Latin American Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Note: The Latin American Studies Major has been retired and folded into Global Studies.  We are no longer accepting Latin American Studies declarations.  Please visit the Global Studies website or the Global Studies page on the Berkeley Academic Guide for more information. 

The major in Latin American Studies (LAS) is designed to provide a balanced curriculum in the history, culture, and society of Latin America for students wishing to receive a broader perspective than is usually available through a department 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:

  • Plan to enter business, government, or international agency service.
  • Wish to teach social science or language.
  • Are preparing for graduate and professional schools.

There is a wide range of courses from numerous departments to suit the interests of LAS majors. Students must gain intermediate-level proficiency in their chosen language — equivalent to four college-level semesters—either Spanish or Portuguese. In addition, students pursue a multidisciplinary course of study that includes the history and literature of the region. To assist in organizing a plan of study, students are aided by participating faculty members from several departments and programs, the faculty chair of the major, major advisers in the International and Area Studies Office, and teaching associates working in the program.

Declaring the Major

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 the last week in May until the beginning of the fall semester (not the beginning of classes).

To declare, students must satisfy the following:

  1. Have completed LATAMST 10 (offered in fall semester only) with a grade of C or better (C- does not satisfy this requirement); Note: LAS 10 maybe be repeated only once to achieve a grade of C or better. There is no equivalent for LAS 10 from California community colleges.
  2. Transfer students (only) may declare the major while enrolled in LAS 10. However, if a grade of C or better is not achieved, transfer students must repeat the course. A grade of C or better must be achieved on the second attempt.
  3. Have a major and cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.
  4. Not be in their final semester of undergraduate work.
  5. Have attended a Major Declaration Workshop (check the IAS website at or the posted calendar in 101 Stephens Hall for dates).

Additionally, students are encouraged—but not required—to complete two semesters of Spanish or Portuguese or the equivalent before applying to the major.

To be declared, students must do three things:

  1. Meet with an LAS adviser to review the application materials.
  2. After having met with an LAS adviser, it is highly recommended that intended LAS majors take all application materials to the LAS Chair, Professor Estelle Tarica at 5214 in Dwinelle Hall for review.
  3. Submit all the application materials to an LAS Adviser at the IAS Office in 101 Stephens Hall.

A completed LAS application includes: an Application Form and Program Worksheet, current Bearfacts unofficial transcript with the course that will be counted for the major highlighted, official transcripts from all other colleges attended with coursework the student intends to count toward the major, “Petition to Declare a Major" form signed by the student, Personal Statement—a typed, double-spaced, one-page essay describing the student’s interest in LAS. In the statement, students should describe their interest in the major, their career aspirations, any plans for a higher degree, future goals, and anything else relevant to studying Latin American Studies.

Honors Program

To be eligible for honors, students must have senior standing and a grade point average (GPA) of 3.6 in the major and 3.5 in all work completed at UC Berkeley. Completing the honors program includes a year-long course sequence (IAS H102 in the fall and LATAMST 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.

Faculty Thesis Adviser

Honors students must also enlist a faculty thesis adviser with whom they will meet throughout the year to discuss the content of their thesis. Potential honors students are strongly encouraged to start early to find a faculty thesis adviser, preferably during the spring semester of their junior year, but no later than the end of September of their senior year. Most faculty will only advise on a thesis topic that is within their subject area, and many prefer to work with students they know or have taught. The completed thesis is read and evaluated by both the seminar instructor and the faculty thesis adviser.

Three copies of the honors thesis must be provided by the student: one for the seminar instructor, one for the student’s faculty thesis adviser, and one for reference at the IAS Office. Sample honors thesis titles include:

  • Guatemalan Coffee Farmers and the Fair Trade Movement.
  • The Brazilian Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST): Deconstructing Nonviolence Theory.
  • Andean Fiestas: A Mirror of Cajatambo’s Reality from 1900 to 2007.

Please note: There is no guarantee that students who complete the honors sequence will graduate with honors. Honors recommendations are made after graduation and are based on a number of factors including (but not limited to) major GPA, overall GPA, grade received in H195, and thesis reader recommendations. 

Minor Program

There is no minor program in Latin American Studies. LAS majors are encouraged to enhance their undergraduate degree by completing minors in other disciplines. No more than one upper division course may be used to satisfy requirements in both a major and minor.


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Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

Repeat Rule

Students who earn a grade of F, D-, D, D+ or NP may repeat the course only once. Regardless of the grade the student receives for their second attempt (including F, D-, D or D+), the student may not repeat the course a third time.

