Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program

The M.A. Exam

Procedures for Completing the Master's Degree: The M.A. Exam and Related Paperwork
At least three weeks prior to the students scheduled M.A. exam (see below) the student will come to the LACIS office and fill out a warrant request. This request will be forwarded to the graduate school for review to ensure all requirements are met. If there are any incompletes or unpaid fees the graduate school or program office will contact the student. When all requirements are met, the graduate school will send the warrant to the program office where the student will pick it up and take it to their exam to be signed by the committee.


Students who will not be enrolled in the semester in which they intend to graduate may petition to the Graduate School for permission to pay a degree completion fee instead. The Program Coordinator should be notified in the preceding semester so s/he can process the request.




For the Master's degree, two semesters of residence is required. Graduate residence credit and course credit may be transferred from another institution only after the student has completed at least one semester at the University of Wisconsin, pending Graduate School approval. Verification of residence credit must be done at the Master's Examiner's Office; the LACIS office cannot make that verification. Students who are enrolled in a dual degree program with a professional school should look into residence requirements at that school.


The M.A. Oral Examination


Completion of the Masters degree requires satisfactory performance in a one-hour oral examination. The examination will be conducted by three professors from at least two departments, including the field of concentration. The examination will focus on the seminar paper in the field of concentration as well as the more general subject matter pertaining to the paper topic. Possible grades on the exam are Pass, Deficient, and Fail. A student receiving a Deficient may retake the exam within the following semester. Members of the examination committee will provide recommendations for making up deficiencies. A Failure will result in the student's being dropped from the Program. An appeal to the Executive Committee is possible but only on procedural grounds. That is, the student must present evidence that the committee conducted the examination unfairly. Failure to pass a second time will result in the student's being dropped from the Program.


Scheduling the M.A. Exam


  1. The student is responsible for choosing their committee members. Early in the semester in which the exam will be taken, a commitment from three professors to serve on the exam committee should be obtained. The advisor in the student's field of concentration must be designated as the committee chair (see page 2, section on Advising). The committee chair will, in consultation with LACIS "Guidelines for Staying on Track," help the student to define the range of topics to be covered in the exam.
  2. The degree deadline date (found on the graduate school website) should be consulted when planning the exam. As early as possible, the Program Coordinator should be given the committee members' names, and the date and time of the exam. The Program Coordinator will reserve a room for the exam. The student will receive confirmation of this information.
  3. At least one week before the exam, the student must distribute one copy of the seminar paper and related topics list to each of the committee members and one copy to the Program office. Please note that this is the formal distribution of the final version of your paper to all the committee members. However, your committee chair, in consultation with you, should have had an opportunity to make comments on the paper at least four weeks before the final distribution date (i.e. five weeks before your M.A. exam, or at an earlier time mutually negotiated). Your committee chair must have approved the final version of your paper before you distribute it to your committee.
  4. The Program Coordinator will request the degree warrant. On the day of your exam the student will pick up the warrant at the LACIS office. After the exam is completed, the committee signs the warrant and the student returns it to the Program Coordinator, who then sends it to the Graduate School. The diploma will be issued three to four months after the end of the student's last semester.

 * Additional information can be found on the Graduate School website: