot be used for dual credit. The Graduate Studies Committee may establish a minimum higher than 50 percent. All other respective degree requirements must be completed independently. An individual thesis or dissertation cannot be used toward degree requirements for both degrees. Examination procedures for dual degree students are similar to standard procedures, but shorter, given that the student's concentrations might have additional examination procedures.

You can access information about already established dual MA programs with our center, such as the dual degree in Latin American Studies and Public Affairs.

As an interdisciplinary program, no single college or school encompasses the proposed M.A. program activities. Consequently, administrative support, record-keeping, and publicity for the program will be housed in the offices of the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), part of the Office of International Affairs. CLAS has affiliated faculty throughout the university (see our People page for a list of affiliated faculty). 

All graduate faculty members who participate in the program through the courses they teach in their respective academic units are consulted to choose among its ranks the members of the LAS Graduate Studies Committee, which administers the program. The Graduate Studies Committee consists of five members nominated and then chosen by the Latin American Studies graduate faculty members in a way that is fully representative of its diverse disciplinary constituency. Graduate Studies Committee members serve for staggered two-year terms. The Committee deals with routine administrative matters and makes recommendations for basic policy changes as needed. The Director of CLAS chairs this committee and serves as Director of the Latin American Studies M.A. Program. CLAS administration serves as Graduate Secretary of the program.

The Director of the LAS M.A. Program and the Chair of the LAS Graduate Studies Committe will support new students during their first semester of registration and assist in the selection of an appropriate advisor. Students must designate a formal permanent advisor within the first semester of study. Thereafter, course registration should always take place in close consultation with the student’s advisor. The advisor can be replaced any time upon request by the student or the current advisor to the Graduate Studies Committee. 

In consultation with their advisor, the student will form an advisory committee. The advisory committee, which will be formed at least two semesters before graduation, will consist of at least two faculty specialists in the student’s areas of concentration. In any case, the final composition of the student’s advisory committee should be validated by the Graduate Studies Committee. Once the advisory committee has been formed, adjustments in its composition will be decided by the student in consultation with their advisor and the committee members. Appropriate notification will be made to the Graduate Studies Committee and will be recorded in the student’s file. The student’s principal advisor will chair the advisory committee. 

The advisor and the student’s advisory committee are charged with advising students in light of their career goals. Their judgement of suitable committee composition (e.g., the need for additional members), appropriate courses and/or appropriate interdisciplinary bredth of coursework beyond the minimum requirements should guide development of the student’s program. 

At the beginning of each semester, the student is required to obtain the signed approval of their advisor for the program of study for that semester. This plan of study must be authorized by the Director of Graduate Studies Committee. Advising credit will accrue to the adviser’s home department. 

Course selection and advising will take place in the context of the following considerations: 

  1. Students are required to select two areas of concentration by the end of their second semester in the program. These areas of concentration could be chosen according to disciplinary boundaties; or could be designed by the student, in consultation with their advisory committee and with the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, around a specific topic approached in an interdisciplinary manner. 
  2. By the end of their third semester in the program, students will choose between the thesis and non-thesis track. The thesis track entails the production of substantial research project, to be defended in an oral examination; the non-thesis track, two written examinations followed by an oral defense. 
  3. Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of CLAS’ partnership with Latin American research and learning institutions. Students pursuing a thesis will be particularly encouraged to apply to applicable grants and pursue study and research abroad with specialists in their respective fields for at least one semester, preferably during the second year of studies. Advisors and the Director of the Graduate Studies Committee provide all necessary information and guide students through this process. 

The CLAS website offers a complete list of both core faculty and faculty in non-Latin American Studies disciplines who are professionally active in/with the region in some meaningful way, such as through their research, publications, collaborative projects with Latin American scholars and universities, conference presentations, study abroad programs, student and faculty exchanges, support of Latin American and/or Latinx student programs and activities. 

A comprehensive list of courses offered by different departments and programs can be found on the CLAS website under the Courses tab. For more specific information, please contact Leila Vieira (vieira.31@osu.edu) or your advisor.

If you have questions about the M.A. in Latin American Studies program or would like more information, please contact Leila Vieira (vieira.31@osu.edu).