Latin American Studies

Why Latin American Studies?
Latin America and Emerging Markets
Brazil as an Emerging Market Player

"Latin America is a unique microcosm from which students can grasp a deep understanding of the world’s most pressing problems..."

"Latin America is the most dynamic economic region in the developing world. The idea of 'emerging markets' was born there..."

"The cost of doing business in Brazil is very high."

Program Activities
SAIS Europe - Bologna, Italy
Events Calendar
Our Alumni

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The Latin American Studies Program (LASP) offers students the opportunity to gain a broad understanding of Latin America as a global player while simultaneously developing functional expertise through a policy-oriented curriculum. A diverse group of countries richly endowed with natural resources, Latin America provides the perfect laboratory to learn about critical fields including: emerging markets, finance, energy, development, foreign relations and security challenges.

LASP students benefit from program-funded summer internships in Latin America, personalized career counseling, international study trips (most recently to Argentina and India), a loyal alumni network, and multiple extracurricular/social events.  LASP is consistently recognized for its dedicated faculty and staff, and distinguished by the individual attention that each student receives.  Alumni develop successful careers in countries around the world, and within a wide range of industries (private, public, and multilateral sectors).
LASP attracts over 40 students each year and enjoys a significant presence in the SAIS Europe campus in Bologna, Italy. 

The program is also known for maintaining close ties with its alumni, creating a strong community that serves the professional and academic pursuits of both current and former students.  Alumni have led successful careers with a global reach in academia, investment banking, business consulting, government, diplomacy, and international development.

MIPP LASP Affiliation
For an overview of the MIPP LASP Affiliation requirements and options, click here.

Follow LASP on Twitter (@SAIS_LASP) and Instagram (@saislasp).

LASP Academic Year 2017-18 Recap
LASP Academic Year 2016-17 Recap
LASP Academic Year 2015-16 Recap

LASP MA students won "best delegation" at American University's Model G20 Summit.
LASP students on a program-led study trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
LASP MA student interning at the World Bank meets former Chilean President Michele Bachelet.
H.E. Fernando Henrique Cardoso launched his memoirs at a school event hosted by LASP Director Dr. Riordan Roett.
LASP students on site visit to Baosteel in Shanghai during LASP-sponsored studies trip to China to research Sino-Latin American Relations.
LASP summer interns meet with Portuguese language professor in São Paulo.
LASP student on a program-funded internship at the IFC in Mexico City.
LASP students at Dr. Roett's home for biannual wine and cheese reception.
The LASP Brazil study trip delegation meets with Virtus Founding Partner and LASP alumnus Eleazar de Carvalho Filho in São Paulo, Brazil.
LASP-sponsored summer interns gather with alumni in Mexico City.
LASP students put together a taco station at the SAIS International Dinner.
LASP delegation visiting the Argentine Congress.
For his role in aiding Chilean scholars during the Pinochet era, in addition to his academic contributions, Professor Roett was named to the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins with the rank of “Gran Oficial.”
LASP study trip students meet with President Luis Guillermo Solís and Vice President Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría of Costa Rica.
LASP MA students interning at the World Bank in Brasilia.
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Program Activities


Internships and Research Fellowships

The LASP Internship & Research Fellowship Program funds up to 25 students in the region each summer. Recent placements within The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mexico), Thomson Reuters (Brazil), Itaú Asset Management (Chile), Inter-American Development Bank (Ecuador), Colombia-China Chamber of Commerce (Colombia), and UN Women (Panama) reflect the diverse interests of participating students. These capstone experiences are made possible through the generous support of alumni as well as corporate and foundation sponsors.

