PhD Program

The PhD program in Chicano/Latino Studies prepares scholars, researchers, and teachers in the social sciences and humanities to develop expertise in the historical and contemporary experiences of Chicanos and Latinos in their social, cultural, political, and economic contexts.

The program emphasizes global, trans-disciplinary, comparative, and applied approaches to knowledge which enhance collaborative scholarly efforts within the university, peer educational institutions, and the broader community. It addresses Chicano and Latino experiences in the United States, and international dimensions and diaspora experiences involving communities in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

MSU provides resources for students who are undocumented. Visit this site for more information:


  • Requirements for the PhD

    With the assistance of an advisor and guidance committee, doctoral students plan a program of study tailored to meet their educational needs and professional goals.

    Students earn a minimum of 30 credit hours in addition to at least 24 dissertation research credit hours. Candidates must also satisfy all college and university graduation requirements.

    Curricular Structure 

    Required CLS Courses
    Students must complete at least 30 credit hours from the following:
    CLS 810 Historiography and Social Science: Methods in Chicano/Latino Studies (3 credits)
    CLS 811 Literary and Cultural Theory in Chicano/Latino Studies (3 credits)
    CLS 893E Readings in Chicano/Latino Studies (1 to 4 credits)
    CLS 894 Fieldwork in Chicano/Latino Studies (1 to 4 credits)
    CLS 896 Seminar in Chicano/Latino Studies (3 credits)

    Research methods class in area of specialization
    Each student must complete at least three credits of research methods in their area of specialization.

    Area of specialization courses
    Students must determine an area of specialization and may then take electives from the following: American studies, anthropology, English, history of art, history, music, resource development, sociology, and Spanish. The course work must be selected from an approved course list in consultation with the student’s guidance committee.

    Language Requirement
    Students must demonstrate advanced proficiency in Spanish, Nahuatl, or another Amerindian language to fulfill the program’s language requirement.

    Dissertation Research

    The comprehensive examination, the dissertation proposal, the dissertation research project, and the final dissertation defense are all required experiences in the Chicano/Latino Studies doctoral program.

    Comprehensive Exams
    The comprehensive examination, the dissertation proposal, the dissertation research project, and the final dissertation defense are all required experiences in the Chicano/Latino Studies doctoral program.

    Note: The program must be completed within eight calendar years. The information contained herein is meant to provide an overview of the requirements for the PhD in Chicano/Latino Studies. For more detailed information about the academic requirements for the PhD, please contact the Director of the Chicano/Latino Studies Program.

    Selected Past Topics for CLS 896
    Chicanos and Latinos in the World System: Decolonial Thought & Pedagogical Challenges
    Chicano/Latino Sociology
    Chicanos/Latinos and U.S. Popular Culture
    Globalization and Mexican immigration to the U.S.
    Latina Feminisms
    Latino Politics


  • Applying

    In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Social Science, students must meet other requirements for admission. Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education. Applicants without master’s degrees or sufficient course work may be admitted provisionally and be required to complete a specified number of collateral courses, not to count toward the degree, before regular admission is granted.  All applicants to the doctoral program must also supply scores from Graduate Record Examination scores taken within the last five years (MSU’s ETS Institution Code is R1465).

    All prospective students must apply to the Graduate School. Information about applying can be found at the links below.

    More information on Admission to the MSU Graduate School
    Online application to graduate study

    In addition, all applicants to the Chicano/Latino Studies doctoral program must submit the following:

    • A written statement of professional goals. It should describe the following: how the applicant’s professional and educational experiences have influenced the desire to pursue doctoral study, the broader, long-term career interests of the applicant and how the Chicano/Latino Studies program relates to those interests, and the applicant’s goals and objectives for doctoral study. This statement is used to determine if the applicant’s goals are consistent with those of the program and to assess the clarity and coherence of the applicant’s writing.
    • Three letters of recommendation on letterhead. The letters are required to assess the academic abilities of the applicant. The applicant should choose persons who are familiar with their academic abilities and those individuals writing reference letters should be encouraged to be as specific as possible in their comments.
    • A writing sample that best represents analytic and integrative thinking of the applicant. Examples of material might include research papers completed for a graduate class, grant proposals, research reports, or published articles.

