Undergraduate Program

The Latin American and Latino studies (LALS) Department prepares students to be active global citizens, engaged in rigorous educational study with "real world" applications. Our students become committed scholars who want to better understand the roots of major issues like inequality, rights, oppression, globalization, and migration—and to learn about effective strategies for addressing them through a variety of fields and disciplines. Our students take seriously the importance of understanding others from a variety of perspectives, and engaging peoples and ideas through several languages including English, Spanish, and Portuguese. LALS students learn about the historical, economic, social, political, and cultural processes that are shaping and transforming the Américas. Our majors graduate with a commitment to social change with tools to help make our world a just place for all.

LALS is for students interested in better understanding the Américas. It is for students who 1) want to learn from multiple perspectives and work directly with faculty; 2) are interested in ethnic studies, Latin America,  human rights, and social change; and, 3) want to know about the roles various countries, peoples, and cultures have played in shaping Latina/o/x and Latin America today. LALS students have the opportunity to take major courses in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. Our majors study topics, concepts, and theories grounded in the Américas to learn about local, regional, global, and transnational dimensions shaping our world. LALS students often become involved in local communities, in Santa Cruz County, and in their hometowns. They strive to build the community resources and opportunities that help everyone thrive.  

LALS is for students who want flexibility in pursuing educational opportunities within their degree coursework. The interdisciplinary structure of our major encourages students to explore many different kinds of courses, opportunities, and programs. Many of our students combine their study with other majors in the social sciences, humanities, arts, and sciences. LALS also encourages transfer students and works closely with them to ensure their success in the major. There are no specific high school-level courses required for admission to the major in LALS at UCSC, but we encourage you to embrace as much language preparation as possible.

LALS students learn about individual countries of the Américas; about historical and contemporary issues, processes, and cultures; about migration, transnationalism, intersectionality, inequality, collective action, social movements, power and culture; and about strategies and solutions for addressing questions of rights, advocacy, and justice. LALS students investigate the historical, political, economic, social, and cultural processes that are shaping and transforming the Américas region. By viewing societies as interrelated—specifically U.S. Latino/a communities and Latin American/Caribbean communities—LALS students learn to analyze from multiple perspectives, to understand imperialism and colonialism, and to clarify local, regional, global, and transnational dimensions affecting the histories, politics, and cultures of the hemisphere.

In addition to academic knowledge, LALS supports and encourages students to pursue opportunities to acquire practical skills. Through internships and field study experiences, students can acquire useful, pre-professional skills in key areas, such as political advocacy, community development, public policy, education, legal services, and research.

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.