MA in Latin American Studies

The Master of Arts in Latin American Studies (LAS) prepares students for work in the private sector, government, policy and research think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, international institutions, and education. It is a versatile and rigorous four-semester program that provides students with an interdisciplinary understanding of the regional context, languages, dynamics, and issues in Latin America today. The program exposes students to a range of facets of Latin America and provides them with in-depth training in chosen issue areas.

Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in the humanities or social sciences that includes study of the Latin American region.

Course Requirements

The MA in Latin American Studies requires a total of 48 credits divided among core (8 credits), issue area (28 credits), and study abroad (12 credits).

Core Course Requirements

  • GRS IR 702: Research Methods for International Relations Practitioners (1st semester)
  • GRS IR 766: Contemporary Issues in Latin America (1st semester)
  • A directed study with the student’s chosen advisor (2 credits taken during the final, fourth semester)

Specialization Course Requirements

Students take four courses in one issue area, two in a second issue area, and one from any issue area. Courses for the chosen issue areas must be non-overlapping. It is expected that students will take these courses during their first year. Full issue area course listings can be found online.

The available issue areas are:

  • Globalization & Development
  • Politics & Civil Society
  • U.S. Policy & Inter-American Relations
  • History & Archaeology
  • Literature, Art & Culture

Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate a high level of competence in either Spanish or Portuguese, including the capability to read, write, and speak the language with sufficient proficiency to understand and be understood. Competence in the foreign language of the student’s choosing is determined by examination by BU language instructors. Students must pass this examination in order to complete the degree.

Master’s Paper

Students write a Master’s Paper (commonly referred to as an MA Paper) as the capstone component of their degree. The paper may take one of two forms: either a traditional research paper or a policy paper. Students are given broad latitude in selecting topics and approaches, in consultation with their advisors.

All MA Papers must be defended orally in front of a panel of three professors, chosen by the Pardee School (one of the three professors will be the student’s advisor). The purpose of the oral examination is to test the student’s knowledge in the area of research related to the MA paper as well as the student’s ability to discuss that knowledge at length in a clear and compelling manner.

Refer to the Pardee School’s General Guidelines for the MA Paper for detailed information on the MA Paper and the oral defense thereof.

Semester Study Abroad

Students spend the first semester of the second year studying abroad. Students are required to complete a minimum of 12 credits at an approved institution in Latin America. To facilitate completion of this requirement, BU has arranged for students to study at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This program includes four 3-credit courses.

Students with insufficient Spanish skills for graduate study abroad will also need to enroll in an intensive language course offered at the Universidad de Belgrano prior to the start of the regular semester. This language course will not count toward the MA and will incur an additional cost for the student.

Students whose language skills are in Portuguese rather than Spanish can work with the LAS director and BU Study Abroad to identify an appropriate Portuguese language institution.