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Graduate Admissions

Thank you for your interest in the graduate program in Latin American Studies at UCSD. We are a full-time Masters program and only accept students during the fall of each academic year. Please refer to both the Graduate Division and the FAQ below for admission procedures and program information.

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Applications for Fall 2023 open September 9, 2022.

Deadline to apply is January 20, 2023.

Prospective students must apply online via

Admissions Requirements:

Hold a bachelor's degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution in the United States or from a recognized university-level academic institution abroad. Prospective students must have at least a B average (3.0 GPA) or its equivalent overall or over the final two years of baccalaureate study.

Required Application Materials: 

  • UC San Diego Graduate Application for Admission - submitted online at 
  • Transcripts from all college/university work. Scanned copies of academic transcripts for each postsecondary institution attended, including certification of degrees, submitted electronically in pdf format. Certified hard-copy original transcripts will be requested/required upon acceptance of graduate admission.
  • GRE scores are not required for admission
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Writing sample of 20 pages or less
  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
  • Application fee of $120 for US applicants and $140 for international applicants; An Application Fee Waiver is available for applicants that meet certain eligibility guidelines.

International Applicants:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required for international applicants whose native language is not English (UCSD code is 4836). The University-wide minimum TOFEL score required for consideration for graduate admission is 550 for the paper based test (PBT), and 85 for the internet based electronic (iBT).
    • Unless you have studied full-time for one uninterrupted academic year at a university-level institution in which English is the language of instruction and in a country where English is a dominant language

*Please note, students who already have a Masters Degree are not eligible to apply for the program unless under limited circumstances. Please view information on Duplication of Advanced Degrees.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?

Prospective students must apply online via

The application process is done entirely online through the online portal. You will need a valid email address to create an account. This email address will be your login name. It will also be the primary line of communication between you and UC San Diego. Be sure to use an email address that will not change: do not use a temporary address.The activation email and additional instructions to complete your registration will be sent to this address once you create your account.

Can I submit materials via mail or email?

All materials must be submited online via

Application Fee and Fee Waiver

Applicants will be required to pay the application fee or to request a fee waiver at the end of the online application.

U.S. Citizens & Permanent Resident Applicants: $120
International Applicants: $140

Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents may request a waiver of the application fee. Applicants must provide supporting documentation within two weeks of the application submission date.

For more information on how to qualify for and request a fee waiver, please see our Application Fee Waiver page.

How much is tuition at UC San Diego?

Please visit the Graduate Division Financial Support Page for the proposed tuition/ fee chart. Opportunities for financial support such as Fellowships and Scholarships can be found there. 

How do I submit my transcripts?

All application materials must be submitted online via the Gradaute Admissions portal, including unoffical transcripts. As such, applicants should include transcripts from all universities and community colleges attended/listed. 

Official copies of final transcripts are only required if you are offered and accepted admission. Official transcripts bear the signature of the authorized official of the issuing institution, the seal of the institution, and are received by the Graduate Division in a sealed envelope from the institution.  You can either bring the unopened transcripts into the office or have your institution(s) mail them to UC San Diego directly at the following address:

University of California, San Diego
Graduate Division
Student Services Center (SSC), 4th floor
Mail Code 0003
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California 92093-0003

For International Applicants, we require that you professionally translate your transcripts into English if they are in a different language. We will interpret the marks based on the committee evaluation process since GPA can vary in each country.  

What is the minimum for GPA, GRE, and TOEFL?

While the Admissions Committee prefers applicants who have at least a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale the University minimum GPA is 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.  GPAs are determined as the higher of your final two years or your overall college GPA. 

There is no formal minimum for GRE scores, however the Admissions Committee prefers applicants who have GRE scores over the 50th percentile. Since scores differ at each testing period, we mainly consider percentile rankings instead of raw scores.

We take the highest of your GRE scores if the test has been taken multiple times. We encourage applicants to retake the GRE if they feel it was not a good indicator of their ability. 

The Univeristy minimum for TOEFL scores is 85 accumulative. However, the Admission Committee preferes applicants who have a score of at least 94 accumulative.

Conditions for the Writing Sample

Writing samples should be academic or scholarly in nature, such as a course term paper, published research, journal article submission, thesis chapter, presented paper, or report.  If possible, that sample should cover an issue related to Latin America, however it is not mandatory. All writing samples must be in English and no more than 20 pages.

Conditions for Letters of Recommendation

Applicants must have a minimum of three letters of recommendation, however it is possible to submit more. All letters of recommendation must be submitted online. 

Perferably, all letters should be from an individual in academia who can attest to your academic abilities; however letters from individuals outside academia will still be accepted. The most important aspect of letters of recommendation is that they be completed by individuals who are in a position to analyze your academic ability and potential for success in a rigorous graduate program.

Conditions for Statement of Purpose

Your Statement of Purpose should include the following:

  1. Any research interests
  2. Relevant preparation for graduate study in Latin American Studies (coursework, research experiences, or field work)
  3. Career goals after obtaining your M.A.
  4. Which aspects of the UCSD Latin American Studies program make us a good match for your main interests and professional goals?

Statement of Purpose should be no longer that 1-2 pages or 800 words.

Conditions for Concentrations

M.A. students in Latin American studies who are interested in specific disciplines or research topics have the OPTION to apply for a disciplinary or thematic concentration. However,  most of our students choose a general studies degree and then build a focus on their particular interest. 

Currently students may choose from the following concentrations or develop their own area of focus:

  • History Concentration (with the collaboration of the Department of History and Latin American historians in Ethnic Studies).
  • Sociology Concentration (with the collaboration of the Department of Sociology)
  • Gender Studies Concentration (with the collaboration of the Critical Gender Studies Program)
  • International Migration Concentration (with the collaboration of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies
  • Cultural Studies Concentration

It is not necessary for students to have a concentration, however if you know at that you would like to declare one at this stage you may apply by tailoring your statement of purpose to that particular specialization. You also select you concentration of choice in the online application. Remember that the statement of purpose should be no longer that 1-2 pages or 800 words. 

Admission is not dependent on the concentration declared/applied. All students who are admitted are admitted to the general program.

Click here to read more about M.A. concentrations.

What do you look for in applicants to your program?

The Latin American Studies Program at UCSD looks at a variety of factors when evaluating applicants for our program. Some factors that may be considered are: dedication to the field, experience in Latin America, research experience, previous academic performance, previous work experience, and academic potential.

Our Admissions Committee gives equal weight to every part of your application during the evaluation of your application. 

The committee examines GRE scores, but does not base decisions on the scores alone; We will examine application packages in their entirety.

Can I apply to multiple programs at UCSD with one application fee?

Applicants may apply to multiple programs for the same term, but are required to pay a fee for each application. However, each application must be submitted to a different department. Please note the application fee is non-refundable.

Can I begin the program at a time other than in the Fall?

Our program only accepts applicants for Fall admission each year.

Must I complete a Master's Thesis to complete the degree?

In order to complete the M.A., a student must complete a Master's Thesis or satisfy a comprehensive exam. 

What do most graduates do with an M.A. in Latin American Studies from UCSD?

Our graduates pursue a number of different career paths depending on their individual interests. About half of our graduates go on in academia to pursue a Ph.D. Another quarter of our students pursue careers in the public sector such as teaching, U.S. and foreign government positions, and NGOs. The other quarter of our students pursue various careers in the private sector practicing law or journalism.