    US Residents

    • Applicants who are not already admitted to graduate study at MSU must submit the Graduate Application for Admission. An application fee and college transcripts of all previous academic work must be submitted with this form.

    More information on Admission to the MSU Graduate School
    Online application to graduate study

    International Students
    International students who have not been admitted to graduate study at MSU are required to submit the International Graduate Application for Admission, proof of financial support, and proof of proficiency in English. For more information please contact the Office of International Students and Scholars.

    Office of International Students and Scholars
    103 International Center
    Michigan State University
    East Lansing, MI 48824

    Transferring from Other MSU Programs
    Applicants who wish to transfer into the Chicano/Latino Studies Ph.D. program from another MSU graduate program must contact the Director of the Chicano/Latino Studies Program.

    Application Materials
    All application materials are to be sent to the Chicano/Latino Studies Program. This includes the applications for admission to graduate study at MSU as well as Chicano/Latino Studies Program admission applications. The admissions address for the Chicano/Latino Studies Program appears below:

    Chicano/Latino Studies Program
    Attention: Doctoral Admissions Committee
    Michigan State University
    200 S. Kedzie Hall
    East Lansing, MI 48824
    Fax: 517-432-8662

    Deadline for Applications
    Applications should be submitted by December 1 for optimal consideration. Applications submitted by this time can also be considered for College and University scholarships and fellowships, and for assistantships awarded by the program. Completed applications received after the December 1 deadline will be considered for fall admission as space permits.


  • Funding your PhD

    Every year Michigan State University awards millions of dollars to graduate students through an array of fellowships, scholarships, and graduate teaching and research assistantships. The awards range from small tuition scholarships to multi-year packages that can provide annual benefits in excess of $23,000 plus tuition and medical benefits. Both entering and continuing students are eligible for these awards, although specific awards are targeted to different groups of students.

    Once on campus, a student’s academic advisor can offer additional suggestions regarding assistantships. If a student is interested in a research assistantship, this interest should be shared with faculty members. In addition, Summer Research, and Dissertation Completion Fellowship programs provide exceptional financial support to conduct research. Fellowships provide exceptional financial support to conduct research.



    Most fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis. The considerable number of multi-year and recruiting fellowships targeted to entering doctoral students are typically awarded during the winter of the year preceding entry into the graduate program. Therefore, students interested in such support should complete their application process by December 1 of the year preceding enrollment. Fellowship recipients are not required to give service to the college or its programs in return for the support.

    University Graduate Recruiting Fellowships
    These one-year fellowships, awarded to promising new doctoral students, provide $3,000-$5,000. Recipients must study full time during the period of their award. Newly admitted doctoral students are automatically considered.

    Funding sources from the Graduate School

    Graduate Assistantships and Internships
    Graduate teaching and research assistantships are available in various departments within the University for both entering and continuing graduate students. Some assistants are assigned to teach courses, others assist in research projects, and a few provide other services to a college and university. A half-time graduate assistant earns between $11,600 and $15,000 during the academic year, plus a waiver of the out-of-state portion of tuition, a waiver of nine credits of in-state tuition each semester, medical benefits, and a waiver of registration fees.

    Students should discuss employment opportunities with advisors and other faculty members, and examine bulletin boards for announcements of other opportunities. Only students enrolled in graduate degree programs may apply for assistantships.


  • Application Checklist

    Application Checklist

    To apply to the Chicano/Latino Studies PhD Program you must upload the following materials in PDF format to the Graduate Education Application Portal. Once you have submitted your paid application to the Graduate School, you will receive an email invitation to upload your application materials to the Graduate Education Application Portal. You will need your applicant ID number and the password you created when you completed your application to graduate school.


    1. MSU Application for Graduate Study and Fee Submit Online
    2. Current Curriculum Vitae Upload to Portal
    3. Statement of Professional Goals Upload to Portal
    4. Writing Sample Upload to Portal
    5. Letters of Reference (three) Recommender Uploads to Portal
    6. Official Transcripts Upload to Portal
    7.  Graduate Record Examination (GRE) NOT REQUIRED FOR 2022


    Application files will not be reviewed until the application fee is paid and all required application materials are received.

