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.

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.

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 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.


Information for Incoming Students

We look forward to welcoming all of you to Georgetown on Friday 28 August 2015 for orientation (location TBA). We ask you to please be on campus at 8:45 am for the distribution of orientation materials (and coffee). We will officially begin orientation at 9:00 am that day.

Orientation will continue on Tuesday 1 September 2015 when you will all attend the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Orientation. See Graduate School Orientation website for more information.  Also on Tuesday 1 September, the Walsh School of Foreign Service Dean will host a New Graduate Student Welcome Reception in Copley Formal Lounge.  More details will be forthcoming about that.

International students are required to attend the Office of Global Services orientation beginning on Monday 24 August 2015.  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 2 September 2015.  On that day we will follow a Monday class schedule, so please plan to attend classes whose normal meeting time is Monday.  Check out the Georgetown University academic calendar for 2015-2016.

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 2015-2016 Immunization Certificate by 1 July 2015.

ALL STUDENTS, without exception, need to submit the 2015-2016 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 202.687.3100.

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 Dr. Marc Chernick (CLAS Director) or Dr. Erick Langer (MA Program Director),  as well as with me, for academic advising.  We will be available for Skype, Google Hangout, phone or in-person meetings from this day forward. 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, which will be within the week.  

The system will open for new graduate students on 29 June 2015, 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 Profs. Chernick, Langer, or me during your advising appointments.  The latest fall schedule can be found on-line (choose Fall 2015 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.”


Many of you are beginning your housing search in the DC area.  We have a few resources for you, including Georgetown University Off-Campus Student Housing.  Please visit their website for some helpful tips and resources as you begin your search.  I will continue to send announcements I receive about housing opportunities to the gu-clas-fall-2015 AT googlegroups DOT com address for your information.

MA Program Handbook

The MA Program Handbook, which contains a great deal of information about the structure and requirements of the program, is currently being revised.  As soon as the revisions are complete, we will post it to the web site and notify you.  This handbook is a wonderful source of information about the program, and we strongly suggest that you become familiar with it and refer to it when you have questions.

Language Scholarships

The Graduate School currently provides tuition scholarships to graduate students who need to develop language skills for their research or to meet proficiency requirements. On the recommendation of the student's director of graduate studies, a scholarship will be provided to cover enrollment in one approved language course per semester. 

Please review the Language Scholarship Policy


  1. Register for the language course online via MyAccess
  2. Immediately submit a request to CLAS that includes the following information:
  • Your full name
  • GU ID number
  • Language course name
  • Language course number
  • Language course credit hours
  • Total number of credit hours in which you will be enrolled for the semester (including the language course)

You should expect to see a charge to your student account for the language course. If we approve your request, we will submit the approval to the Graduate School and a language scholarship will be posted to your student account.  If your request is not approved, you must pay for the course using your own resources or drop the course during add/drop.

Spanish Language Placement Exam

All CLAS MA students, except those who have earned an undergraduate degree at an institution where the language of instruction was Spanish or Portuguese, are required to demonstrate their proficiency in either Spanish or Portuguese by taking an oral examination offered in November and in April each year. We ask students planning to demonstrate proficiency in Spanish to take an on-line placement exam to evaluate their readiness for the oral exam.  (Please contact me if you would like to determine your placement in Portuguese.)  

Please be prepared to print the results of your on-line exam for me (or the Spanish Department) in order to register for your proficiency exam.  Please also be sure that the computer you are using to take the exam has sound capabilities, as there may be a listening and a speaking section.  If the on-line exam places you at the Advanced II level or higher, that is a pretty good indication that you will succeed on the oral proficiency exam.  If you score below the Advanced II level, you must take additional language instruction courses before you take the oral exam.  

Language instruction courses do not count towards the MA degree requirement.  At this time you may take one per semester under the language scholarship arrangement.  Complete information about the language requirements (and all other degree requirements) for the MA in Latin American Studies is available in the MA Program Handbook.

To register for the on-line Spanish placement exam, you will need your NetID.  In order to take the language placement test, you must enroll in its Blackboard site.

  • Go to Georgetown University's Blackboard login page at
  • Log in using your NetID and NetID password.
  • After logging in, click the Courses tab
  • In the Course Search box, type: placement and click Go
  • Click the Enroll button to the right of the language placement test you need to take
  • Confirm your enrollment by clicking the Submit button.
  • Click the OK button to enter the placement test site.
  • Follow the instructions on the placement test site to take the test.

Please take this on-line Spanish placement exam before classes begin and print your results to discuss with me in CLAS.