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Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English Number of Credits Offered: 3
Eligible Population: 03 Junior, 04 Senior, Graduate Type of Program: Faculty-led
Area of Study: Public Policy and Management, Government and International Policy, International Security, International/Comparative Studies Study Abroad Host: Schar School of Policy and Government
Open to non-Mason Students: Yes
Program Description:

Walls or Bridges? Will Fear Trump Friendship? The Future of U.S.-Mexico Relations

Spring Break 2019

Mexico city and flag
Mexico is a country of tremendous contrasts between wealth and poverty. While two thirds of its population lives in poverty, according to official statistics, a Mexican frequently tops Forbes list of the World’s Richest People and a number of other Mexicans share spaces on that list. Additionally the U.S.-Mexico border is the only place in the world where a First World country borders on a Third World country. The relationship between the United States and Mexico is exceedingly important to both countries, however, our mutual interests can vary significantly as they relate to economic, immigration, and security goals. These may be aligned in some ways and misaligned in others, both between countries and within them. It is not just public sector interests in play, but private sector ones as well. We will get a first-hand look at these issues and discuss the feasibility of policy alignment with key sectors from government, academia, and a unique perspective from private corporations. Topics may range from drug cartels to immigration to economic growth and trade relations and their impact on both sides of the border. This study abroad program presents an ideal opportunity for Schar students—as well as other interested individuals—to explore some of the most consequential policy problems facing Mexico and the US today. Indeed, Mexico offers perhaps the richest international experience possible to students of public policy and government, regardless of their specific areas of interest and expertise.
Sponsored by the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. 

Program Highlights

  • Hear from the Mexican government
  • See the contrasts between rural and city life, and how development initiatives differ in each.
  • Think about democracy and security in a developing state.
  • Visit the US Embassy for briefings and attempt to understand the interagency soup managing trade and security
  • Visit the international corporate headquarters of Jose Cuervo for a briefing on international management and trade
  • Briefings on security, drug cartels, and energy reform
  • Meet journalists, academics, business leaders, and community leaders


This program is open to all undergraduate and graduate students, including students who do not attend George Mason University.


Students will be registered for one 3-credit course during the spring semester.

Course Options

  • Government - GOVT 398: Study Abroad
  • International Commerce and Policy - ITRN 702: Special Topics in Study Abroad

Program Dates*

March 8-17, 2019

The dates above include optional pre- and post-program excursions. Students who do not participate in either should plan to arrive in Mexico City on March 9 and depart on March 16. More information below.

Sample Itinerary 

Day 1 Optional Friday night arrival for students registered for pre-program excursion.
Day 2 Optional excursion: Frida Kahlo House, Leon Trotsky House, Diego Rivera House, and Saturday Market (Bazaar Sabado).
Arrival day for students not participating in excursion.
P.M. Program orientation and group dinner
Day 3 Class visit to Plaza of Three Cultures and site of 1968 student demonstrations. Afternoon visits and tours of new urban initiatives throughout Mexico City for a discussion of how wealth inequality is impacting development. Visit and tour of the pyramids of Teotihuacan and the Basilica of Guadalupe. Bag lunch provided. Evening free and dinner on your own.
Day 4 Lectures from local experts on political and economic reforms and the 2018 Mexican elections. Afternoon visit to the U.S. Embassy for a briefing with staff followed by a visit with the State of Texas Trade Office. Evening class meeting with Program director, Judge Villines.
Day 5 Lectures from local experts on safety and security and US-Mexico legislative relations. Visit and lunch with the Chamber of Deputies staff. Afternoon meeting with local party activist. Free evening.
Day 6 Lectures from local experts on the Mexican military and NAFTA. Walking tour of historic downtown Mexico City. Afternoon visit to Santa Fe financial district for a tour and meeting at an international corporate headquarters (ex. Jose Cuervo Headquarters).
Day 7 Depart Mexico City for Cuernavaca. Meet and greet with local politician followed by a walking tour of downtown Cuernavaca. Free time and lunch on your own downtown. Evening lecture with local journalist on implementing energy reforms in Mexico. Group dinner and Mexican fiesta.
Day 8 Lectures from local experts on economic development and responding to natural disasters. Lunch at local restaurant with former president of the State Tourism Board. Afternoon program wrap-up discussion. 
Day 9 Departure or optional excursion to the famous silver city of Taxco. 
Day 10 Departure for students on excursion to Taxco.

