Latin American and Latino Studies

32 Merrill Academic Building
(831) 459-4284

Programs Offered

Latin American and Latino Studies B.A.

Latin American and Latino Studies/Politics Combined Major

Latin American and Latino Studies/Sociology Combined Major

Latin American and Latino Studies/Education, Democracy, and Justice B.A.

Latin American and Latino Studies Minor

Latin American and Latino Studies Ph.D.

Latin American and Latino Studies Designated Emphasis

Other Programs of Interest

Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) and Education Department 4+1 Contiguous Bachelor's/Master's Pathway

The Department of Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) at UC Santa Cruz centers the interconnected experiences and perspectives of Latin American and Latinx communities as a foundation for intellectual analysis and engaged research. As an interdisciplinary department within a Hispanic-Serving Institution, our mission and vision emerge from the diverse communities that the university serves.

LALS is committed to transformative research, teaching, advising, and mentoring that advance our understanding of how these communities’ dreams and realities are shaped by migration and mobilities; inequalities, identities, and intersectionality; race and ethnicity; social and political transitions; and culture, power, and knowledge. LALS is a space for dialogues that link the histories, societies, cultures, ideas, and experiences of Latinxs and Latin American peoples in California, the United States, hemispherically, and globally.

Undergraduate Program

The Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) Department integrates the study of Chicanx and Latinx communities in the United States with analysis of the histories, politics, cultures, and societies of Latin America and the Caribbean.

LALS courses address changing political, social, economic, and cultural realities, including migration and transnational communities; gender, racial, sexual, and ethnic relations and identities; social movements; diverse forms of cultural expression; political and economic restructuring in Latin America; and the challenges of political and economic inequities and empowerment for Latinx communities in the United States.

Students in LALS learn to develop thoughtful analysis and clear arguments on complex topics. 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.

Graduates of the LALS major have forged careers in a wide variety of fields, including environmental activism, community organizing, teaching, health care, legal services, politics and government service, and journalism. Many have gone on to pursue advanced degrees in the U.S. or abroad in fields such as law, anthropology, bilingual education, media, communications, cultural studies, ecology, economics, geography, history, literature, educational counseling, public health, and sociology. LALS majors graduate with knowledge, skills, and understandings that propel them forward into exciting careers grounded in justice, rights, and creating social change.

Graduate Program

The first doctoral program to link Latin American and Latinx studies, the Ph.D. program in Latin American and Latino studies at UC Santa Cruz offers an innovative transnational and interdisciplinary approach to the study of the peoples, cultures, societies, and institutions of the Américas. Drawing from theories, methods, and sources in the humanities and social sciences, the program introduces students to this new field of study and trains them to develop the conceptual and analytical skills necessary for understanding the dynamics of hemispheric change. As part of our rigorous approach to studying the Américas, the department offers four thematic clusters in the emerging field of Latin American and Latino studies: 1) transnational migrations within the Américas; 2) social inequalities; 3) cultural politics and cultural flows; and 4) collective action and social movements. Doctoral students specialize in one of these four substantive themes, as well as a focus area of their own design.

  1. Transnationalisms, Migrations, and Displacement. While transnational migrations are the subject of research in multiple disciplines, this program analyzes these transformative processes through an interdisciplinary lens. A transnational approach examines links between regions in the Américas, analyzing the social and historical foundations of economic dynamics such as remittances from the United States or the dollarization of Latin American countries. A transnational approach to the study of migratory processes explores the dynamics of bi-national communities, bilingualism and multilingualism, immigrant integration into host societies, and North-South exchanges of ideas and cultures.
  2. Intersectionality, Identities, and Inequalities. This program’s research foregrounds the study of transnational social inequalities formed by power relations based on race, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, class, territory, gender and/or sexuality in the Américas. These social hierarchies are analyzed as institutions, historical processes, discourses, or signifiers with multiple meanings, and are examined in terms of how they have been mobilized to build, transform, or challenge identities, communities, and social movements in local, national, and global contexts over time.
  3. Culture, Power, and Knowledge. Another distinctive area of inquiry in the Américas is the study of cultural politics and cultural flows that shape everyday life, institutions, social identities, discourses, meanings, and cultural forms and practices, in global, regional, and local contexts in the Américas and in an increasingly interconnected and integrated world. The transnational analysis of culture focuses on the ways in which cultural forces and cross-cultural communication and media are contributing to the formation of new transnational imaginaries, as well as how these cultural processes are transforming and redefining national and local cultures.
  4. Collective Action, Social Movements, and Social Change. This area of research addresses collective action and social movements at local, national and international levels viewed through transnational lenses. As migrants engage in public life, both in their communities of residence and in their communities of origin, they construct diverse practices of political participation, including "civic bi-nationality.” These processes are crucial for understanding the largest wave of immigration in a century, including how migrants relate to U.S. society.

While our doctoral program prepares students for research and teaching at the university level, we also support students who opt to seek employment outside academia (e.g., in the corporate or non-profit sectors).