HOW TO ENROLL IN A MASTER’S PROGRAM AT UBA

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A guide for expats: enrolling in a master’s program at UBA

Very often Buenos Aires expats ask me questions about doing a master’s degree here, so I’ve decided to share my experience. I’m also happy to help if anyone has any specific questions that aren’t answered here.

In October of 2009 I went on the UBA posgrados webpage to check out my options http://www.uba.ar/posgrados/. I am not aware of any UBA advisors or counselors that can guide you in your program selection process, but you can read about all of the different programs online and email the programs directly for more information.

I ended up choosing the Maestría en Políticas de Migraciones Internacionales, which has since moved to a different university, but was offered at UBA’s Facultad de Psicología at the time.

First, I sent an email to the email address provided for the master’s program, introducing myself and asking about the enrollment process. The Academic Secretary for the program responded and invited me to come in for a meeting. During that meeting he explained the program a bit more, as well as the application process. I imagine he was also checking my level of Spanish during that meeting.

Keep in mind that every facultad and degree program will have their own requirements and process, so you need to contact them directly. I can only share my experience with this program and this facultad.

In order to enroll for the start of the following academic semester (March 2010), I had to submit the following by December 15th: two letters of recommendation (in Spanish), a letter of motivation (in Spanish), a copy of my passport, my CV (in Spanish), and a copy of my college degree and transcript (you don’t need them translated or legalized at this stage, but you will by the time classes start).

The meeting I went to and the submission of these documents was all I needed to do be be officially “accepted” into the program. 

In March, when the school year began, there were a couple things I had to do:

1) Get my college degree legalized by UBA (you can do this at Uriburu 950, by appointment, which you can request online). FYI: I had to get the degree apostilled and legally translated before bringing it to UBA to be legalized. More information on apostille or legal translation can be found here. 

2) Pick up my “Constancia de Inscripción” from UBA to take with me to my appointment at Immigration to get temporary residency as a student (read about how to get residency here). Ask at your Facultad where you should go for your Constancia. 

Frequently asked questions:

How good does my Spanish need to be?

I had an upper-intermediate level by the time I started the program. At that level, I didn’t understand everything but was able to keep up and get very good grades (“notas”), with the help of a tutor. I found that understanding my classmates, especially since they were from all over the world (Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Germany, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia) was harder than understanding my professors. This also made the social aspect challenging, but everyone was really friendly and patient with me, and today some of my closest friends in Buenos Aires are former classmates.

Will the degree be recognized outside of Argentina?

Considering that UBA is the #1 Spanish-speaking University in the world, I don’t see how this should be a concern. Of course, if you are planning to go on to do a Doctorate in another country, you should check with the admissions board to see if they will accept your Master’s Degree from UBA.

Can I work while going to school?

Yes, you definitely can. In fact, most of your classmates will have jobs. The master’s programs tend to have evening schedules (2-3 nights a week from 6-10pm, for example) so that people with full-time day jobs can attend. If you are planning to work full-time while going to school, keep it mind that it won’t be easy (most likely you’ll be in class at least 8 hours per week and need about 8 hours per week for studying and assignments), so if you are able to work part-time only, that would be better.

How much does it cost?

PER SEMESTER (a semester is 4 months so there are 2 semesters per year) I paid $2000 pesos in tuition and approximately $400-500 pesos on materials (photocopied books and articles that you buy at the librería at your facultad). I also paid about $3000 pesos to my private tutor. Keep in mind that these prices are from 2010-2012, so they are probably much higher now, thanks to annual inflation.

TIPS:

  • Since you aren’t a native Spanish-speaker, I would definitely suggest the following: 1) record your classes using a phone app (just in case you didn’t get something in class and need to go back and listen later) and 2) download a dictionary app so you can quickly look up any words you don’t know in the moment (sometimes it’s just one word keeping you from understanding the entire point of the lecture).
  • Get a tutor. I had class twice a week with my tutor (an experienced Spanish teacher and student at UBA) and used the time to have her correct my assignments and papers, help me understand an article or chapter, or prepare a presentation. Ask around or look for a tutor on craigslist.
  • Start getting your immigration documents now. You’ll need some documents from your home country (degree, criminal check, birth certificate) that will need to be apostilled and legally translated, so get started on this now because you should have everything ready to go by the start of the academic year in March. More information here.
  • Be patient with UBA. Remember, you are in Argentina, and this is a public university. That means there will be lots of bureaucracy, long waits, strikes, power outages, mistakes, last minute cancellations and other nonsense along the way. Is it worth it? DEFINITELY. Not only will you get a degree and a great education, but you will also seriously improve your Spanish and make some local friends (no small feat).

GOOD LUCK! EXITOS! 

17 thoughts on “HOW TO ENROLL IN A MASTER’S PROGRAM AT UBA

  1. Great information. A couple of questions. Did you have to have a copy of the diploma or can they accept transcripts. Also, if it is the diploma, do they eventually want an original?
    Finally, I have heard you have to do the basic college entrance tests to be accepted to even a postgrad program, did you have to do those too?

    Like

    • Hi Jenn! Great questions.
      Yes, you do need an original copy of your actual college diploma. You should request it from your university’s registrar, and make sure it is notarized, apostilled and translated.
      You do not have to do the “CBC” or any other basic college entrance tests for postgrados. You are just required to have a 4-year college degree (BA, BS).

      Like

  2. Hello Emily,
    Nice article. Just a few questions:
    What I am curious about is that how hard it is to get into a Master program?
    I have heard that it might be really demanding to graduate but no one talked about the acceptance rate for Master’s degree.

    Cheers

    Like

    • My program didn’t have any kind of acceptance rate. Everyone was accepted. So, in reality, I prefer to use the word “sign up”, since that is essentially what it was. Meaning, everyone that met the minimum requirements (a 4-year university degree) and submitted the other required paperwork was accepted. Now, every facultad and program is different, but I have never heard of any really competitive program. I hope this information is useful to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Emily – Thanks for posting this. It’s exactly what I was looking for.

    I’m interested in the International Migration Policies Master program and plan on enrolling in March 2017. I’ve spent time studying in Rosario as an undergraduate and would now like to return. Once you graduated, were you able to find a job in a related field? What do most graduates do post-graduation?

    While you were studying, did you work part-time? If so, what did you do? My experience in Argentina is that a lot of expats teach English. Is that what you did as well?

    I love your tips section. Recording the lectures is a great idea! I speak Spanish at a mid-intermediate and plan to study more. I was also thinking about spending 4-6 months volunteering somewhere in South America so my Spanish improves before the program. Even with that, I’ll want a tutor. Was it difficult finding one?

    Thanks again for your post!

    Like

    • Hi Devon! I didn’t look for a job in the field after I finished as I already had a job I liked at the time, and now I work as a translator which suits me. I guess the migration field is more of a hobby for me right now (for example, this blog) but I’m fine with that. Most of my classmates continued with their professions prior to “graduation” (at this time I’m the only member of my class to have technically graduated). I can only think of one classmate that got a migration policy related job. I worked full-time during the first year of the program, but it was too much, so I cut back to part-time for the second year and the following year to finish the thesis. I taught English for a couple years (2006-2008) in Prague, but only did it for about 10 months in Buenos Aires due to the low earnings, lack of stability and just general boredom with teaching English at that point. The language school I was working for offered me a 9-5 office job so I took it and never went back to teaching. I found my tutor through the language school where I worked (LV Studio) so that was easy, or you could try to find one through your contacts or online. Good luck!!

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  4. Hi! Great article! I am wondering if it is possible to apply for a masters program at UBA remotely, here in the states. I have emailed people multiple times over the last few months (in the dept. of Psychology), but nobody has responded… Do you have any tips?

    Short of flying down there, I don’t know what to do. I would be interested in paying someone to submit my materials/talk to someone in the psych department in person. I just don’t know if the application is different because I would be an extranjero.

    Thanks!

    Like

    • If you’re not getting any responses to your emails, I would try calling. There maybe someone that can help you when you call, or at least they could put you in touch with someone that will actually get back to you. With UBA, I find that going in personally or calling is usually more effective; it’s a bit old school there. In terms of the application, as I mentioned in the article it depends on the program, but most of the documents I had to submit are pretty standard. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

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  5. Thank you very much for the post.

    I intend to have my future growth in South America and BA seems to be my favorite place. Though my Spanish skills are nearly zero, and I don’t know if I may catch up with lessons in Spanish for my master degree there. I would like to ask if you have any information about business master degree taught in English there? And also, any scholarship options for that? I’m trying to know more about different options in BA before taking Spanish class seriously.

    Thank you and have a nice day.

    Like

  6. Hi, Thank you for those useful information!!

    I am thinking to study my master degree in UBA, I would like to ask how many year master degree there, 1 or 2?

    Thanks a lot!!

    Like

    • Hello! Thanks for your comment! It depends on the program, but most degree programs at UBA are 2-year programs. That said, most students take much longer than that to finish their degrees because they usually work while going to school, and most programs give you an additional 3 years or so to finish your thesis. My Master’s was a 2-year program and then it took me an additional year to finish my thesis and then another year just for thesis approval, defense date confirmation, jury selection, etc. So in total it took 4 years to graduate, and I was the first one in my class to graduate. I hope you find this information useful!

      Like

      • First, thanks for this awesome niche blog. Blogs are underrated.

        I would love to return to study in Argentina; I studied a semester at UNLP a few years ago and was blown away by the quality.

        Would it be feasible, if I didn’t work and just coasted on my savings (let’s assume, hypothetically for the sake of argument, that I have more than enough), to finish a Master’s at the UBA in 2-3 years? Are Master’s there similar to Master’s in the US? For example, would a MAESTRIA EN BIBLIOTECOLOGÍA Y CIENCIA DE LA INFORMACIÓN be relevantly similar to a master’s in Library and Information Science, from, say, the University of Tennessee? Or are the hours / kinds of study hard to compare?

        How hard are the classes? — I graduated from a top US undergrad, don’t fear hard work, and last time I tested I had an ACTFL advanced-high Spanish level (though I’ve been living in Colombia for a few months now so hopefully it’s higher). I’m just curious because I saw a profesor de derecho on another forum say something like 10,000 pages per 4 months, which is hard for the wrong reasons, though it might have been classic type-A, lawyerly exaggeration on his part.

        Cheers

        Like

      • Hi John! Sorry for the delay responding. I was also blown away by the quality of education in Argentina! Maybe there are infrastructure and logistical problems, but the professors are great. Yes, you can finish a master’s in 2-3 years. Most programs involve 2 years of going to class maybe 12-20 hours per week, and then it’s up to you to complete your thesis. I would say that the only potential issue with UBA or any public university would be waiting for a thesis defense date. I waited about 7 months, and some of my classmates waited longer. Oh, and chose your thesis director wisely!! Make sure they will be available for quick feedback on work you submit or meetings. In terms of difficulty…I would definitely recommend getting a tutor to help you understand content, write your “monografias” and prepare for exams. I started the program with an upper intermediate to advanced level of Spanish. I didn’t understand everything, but I did well anyway on my exams, papers, group projects, etc. I found the volume of homework and reading and such to be WAY LESS than my liberal arts education at Trinity University in San Antonio, if that gives you any idea. Most Argentines don’t exclusively go to school, they don’t have that luxury, most also work full time, so professors and programs are sensitive to that. I worked part-time while doing my master’s degree.

        Like

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