Graduate Certificate in Latin American Studies

The Graduate Certificate in Latin American Studies, established in 2012, offers graduate students the opportunity to expand their level of academic inquiry while at Princeton. By situating students within an engaged community of Latin American scholars, and participating in special seminars that take a deep-dive into the region, new insights and opportunities emerge. Moreover, students are able to partner closely with faculty known the world over for their contributions as they begin to make their own voice heard.

The certificate not only helps our graduate students by deepening their knowledge of the Latin American region and their ability to conduct interdisciplinary research, but it also guarantees to a third party––in an increasingly demanding job market––that the candidate has a strong command of the field of Latin American Studies.

Learn more about why PLAS is a certificate program worth pursuing during your time here at Princeton.

A Formal Credential

The graduate certificate is designed to allow students who are taking seminars in the program, working closely with our faculty, and writing dissertations on a Latin American topic to receive a formal credential in the field. Many such students prepare a generals field in Latin America, but that is not a requirement for the certificate. Upon fulfilling all of the requirements, a student will receive a certificate from the Program in Latin American Studies and it will appear on the student’s official transcript.

The director of the Program in Latin American Studies oversees the graduate certificate program.

Note:  Students cannot be admitted to Princeton University through the Latin American Studies graduate certificate program since it is not a degree program.


The program is open to all Princeton University graduate students currently enrolled in any doctoral program in the humanities, social sciences, engineering, math or natural sciences.  


  • Language: Advanced proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese, or French (for students working on the Caribbean). Students can satisfy this requirement by completing a 200-level course taught in Spanish, Portuguese, or French, or taking a placement test at the relevant department or language program. Proficiency in an Indigenous language can also be used to fulfill the language requirement.
  • Coursework: Three full-term graduate- level courses offered by or cross-listed with PLAS or approved by the program director as a course that meaningfully engages Latin American studies. Two short-term (6-weeks each) graduate seminars may count as one full course if both have significant Latin American content. The following are guiding principles for course selection: 1) If a department requires degree students to take a certain number of core courses, these cannot be taken to meet the course requirement towards the Certificate in Latin American Studies; 2) Beyond “core courses,” if a department requires a designated number of electives, students can use those electives to meet the course requirement for the Certificate in Latin American Studies; and 3) Of the three graduate-level courses, at least one must be outside the student’s home department.
  • Works-in-Progress: Students enrolled in the graduate certificate program are required to attend the work-in-progress series for at least four semesters. Certificate students are responsible for two formal contributions to the colloquium at any time in these four semesters: 1) present a dissertation chapter or a conference paper based on dissertation research; and 2) serve as discussant on another graduate student's work-in-progress. 
  • Dissertation: Ph.D. students are expected to either 1) write a dissertation on a Latin American topic, or 2) write a dissertation that includes significant research on Latin America. Normally the dissertation should be directed by a faculty member affiliated with the program. Since the role of Latin American Studies differs across disciplines, the program will rely on the judgment of experts in the specific discipline to certify whether the "significant research on Latin America" requirement has been satisfied. Therefore, the student's dissertation advisor is asked to write a shortletter outlining the role of Latin America in the dissertation and to certify that the dissertation research has included a "significant research on Latin America" as judged relative to the discipline. In cases where the student's dissertation advisor does not feel that they can certify the role of Latin America in the dissertation, the advisor can request that a member of the PLAS Executive Committee or Associated Faculty review the dissertation and submit a letter certifying the "significant research on Latin America" requirement of the dissertation. In all cases, the program director will review the certification letter and confirm that this requirement has been met."

“With PLAS there is an incredible feeling of community in the sense of togetherness, bringing together all of these things into one institution that connects all of us. So, it functions like a hub or a nexus for bringing in quite disparate kinds of people and ideas, and bringing them all together. It is quite invaluable in that sense because there is no other real institution that I’ve discovered that is anything like it in terms of bringing these people that we would otherwise never meet or have any connection. And then for us as the students to be able to interact with them and learn from them and get to know them, which contributes to our own work and future as well.” -Max Horder (Graduate Student, Anthropology, Princeton University)