LASP Internships in Latin America - Summer 2017
LASP Internships in Latin America - Summer 2016
LASP Internships in Latin America - Summer 2015
LASP Internships in Latin America - Summer 2014
LASP Internships in Latin America - Summer 2013
LASP Internships in Latin America - Summer 2012

LASP funded summer intern, World Bank, Bogotá, Colombia


LASP Panel Events

Through LASP Panel Events, prominent practitioners and policy experts engage the LASP community on critical issues affecting the Western Hemisphere. These candid sessions provide students with unique access to senior-level public officials (eg, Special Assistant to the President & Sr. Dir. for WHA, National Security Council), private sector leaders (eg, Managing Director, Global Environment Fund) and distinguished scholars (eg, Director, Latin America Program, Woodrow Wilson Center).

A sample of panel events includes:

- "Mexico Elections 2018: A Referendum on Populism?"  featuring Dr. Riordan Roett, (Johns Hopkins SAIS LASP Professor and Director), Monica de Bolle (Johns Hopkins SAIS Practitioner in Residence of International Economics and Emerging Markets), Antonio Ortiz-Mena (Senior VP, Albright Stonebridge Group; former head of Economic Affairs, Mexican Embassy), and Christopher Wilson (Deputy Director, Wilson Center Mexico Institute).
- "The Year of Elections in Brazil: Expectations and Potential Pitfalls" featuring Dr. Riordan Roett (Johns Hopkins SAIS LASP Professor and Director), Monica de Bolle (Johns Hopkins SAIS Practitioner in Residence of International Economics and Emerging Markets), Cornelius Fleischhaker (Young Professional, Macroeconomics & Fiscal Management, World Bank).
- "The Dynamics of Colombia's Peace Negotiations: Prospects for Success" featuring Dr. Cynthia Arnson, SAIS-LASP M.A. '86, Ph.D. '88 (Director, Latin America Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars).
- "Latin America's Economic Outlook" featuring Dr. Andre Meier (Deputy Division Chief, Western Hemisphere Department, International Monetary Fund).


International Study Trips

Each year, LASP students have the opportunity to participate in week-long international study trips. Participants meet with high-level government officials and business leaders as well as members of the academic, media and diplomatic communities to gain a deeper understanding of critical political and economic issues.

Recent trip destinations have included:

-Argentina (Spring 2018 and Spring 2017)

-Malaysia and Singapore (January 2017)

-India (Spring 2016)

-Costa Rica (Spring 2015)

-China (Fall 2014)

-Brazil (Spring 2013)

LASP students meet Costa Rican President Solís and Second Vice President Chacón Echeverría


These student-led social events are intended to provide an opportunity to practice conversational language skills and informally discuss relevant topics of interest with native Spanish- and/or Portuguese-speakers.

Director's Wine and Cheese Receptions

Each year, LASP Director Riordan Roett welcomes program concentrators, staff, and faculty to his residence for a wine and cheese reception. These gatherings enable students to become better acquainted with program faculty/staff and fellow classmates.

Latin American Film Series

LASP students collaborate with faculty to showcase a series of Latin American films throughout the academic year. Following the screenings, faculty-led discussions stimulate in-depth analysis of topics addressed in the films.



LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES | MA Requirements (Entering Class 2018-2019)

MA students must complete 64 credits and all degree requirements in order to graduate.

Students who are approved for a Dual Degree program or with Advanced Standing only need to complete 48 credits or 56 credits as determined by Academic Affairs, but still must fulfill all degree requirements.


Latin American Studies Concentration

Students concentrating in Latin American Studies must complete 20 credits of applicable coursework and a program capstone. At least 12 credits applied to the concentration must start with the prefix SA.810.XXX. One of these courses must be Understanding Modern Latin American Politics (SA.810.700) and this course must be completed in the first fall semester.


Latin American Studies concentrators must complete ONE of the following capstone requirements:

  • Internship and Report: An academic or professional internship relevant to program course work—all internships completed through the LASP Summer Internship Program satisfy this requirement.*  Students must subsequently submit a report on the experience.**
  • LASP Oral Exam: Students who are unable to complete an internship will be required to pass a 30–45 minute oral exam with LASP faculty at the end of their final semester.
  • MA Oral Exam (to compete for honors—if eligible)
* If unable to participate in the LASP Summer Internship Program, students may secure their own internships to be completed during the summer or during their second year at SAIS. These internships must be no less than eight weeks in duration and are subject to departmental approval.