General Guidelines

  1. No more than three upper division courses taken outside of the College of Letters & Science, including courses taken at other universities, EAP, study abroad and other colleges on the UC Berkeley campus, may count towards major requirements.
  2. No more than four upper division courses may be taken from the same department.
  3. Courses cannot be double-counted within the major (for example, students may not use one course to fulfill both a history requirement and an electives requirement).
  4. All courses in the major must be taken for a letter grade. The one exception is foreign language: only the fourth semester level class must be taken for a letter grade. The first, second, and third semester language classes may be taken Pass/Not Pass. 
  5. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  6. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.
  7. Online courses are not accepted in the major.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Summary of Major Requirements

Lower Division Requirements: Two courses
Primary Language Requirement, Spanish or Portuguese: Intermediate level of proficiency
Secondary Language Requirement, Spanish or Portuguese: Optional
Upper Division Requirements: Nine courses, minimum of 30 units

Lower Division Requirements

LATAMST 10Introduction to Latin American Studies 14
HISTORY 8ALatin American History: Becoming Latin America, 1492 to 18244
or HISTORY 8B Latin American History: Modern Latin America

This course can only be repeated once.

Primary Language Requirement1

LAS majors must demonstrate an intermediate level of proficiency in either Spanish or Portuguese equivalent to four college-level semesters.  Language courses taken in high school do not satisfy this requirement. See below for details on how to fulfill the foreign language requirement. For information regarding satisfying this requirement through other means than the courses below (AP credit, Native speakers), please see the program's website.

Select either the Spanish or Portuguese sequence below, or their equivalent:
Elementary Spanish [5]
Elementary Spanish [5]
Intermediate Spanish [5]
Intermediate Spanish [5]
Course Not Available
Course Not Available
Readings in Portuguese [4]
Advanced Grammar and Composition [4]

Secondary Language (Optional)

LAS major are encouraged to pursue a second language, either Spanish or Portuguese. 

Complete one of the following sequences, or their equivalent
Course Not Available
and Course Not Available
Elementary Spanish
and Elementary Spanish
Course Not Available
Spanish for Bilingual Students, First Course

The primary and secondary foreign language requirements may be taken Pass/No Pass, except for the final semester of each sequence; the final semester must be taken for a letter grade.

Upper Division Requirements

Latin American Literature and Culture (Two Courses)
Select one of the following sequences, depending on the choice of primary language:
Survey of Spanish American Literature
and Survey of Spanish American Literature
Introduction to Brazilian Literature
and Course Not Available
Twentieth-Century Brazilian Literature
and Course Not Available
Latin American History (Two Courses)
Select two courses from the following:
Course Not Available [4] 1
Seminar in Historical Research and Writing for History Majors [5]
Proseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Latin America [4]
Mexico: Modern Mexico [4]
Social History of Latin America: Social History of Modern Latin America [4]
Brazil [4]
Latin American Women [4]
Advanced Studies in Latin American Studies [4] 1
Methodology (One Course)
Select one course from either the Statistical Methods category or the Research Design category:
Statistical Methods
Introduction to Population Analysis [3]
Economic Statistics and Econometrics [4]
Econometric Analysis [4]
Applied Econometrics and Public Policy [4]
Introductory Applied Econometrics [4]
Linear Programming and Network Flows [3]
Technology Firm Leadership [3]
Applied Econometrics and Public Policy [4]
Research and Data Analysis in Psychology [4]
Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health [4]
Applied Econometrics and Public Policy [4]
Quantitative Sociological Methods [4]
Statistical Methods for Data Science [4]
Research Design
Research Methods for African American Studies [4]
Research Theory and Methods in Socio-Cultural Anthropology [5]
The City: Theories and Methods in Urban Studies [4]
Social Science Methods in Ethnic Studies [4]
Humanities Methods in Ethnic Studies [4]
Selected Issues in Comparative Ethnic Studies Research [4] 1
Scope and Methods of Research in International and Area Studies [4]
Scope and Methods of Research in International and Area Studies [4]
Interpreting the Queer Past: Methods and Problems in the History of Sexuality [4]
Theories and Methods in Native American Studies [4]
Research Design and Sociological Methods [5]
Electives (Four Courses)
Select four courses from the list of approved electives (see below), from at least two disciplines other than literature and history 2

Course content varies from semester to semester. A faculty adviser's preapproval is required.


No more than two upper division electives may be taken from the same department.

