border fence in ocean between Mexico and San Diego

MA/MPA in Latin American Studies and Public Administration

The School of Public Affairs and the Center for Latin American Studies offer a concurrent graduate program leading to a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and a Master of Arts (MA) in Latin American Studies.  This concurrent degree program offers preparation in the fields of public administration and Latin American studies for the purpose of public administration in fields requiring bi-national understanding of administration in the public service.

"My experience as an alumnus from the MPA/MA in LAS program was difficult but ultimately rewarding challenge. It allowed me to critically engage in two of the most pertinent issues dominating our current national and international politics - migration and governance - both in the academic setting and within the rich binational region that San Diego/Tijuana offers. Likewise, I observed many of my colleagues be immersed in their own focus of study, and be able to take advantage of the countless research tools and academic resources available at SDSU. I recommend this program for any person seeking to follow a career track on the research and administration of Mexico/U.S. (Global South/North) relations."

- Derick Abrigu, Alumnus


In addition to meeting the requirements for classified graduate standing and the basic requirements for the master’s degree as described in Part Two of the graduate bulletin, the student must complete an officially approved course of study of 54-66 units as outlined below.

  • Complete a core of eight seminars, 6 from Public Administration and 2 from LAS (24 units);
  • Complete one methods course in Public Administration, either PA 605 or PA 606 (3 units);
  • Complete three courses from one theme listed below (9 units): City Planning, Criminal Justice Administration, Public Personnel and Labor Relations, or General Public Administration;
  • Complete five courses from at least two departments in LAS (15 units);
  • Students must complete PA 799A or LATAM 799A or PA 797 or LATAM 797 (3 units). The thesis (PA 799A or LATAM 799A) must treat a Latin American related topic in public administration and will be supervised by at least one  Public Administration faculty and at least one member of the Latin American Studies faculty. A culminating research experience (PA 797 or LATAM 797) must incorporate field research or an internship, and must result in a project that is approved by the graduate advisers in both programs.
  • An internship of 12 units (one semester) beyond the coursework is required of students who have not had equivalent experience. Students should consult with the Public Administration graduate adviser before enrolling.

Graduate Students are expected to fulfill their language proficiency requirements for advancement to candidacy. Students can fulfill this requirement by completing one of the following:

  • Spanish 302 (or its equivalency) or Portuguese 401 (or its equivalency) with a grade of B (3.0) or better
  • Three units of 500-level or graduate work in Spanish
  • Pass the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) oral proficiency examination in either Spanish or Portuguese with a score of 2.0 or above

Download the program checklist