Master's Degree Program

The Master of Arts in Latin American Studies at SFS is designed for students pursuing careers in government, business, and international organizations in the U.S. and abroad as well as those who contemplate additional post-graduate work in the humanities or social sciences. MA students typically focus their studies in one of the following disciplines: Government, Political Economy, History, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights, Development, Literature and Cultural Studies, Anthropology or Security Studies. While most students complete the degree in two years on a full-time basis, part-time and accelerated options are available as well.

In addition to the MA in Latin American Studies, CLAS also offers an undergraduate certificate in Latin American Studies, a joint MA/PhD program with the Department of Government, a joint M.A/JD program with the Georgetown University Law Center, and an accelerated BAorBS/MA program. Also, cooperative degree agreements with 16  colleges and universities allow undergraduates from these schools to pursue an accelerated masters degree in Latin American Studies at CLAS. 

The Center sponsors three summer graduate programs located in Brazil, Chile, and Colombia and encourages individual summer research throughout the hemisphere.

MA Program Learning Goals

Mastery in Latin and inter-American affairs in hemispheric, transatlantic, and/or global context through:

• Differentiating social, cultural, political, and economic developments in a historical context;
• Illustrating changing and contested constructions of identities and belief systems among the diverse peoples of the region; 
• Analyzing relations between political and governmental structures and changing social and cultural formations; 
• Synthesizing the interplay between economics and politics, focusing on production, profit, exchange, distribution and welfare, and their relations with political power. 
• Demonstrating oral proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese with a basis of grammar, vocabulary, accent, and fluency.
• Developing skills of analytical and integrative thinking to communicate effectively for different audiences and purposes by writing and speaking.
• Illustrating basic and advanced qualitative and quantitative research skills, including fluency with relevant print and virtual bibliographic and research guides.

MA Handbook

More detailed information about all MA program requirements can be found in the MA Handbook.  

Please select the version that applies to your cohort: 
Entry Semester: Fall 2015 
Entry Semester: Prior to Fall 2015

Degree Requirements

There are three major degree requirements for the MA degree:

• 42 credit hours of graduate coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale OR the completion of 39 credit hours of graduate coursework and the successful defense of an MA thesis. 
• Language proficiency in either Spanish or Portuguese. 
• Completion of the written comprehensive examination.


Each MA candidate is required to take one Research Methods course relevant to their chosen concentration and take four courses that count toward the core requirements; seven courses in their chosen concentration; and two elective courses. Selection of courses is done in consultation with the Associate Director, the MA Program Director, and the student's faculty advisor(s).

Students planning concentrations in Government, Political Economy, or any other course of study requiring work in Economics must have completed introductory courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics prior to enrollment. No prerequisite courses (including those in language or economics) can be waived and none will count towards the 42 graduate credits required for completion of the MA.

See Courses List

See Faculty 


Students must take two elective courses unless they pursue a bi-disciplinary concentration, in which case they must only complete one elective course. Electives allow for experimentation, diversity, and additional study in fields outside the concentration and are commonly used to strengthen a regional or issue focus.

Independent Study

CLAS students have the opportunity to arrange independent studies for academic credit. Independent study programs must include the development of an original research project on a topic related to the student’s coursework or thesis. Individual mentors must be obtained to oversee the independent study, and the program must be approved by the MA program director.

Research Modules

CLAS offers not-for-credit ‘research modules’ designed to offer research, writing and methods training to graduate students pursuing the MA program.  

Recent Research Modules:

FALL 2015

  • Library Orientation Module 1 (Data Research-Quantitative)
  • by Michael Scott
  • Thursday September 10th
  • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Dubin Classroom, Lauinger Library
  • Library Orientation Module 2 (Basics of Research and Writing for Latin American Studies II )
  • by Michael Scott
  • Monday September 21st
  • 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
  • Dubin Classroom, Lauinger Library
  • Speed Reading Module
  • by Prof. Erick Langer
  • Friday, October 2nd
  • 5:30pm to 6:30pm
  • ICC 450
  • Basics of Writing for International Students at the Grad Level (Formerly Baiscs of Research and Writing for Latin American Studies I)
  • by Prof. Erick Langer
  • Thursday, Nov 12th
  • 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
  • ICC 450


  • Speed Reading Module
  • by Prof. Erick Langer
  • Friday January 30
  • 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
  • ICC 450
  • Grant Writing
  • by Prof. Erick Langer
  • Friday, February 20
  • 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
  • ICC 450
  • Historical Research Module
  • by Prof. Erick Langer
  • Friday, April 17th
  • 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • ICC 462
  • Basics of Research and Writing for Latin American Studies II
  • by Michael Scott
  • Tuesday, April 21st
  • 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
  • Dubin Classroom, Lauinger Library
  • Data Research Module
  • by Michael Scott
  • Wednesday, April 22nd
  • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Dubin Classroom, Lauinger Library


The Thesis Option

Students who wish to complete a thesis must identify a research topic and a thesis adviser by the end of their first semester. Students choose two faculty members to guide their thesis process, a thesis advisor and a second reader. It is strongly suggested that the thesis adviser be a member of the CLAS faculty. Second readers may be either full-time Georgetown University professors or adjunct faculty.

The Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is offered two times each year (in November and March). The purpose of the exam is to allow students to demonstrate their mastery of general subject matter related to Latin America and their particular area of concentration as well as a broad familiarity with the literature of their field of study. All students must pass the comprehensive exam in order to complete the Master's degree.


Information for Incoming Students

We look forward to welcoming all of you to Georgetown on Thursday, 25 August 2016 for orientation (location in your email). We ask you to please be on campus at 11:45 am for the distribution of orientation materials (and lunch!). We will officially begin orientation at 12:00 pm that day.

Orientation will continue on Friday, 27  August when you will join the other SFS graduate programs for a school-wide Orientation starting in the morning.  Events continue the following week with the CLAS Concentration Fair on Monday, 29 August and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Orientation on Tuesday, 30 August 2016.  See Graduate School Orientation website for more information. 

International students are required to attend the Office of Global Services orientation beginning on Monday, 22 August 2016.  You will not be able to register for classes if you do not attend their orientation. For more information check their website.

First Day of Classes

Classes begin on Wednesday, 31 August 2016.  On that day we will follow a Monday class schedule, so please plan to attend classes whose normal meeting time is Monday.  Access the Georgetown University academic calendar for 2016-2017 here.  [You may want to bookmark this calendar, as you will refer to it many times throughout the year.]

NetID Distribution

Hopefully you have received your NetID (the portion of your Georgetown email address that is prior to the “@”) and your password from the Registrar’s Office.

At Georgetown, your NetID is very valuable as it allows you to access your student account, to register for courses, etc. You should activate your NetID as soon as you receive it.  If you have not yet received any information regarding the NetID, please let me know so that I can follow up appropriately.

Once you have received and activated your NetID, please send it to me so that I can add you to our mailing list(s) for CLAS newsletters, job/internship opportunities, communications about housing in DC, updates on orientation, etc.  


Your GOCard (Georgetown One Card) is your student ID. If you have not received a message from the GOCard office with instructions on how to activate your GOCard, please visit to get more information.  It is best to activate the GOCard before you arrive in August, as the lines to do so once you arrive on campus will be long!

Immunization Requirements

Each of you should have received notice of what kind of immunization(s) you need to enroll at Georgetown and to go to school in the Washington, DC area. In case you have any doubts, please read the Student Health Center website and, in particular, make sure you fill out the 2016-2017 Immunization Certificate by 1 July 2016.

ALL STUDENTS, without exception, need to submit the 2016-2017 Immunization Certificate before enrolling at Georgetown. If you do not do so, or do not meet the immunization requirements, you will not be allowed to register.

If you have questions about this, please call the Student Health Center directly at 202.687.2200.

Financial Information

If you have any financial questions, please contact the Office of Billing and Payment Services ( or 202.687.7100) or the Office of Student Financial Services ( or 202.687.4547).  If you are having trouble getting in touch with anyone or finding the answers you need, please let me know.

Advising and Registration

All first-year MA students will speak with Julie McMurtry for academic advising.  She will be available for Skype, Google Hangout, phone or in-person meetings.  After these meetings you will be able to register for fall classes using an internet-based system (for which you will need your NetID).  

We will send instructions on how to use the system when we contact you to coordinate these advising sessions.  

The system will open for new graduate students on Monday, 27 June 2016, so you cannot register before then.  This registration is “live,” which means that classes may fill up quickly, so you should register as soon as registration opens. 

Generally, we recommend that full-time students take four courses per semester.  For most first-year students, these should be two core classes plus two courses in a field that you are considering for your concentration.  If you later change your concentration plans, those additional courses may become electives. Deviations from this standard plan can be discussed with me or a faculty member during your advising appointments.  The latest fall schedule can be found on-line (choose Fall 2016 Class Schedule - Main Campus).

Please feel free to explore the course offerings in other departments and programs such as Government, Spanish and Portuguese, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, International Affairs, and Security Studies.  As future Graduate students in the School of Foreign Service (CLAS is one of eight graduate programs in GSFS), you are eligible for courses restricted to “GSFS Students Only” or “Graduate Students Only.”