Approved Elective Course List

AFRICAM 112APolitical and Economic Development in the Third World4
AFRICAM 112BPolitical and Economic Development in the Third World4
AFRICAM 131Caribbean Societies and Cultures3
ANTHRO 122CArchaeology of the Americas: Archaeology of Central America4
ANTHRO 122DArchaeology of the Americas: World of Ancient Maya4
ANTHRO 122EArchaeology of the Americas: Andean Archaeology: People of the Andes4
ANTHRO 140The Anthropology of Food 14
ANTHRO C147BSexuality, Culture, and Colonialism4
ANTHRO 179Ethnography of the Maya4
CHICANO 110Latina/o Philosophy and Religious Thought4
CHICANO 143Chicano and Latin American Literature3
CHICANO 150BHistory of the Southwest: Mexican-United States War to Present4
CHICANO 159Mexican Immigration4
CHICANO C161Central American Peoples and Cultures4
CHICANO 163Caribbean Migration to Western Europe and the United States 14
CHICANO 165Cuba, the United States and Cuban Americans4
CHICANO 174Chicanos, Law, and Criminal Justice 14
CHICANO 180Topics in Chicano Studies 13
CY PLAN 115Urbanization in Developing Countries4
COM LIT 156Fiction and Culture of the Americas4
DEMOG 145ACThe American Immigrant Experience4
DEV STD 150Advanced Studies in Development Studies 14
ECON C171Economic Development 14
ECON 172Case Studies in Economic Development 14
ENVECON C151Economic Development4
ETH STD 159ACThe Southern Border4
ETH STD 195Selected Issues in Comparative Ethnic Studies Research4
FRENCH 151AFrancophone Literature4
FRENCH 151BFrancophone Literature4
GEOG 123Postcolonial Geographies 14
GEOG 170Special Topics in Geography 13
GEOG 138Global Environmental Politics 14
GEOG C157Central American Peoples and Cultures4
GEOG 159ACThe Southern Border4
GWS 102Transnational Feminism 14
GWS 103Identities Across Difference 14
GWS 129Bodies and Boundaries 14
GWS 140Feminist Cultural Studies 14
GWS 141Interrogating Global Economic "Development" 14
GWS 142Women in the Muslim and Arab Worlds4
GWS 143Women, Proverty, and Globalization 14
HISTORY 100Course Not Available 14
HISTORY 103EProseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Latin America4
HISTORY C139BThe American Immigrant Experience4
HISTORY 140BMexico: Modern Mexico4
HISTORY 141BSocial History of Latin America: Social History of Modern Latin America4
HISTORY 143Brazil4
HISTORY 146Latin American Women4
LATAMST 150Advanced Studies in Latin American Studies4
LEGALST 190Seminar on Topics in Law and Society 11-4
PACS 130Cross-Listed Topics 11-4
PACS 135Special Topics in Regional Conflict 13
POLECON 150Advanced Study in Political Economy of Industrial Societies 14
POL SCI 139DUrban and Sub-national Politics in Developing Countries 14
POL SCI 148ALatin American Politics4
POL SCI 149BSpecial Topics in Area Studies4
PORTUG 102Readings in Portuguese3
PORTUG 104Introduction to Brazilian Literature4
PORTUG 113Brazilian Civilization3
PORTUG 128Twentieth-Century Brazilian Literature3
PORTUG 135Studies in Luso-Brazilian Literature 13
PB HLTH 181Poverty and Population 13
PUB POL 190Special Topics in Public Policy 11-4
SOCIOL 111PFamilies, Inequality and Social Policy 14
SOCIOL 124Sociology of Poverty 14
SOCIOL 127Development and Globalization 14
SOCIOL 130Social Inequalities 14
SOCIOL 140Politics and Social Change 14
SOCIOL 189Selected Topics in Comparative Perspectives 14
SOC WEL 274Immigrants and Refugees in the U.S 12
SPANISH 104ASurvey of Spanish American Literature3
SPANISH 104BSurvey of Spanish American Literature3
SPANISH 113Topics in Latin American Culture3
SPANISH 135Studies in Hispanic Literature 13
SPANISH C178Cultural Studies4

Course content varies from semester to semester. A faculty adviser's preapproval is required.

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Student Learning Goals

Learning Goals for the Major

  1. Communicate effectively in a primary foreign language, either Spanish or Portuguese, in written and spoken form.
  2. Communicate at a basic level in a secondary foreign language, either Spanish or Portuguese.
  3. Formulate a well-organized, well-supported argument.
  4. Demonstrate understanding of general research methods.
  5. Analyze and interpret literary texts.
  6. Identify major historical figures, events, and trends in Latin America.
  7. Critically evaluate Latin America’s role and position in a global context.
  8. Demonstrate awareness and basic knowledge of the multiplicity of countries and cultures that make up the region.
  9. Apply a minimum of three distinct disciplinary approaches to the study of Latin America.
  10. Demonstrate specialized knowledge about one or more particular subareas of Latin American studies, whether regional (e.g. the Caribbean; Central America) or topical (agriculture; gender issues; immigration).
  11. Understand and critically evaluate the implications of different perspectives on Latin America.


Latin American Studies

Faculty and Instructors


Miguel A. Altieri, Professor. Agriculture, environmental science, pest management.
Research Profile

Margaret Chowning, Professor. Mexico, history, gender, women, Latin America.
Research Profile

Alain De Janvry, Professor. Economics, labor management and policy.
Research Profile


Stephanie Ballenger, Lecturer. International and Area Studies.

Clara I. Nicholls, Lecturer. International and Area Studies.

Tiffany L. Page, Lecturer. .

Contact Information

International and Area Studies Academic Program

International and Area Studies Program, 101 Stephens Hall

Phone: 510-642-4466

Fax: 510-642-9850

Visit Program Website

Associate Dean, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences & Chair, Latin American Studies

Max Auffhammer

101 Stephens Hall

Lead Academic Adviser

Ethan Savage

101 Stephens Hall

Phone: 510-643-4156

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