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About the Major

Students who major in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) gain a thorough grounding in selected aspects of Latin American history, politics, economics, or related subjects; knowledge of one or more of the social sciences as they deal with Latin American materials; and competence in Spanish or Portuguese as a tool for further work. The BA major in Latin American Studies can provide you with an appropriate background for careers in business, journalism, government, teaching, or the nonprofit sector, or for graduate studies in one of the social sciences disciplines.

If you are are more interested in the languages and/or literatures of Latin America you may wish to consider the major in Romance Languages and Literatures.

Declaring a Major

Students who plan to declare a major in Latin American and Caribbean Studies should follow the guidelines below. 

  1. As early as possible, meet with your College adviser and then with the LACS program adviser, Diana Schwartz Francisco, to develop a preliminary plan of study. Click here to make an appointment during Dr. Schwartz Francisco's office hours for advising.
  2. Declare your major and notify the CLAS student affairs coordinator, Lindsay Ortega, of your declaration no later than Winter Quarter of your third year.

    NOTE: Students who plan to study abroad during Spring Quarter of their third year should meet with Diana Schwartz Francisco before leaving campus.

Program Requirements

General Education

All LACS majors should complete the general education requirement in civilization studies with Latin American Civilizations (LACS 16100-16200-16300) or Latin American Civilizations in Oaxaca (SOSC 24302-24402-24502). Either of these sequences provides an excellent introduction to the program. If you take Latin American Civilizations to satisfy both the major and the Core requirements you should take all three courses. If you take the Latin American Civilizations sequence in addition to your Core requirements,  take at least two courses of the sequence.


As a major you will need to complete three courses in second-year Spanish or Portuguese. Examination credit considered for up to 2 courses.

Content Courses

You will take 5 courses that focus on Latin America or the Caribbean and two additional courses that cover any social science topic. You will work with the LACS program adviser to select these courses.

3rd Year Thesis Planning Workshops

During the Spring Quarter of your 3rd year, you will be required to participate in a thesis proposal workshop series—3-4 meetings for all majors and double majors. This series will help you develop a thesis topic, find a faculty adviser, and begin your thesis research prior to the start of the Autumn Quarter. You will be contacted in the Autumn and Winter Quarter of your 3rd year with information regarding the workshop series.

BA Colloquium

The BA Colloquium in Latin American Studies (LACS 29801) is a year-long course led by the CLAS Assistant Instructional Professor. Fourth-year majors are required to participate in all three quarters, although you will register for LACS 29801 only once in Autumn Quarter.

The colloquium will assit you as you formulate your approaches to the BA essay and will help you develop your research and writing skills, while providing a forum for group discussion and critiques. 

BA Thesis

All students who major in Latin American and Caribbean Studies are required to write a BA essay under the supervision of a faculty member and the CLAS Assistant Instructional Professor. The BA essay is due Spring Quarter.

Registration for a BA essay preparation course (LACS 29900) is optional. Students who do register for LACS 29900 may count it as one of the five Latin American content courses they must take. The grade a student receives for this course depends on the successful completion of the BA essay.

If you would like to write one thesis for two majors, consult with teach program by the earliest BA proposal deadline (or by the end of your 3rd year if neither program publishes a deadline) to find out of your project meets each program's requirements. A consent form, to be signed by both major departments, is available from your College adviser. It must be completed and returned to your College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of your year of graduation.


Students who have done exceptionally well in their course work and on their BA essay are considered for honors. Candidates must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher overall and 3.25 or higher in the major.


Each of the required courses for the Latin American and Caribbean Studies major must be taken for a quality grade.