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Graduation Requirements

Filing an Official Plan of Study

Students should consult the current Graduate Bulletin for information about the policies and procedures to be followed in completing and filing the program of study. Students must have classified graduate standing.

The program should be submitted to the Graduate Division by the time that approximately half of the units required for the degree have been completed. Students should contact their graduate advisor to file their plan of study (POS). Note- Students may not be advanced to candidacy and be awarded and an advanced degree in the same term.

A Plan of Study (POS) lists all the courses to be presented for the degree whether completed or not. This includes grades for courses completed and courses that received a C or lower, “Incomplete”, or “Report in Progress” grade. No changes will be permitted unless recommended by the graduate advisor and approved by the graduate dean. No course can be deleted from an official program of study after the course has been completed. This includes a course for which a student has registered and received an “Incomplete” or “Report in Progress” grade. Additionally, no course completed more than seven years prior to submission may be included on a program of study.

Any substitutions of elective courses should be submitted to the Graduate Division using a Request for a Change in Official program of Study for an Advanced Degree form. If there are changes that involve specific curricular requirements, a Petition for Adjustment of Academic Requirements for an Advanced Degree must be filed.

Advancement to Candidacy for an Advanced Degree

A student who has been advanced to candidacy has been officially recognized by the university as a candidate for the degree. In order to be advanced to candidacy a student must have an approved Program of Study (POS) on file, completed a minimum number of POS units, and have a minimum GPA of 3.00. Students are typically nominated for advancement by their department, and reviewed for advancement by Graduate Affairs at the time the POS is submitted. If approved for advancement to candidacy, the student becomes eligible to file the Appointment of Thesis/Project Committee form in preparation for enrollment in thesis (Plan A), or to sit for the comprehensive examination (Plan B). For a list of advancement requirements, and for exceptions to the rules listed above, please refer to the Graduate Bulletin.

Students selecting the thesis option must enroll in Thesis (799A). Enrollment for 799A is controlled by the Graduate Division. In order to avoid registration delays, please make sure to complete a Program of Study (POS) with your graduate advisor months prior to your 799A request.

Students may only obtain a Thesis Committee Form from the Graduate Division office after being advanced to candidacy or download it from the link below. Master's thesis committees are expected to include a thesis chair, second member from within the graduate program, and a third member from outside the home department.

To complete the 799A form, students must obtain the signatures of three faculty members who will serve as your thesis committee. After receiving the signatures from the committee members and graduate advisor from the Center for Latin American Studies, the student submits the Thesis Committee Form to the Graduate Division and receives an add code.

For more information please visit the Current Students page on the Graduate and Research Affairs website.

Forms and Documents

Students electing to take the Comprehensive Examination (CE) must select a committee consisting of three faculty members representing their three departments of specialization. In one of the three departments, students must write an analytical essay. The other two departments will be tested with written exams.

Students must obtain the forms for listing the faculty committee from the Center for Latin American Studies.

Analytical Essay

Normally, you should write an essay for your Department A (the major field). In some cases, you may select to write the essay for Department B or C. In either case, the essay should be approximately 30 pages. Students must provide three copies of the essay to the LAS Center on the day of the written exams; failure to complete the essay by that date constitutes failure for that department. While the essay can take various forms (e.g. position paper, research design, literature synthesis, policy analysis), to receive a "pass" it must be analytical in content, including a comprehensive review of appropriate literature and a cogent discussion of the topic; a purely descriptive account or narrative would be insufficient.

Written Exams

The exams are taken without notes or other references. Students should obtain study questions and bibliographic suggestions early in the semester from the two faculty who will make up the exams in the fields where the student chooses not to write a paper. Students and faculty are encouraged to meet periodically to confirm progress in preparation. The exams will be held in the LAS Center and we will supply a laptop to write your answers. Students will be given five hours to complete the two written exams. To receive a “pass” written exams must include a comprehensive review of appropriate literature and a cogent discussion of the topic.

Oral Defense

An oral defense is mandatory. All three CE committee members must attend. Students are responsible for arranging in advance the date and time of the oral defense. The essay and both written exams will be provided to all three committee members prior to the oral. Examiners are encouraged to read and evaluate all three. Examiners take primary responsibility for evaluating student performance on their department exam, but may raise substantive questions from any of the three fields during the oral exam.

Repeat Exams

Students who fail in one or more departments may re-take that department exam (or exams) in a subsequent semester. Only one retake will be permitted. 

Students who fail twice on any portion of the CE will not be awarded the MA by Plan B, though they may elect to write a thesis (Plan A). No CE will be offered during the summer semester.

Schedule of Exams

The Comprehensive Examination schedule for Spring 2024 is as follows:

  • Date 1: Friday, March 8, 2024 – last day for formation of exam committee.
  • Date 2: Friday, March 22, 2024 – last day to confirm essay topic; last day for CE committee members to provide study questions for closed exams to students. The committee agrees upon the Oral Defense date and location.
  • Date 3: Friday, April 5, 2024 – last day for faculty to submit actual exam questions to CLAS.
  • Date 4: Monday, April 22, 2024 – exam date for closed exams, final due date for analytic essay.
  • Date 5: April 29 – May 3, 2024 – Oral Defense takes place on the previously scheduled date (see date 3 instructions).
  • Date 6: Tuesday, May 7, 2024 – last day to submit CE results to the Center of Latin American Studies.
  • Date 7: Tuesday, May 7, 2024 – Chairperson to report exam results to Graduate Studies .

Important Links


Dr. Ramona Pérez
Director of CLAS
Office: AL-377H
Phone: (619) 594 1155
Email: [email protected]