Combined M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies + Ph.D. in Political Science

The Combined M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies/ Ph.D. in Political Science pathway 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 M.A. in MALACS will be counted toward the 76 credit Ph.D. in Political Science.

Admission Requirements

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

  1. Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution for higher education (or equivalent)
  2. 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;
  3. Verbal and Quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE);
  4. 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 Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or for the International English Language Testing System (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 B.A. 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 pathway, students must submit an application to the Ph.D. in Political Science with a subplan for a M.A. 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.

  1. Online application and application fee;
  2. Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate coursework;
  3. Official GRE scores;
  4. Official TOEFL scores, if applicable.
  5. A statement of research interests, including reasons for seeking the M.A./Ph.D., future career goals, and a summary of scholarly preparation for this pathway;
  6. Three letters of reference from academic sources or others able to judge academic abilities and potential.
  7. A curriculum vitae; and
  8. 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 M.A. 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 combined degree pathway, students take three core courses as follows:

  1. LAS 6003 Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean (first year, fall semester) 3
  2. LAS 6934 Research Seminar (first year, spring semester) 3
  3. POS 5706 Research Methods 3

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 (6)

See the MALACS program description for more information. 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 (6)

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 (6)

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 is required to demonstrate proficiency in either Spanish or Portuguese, or in another language such as French or Haitian Creole when justified by research interests. Proficiency demonstrated by scoring an advanced level on the ACTFL exam for Spanish, Portuguese, or French administered by FIU’s Department of Modern Languages. Other tests of proficiency may be accepted upon approval of the graduate advisor. Students should apply for graduation for the M.A. in LACS as soon as they have completed all requirements for the degree – including the exit requirements. Ordinarily, the M.A. will be conferred before the student advances to candidacy for the Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. Program in Political Science.

The total of 76 credits for a Ph.D. in Political Science include the following:

Program Requirements

10 Required Course Credits:

  • POS 5702 Teaching Political Science (1)
  • POS 5716 Foundations of Political Science (3)
  • POS 6918 Seminar in Political Science Research Methods (3)

One course among the following: (3)

  • POS 6725 Formal Political Modeling
  • PAD 7707 Applied Quantitative Analysis II
  • SYA 6317 Social Research Quant. Methods II
  • ANG 6497 Qualitative Research Methods
  • POS 5745 Quantitative Content Analysis

12 Common Core Course credits:

  • CPO 5091 Seminar in Comparative Politics (3)
  • INR 5007 Seminar in International Politics (3)
  • POS 5045 Seminar in American Politics (3)
  • POT 5007 Seminar in Political Theory (3)

12 Credits in Two Examination Fields from the following:

  1. American Politics,
  2. Comparative Politics,
  3. International Politics, and
  4. 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.


24 Dissertation course credits.

Comprehensive Examination:

After satisfactory completion of course work, 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.

Dissertation (Minimum 24 credits)

After being admitted to candidacy, students enroll for dissertation credits under the supervision of their dissertation advisors. Candidates will prepare and defend a dissertation proposal. Upon completion of the dissertation itself, a public defense of the dissertation will be scheduled in accordance with University policy.