** The internship written report should be three double-spaced pages in length and will be due by the beginning of the student’s last semester at the school. The report is intended to help students articulate what was gained through the experience in the context of a future job interview--it should thus delve into a thematic component of the internship rather than highlight duties/responsibilities.

International Economics Concentration

MA students must complete a concentration in International Economics (16 credits). The four required courses are:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics (pre-requisite or concurrent: Microeconomics)
  • International Trade Theory (pre-requisite: Microeconomics)
  • International Monetary Theory (pre-requisite: Macroeconomics)

If a student is waived from a required course(s), the student must take a replacement International Economics course(s) to fulfill the concentration requirement.

Students who pass the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term will have this concentration reduced to 12 credits, but still must complete the remaining required International Economics courses (or a replacement course(s) if waiver exam(s) passed).

International Economics GPA Requirement
Students must achieve an International Economics concentration GPA of at least 2.67.

In the standard case, the concentration GPA is the average of the grades in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory.  If a student completed the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term, the concentration GPA is calculated based on the grades in the remaining required International Economics courses. If one or more of the required courses is waived, the highest grade(s) from any eligible replacement International Economics course(s) is used.

Students who do not meet the minimum International Economics concentration GPA must re-take required courses (or take additional replacement courses if any required course(s) are waived) until the minimum is achieved. The highest grade from any attempt at a required course is used in this calculation.


Quantitative Reasoning Requirement

MA students must fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning Requirement (4 credits). Eligible courses include:

  • Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
  • Econometrics (pre-requisite: Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
  • Applied Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Macro Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Risk Analysis and Modeling
  • Quantitative Global Economics (pre-requisite: International Monetary Theory)
  • Credit Markets & Credit Risk (pre-requisite: Corporate Finance)

Students may not double-count the same course toward the Quantitative Reasoning requirement and as a replacement International Economics concentration course and vice-versa.

If a student is waived from a Quantitative Reasoning course, the student must take a different course from the list above to fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Students who pass the non-credit Statistical Methods for Business & Economics course in Pre-Term will have fulfilled the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.


Core Requirements

MA students must fulfill two Core requirements from the subjects below. Students may fulfill a Core requirement by passing a for-credit Core course or by passing a non-credit Core exam.

  • American Foreign Policy Since WWII
  • Comparative Politics
  • Evolution of the International System
  • Theories of International Relations

Students may not take a Core exam in the semester in which they plan to graduate. If Core requirements are not completed before the start of a student’s final semester, the student no longer has the option of completing the exam and must enroll in the Core course(s) for credit.


Language Proficiency

MA students must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in a non-native language taught at SAIS. Students enroll in non-credit language courses to prepare for the proficiency exam.

Latin American Studies concentrators are required to demonstrate proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese. If a student demonstrates proficiency in one of these languages, they are encouraged to study the other. Native speakers of Spanish or Portuguese must demonstrate proficiency in any other language taught at SAIS, which can include English.

All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school, even if not using English for proficiency, and may be required to take additional English language coursework.

Electives, Minor, and Specializations

Beyond the requirements, MA students may have room in their degree for electives, a minor, and/or a specialization(s).

Students may pursue an optional minor in any policy/regional area other than General International Relations.

Students may pursue an optional specialization(s) in five areas International Economics or Emerging Markets.


