Latin American Studies, PhD

College of Arts & Sciences

Program Description:

The Ph.D. in Latin American Studies is a small and highly selective program designed to prepare students for a limited number of targeted careers that are best advanced by an interdisciplinary doctorate. Such students include individuals who seek employment in areas where the ability to research and teach across disciplines would be an advantage, and where having skills in two disciplines, combined with Latin American area expertise, would be more useful than extensive training within one discipline. 

Degree Requirements

General University rules and regulations pertaining to graduate study at the University of New Mexico are detailed in the The Graduate Program section of this Catalog. The Latin American Studies Handbook is updated each year and provides more in-depth information to students in the LAS program. Students are responsible for knowing and abiding by the rules laid out in the UNM Catalog and the Latin American Studies Handbook.

The Ph.D. in Latin American Studies requires a minimum of 48 credit hours of graduate course work, plus an additional 18 dissertation credit hours, for a total of 66 credit hours.

Students choose 2 concentrations for a total of 42 credit hours, plus 6 credit hours of elective courses. The concentrations include Anthropology, Art History, Brazilian Literature, Built Environment (School of Architecture and Planning), Communication, Economics, Geography and Environmental Studies, History, International Management (Anderson School of Management), Political Science, Public Health (School of Medicine), Sociology, Spanish-American Literature, and Spanish Linguistics. Students can choose 21 credit hours in each concentration, so that both concentrations have equal weight, or 15-27 credit hours in each, with a primary and secondary concentration.

Of the 48 total credit hours required for the Ph.D., a minimum of 24 credit hours must be taken after admission to the doctoral program. The Associate Director for Academic Programs must approve any course work taken at the master’s level and applied towards the Ph.D.

Competence is required in one Latin American language by the time of degree completion. Competence in more than one Latin American language may be critical in certain areas of study. As such, some concentrations may require competence in a second language. For details, see the Latin American Studies Handbook. Competence is considered to be successful completion of advanced-level course work, or passing a language proficiency examination. Students who have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree in Latin America or Iberia satisfy the language requirements.


A Committee on Studies (COS) must be formed at least one semester before the student plans to take comprehensive examinations. The COS is composed of at least two members from each concentration. The student creates a reading list in consultation with all members of his or her COS, and the committee approves the list the semester prior to the scheduled exam. The comprehensive examinations are coordinated and administered by the Latin American Studies program in conjunction with the student’s COS. Upon successful completion of the comprehensive examinations, an M.A. in Latin American Studies is conferred and students are advanced to candidacy within the doctoral program. 

Admission Requirements:



Fall semester:Ph.D.: January 1 (with departmental financial aid consideration)
M.A.: February 1 (with departmental financial aid consideration)
 M.A. and Ph.D.: April 1 (without financial aid consideration)
Spring semester:M.A. and Ph.D.: November 1 (without departmental financial aid consideration)

Students are rarely admitted for the Summer semester because course offerings are typically limited in this semester.

Application Materials

Applicants to the MALAS and Ph.D. program will submit materials to two separate units at UNM: (1) either the Office of Admissions or the Office of International Admissions and (2) the LAS program. All application materials must be received by each office on or before the dates indicated above. In addition to submitting materials to the two entities listed above, dual degree applicants must also submit materials to their second degree program.

Domestic students should submit the following materials to the Office of Admissions:

  • Mail the above to:
    • Office of Admissions
    • Attn: Graduate Admissions
    • PO Box 4895
    • Albuquerque, NM 87196-4895

International students should submit the following materials to the Office of International Admissions:

  • Mail the above to:
    • Office of Admissions
    • International Admissions
    • MSC 06 3720
    • Albuquerque, NM 87131-2046

All students should submit the following materials to the LAS Program:

  • Unofficial copies of transcripts from each institution attended by the applicant.
  • A copy of the application submitted to either the Office of Admissions or the Office of International Admissions (if submitting an online application to one of these units, please print a copy before submitting it).
  • A letter of intent that clearly and concisely describes the applicant's academic background and interests, including previous research and faculty associations. The letter should include professional experience and objectives, and any other factors bearing upon qualifications for graduate work related to Latin American area studies. If there are any weaknesses in the application file such as poor grades, lack of previous Latin American studies coursework, or low GRE scores, applicants should address those in the letter. Applicants with professional, volunteer or travel experience in Latin American should include a discussion of such experience in the Letter of Intent. The discussion should demonstrate an understanding of Latin American issues accompanied by an ability to apply this understanding in an academic setting. A discussion of the applicant's recent personal growth and potential is encouraged. This is a more subjective criterion, but is based on our desire for committed and motivated students. Such students have already begun their intellectual development, and have real potential to continue that development in this program and beyond as a Latin American area studies professional. In your letter, please indicate the two areas of concentration you wish to pursue if admitted to the program.
  • Three letters of recommendation from academic references that address the applicant's past academic performance including analytical abilities, language proficiency, and potential for success in graduate studies. If an applicant requests a letter from a professional reference, the letter should address analytical abilities and professional qualifications relevant to Latin American area studies. Please ensure references include the completed cover form.
  • A writing sample of approximately 5 - 15 pages in length. The sample may be a previously submitted term paper or an original essay. This requirement provides the applicant with the opportunity to demonstrate research and analytical abilities, as well as capacity to work across disciplines. It may be written in English, Spanish or Portuguese.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required and should be sent to the Testing and Data Management Division of the University of New Mexico (Institutional code 4845). Applicants should use the area studies code (2201) listed under departmental codes. If you receive an error message when entering 2201, type in "Area Studies." If you still receive an error message, contact GRE staff directly at 1-866-473-4373. Applicants should also send a photocopy of the scores to the Latin American Studies Program. Students applying to dual degree programs with Law, Business Administration, or Public Health may submit their LSAT, GMAT, or MCAT scores, respectively, in lieu of the GRE.

All materials submitted to the LAS program should be addressed to:

  • Amanda Wolfe
  • Associate Director for Program Development
  • Latin American and Iberian Institute
  • 801 Yale NE
  • MSC02 1690
  • 1 University of New Mexico
  • Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Contact Information:

M. Robyn Cotê: Program Manager
(505) 277-6843