Graduate degree programs in Latin American history are typically available as full-time, on-campus Master of Arts (MA) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree programs. Students in these programs usually further specialize in various areas of the field and are expected to meet foreign language requirements. Here, we compare and contrast the 2 degree programs to help students make an informed decision.
Master's in Latin American History vs. Doctorate in Latin American History
Master of Arts in Latin American History
While there are many MA degree programs in Latin American Studies, which include topics in history along with culture, literature, language and more, MA programs specifically in Latin American History are rare. However, these programs, as well as MA in History programs with majors in Latin American history are available and some programs may further divide the subject into different tracks, such as Spanish America and Brazil/Caribbean, and even further into time periods, like colonial and post-colonial. MA programs usually range from about 30 to 36 credits and typically allow students to choose from a thesis or non-thesis track, which may require a final exam or research seminar in place of a thesis. Coursework typically consists of Latin American history courses, research seminars and other courses in the social sciences and students are usually required to have reading knowledge of at least 1 foreign language. It is fairly common for graduates of MA programs in the field to pursue further study at the doctoral level, but students may also pursue careers in teaching and/or museums.
Doctor of Philosophy in Latin American History
PhD in Latin American History programs are more common than the MA programs and allow students to pursue research in a wide range of areas within the field, including social movements, economics, race, culture, gender and politics. Students may be required to complete the program in 8 years or less and typically must complete qualifying and comprehensive exams and a dissertation. Doctoral students are also usually expected to have working knowledge of 2 foreign languages, most commonly in languages of Latin America, like Spanish, Portuguese, French or indigenous languages. Coursework varies based on a student's specialization, but students may take courses in research, colonial Latin America, modern Latin America, writing, literature, political culture and more. Most graduates of PhD programs in Latin American History pursue careers in research or academia, but students may also work in museums, private organizations or media outlets as analysts.
Common Entrance Requirements
Applicants to graduate degree programs in Latin American history typically hold a bachelor's degree in history, but some programs may accept students from other disciplines. Most of these programs require students to take the GRE and submit their scores and official transcripts to the institution, but a few programs may not require the test. Applicants are commonly asked to include letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose/goals and a writing sample with their application. Some programs may also ask for a list of research experience and/or have a separate application for graduate assistantship or fellowship positions.
Students can earn an MA or PhD in Latin American History, but PhD programs in the field are more common. These programs usually require a thesis, final exam or dissertation (based on the degree level) and allow students to explore various themes in a historical context.