The major in Latin American Studies is designed to provide a balanced curriculum in the history, culture, and society of Latin America for students wishing a broader perspective than is usually available through a departmental major. From the rich variety of offerings within and across departments, there is a wide range of possibilities to suit the interests of students. The program may be of particular interest to students who:
- desire a balanced education that focuses on the Latin American cultural regions,
- plan to enter business, government, or international agency service,
- wish to teach social science or language,
- are preparing for graduate and professional schools.
Spanish or Portuguese is required for the major. Students must gain an intermediate level of proficiency in one language. In addition, students pursue a multidisciplinary course of study that includes the history and literature of Latin America.
For further information see the LAS Requirements & Policies booklet:
Student Learning Goals
Undergraduates should have the following knowledge and skills when they graduate with a major in Latin American Studies from UC Berkeley:
- Communicate effectively in a primary foreign language, either Spanish or Portuguese, in written and spoken form
- Formulate a well-organized, well-supported argument
- Demonstrate understanding of general research methods
- Analyze and interpret literary texts
- Identify major historical figures, events, and trends in Latin America
- Critically evaluate Latin America’s role and position in a global context
- Demonstrate awareness of, and basic knowledge of, the multiplicity of countries and cultures that make up the region
- Apply a minimum of three distinct disciplinary approaches to the study of Latin America
- Demonstrate specialized knowledge about one or more particular sub-areas of Latin American studies, whether regional (e.g. the Caribbean; Central America) or topical (agriculture; gender issues; immigration)
- Understand and critically evaluate the implications of different perspectives on Latin America
Learning Goals Appendix:
- LAS 10 (Offered in Fall semester only. You must earn a C or better to declare. This course can only be repeated once.)
- History 8A or 8B
LAS majors must demonstrate an intermediate level of proficiency in either Spanish or Portuguese. Intermediate proficiency is equivalent to four college-level semesters of instruction. Equivalency can be achieved through coursework, AP credit, examination and/or study abroad. For more information on how to complete the language requirement, see the LAS Requirements & Policies booklet.
9 courses totaling no less than 30 units
- Latin American Literature and Culture: (2 courses) Students must complete one of two course sequences, depending on the choice of primary language. All courses must be taught in Spanish or Portuguese. See the LAS Requirements & Policies booklet for approved courses.
- Latin American History: (2 courses) See the LAS Requirements & Policies booklet for the list of approved courses.
- Methodology: (1 course) See Appendix A in the LAS Requirements & Policies booklet for the approved list of courses.
- Upper Division Electives: (4 courses) Electives are chosen from at least two disciplines other than literature and history. At least 50% of the course content must be devoted to Latin America. Students may focus all four courses around a central theme (e.g., gender and society, religion and society, popular culture, or development) or a geographical region (e.g., Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean), although this is not required. See Appendix B in the LAS Requirements & Policies booklet for course lists.
How To Declare
Applications are accepted during the fall and spring semesters from the third week of instruction until the last day of instruction (not the last day of finals). Applications are accepted during the summer from June 1 until the beginning of the fall semester (not the beginning of classes).
To declare, you must:
- have completed LAS 10 (You must earn a C or better to declare. This course can only be repeated once.)
- have a major and cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher; and
- not be in your final semester of undergraduate work
Additionally, students are encouraged – but not required – to complete two semesters of Spanish or Portuguese or the equivalent before applying to the major.
To get declared, students must both:
- attend a Major Declaration Workshop (check the Teaching Program Calendar for dates) and
- meet with an advisor to submit the LAS Application materials.
Bring a completed LAS Application including all materials and transcripts listed below to the Workshop. Application materials may be submitted after attending the Major Declaration Workshop. However, students will not be officially declared until they have both attended a Workshop and submitted all declaration papers.
To be eligible for honors, students must have senior standing and a GPA of 3.6 in the major and 3.5 in all work completed at UC Berkeley. Doing honors includes a year-long course sequence (IAS H102 in the fall and LAS H195 in the spring) in which students learn how to formulate a hypothesis, conduct supporting research, and complete a thesis paper of approximately 75 pages or longer.
The LAS major is designed to provide a broad-based liberal arts background as well as the intellectual skills appropriate for careers in either the public or private sector. Additionally, the major offers an excellent background for students planning postgraduate careers in social science disciplines and professional schools.
This description is for introductory purposes only. Students interested in completing a major or minor in LAS should consult the LAS Requirements & Policies booklet.
- LAS Requirements & Policies