Latin American and Latino Studies/Politics Combined B.A.

A combined degree in Latin American and Latino studies (LALS) and politics allows students to combine their interest in Latina/o/x studies and Latin American studies with politics. Students are able to focus on the methods and theories of the discipline of political science within the broader interdisciplinary field of LALS.

Information and Policies

Academic Advising for the Program

LALS Undergraduate Adviser and Program Coordinator:
32 Merrill Academic Building
(831) 459-2119

Politics Undergraduate Coordinator:
25 Merrill College
(831) 459-2505

Getting Started in the Major

Students interested in the LALS and politics combined B.A. are encouraged to enroll in LALS 1, Introduction to Latin American and Latino Studies, and one lower-division politics course, chosen from POLI courses 1-79, at their earliest opportunity.

Program Learning Outcomes

Latin American and Latino Studies Program Learning Outcomes:

We expect that all graduating LALS seniors will have gained proficiency or competency in the following five areas: critical thinking, research methods, communication, language, and lifelong learning skills.

  1. Critical Thinking. Ability to analyze from a transnational/transborder/translocal perspective—to see the interconnections between Latin American and Latino issues, people, ideas, problems and solutions. This includes key skills, such as understanding sources, comparing arguments, analysis, and historical perspective.

  2. Research Methods. Working knowledge of social scientific and/or humanistic approaches to LALS relevant topics. This includes acquiring qualitative and quantitative skills, gathering or obtaining research data, finding/using primary sources, and other research methods.

  3. Communication. Key communication skills, including written, oral presentation, and digital, including an understanding of media sources and ability to apply media literacy to cross-cultural analysis.

  4. Language. Fluency in Spanish and/or Portuguese, in addition to English.

  5. Lifelong Learning Skills. Acquisition of practical hands-on skills in community engagement, cross-cultural fluency, familiarity with Latin America, and familiarity with Latino experience acquired through experiential learning, and working with community and civic organizations.

Politics Program Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of the major, students will have met the following objectives:

  1. Understand the origins, development, and nature of political institutions, practices, and ideas;

  2. Place particular political phenomena in broader context (national, historical, cross-cultural, and theoretical, etc);

  3. Demonstrate familiarity with various theoretical approaches to the study of politics, and their application in different geographic and substantive areas;

  4. Critically evaluate arguments about political institutions, practices, and ideas based on logic and evidence;

  5. Develop and sustain coherent written and oral arguments regarding political phenomena, theories, and values based on appropriate empirical and/or textual evidence and logic.

Major Qualification Policy and Declaration Process

Major Qualification

Students must complete a lower-division politics course, chosen from POLI 1-79, and LALS 1, with a grade of C or better, and both departments must approve a study plan before the major can be declared.

Appeal Process

Students who are notified they are not eligible to declare major appeal this decision by submitting a letter of appeal to the department chair within 15 days of notification. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal letter, the department will notify the student and their college of the appeal decision.

How to Declare a Major

Students must follow the declaration procedure for both LALS and politics, beginning with the Politics Department. Find more information on department websites or by speaking with the LALS or politics undergraduate adviser.

Transfer Information and Policy

Transfer Admission Screening Policy

Students planning to apply in this major are not required to complete specific major preparation courses for consideration of admission to UC Santa Cruz. 

LALS welcomes transfer students. Students interested in transferring in to UCSC as a LALS and politics combined major are encouraged to enroll in courses related to both disciplines prior to transfer.

Getting Started at UCSC as a Transfer Student

Transfer students must complete LALS 1, Introduction to Latin American and& Latino Studies, and one politics course, POLI 1-79, (or transferred in with equivalent credit) to declare the LALS/politics combined major.  LALS 1 is offered in fall and winter quarters and during Summer Session. To make timely progress in the major, transfer students should enroll in LALS 1 and the first course in our core series, LALS 100, Concepts and Theories in Latin American and Latino Studies, in their first quarter.


For combined majors, academic performance must meet the criteria in both departments to be awarded honors. Honors can only be conferred if both departments agree.

For LALS, honors are awarded based on performance in courses taken for the major. Students who achieve a 3.7 or higher in their coursework are awarded honors; those who achieve a 4.0 are awarded highest honors. 

LALS also awards honors for the thesis, or creative or community action projects by the recommendation of the faculty adviser. 

For Politics, honors are awarded to graduating seniors, based primarily on a review of grades, whose academic performance is judged to be consistently excellent by a committee of politics faculty. Highest honors in the major are reserved for students with consistently outstanding academic performance.

Requirements and Planners

Course Requirements

A total of 12 courses is required for the LALS and politics combined B.A., in addition to any language preparation needed. 

