MA Program

Master of Arts in Latin American Studies Curriculum 


Distribution Requirements 

Degree requirements include 30 credit hours as follows: (1) a primary concentration (History, Anthropology, etc., etc.) of 12 hours, (2) a second supporting concentration of 6 hours, (3) a third supporting concentration, also of 6 hours (4) the Core Seminar (LAST 7000), and (5) one of the following options for the final 3 hours credit: 

  • Option One: The MA thesis, written under the direction of a thesis director and approved by a faculty committee. Students register for thesis credit in the fourth semester (LAST 8990) and are required to participate in a thesis writing workshop under the direction of the Graduate Advisor. This is a graded course. A passing grade is assigned for the thesis by the Graduate Advisor if the student successfully defends his/her thesis by the end of the spring semester. If a student plans to graduate in the spring semester of his/her second year of study, the thesis must be completed, defended, and submitted to the School of Liberal Arts in final form usually by the first week of April. If the student has not completed and defended the thesis by the end of the spring semester of the second year of studies, a grade of “Incomplete” will be reported until such time as the student completes the thesis AND applies to graduate. If the student fails to complete the thesis within one year of the end of the second year of study, the “Incomplete” grade will convert to a failing grade. 

  • Option Two: A three-hour course in theory or methodology in the primary concentration. This need not be a Latin American content course. For example, in Sociology, the relevant courses are “Intermediate Social Statistics” and “Intermediate Sociological Methods,” in Anthropology, “Field Methods in Social and Cultural Anthropology,” and in Political Science, “The Conduct of Research” and “Statistics for Political Scientists.” Where a department does not have an appropriate offering, the Stone Center Graduate Advisor will help the student arrange an independent study project in the methodology of the primary concentration. This course must be taken by the end of the third semester. 

The Graduate Student Handbook offers detailed information on MA concentrations, language requirements, transfers of credit, theses, independent studies, and MA student service. The Graduate Student Handbook can be found on the Graduate Student Resources page.


Master of Arts in Latin American Studies Timetable

Duration of MA Degree 

Full-time is defined by the Stone Center as at least three graduate level courses for those students with School of Liberal Arts Graduate Program Fellowships.

Students are expected to complete the MA degree in four semesters, one of which is dedicated to writing the thesis. Students electing to write a thesis will earn three hours credit for the thesis and must participate in a mandatory, in-person Thesis Writer’s Roundtable course in the spring thesis semester. Students can complete the program in three semesters with the non-thesis option by taking four courses (one extra) in one of their three semesters of study. Both options require 30 hours of course credit at the graduate level (6000 level or higher). 

The Stone Center encourages all students to write a thesis. The in-depth research and scholarly treatment of a significant problem is an integral part of graduate education. 

The School of Liberal Arts and the Stone Center grant financial support for four continuous semesters for thesis students and three continuous semesters for non-thesis option students. At the end of the third semester, non-thesis option students should have completed 30 hours and have applied for graduation. Also at the end of the third semester, thesis students should have completed 27 hours, submitted their thesis prospectus with a cover paged signed by all committee members (due by October 15 of the third semester), and registered for thesis credit for the fourth semester. For students committed to writing the thesis, successful completion and defense of the thesis is required for graduation. 

If a student receives funding in the fourth semester for the thesis option they must submit a completed thesis by the end of that semester. If the thesis is not completed, the student will not graduate for lack of sufficient credit. 

Tenure for a student in the MA program is two years, with the possible extension of this tenure for up to an additional two years under extraordinary circumstances. Please consult the Graduate Student Handbook for more details on the subject of program tenure.

Consult our MA Program Timeline for more information.

The MA Thesis 

The MA thesis is intended to be a full explication of a significant problem using original sources, interviews, or analogous materials. Its length depends upon the expectations of the Thesis Committee. Before submitting the application for the thesis, students should discuss their plans with the Stone Center Graduate Advisor in order to ensure that projects are designed with feasible scope, appropriately interdisciplinary content, and proper support and supervision. 

Students should be advised that credit for thesis is awarded for one semester, but theses are rarely defined, researched, written and successfully defended in one semester. Ideally, a potential thesis topic should be developed as early as the first semester of coursework and a thesis director and committee structure planned by the end of the second semester. Preliminary field explorations and research should be conducted in the summer after the end of the second semester. The thesis topic should be advanced in concept during the third semester; a final thesis prospectus should be approved by both the thesis director and the full thesis committee by October 15 of the third semester; and the actual thesis should be written and defended by the appropriate deadlines in the fourth semester. The Graduate Advisor will work closely with the degree candidate to ensure that the thesis is advanced and completed in the recommended time frame. 

For a more detailed account of the MA thesis process, see the Graduate Student Handbook.