MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and PhD in Political Science

The Combined Latin American and Caribbean Studies MA/Political Science PhD program allows qualified graduate students to pursue graduate degrees in both areas simultaneously. Students must fulfill the requirements for both programs, and up to 36 credits completed as part of the MA in MALACS will be counted toward the 76 credit PhD in Political Science.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements to be considered for admission.

  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution for higher education (or equivalent);
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) for the last two years of undergraduate work and/or a GPA of 3.25 on any previous graduate work;
  • International graduate student applicants whose native language is not English and who have not obtained a degree from an English-speaking academic institution are required to submit a score for the TOEFL or for the IELTS. A total score of 80 on the internet-based TOEFL (equivalent to 550 on the paper-based version) or a 6.5 overall on the IELTS is required.

Although admissions decisions typically are made in the spring, decisions for students who have not yet received their bachelor’s degree will be conditional, pending confirmation of the BA. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission into the program. All applications are subject to review by both the members of the Department of Politics and International relations and the MALACS Graduate Committee.

Admission Procedure

To be accepted into this program, students must submit an application to the PhD in Political Science with a sub-plan for a MA in LACS. This designation will appear in the menu of programs in the graduate application. The application must be submitted by February 1 in the year in which they wish to begin their studies. The following documents must be submitted and will be reviewed by the Admissions Committees from both units. The following must be submitted as part of the on-line application:

  • Online application and application fee;
  • Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate coursework;
  • Official GRE scores;
  • Official TOEFL scores, if applicable.
  • A statement of research interests, including reasons for seeking the MA/ PhD, future career goals, and a summary of scholarly preparation for this program;
  • Three letters of reference from academic sources or others able to judge academic abilities and potential.
  • A curriculum vitae; and
  • A writing sample (such as a seminar paper) which demonstrates the ability to conduct research and write effectively.

Masters of Arts in Latin America and Caribbean Studies Degree Requirements (36 credits)

During their first two years of enrollment in the Combined Degree Program, students must complete 36 credits for an MA in Latin America and Caribbean Studies with depth or focus courses in Political Science.

MALACS Core Courses (9 credits) During their first two years of enrollment in this dual degree program, students take three core courses as follows:

  • LAS 6003 Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean (first year, fall semester)
  • LAS 6934 Research Seminar (first year, spring semester)
  • POS 5706 Research Methods

MALACS Focus Courses (12 -15 credits) Students will take a minimum of 12-15 credits within the Department of Politics and International Relations with a Latin American and/or Caribbean focus.

MALACS Elective Courses (6-9 credits) Student can take courses from other areas

MALACS Exit Options for Combined Degree Program (6 credits) Students may choose one of three exit options:

LAS 6970 Thesis The thesis is publicly defended and approved by a committee of three graduate faculty members.

LAS 6905 Directed Research in Latin American and Caribbean Studies Preparation of two directed research papers. Both papers require an oral presentation and approval by a committee of three graduate faculty members.

LAS 6942 Internship in Latin American and Caribbean Studies Supervised internship leading to a major research paper in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. The research paper requires an oral presentation and approval by a committee of three graduate faculty members.

Each student will be required to demonstrate reading proficiency in either Spanish or Portuguese, or in another language such as French, Haitian Creole, or Dutch when justified by research interests. Proficiency is demonstrated by scoring an advanced level on the ACTFL exam for Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole or French administered by FIU’s Department of Modern Languages. For other languages, corresponding tests of proficiency and levels of achievement will be required. Students should apply for graduation for the MA in LACS as soon as they have completed all requirements for the degree – including the exit requirements. Ordinarily, the MA will be conferred before the student advances to candidacy for the PhD in Political Science.

Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science Degree Requirements

Students will begin study towards the Ph.D. in Political Science immediately following their satisfactory completion of MALACS requirements. A minimum of 40 credits beyond the 36 credits required for the MALACS degree will be necessary to satisfy the requirements of the PhD Program in Political Science.

The total of 76 credits for a PhD in Political Science include the following:

Program Requirements

7 Required Course Credits:

  • POS 5702 Teaching Political Science
  • POS 5716 Foundations of Political Science
  • POS 6918 Seminar in Political Science Research Methods

12 Common Core Course credits:

  • CPO 5091 Seminar in Comparative Politics
  • INR 5007 Seminar in International Politics
  • POS 5045 Seminar in American Politics
  • POT 5007 Seminar in Political Theory

12 Credits in Two Examination Fields from the following:

  • American Politics,
  • Comparative Politics,
  • International Politics, and
  • Political Theory.
  • With advisor approval, these 12 credits may include some or all of the coursework (except POS 5706) taken in satisfaction of the requirements for the MALACS degree.

9 Credits in Third Area Specialization:

With advisor approval, these 9 credits may include some or all of the coursework (except POS 5706) taken in satisfaction of the requirements for the MALACS degree.

Elective Credits:

Elective credits necessary to bring total credits earned beyond the MALACS degree to a minimum of 40.

Comprehensive Examination:

After satisfactory completion of coursework, students will take comprehensive exams in their two chosen subfields before being admitted to candidacy and defending a dissertation proposal. The comprehensive exams will cover core courses and broad knowledge of the two examination fields. They will be written and oral. Comprehensive examinations are given twice yearly, in mid-September and mid-January.


24 Dissertation course credits.