Latin American and Latino Studies


The Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) Department integrates the study of Chicano/a and Latino/a communities in the United States with analysis of the histories, politics, cultures, and societies of Latin America and the Caribbean. The LALS Department prepares students for bilingual and multicultural participation in a rapidly changing and globalized world. LALS courses deal with changing political, social, economic, and cultural realities, including immigration and transnational communities; gender, racial, sexual, and ethnic identities; social movements; diverse forms of cultural expression; ongoing political and economic restructuring in Latin America; and the challenges of political and economic empowerment for Latino/a communities in the United States. Students learn to develop thoughtful analysis and clear arguments on controversial topics, and to communicate effectively, in both Spanish (or Portuguese) as well as in English. In addition to academic knowledge, LALS also provides opportunities for students to acquire practical, "real-world" skills. Through internship and field-study experiences, students can acquire useful, pre-professional skills in any of the following key areas: community development/advocacy, public policy, education, journalism, media, performance, and research/writing, among others.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A.
  • Minor
  • Ph.D.

Study and Research Opportunities

  • Combined B.A. majors available in LALS/Politics and LALS/Sociology
  • Possibility of petitioning for a Designated Emphasis in LALS Ph.D.
  • A variety of field study and internship opportunities can be arranged through LALS

Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)

In addition to completing the courses required for admission to the University of California, high school students who plan to major in LALS at UC Santa Cruz should try to acquire as much proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese as possible before coming to UC Santa Cruz.

Information for Transfers

Early in the course of their studies, it is important that transfer students acquire some breadth of information and an introduction to the variety of approaches available for the study of Latin America and Latino populations. For this purpose, two lower-division courses are required of all majors: LALS 1, Introduction to LALS, and one additional LALS lower-division course. Courses with similar content taken at a community college or other institution may be substituted for the additional lower-division course with the approval of the LALS Department upon declaration of the major. Fluency in a second language will be required by senior year.


  • Bilingual-multicultural education
  • Business
  • Community organizing
  • Environmental science
  • Global economics
  • Government and community service
  • Health care
  • Higher education
  • International relations
  • Journalism and the media
  • Law
  • Legal services
  • Library science
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Politics
  • Public health
  • Public policy
  • Publishing
  • Research
  • Social work
  • Teaching
  • Translating
  • Travel industry
  • Urban/regional planning

These are only samples of the field's many possibilities.


Students may study abroad through the Education Abroad Program (EAP), through UC Summer & Quarter Abroad Programs, or through independent programs. EAP offers opportunities for students to study abroad in over 40 countries around the world. Programs in Latin America include Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Mexico. EAP offers a multi-site program in Chile and Argentina on Human Rights and Cultural Memory as well as a Field Research Program in Mexico.

Awards, Honors, and Recognitions

Please check this page on our website to see LALS Faculty Accomplishments:

Faculty Publications

Faculty Recognition

Department Website

General Catalog Information

More Information

LALS Department
32 Merrill College
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064
(831) 459-4284