Program Requirements by Academic Year


Latin American Studies Minor Requirements:

  • 3 Latin American Studies courses (12 credits) including:
    • SA.810.700 Understanding Modern Latin American Politics 
    • 2 additional Latin American Studies (or cross-listed) courses (8 credits)
  • Proficiency in Spanish and/or Portuguese is highly recommended

General Minor Requirements:

  • MA students may pursue an optional minor in a policy or regional program. A student cannot pursue a minor in General IR or International Economics, but can pursue a Specialization in International Economics
  • A student can have only one minor and can declare a minor at any time prior to graduation.
  • Students do not receive bidding priority for a minor.
  • All minors require three courses. Some minors require a specific course(s) and/or language proficiency.
  • A student may use a maximum of one applicable cross-listed course (4 credits) toward both a minor AND concentration requirements. In the IR or Asia concentrations, the cross-listed course must be from the primary concentration area and not from the 2 additional required courses in the other IR or Asia areas.




What makes LASP unique?

  • For four decades, LASP has financed student internships and research fellowships in Latin America; these competitive opportunities are confirmed each year based on the interests of current students.
  • Global reach of engaged LASP alumni networkWhether you travel to Argentina or Zambia -- or countless other locations in the US or around the world -- there is a LASP alumna/us with whom you can connect for personal or professional networking.
  • With award-winning LASP faculty and staff, both in DC and Bologna, LASP students are given an unmatched level of attention.
  • Latin America:  A Gateway to the World of International Affairs -- Regional knowledge gained through the school's Latin American Studies concentration is essential to succeed in many functional areas; this combined knowledge has transregional and transfunctional applicability.

Alumni Testimonials

Ge Pepeî Zhang, MA LASP ‘15
Academic bio:
Originally from Shanghai, China, I pursued specializations in Finance and Emerging Markets Economics at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Prior to arriving at the school, I was an undergraduate student at Pomona College where I studied Spanish and Latin American Politics. In college I also spent one semester abroad in Chile and conducted research in Peru for my thesis. My regional experiences included my LASP internship, which I did in Colombia between my first and second year of study at Johns Hopkins SAIS. My trilingual background has shaped my distinctive academic and research interests in the China-US-Latin America triangle. By combining the regional knowledge and economics skills I gained at the school, I have unraveled the extent to which China's increasing role in Latin America affects the traditional American domination of the region, economically, politically, and culturally.
What drew you to the Latin American Studies Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS?
I was drawn to Johns Hopkins SAIS/LASP by its illustrious faculty which is not only well-versed in teaching Latin American political economy but closely follows the increasing Chinese engagement with the region. For my undergraduate research, I read China's Expansion into the Western Hemisphere: Implications for Latin America and the United States (2008), a book produced by LASP faculty members and one of the most relevant pieces of literature on this subject matter at the time. In addition, I found LASPís curriculum, connections, and other resources equally relevant to maximizing my cross-cultural, interdisciplinary research.
What was one of the best parts of your experience with LASP?
The people. I benefitted immensely from LASP, receiving invaluable academic guidance from the faculty, professional support from Program Coordinator Anne McKenzie and the larger LASP network, and financial assistance through scholarships and internship funds created by LASP alums. I was also been blessed with the opportunity to study with some of the brightest latinoamericanistas of my generation and forged friendships that will last a lifetime.
How did Latin America and the Latin American Studies Program figure into your academic and professional goals?
I will use my experience at Johns Hopkins SAIS/LASP to work in consulting in Latin America. By taking graduate-level coursework in Economics and Politics, strengthening my regional experience through a summer internship in Colombia, and becoming part of the LASP family/network, I feel better prepared to undertake academic and professional challenges going forward.
Jesus Cota Lopez, MA LASP ‘15
Academic bio:
At Johns Hopkins SAIS, I specialized in Quantitative Methods and Economic Theory. Prior to my graduate studies, I worked as a mortgage banker and as a project manager. I double majored in economics and political science at the University of California Riverside. I have served on the board of directors of a Mexican NGO as chief financial officer since 2009. I completed an internship for the office of fiscal and municipal management at the IDB in Mexico City between my first and second year of studies at the school. My academic interests included the study of currency crises and the vulnerability of Latin American countries to foreign monetary conditions and international capital flows.
What drew you to the Latin American Studies Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS?
All academic programs at the school have prominent professors and are at the forefront of their respective fields on their own merit. However, I felt that the Latin American Studies Program is especially unique within the school and across similar programs at other International Relations schools. The main reason for this is the emerging markets and economics approach towards problems in the region. It is very hard to parse out economic from political agents in Latin America and the LASP department gives students the right academic and practical tools to tackle the analysis of all relevant actors. Furthermore, the LASP department gives students the opportunity to travel to China and Latin America during the fall and spring breaks. In addition, LASP students have the opportunity to complete an internship in the region during the summer. Therefore, this combination of academic and practical pedagogical methods was what drew me to the Latin American Studies Program.

