Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Master of Arts




Beginning in the fall of 2023,

the Elliott School will no longer be offering admission to the MA in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies. Students already enrolled will be supported in these programs through to their degree completion. The Elliott School is committed to teaching excellence in the study of Latin America and Europe and Eurasia. We continue to offer students the opportunity to study these areas with a robust program under the umbrella of our MA in International Affairs program that enables students to engage real-world policy challenges of both regions with our world leading faculty.


Democracy, migration, security, human rights, trade, climate change … if you follow current events in Latin America, you know it’s a vibrant region making significant gains in complex issues. Advances are being made in female and indigenous political representation, reduction of poverty, imaginative urban designs, economic development, and creative initiatives to address ecological challenges. 

Despite these advances, there is still much work to be done. Maybe that is why you’re pursuing a degree in Latin American Studies. As you consider the role you will play, you realize that to tackle complex issues such as poverty, fragile institutions, political unrest, and organized-crime, you’ll need to build your knowledge of the region, as well as your skills and network.

The Master of Arts in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs is right for students who are looking to:

  • View global issues from a broader lens that is not just U.S.-focused 
  • Examine the intersection of the changing geopolitics and geoeconomics
  • Build expertise in a specific country or issue impacting the region
  • Increase proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese
  • Expand their network and personal sphere of influence

Some of the students who succeed in this program are:

  • Recent graduates with degrees in International Relations, Political Science, Spanish, or Latin American Studies  
  • Students with military experience or five years or less of experience working as language specialists, consultants, and project managers
  • International students seeking a program of distinction in Latin American Studies with the possibility of gaining work experience in the United States

Developing Agents of Change in Latin America

The Latin American Studies program at the Elliott School is designed with one goal in mind: Equip students with the skills and resources they need to exercise leadership and an understanding of how regional and global issues impact real people in other countries. 

You’ll become an agent of change through:

Personalized Specializations

Whether your interests are focused or broad, our interdisciplinary program will enable you to refine the content you’re studying and the skills you’re practicing by allowing you to select two fields of specialization. And if you don’t see options that excite you, our program director will work with you to develop a specialization unique to your interests. 

Expert Facilitators

Our faculty are distinguished professors who are both recognized and respected, including Cynthia McClintock, Stephen Kaplan, Gema Kloppe-Santamaría, Marie Price, and Paula Alonso. Because we limit class size, you’ll have the opportunity to really interact with our faculty. Connecting with students on a deeper level is one of the things our professors find value in too. 

Hands-on Learning

While you’re building knowledge of the region’s history and cultural significance, you also need to practice transferring that knowledge if you’re going to increase your personal and professional impact. All students pursuing a Latin American and Hemispheric Studies master’s degree complete a Capstone, where they learn how to develop a research strategy, select appropriate research methods, and begin their research to address a policy question. 

Past Capstone projects have included topics such as:

  • CyberSex Trafficking: the exploitation of Venezuelan Women
  • Powering Brazil, poisoning Brazilians: Lessons from the construction of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam
  • Something’s in the water: the case of Arsenic in Argentina
  • Narcoblogs: Tracking the Fragmentation of Mexican Criminal Organizations
  • Illegal Gold Mining in Colombia
  • Youth Repatriation in Guatemala: The Realities of Returning Home 
  • The Development and Transformation of Mexico’s Post-Reform Clean Energy Policies

Where Students Find Value at the Elliott School

The Elliott School’s prime location in Washington, D.C., is a hub for international organizations and home to more than 175 embassies and ambassadors’ residences. It’s a place where students can make the right connections and propel their careers.

The D.C. Experience 

With its own metro stop and central location in Washington, D.C., you’ll be minutes away from the year’s biggest events, networking opportunities, and speeches delivered by world leaders. You’ll also be within walking distance of important organizations, such as the World Bank, the State Department, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and USAID. For most students, this means the opportunity to gain professional experience during the day before walking or taking the metro to campus for night courses.

Learn more about what your experience will look like.

A Personalized Plan of Study

You will work with team members from Graduate Student Services and your program director to map a learning path to your career objectives. You’ll stay focused on learning about the areas that interest you most as you get the skills you need to advance your career.

A Rewarding Lifelong Investment

When you enroll at the Elliott School, you’re not just signing up to take classes; you’re positioning yourself for long-term success and an impactful career. As you develop your voice and gain credibility, you’ll also be building your network with GW peers and distinguished alumni. The relationships you nurture will follow you throughout your career and the skills you develop will not only be practical for today but will always be in demand.  


Foreign Language 

Academic coursework in Spanish or Portuguese, which will prepare students to complete the program’s language requirement*, is required at the time of application. This can be demonstrated by:

  • Study that is equal to four semesters of university-level coursework or equivalent, reaching at least the upper-intermediate level.
  • Completion of formal language training as part of employment (ex. Peace Corps).
  • Growing up in a household where the language is spoken.

Other foreign languages spoken in Latin America will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


*Students need to have a strong foundation in a foreign language before enrolling to be successful in completing the language requirement during the program

Where Our Graduates Make a Global Impact 

While our students are diverse in their interests and career aspirations, their achievements underscore the value of an Elliott School education. They are positioned for career advancement at nonprofits and NGOs as well as in private and public sectors. 

Within six months of graduating, approximately 90% of Latin American Studies graduates are working with employers such as: 

  • Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition
  • Central American Resource Center
  • U.S. Department of State
  • The Risk Advisory Group
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • Fhi360
  • IREX
  • Inter-American Development Bank
  • International Monetary Fund
  • Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO)
  • U.S. Senate

Meet Our Alumni