  • FAQs

    Do I need a master’s degree?
    A master’s degree in any field is required. However, potential students without a master’s degree may be admitted provisionally. Additional coursework, not to count toward the PhD, may be required.

    How long will it take for me to earn my PhD?
    This depends largely on the student. Classes are usually completed in two to three years. Dissertation research generally takes one to four years. All students are required to complete all requirements of the curriculum within eight years.

    My undergraduate and master’s degrees are not in Chicano/Latino Studies. Will this make it difficult to complete my PhD?
    Our graduate students come from a diverse academic background. While previous experience in Chicano/Latino studies is helpful, it should not impose a barrier to successful completion of your PhD.

    Can I work on my PhD part-time?
    Yes. But you must complete all requirements within the eight-year time limit.

    What resources are available in the library?
    Michigan State University has a very comprehensive library. Of interest to doctoral students in the Chicano/Latino Studies Program is the Cesar E. Chavez Collection. It is an interdisciplinary browsing collection consisting of titles in a variety of formats, research levels and locations on Chicano and Boricua Studies. Chavez Collection materials in other locations require the storage, access/viewing facilities and services not available in an open shelves collection. The main part of this collection is located on the first floor, west wing lobby of the Main Libraries. This browsing collection is reinforced throughout the Libraries system by other titles in the main stacks collection and various branch collections.


  • CLS Grad Handbooks

Recently Completed Dissertation Titles


Angélica Ruvalcaba

(Dual Major Doctoral Degree with Sociology)

"Systemic Issues Can’t Be Fixed Overnight: How Latina Undergraduate Students Engage in Activism and Critical Hope."

Esther Ayers

(PhD, Chicano/Latino Studies)

"We Are Human Before We Are Labels:" Transfiguring Testimonios with Adventure Therapy. An Exploratory Study to Re-shape Mental Health Stories with Hispanic Adult Women in a Substance Abuse Treatment Program."

Vanessa Aguilar

(Dual Major Doctoral Degree with English)

"Latinx Spiritualities in Young Adult Speculative Fiction."



Christian Ramirez

(Dual PhD with Sociology)

"¡PALENQUE!: Cross Cultural Exchange Among Indigenous and African Peoples in 17th Century Veracruz, Mexico." 


Evangelina Palma Ramirez

"My life is changed but the trust ain't there to trust somebody else": Experiences of recovery from intimate partner abuse of women of Mexican heritage in a mid-size city in Michigan


Jose Martinez

"If I don't do it, then who is going to do it": Centering the lived experiences of migrant college students to examine sensemaking of family responsibilities during the college transition process & carve out space for their counterstories in existing higher education literature


Felix Medina, Jr.

The Mexican worker: A Marxist reading of labor struggles in Californian Chicano/a literature


Samuel Saldivar, III

(Dual Major PhD with English)

Latinidad in estranged lands: Narrative interjections in Chicanx and Latinx literature, film, and television


Jose Moreno

The Chicana/o Studies movement on campus: Popular protest, radicalism, and activism, 1968-1980

Jose Villarreal

The devotion to a living santo and his religious healing: An interdisciplinary study of El Nino Fidencio and his religious movement


Rochelle Trotter

EN VOZ ALTA! Mexico's response to US imperialism, 1821-1848


Louie Moreno

Labor, migration, and activism: A history of Mexican workers on the Oxnard Plain, 1930-1980


Recent PhD Placements

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

South Texas College

Bowling Green State University

California State University-Chico

Middle Tennessee State University

Northern Arizona University

Texas A & M - Kingsville

Texas State University - San Marcos

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley


Dual Major PhD in Chicano/Latino Studies

Michigan State University doctoral students in other departments have the opportunity to earn a PhD with a dual major in their original field combined with a major in Chicano/Latino Studies. This interdisciplinary approach can broaden your knowledge of Chicano/Latino Studies while enhancing your work in your other major.

For more information, please contact the CLS office.

An application for a Dual Major PhD in Chicano/Latino Studies can be found at this link:

Application for Dual Major PhD in Chicano/Latino Studies (PDF)

By Jackie Hawthorne