Degree Requirements

The M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (MALACS) program is a highly flexible program requiring a total of 36 graduate credits. Required core courses include two research methods courses and an interdisciplinary course (9 credits). Students work with the Graduate Program advisor to design a cohesive and focused program. Twelve-fifteen credits are taken in a depth area, and six to nine credits are comprised of breadth or elective courses for a total of 21 credits. All courses must be passed with a grade of B or better. MALACS offers three graduation exit options that comprise six credits total (see exit options below). All courses to be counted towards the degree must have a minimum of 25% Latin American and Caribbean content and/or be a LACC approved course. Course requirements are distributed as follows:

  • 9 credits, core
  • 12-15 credits, depth (area of focus)
  • 6-9 credits, breadth (electives)
  • 6 credits, exit option

Required Core Courses (9 credits)

The core courses consist of an interdisciplinary overview course in Latin America and the Caribbean and two courses in MALACS approved research methods. First-year MALACS students enroll in a required interdisciplinary research methods course. In their second year, students select a research methods course in their depth area from the approved list and/or with the approval of the graduate advisor. The core courses and credits are distributed as follows:

  • LAS 6003 Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean (3 credits; first year, fall semester)
  • LAS 6934 Latin American and Caribbean Research Seminar (3 credits; first year, spring semester)
  • Research Methods – selected from approved list and/or with the approval of the graduate advisor (3 credits; second year, fall or spring semester)

MALACS Depth Courses or Area of Focus (12-15 credits)

MALACS students choose to concentrate on a particular country, region, discipline, or topic that serves as the focus of their study of Latin America or the Caribbean. Disciplinary areas (e.g. business, religious studies, art history, anthropology, history, political science) emphasize training and research within a particular academic department, while topical and regional areas (e.g. migration, Cuban studies, and public policy, international relations and gender studies) cluster coursework and research around specific issues or geographic regions. A primary goal of the coursework is to advance the student’s core research area and expertise. The focus area must include one theory course.

Breadth (elective) Requirements (6-9 credits)

Students select six to nine credits of electives from the MALACS approved course list. All courses to be counted toward the degree must have a minimum of 25% Latin American and/or Caribbean course content.

Graduation Exit Options (6 credits)

MALACS students select one of the following exit three options:

  1. LAS 6970 Thesis (6 credits). Students complete a thesis paper supervised by three committee members. All members of the committee must have FIU Graduate Faculty status. Students pursuing careers that require strong research and analytic skills or students planning to pursue a Ph.D. are encouraged to select the MALACS thesis exit option. The thesis is orally defended in the presence of a committee of three faculty members. The committee chair and at least one other committee member must be from FIU departments that offer courses in a MALACS focus area. The committee as a whole must be drawn from at least two departments. During the thesis period, the student registers for thesis credits under their thesis committee chair. +More Thesis Info
  2. LAS 6942 Internship in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (6 credits). Students may select the internship exit option, which entails a two-month (or 160 hrs) paid or unpaid resident internship in either the public or private sector. Internships should be related to the student’s MALACS focus. Internships may be arranged through LACC or by the student. Students are required to work under the supervision of a major professor from a FIU department. Additionally, two other professors must be selected to serve on the student’s committee. Upon completion of the resident internship, the student is required to prepare and orally defend a major research paper directly related to the internship. During the internship period, the student registers with his/her major professor for internship credits. +More Internship Info
  3. LAS 6905 Directed Research in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (6 credits). Students may select the directed research exit option. Students selecting this option will prepare and publicly present two major research papers of approximately 35-40 pages each. One research paper will address a topic relevant to the student’s MALACS focus area, and the second paper will focus on an interdisciplinary topic related to the focus area or to a broader theme related to the region. The student is required to register for two directed research courses with his/her major professors. Two additional professors will serve on the student’s committee. +More Directed Research Info

All exit options require an oral defense or presentation to be evaluated by a committee of three professors.

Foreign Language Proficiency

All students are required to demonstrate proficiency in either Spanish or Portuguese, or in another regional language such as French, Haitian Creole, or Dutch when justified by research interests.

Proficiency is demonstrated by scoring at least ‘intermediate-high’ on the ACTFL/ETS exam for Spanish, Portuguese, or French. For other languages, corresponding tests of proficiency and levels of achievement will be required. Depending on individual circumstances and research interest, students may request a waiver of this requirement, subject to approval by LACC’s Faculty Admissions Committee.

Opportunities for students to continue to improve their language proficiency in area studies are provided through Foreign Languages across Curriculum (FLAC) course offerings. FLAC courses are non-language, area studies courses taught in a foreign language.

Professional Development Activities

Students must complete a minimum of 39 points of professional development prior to graduation. A short 1-2 page response paper submitted to MALACS graduate directors and/or advisors is required as documentation for participation in the non-research paper activities. Activities may consist of the following:

  • Published article (25 pts.)
  • Public research proposal presentation at a conference (15 pts. per student conference; 20 for professional conference presentation)
  • MALOKA (graduate student organization), University Graduate School, or other approved FIU community service, professional development or peer mentoring activities (3 pts. per activity)
  • Attendance at LACC lectures, symposiums, colloquiums, conferences or other approved scholarly events (3 pts. per lecture; 6-9 pts. per conference or extended event )
  • Students should meet with their graduate advisor during advising sessions twice per year to discuss options for the completion of professional development points.