Lower-Division Requirements

For the combined major, students must complete two lower-division courses: LALS 1 and one course from politics, POLI 1- 79, or their equivalents.

Language Preparation

In preparation for taking upper-division coursework taught in Spanish or Portuguese, students are expected to become proficient in either or both languages. To demonstrate proficiency in Spanish, students should complete courses through SPAN 6 or SPHS 6. To demonstrate proficiency in Portuguese, students should complete courses through PORT 65B.

Students who are fluent in Spanish or Portuguese may be exempt from this recommended preparatory coursework after demonstration of their proficiency. For language placement, visit the

Languages and Applied Linguistics Department's language placement links for Spanish and/or Portuguese

Upper-Division Requirements

LALS100Concepts and Theories in Latin American and Latina/o Studies


LALS100ASocial Science Analytics


LALS100BCultural Theory in the Americas


POLI140CLatin American Politics


Six Upper-Division Electives

Four from Politics

Three chosen from these options:

/LGST 105A
Ancient Political Thought


/LGST 105B
Early Modern Political Thought


/LGST 105C
Modern Political Thought


/LGST 120A
Congress, President, and the Court in American Politics


/LGST 120B
Society and Democracy in American Political Development


/LGST 120C
State and Capitalism in American Political Development


POLI140AEuropean Politics


POLI140CLatin American Politics


POLI140DPolitics of East Asia


POLI160ATheories of International and World Politics


/LGST 160B
International Law


POLI160CSecurity, Conflict, Violence, War


POLI160DInternational Political Economy


Two from LALS

One elective must be in Spanish or Portuguese. 

One LALS elective may be satisfied by completing a senior seminar (LALS 194 series).  

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy a disciplinary communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement for the LALS and politics combined B.A. is met by completing:

LALS100ASocial Science Analytics


LALS100BCultural Theory in the Americas


Comprehensive Requirement

Each student must complete a senior comprehensive requirement to graduate. The preparation and completion of this requirement is structured into the senior year, and the requirement is fulfilled by one of the following four options:

  1. Passing a Latin American and Latino studies senior seminar (LALS 194 series). In these courses, students must write at least 30 pages cumulatively during the quarter. The final paper must be based on independent scholarly research, demonstrate advanced skills in critical analysis, and have undergone revisions. Senior standing and completion of LALS 100A and LALS 100B are required before taking a LALS 194 course for fulfillment of the senior exit requirement.

  2. An expanded research paper, a minimum of 20 pages in length. This paper often builds on related coursework and requires approval from the relevant faculty adviser before the end of the winter quarter of the senior year. Students must be enrolled in an independent study tutorial to complete this paper.

  3. A senior thesis, generally between 40–60 pages, based on two or more quarters of sustained independent research under the supervision of the faculty adviser while enrolled in an independent study (done by petition to LALS, and with the approval of the faculty adviser). If the thesis option is selected by a combined major, it should be planned in consultation with an adviser from each department, completed under the supervision of a faculty member from either department, and read and approved by both advisers; one adviser is sufficient if this faculty member is affiliated with both departments. This option is recommended for those students seeking to enter graduate school.

  4. A senior project, which can be either a creative project or a community-action project. Creative projects include website design, video, performance, slide show, photo exhibit, or other media work. A short written analysis of the student’s experience in conducting the project is required. Community-action projects often involve sustained research and/or activity conducted in a community organization or public interest group, usually stemming from an internship. The required, short, written analysis has to be 10 pages minimum.


Recommended academic plan for students starting as freshmen who place in to SPAN 1 on the language placement exam. Portuguese language track in parentheses for students who choose this option.

Fall Winter Spring
1st (frosh) LALS 1 (ER) POLI lower-division elective SPAN 3 (PORT 3)
2nd (soph) LALS 100 (ER) LALS 100A LALS 100B
3rd (junior) POLI upper-division core POLI 140C POLI upper-division core
LALS language elective POLI upper-division core  POLI upper-division elective
4th (senior) LALS 194 or POLI 190 study abroad or research study abroad or research


Recommended academic plan for students starting as juniors and who place into SPAN 4 on the language placement exam.

Fall Winter Spring
1st (junior) LALS 1 (ER) LALS 100A LALS 100B
LALS 100 (ER) POLI 140C POLI upper-division core
2nd (senior) POLI upper-division core
POLI upper-division core POLI upper-division elective
LALS language elective LALS 194 or POLI 190

Year Fall Winter Spring
1st (frosh) Language 1
Language 2
Language 3
2nd (soph) Language 4
Language 5
Language 6
3rd (junior) APLX 80
LING 101
LING 111 or LING 112
LING 50  LING 50
APLX elective
4th (senior) Adv Language course
Adv Language course
APLX 190-capstone
APLX elective APLX elective  Non-APLX elective