The Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS) Program offers three graduate programs: master of arts, a doctoral minor, and a dual degree in law and Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies.

The mission of the graduate program is to provide an interdisciplinary foundation for the study of Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain, and Portugal. The University of Wisconsin–Madison is nationally recognized for excellence in research and teaching on these regions. The LACIS program includes a core faculty of over 100 members and course offerings in close to 40 disciplines and professional schools, including agricultural and applied economics, anthropology, business, community and environmental sociology, comparative literature, environmental studies, gender and women's studies, geography, history, law, music, political science, sociology, and population health. Languages taught include Quechua, Yucatec Maya, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Many faculty members have received extensive national and international recognition. Faculty research interests include development and labor economics; Andean ethnohistory and ethnology; African Diaspora art; conservation of the neotropics; cultural geography; social history of Latin America; democratic consolidation; Brazilian social stratification; comparative social movements; Luso-Brazilian literature and culture; colonial and modern Latin American literature, film, and culture; Spanish literature from the medieval to the modern period; and political economy. UW–Madison also publishes the journal Luso-Brazilian Review.

While the majority of candidates in the program are from the United States, a significant number are from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Iberia. Funding assistance for candidates specializing in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Iberia includes Title VI Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships, Helen Firstbrook Franklin Fellowship, Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (if applicable), Latin America course (260) teaching assistantships, and the Tinker-Nave Field Grant Program. Please contact the program office for more information on funding opportunities.

Originally established in the 1930s, the program has a long history of university and federal support. Since 1961, LACIS has been recognized as a National Resource Center (NRC) by the US Department of Education, which provides Title VI support for program activities and for FLAS fellowships. The program has a faculty of extraordinary diversity and across-the-board strength. These strengths encompass not only the classic social science and humanities fields, but also the natural and ecological sciences and the agricultural and professional schools. It is unlikely that any one university exceeds the overall range of UW–Madison's faculty expertise in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies. The UW–Madison's general excellence is reflected by its consistent ranking among the top ten graduate universities in the United States.

Dual Degree Program

Candidates interested in earning a dual degree in law and Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies must apply to both programs and must meet the degree requirements for both programs. Applicants should follow normal procedures for admission to the Graduate School. They may, however, substitute LSAT scores for the GRE. The dual degree program can be completed in seven semesters. Typically, the student begins the LACIS portion of the program in the second year of law school. See the program office for more information on course work. More information can be found on the website.

Fall Deadline January 5
Spring Deadline October 15
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Admission to the master's program is competitive and requires a strong undergraduate academic background, a clear demonstration of interdisciplinary interests, and a strong statement of purpose illustrating the applicant's goals. In addition to the online application, applicants must submit to the program: transcript(s) of all undergraduate work, three letters of recommendation, a statement of reasons for graduate study, and a current CV. Applications must be received by January 5 for the fall semester.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Tinker Nave Short Term Field Research Grants

Application Deadline: Applications for summer fieldwork are typically due the first Friday in March.

See website for more details.

Foreign Language and Area Studies Graduate Fellowships  (FLAS), (HEA Title VI)

See website for more details.

For further information and assistance about financial aid please visit the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations Candidates are expected to finish the degree in four semesters of full-time study; after four semesters, the student must petition for extension. Time to degree will be customized for students in dual or articulated degree programs. Students must also petition for part-time (fewer than 6 credits per semester) status.
Language Requirements Candidates must obtain certification of basic proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese or offer proof of proficiency.

Required COURSES

At least 6 credits of LACIS/​A A E/​ANTHRO/​C&E SOC/​GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI/​PORTUG/​SOC/​SPANISH  982 Interdepartmental Seminar in the Latin-American Area (or equivalent seminar). Remaining courses are chosen in consultation with the advisor.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

Students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. The student would not be allowed to count courses toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).


The program director or associate director will be the formal advisor for all students in the program. In addition, students are expected to work with a faculty advisor to complete a final paper to be defended to a three member committee.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances.


LACIS has a J.D./M.A. dual degree. Contact the program for more information.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the principal historical, societal, scientific and humanist concerns that are rooted in the realities of the broader Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian regions. These include but are not limited to: knowledge of pre-colonial indigenous societal organizations; the experience of colonialism; the biodiversity of the region; and the regions tumultuous social, economic and political trajectory and the specific challenges these have posed for the peoples of the regions. In particular, students should demonstrate an understanding of the unique historical trajectory of these regions as the product of the global confluence of various cultural, social, political and economic influences beginning in the late 15th century. This includes not only the especially profound mutual impact of Iberian colonization of the Americas, but also the larger context of European imperial conflict in the Western Hemisphere, the central place of African slavery in the development of the Atlantic economy, and the significant and multifaceted role that the United States has played in shaping Latin America and the Caribbean. Students should recognize how these histories and contemporary realities impact more specific questions, contemporary or historical, and humanist, social scientific or scientific in nature.
  2. Within students' more specific area of interest, they should be able to articulate key theoretical and empirical concerns and identify appropriate theoretical approaches to the problem of interest and identify empirical sources that can help to answer that question or problem.
  3. Students should demonstrate proficiency, and preferably advanced language ability, in either Spanish or Portuguese. Additional indigenous language learning, such as Kichwa, Quechua, Quichua and Nahuatil, are also encouraged.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to conduct interdisciplinary research that: includes a critical literature review; selects appropriate research methodologies; proposes an appropriate research design to collect, analyze, interpret, and present findings; successfully carries out this research plan.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to articulate and elaborate their research findings.
  6. Recognize and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct. This includes, in particular, an understanding of the ethics of research and professional activities in cross-cultural contexts.

The Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS) teaching staff consists of more than 100 faculty who teach LACIS language and area content courses.

LACIS Steering Committee