Certificate in Latin American Studies and Thesis Prizes

The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) awards a Certificate in Latin American Studies to Harvard College students and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences PhD candidates who complete an approved course of study and experience relating to the region. See specific details below.

The Certificate was created by Harvard faculty to set minimum standards for their expectations for professional training in Latin American Studies and to promote interdisciplinary work on Latin America.

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    Class of 2019 Recipients of the Certificate in Latin American Studies

  • The celebration begins

    The celebration begins...

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    Friends and families gather to celebrate the success of the class of 2019

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    Professor Kirsten Weld delivers the Keynote Address

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    Stephanie Wu, Joan Hutchins, and Charlotte Hillbrich Davis

    Winners of the Joan Morthland Hutchins Thesis Prize in Latino Studies

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    Congratulations to the Class of 2019 Certificate Recipients and Thesis Prize Winners!

    Click to see more photos from this year's celebration!

Information for Undergrads

The certificate is awarded to College students who have completed an approved course of study as part of their work toward the AB degree. Please see the requirements for obtaining the Certificate below:

Domain of Countries

The countries included are the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of the Americas.

Language Requirement 

Students must demonstrate knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese, or an Amerindian language spoken in Latin America. Language knowledge can be demonstrated by satisfying at least one of the following requirements:

  1. Scoring at least 670 on the Harvard Placement Test (native and heritage speakers are encouraged to take the placement test).
  2. Successfully completing the requirements for a Language Citation in Spanish or Portuguese from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.
  3. Successfully completing a Spanish or Portuguese language course at level 30 or above and conducting a minimum of four weeks field research or study abroad in a Spanish- or Portuguese- speaking country. 

Students who wish to use an Amerindian language to satisfy this requirement should contact Rachel Murray-Crawford for more information.

Senior Thesis or Significant Experience Abroad

Students must complete a significant project involving the study of Latin America by satisfying one or both of the following requirements: 

  1. Students may write a senior thesis on an approved subject related to Latin America.
  2. Students may petition to have the thesis requirement be substituted by a Significant International Experience in Latin America (at least 6-8 weeks abroad).

Course Requirements

For an idea of relevant courses that are being offered this year throughout the University. Click the Course Guide tab on the right to learn more.

Students must complete twenty semester credits (five courses) -- beyond any courses associated with the senior thesis -- in the manner prescribed:

  1. Department distribution: The twenty qualifying credits (five courses) must include courses in three different departments or concentrations. Core courses are considered a distinct department. Courses may not be taken pass/fail.
    1. At least one of the courses must be taken in the social sciences (includes government, anthropology, economics, social studies, sociology) and at least one must be in the humanities (including history, literature, religion, or romance languages).
  2. Topic distribution: At least sixteen of the twenty credits (or four of the five courses) must be devoted exclusively to Latin American or Latinx topics. This means they have either 'Latin America,' 'Latinx,' 'Latino/a,' or the name of a Latin American country in the title of the course.
    1. The remaining four credits can be filled by another course devoted exclusively to Latin America, or by two courses related to Latin America that count as two credits each. These related courses that count as two credits each include those about Spain, Portugal, non-Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries, and courses that are comparative and topical, like those listed in the DRCLAS Course Guide.
  3. Classes not at Harvard: Students may petition to count up to three courses taken at other institutions, (i.e. classes taken while a student was studying abroad).

How to Apply 

Students will apply online here.

Students must fill out an application no later than April 20 of their graduating class year.


Note: Changes consistent with the Certificate program can be made at any time subject to the Director's approval. Upon verification by the Registrar that the work recorded in the plan of study has been fulfilled, the Certificate will be awarded during Commencement week.

Information for Graduate Students

The Certificate for graduate students require that they be engaged in a PhD program and write a dissertation that focuses on one or more Spanish American country or Brazil. Please see details below.

Field Research

Students must have conducted research in at least one relevant country for a minimum of three months.

Other Work

Students must have either (1) written a research-seminar paper on a Latin American topic under FAS faculty supervision; (2) offered a Latin American topic on the PhD General Examination; or (3) taken two half-courses that focus entirely on Latin America.

Work Outside the PhD-Granting Department

Students must also pass (with a grade of B or higher) a half-course in a department other than the one in which they are working towards a PhD.

To Apply:

Graduate students will apply directly using this Qualtrics application. Please contact Rachel Murray-Crawford with any questions.

DRCLAS Thesis Prizes


Description and Eligibility


James R. and Isabel D. Hammond Thesis Prize


The Hammond Prize is awarded by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) for the best Harvard undergraduate senior honors thesis related to Spanish-speaking Latin America. It was established in 1992 by a gift from James R. Hammond '57.  Each department may nominate one candidate*, and a faculty committee selects the prize recipient. The winner is determined in late May, and announced at the DRCLAS Certificate Ceremony held on the Wednesday before Commencement. This prize carries a monetary award of $500. Please submit your nomination here.

April 20, 2020

Joan Morthland Hutchins Thesis Prize in Latino Studies


The Joan Morthland Hutchins Thesis Prize is awarded by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) to recognize the Harvard College senior who writes the best thesis on a subject concerning Latinos (either recent immigrants or established communities of Latin American descent in the United States). It was established by gift from Joan Morthland Hutchins. Candidates may be nominated by their department, concentration, instructional committee, or they may nominate their own theses*. The winner is determined in late May, and announced at the DRCLAS Certificate Ceremony held on the Wednesday before Commencement. This prize carries a monetary award of $500. Please submit your nomination here.

April 20, 2020

Kenneth Maxwell Senior Thesis Prize


The Kenneth Maxwell Thesis Prize in Brazilian Studies was awarded for the first time in the Spring of 2005, and was established to recognize the best Harvard College senior thesis on a subject related to Brazil. This annual prize is funded by a gift to DRCLAS from Professor Kenneth Maxwell. Candidates may be nominated by their department, concentration, instructional committee*. The winner is determined in late May and announced at the DRCLAS Certificate Ceremony during Commencement Week. The prize carries a monetary award of $500. Please submit your nomination here.

April 20, 2020

History and Literature Thesis Prize


Thesis Prize in History and Literature honors a senior thesis of high distinction in the field of Latin America. This prize is awarded by the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature and carries a monetary award of $100.

Rolling, contact History and Literature Department Administrator Jessica Shires

For more information, please contact: Rachel Murray-Crawford, Manager of Student Programs

*Department Administrators: Please submit the student’s name and email address, department, thesis advisor(s), and a digital copy of the nominated thesis to Rachel Murray-Crawford by the listed deadline. 

The Guide to Courses, updated annually, lists courses with Latin American content from FAS and across the University. The Guide to Courses is also a helpful resource when determining eligibility for the Certificate in Latin American Studies, awarded to graduating seniors and GSAS students. If you don't see a course listed on the guide, but you believe it may be a fit, please send the course and syllabus to Rachel Murray-Crawford for consideration.

Course Guides by Academic Year: