Certificate Program

For Undergraduate Students

The certificate is awarded to College students who have completed an approved course of study as part of their work toward the AB degree. 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:

  • Scoring at least 670 on the Harvard Placement Test (native and heritage speakers are encouraged to take the placement test)
  • Successfully completing the requirements for a Language Citation in Spanish or Portuguese from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
  • 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: 

  • Students may write a senior thesis on an approved subject related to Latin America
  • Students may petition to have the thesis requirement be substituted by a Significant International Experience in Latin America* (at least 6-8 weeks abroad)
    • *Students who are unable to complete planned travel due to COVID19 or another reason may petition to satisfy this requirement with a remote experience. Students should contact Rachel Murray-Crawford for more information. 

Course Requirements

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

  • Department distribution: The twenty qualifying credits (five courses) must include courses in three different departments or concentrations - GenEd courses are considered a distinct department - courses may not be taken pass/fail
    • 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)
  • 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.
    • 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
  • 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)

Please 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.

For Graduate Students

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


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

Guide to Courses

The Guide to Courses, updated annually, lists courses with regionally-related 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. 


Contact Rachel Murray-Crawford, Assistant Director of Student Programs