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.
- 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).