Programs / Graduate

Master’s in Hispanic Cultural Studies

The Master’s in Hispanic Cultural Studies program is a freestanding, one-year course of study that aims to provide students with a rigorous foundation on the critical issues attendant to Hispanic cultural production.  The Master’s program may be undertaken as a preparatory degree to apply subsequently to doctoral programs in the field or as a terminal degree by those interested in pursuing careers in education, publishing, government, journalism, literary translation, or non-profit organizations.  The program aims to attune students to key theoretical issues and to orient them toward cultural studies as opposed to exclusively literary studies.

The curriculum of the Master’s degree program comprises eight graduate courses at the 4000 level or higher.  The courses include seminars and electives that address the cultural production of the Hispanic world from a transatlantic and interdisciplinary perspective.

A minimum of two electives must be taken outside the department in related disciplines.  The remaining elective courses consist of departmental offerings taught by the graduate faculty of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures (LAIC) and the Department of Spanish and Latin American Cultures at Barnard College.  Interested students may also elect to take a graduate course on the methodologies of teaching Spanish language and culture: Didactics of Spanish Language and Culture (SPAN G6000).  Most graduate-level seminars offered in the department are taught in Spanish and all requirements are in that language as well.  M.A. Students will be supervised and advised by the Director of Graduate Studies upon their arrival on campus.  Before registering, every student must meet with the DGS to decide on the courses best suited to his or her particular career goals.

Applicants are admitted as full-time students only and are expected to fulfill all requirements of the program in one academic year.  The Master’s Essay must be completed and submitted for evaluation to the student’s adviser and to the Director of Graduate Studies by June 30th.

There is no financial aid from either the department or the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to pursue the M.A. in Hispanic Cultural Studies.  For information about the costs associated with this program see the Cost of Attendance page.  Every effort will be made to offer students a residential lease through Columbia housing, yet such accommodations are not guaranteed.

I. Coursework

Students enrolled in the Master’s in Hispanic Cultural Studies program must complete a total of eight course units in one academic year, with a minimum grade of B-.  Normally a student takes four courses during the fall semester and four in the spring.  Master’s students can register in any seminar taught in the department at the graduate level (4000 level or higher).

A minimum of two courses must be taken outside the department in related disciplines, such as Anthropology, History, Women Studies, Art History, Music, Education (at Teacher’s College), among others.  A maximum of two electives per semester may be taken outside the department, and a total of four external electives may be pursued throughout the course of the M.A. program, all with prior approval from the DGS.  For the departmental electives, students choose among all of the graduate-level courses taught at LAIC.

Any student who does not comply with the announced deadlines for exams and papers will have the grade for the written exercise in question lowered. Exceptions will only be made in the case of a medical emergency. For the sake of equity, students cannot make special arrangements with their professors regarding the timetable for submission of final exams or papers, except in medical emergencies. Incomplete grades may not be carried from semester to semester, except in emergency circumstances. Students who have completed all work for a course and have not received a final grade for the course one month after the due date of the final paper are urged to notify the Director of Graduate Studies and the Director of Administration as soon as possible. Incomplete grades that are not removed by the submission of a qualitative grade by the instructor within one month of the due date of the final paper will be changed to a final grade of “F.”

II. Master’s Essay

During the spring semester, students devote time to the preparation of a Master’s Essay that fulfills the research component for the Master’s degree.  To fulfill this requirement they expand and rewrite an essay that they wrote in the fall or propose a new topic for the exercise.  In the latter instance, they must receive approval for the topic from the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Master’s Essay is written under the supervision of a faculty member and in the context of an independent study that carries the course designation SPAN G9811 (Supervised Individual Research). The essay should be 9,000-10,000 words in length (including notes and documentation), it is written in Spanish, and is evaluated by the student’s adviser and a second faculty member chosen by the DGS.

A typical course of study for the Master’s in Hispanic Cultural Studies is as follows:


1.  Departmental elective (4000 level or higher)

2.  Departmental elective

3.  Departmental elective

4.  Elective outside the department


1.  SPAN G9811: Supervised Individual Research

2.  Departmental elective

3.  Departmental elective

4.  Elective outside the department

See our pages on admission requirements to the graduate program, and on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about graduate admissions in the department.

For more information, contact Professor Graciela Montaldo, Director of Graduate Studies, at

Last Updated 3 years ago