* Dates and itinerary subject to change. The Global Education Office reserves the right to make changes to a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, and/or any other unforeseen circumstances.

Optional Excursions:

Pre-program excursion ($175): Frida Kahlo House, Leon Trotsky House, Diego Rivera House, and Saturday Market (Bazaar Sabado)
Includes: hotel Friday night, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and all transportation/tours/entrance fees. Faculty led guided tour to the Frida Kahlo House and the Leon Trotsky House/Museum in the famous neighborhood of Coyoacan. Afterwards, the group will head to the beautiful neighborhood of San Angel to visit the Diego Rivero house before enjoying the traditional Mexico City’s Bazaar Sabado. Built around an inner patio and shaded by one large jacaranda tree, a fabulous lunch buffet will be served accompanied by mariachis or a marimba band. About 90 vendors, some of whom make the crafts they sell, line the area around the patio, as well as the inner rooms and the mezzanine. The tour will return to the hotel at approximately 4:30pm before the official class starts at 6:00pm. Interested students will register during the application process.

Post-program excursion ($175): The famous silver city of Taxco
Includes: hotel Saturday night, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and all transportation/tours/entrance fees. Taxco was named one of Mexico’s “Pueblos Magicos” (Magical towns) due to the colonial constructions and the surrounding scenery. Interested students will register during the application process.

Program Cost

Spring Break 2019: $3,999 for students who complete their application by December 4.

Price increases to $4300 after that date.

Included: Tuition for 3 credits, double-occupancy hotel rooms, most meals, excursions and entrance fees as described in itinerary, in-country transportation to all program activities, international emergency medical insurance. 

Not included: Round-trip transportation to Mexico City*, airport transportation (to/from MEX), passport and visa fees, some meals, personal spending, required textbooks and/or course materials. Optional excursions available for additional fee. *Note: Participants must arrange their own airfare once instructed to do so by the program administrator.

Program Payments

Students on Schar programs must pay the advertised program cost plus an application fee in order to participate. These costs will be made in three payments (Application Fee + Deposit + Final Payment). Students using financial aid can provide additional paperwork in lieu of deposit and final balance payments.

Application Fee: All applications must pay the non-refundable application fee of $150. This payment is made through MasonAbroad once you open an application. This fee is not included in the advertised program cost above.

Program Deposit: Accepted students must make a non-refundable program deposit of $1000. This fee is paid through the Mason Student Accounts Office. This deposit is included in the program fee.

Final Payment: This is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $1000 deposit you've already paid. Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.

Financial Aid and VA Benefits: Students who intend to use financial aid or VA benefits to fund their program fees (partially or in full) must have the "Intent to Use Financial Aid" or "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form" completed and on file with the Global Education Office by the deposit deadline. The "Intent to Use Financial Aid" form is available in the MasonAbroad application system once you have started your application for this program. If you are using VA Benefits please contact the Global Education Office to request the "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form."

Non-Mason Students: Non-Mason students must be admitted to the University and assigned a student number prior to making payments. Please submit the "Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form" during the application phase in order to begin this process.

Refund and Cancellation Policy: All participants are bound by the Mason GEO Refund and Cancellation Policy.

Application Deadline:

December 16, 2018


Application requirements:*

Course Selection Questionnaire: You will choose the course(s) you would like to be receive credit for on this program. Check the "Academics" tab to see what courses are offered on this program. If you need help selecting your course, check with your academic advisor.

Passport Status Questionnaire: You do not need a passport to complete this questionnaire or the application. However, if you do not have a valid passport, you should begin applying for one now.

Signature Documents: Read and electronically "sign" the documents regarding the acknowledgement of risk and your financial responsibility.

Intent to Use Financial Aid Form: For Mason students only. If you use financial aid, this form must be completed by your financial aid counselor and submitted by the 1st payment deadline.

Additional requirements for non-Mason applicants:

Official transcript: To be mailed or emailed to the Global Education Office at George Mason University.

Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form: Please complete the form and upload it into the questionnaire.

* Additional application requirements may apply to individual programs. Once you open your application, you will see all application requirements.

Application instructions:

Schar Program Administrator

  Michal Malur
Name Michal Malur

Academic Director


Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Break 2019 01/13/2019 ** Rolling Admission 03/08/2019 03/17/2019
NOTE: Dates above reflect optional excursions. Please see brochure page for more information.

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.