What was one of the best parts of your experience with LASP?
One of the best parts of my experiences with LASP was the opportunity of having done my summer internship at the Inter-American Development Bank office in Mexico City. I had the opportunity to meet great development practitioners at the IDB and professionals from the ministry of finance in addition to improving my Stata and research skills. Also, my wife Sarah and I had an awesome time visiting the splendid museums, public parks, and restaurants in Mexico City.
How did Latin America and the Latin American Studies Program figure into your academic and professional goals?
Even though I was born in the United States, I grew up on the Mexican side of the border between Baja California and California. This personal experience helped me develop a genuine interest in the economic and political affairs of Mexico and the rest of Latin America. As an undergraduate I double majored in economics and political science with the hope to one day work for a government institution with offices in Latin American affairs (i.e. the State Department and the US Treasury) or for a multilateral organization (i.e. the IDB, the World Bank, and the IMF). Therefore, the Latin American Studies Program was the best option for me to accomplish this goal.

Rachel Snyderman, MA LASP ‘16

Academic bio:
I studied Economics and Latin American Studies at Wellesley College, and for my senior honors thesis researched the effect of the 2009 Honduran coup d'Ètat on the development of social capital in the country and its implications for the region. Prior to Johns Hopkins SAIS, I worked as a senior analyst for Ernst & Young's Quantitative Economics and Statistics practice in Washington, DC. My work primarily focused on international tax policy where I specialized in mining tax policy issues in a variety of Latin American countries. Additional work experience in Latin America includes prior work with Innovations for Poverty Action in San Pedro Sula, Honduras; Fundación Directorio Legislativo in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Bruce Peru Organization in Chiclayo and Lima, Peru.
What drew you to the Latin American Studies Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS?
I had wanted to attend the school since my sophomore year of college when my favorite professor introduced me to the program. It was then that I realized I could combine my two academic passions in economics and Latin American studies into one. The school offers its students the ability to do this, but challenges us to narrow that focus even more to graduate as a student ready to be a professional in the field of his or her choice. The school pushed me to discover my interest in private sector development in Latin America.
What was one of the best parts of your experience with LASP?
The program's diversity! From the student body to the courses offered, the LASP program consistently amazed me with the breadth and depth of its people and resources. It was such an enriching academic experience to share perspectives on current issues facing the region with students and professors from varying backgrounds, nationalities, and professional experiences.
How did Latin America and the Latin American Studies Program figure into your academic and professional goals?
One of the many strengths of the LASP program is that it consistently challenges its students to not only stay current on Latin American affairs, but with how Latin America fares in the context of an ever-evolving world. I studied Latin America through different functional and regional lenses, comparing its economic, political, and social development with other regions and countries. This education has prepared me well for work across the private, public, multilateral, and nonprofit sectors.

Roxana Martinelli, MA LASP ‘16, (Bologna ‘15)

