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. MALAS students typically focus their studies in one of the following disciplines: Government, Political Economy, History, International Business Diplomacy, Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies, 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.

Degree Requirements

There are three major degree requirements for the MALAS 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.

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.

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

MALAS 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.