Academic bio:
I studied Accounting and Business Administration at Universidad de Buenos Aires, however I specialized my professional career in Management and Technology. In 2011, I obtained a MA in Information Technologies and Management at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. I worked in several telecommunications and IT companies such as Telefónica, Nextel, Oracle and Hewlett Packard. Nevertheless, during my professional experience with my ICT (Information and Communications Technology) specialization I also developed a strong concern for education and development issues in the Latin America region. This interest led me to volunteer for Crece ChileAcción Emprendedora and PMIEF in Chile, among others. In these organizations my role was mainly related to transfer knowledge either as an instructor or as a trainer. As this passion grew, I realized I needed a professional change.  When finally made the decision to switch career paths to development issues in Latin America, I decided to enroll in Johns Hopkins SAIS because of its prestige.
What drew you to the Latin American Studies Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS?
My goal was to find a program that provided me with technical tools in development and economics but also oriented to the Latin America region. When I heard of Latin American Studies program and realized that one of the offered tracks was International development and institution policies, I knew it was the perfect program. Furthermore, researching and learning about the faculty members solidified my decision.
What was one of the best part of your experience with LASP?
How much LASP staff members cared about students! Anne Mckenzie is absolutely amazing. She was extremely helpful in providing advice on program courses, career development as well as internship research. Before starting my academic year I had the chance to meet Professor Gonzalez in Chile. The experience was great. There were alumni who worked in Chile, first year students who were performing their summer internship and myself all in attendance. Prof. Gonzalez was not only knowledgeable on the region but also a very kind person and a great listener, open to providing both academic and career advice.
How did Latin America and the Latin American Studies Program figure into your academic and professional goals?
Latin America has faced a diversity of problems that have affected the region's economic and social development. It is an irony that such a resource-rich region suffers from low economic growth rates, rising inflation and high inequalities. The LASP program offered the technical knowledge to address these problems and to begin working on a potential solution. Developing human capital and investing in education are essential for the region to tackle poverty and inequality. My goal was to work in the education and development sector, merging with my knowledge of ICTs. I am certain that the LASP program will contribute to achieving my goal. This program provided me with the necessary academic background through its faculty members, the professional experience through the summer internship program and, last but not least, my personal development through the continuous and positive interaction with my classmates.


SAIS Europe - Bologna, Italy

Approximately half of incoming LASP MA students begin their studies at SAIS Europe in Bologna. SAIS Europe offers LASP courses taught by distinguished adjunct faculty from renowned European universities and occasionally from the school's Washington visiting faculty.  By spending one year in Europe, students are exposed to the European perspectives on global issues, including those affecting Latin America.  Students also benefit from sharing the SAIS Europe in Bologna experience with an internationally and professionally diverse student body, while also gaining more direct access to the network of European alumni. LASP students who begin their studies in Bologna can meet their concentration requirements by taking the LASP courses offered in Bologna and completing the remaining required coursework in Washington. Students can also pursue their language studies (Spanish and Portuguese) in Bologna.

First-year students meet with LASP staff at the SAIS Europe campus in Bologna, Italy.


Our Alumni


The LASP Alumni Network

LASP maintains close ties with its actively engaged alumni network around the globe, providing a valuable resource, both within and outside the US, for recruiting, mentoring, and social networking.
LASP alumni have successfully pursued careers in investment banking, business consulting, government, diplomacy, international development, and academia, among other sectors, quite often focusing on global or regional issues beyond Latin America. Typically, LASP graduates will initially work on issues relating to the Latin American region in US and international organizations, finance (NY, London), economic policy and research (IMF, Federal Reserve, Central Banks); international development (World Bank, IDB); renewable energy (Houston, San Francisco); management consulting; foreign policy (State Department or home Foreign Ministries).  Over time, LASP graduates tend to expand into various areas of specialization that span the globe, from energy in Saudi Arabia, to finance in Asia, to international law/human rights in Geneva, to social development in conflict regions in Africa, among many examples. 

LASP-sponsored summer interns gather with alumni in Mexico City

LASP alumni career panel discussion

Dr. Roett with alumni in São Paulo, Brazil


Contact Us

Monica de Bolle
Director, Latin American Studies Program & Emerging Markets Specialization
Nitze 519

Anne McKenzie
Senior Academic Coordinator for Outreach and Professional Development
Nitze 502

Michael Weiner
Program Coordinator, Latin American Studies Program
Nitze 502

Address & Phone

Latin American Studies
Nitze Building
1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036