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

Information and Policies


A combined degree in Latin American and Latino studies (LALS) and politics allows students to focus on the methods and theories of the discipline of political science within the broader interdisciplinary perspective of LALS.

Academic Advising for the Program

LALS Undergraduate Advising
32 Merrill Academic Building
(831) 459-2119

Politics Undergraduate Advising
25 Merrill Academic Building
(831) 459-2505

Advising for the combined major in LALS and politics is available from both advising offices, though the major is housed in the LALS Department.

Getting Started in the Major

Students interested in the combined major in LALS and politics are encouraged to enroll in LALS 1 and one lower-division politics course, chosen from POLI courses 1-70, 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 1-70, and LALS 1, with a grade of C or better, and both departments must approve a study plan before the major can be declared.

Students should submit a petition to declare as soon as they complete the required courses or reach their declaration deadline quarter, whichever comes first.

Students petitioning when the campus declaration deadline is imminent (i.e., in their sixth quarter, for students admitted as frosh), will either be approved, denied, or provided with conditions (e.g., completion of some courses with certain grades) that will be resolved within at most one more enrolled quarter, even if they have not completed major qualification courses.

LALS 1Introduction to Latin American and Latino Studies


Appeal Process

Students who did not satisfy the major declaration requirement but believe there are extenuating circumstances may file a written appeal.  Appeals should be submitted to undergraduate advising by emailing: lalsadvising@ucsc.edu. Students must file the appeal within 15 days of denial of major declaration. The department will notify the student and college of the decision within 15 days of the receipt of the appeal.

How to Declare a Major

Students may declare online, via the form on our department website, or in person, in the LALS Advising Office in Merrill Academic Building.

Transfer Information and 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. 

Transfer Admission Screening Policy

Students interested in transferring to UCSC as an LALS and politics combined major are encouraged to enroll in courses related to both disciplines prior to transfer, and to check with the politics advisor to ask about using transfer credit to satisfy the lower-division politics requirement.

Getting Started at UCSC as a Transfer Student

Transfer students must complete LALS 1 and one politics course, chosen from POLI 1-70 (or equivalent transfer credit), to declare the combined major in LALS and politics. LALS 1 is offered in fall and winter quarters and during summer session. To make timely progress in the major, transfer students entering in fall quarter should also enroll in LALS 100: Concepts and Theories in Latin American and Latino Studies; transfer students entering in winter quarter should enroll in LALS 100A: Social Science Analytics.

Letter Grade Policy

The program does not have a letter grade policy. Major and minor requirements will be met with grades of C or better or Pass, within the parameters of the UC Santa Cruz Pass/No Pass grading policy.


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. To receive the strongest consideration for honors in LALS, the following grade point average (GPA) criteria must be met: highest honors, 4.0; honors, 3.7. 

For politics, honors are awarded to graduating seniors whose academic performance is judged to be consistently excellent by a committee of politics faculty, based primarily on a review of grades. 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 (must be taken at UCSC) and one course from politics, chosen from POLI 1-70 (may be satisfied with approved transfer course).

LALS 1Introduction to Latin American and Latino Studies


Language Preparation

In preparation for completing academic work in Spanish or Portuguese, students are expected to become proficient in either or both languages. Students may need to complete language-instruction courses (through SPAN 6 or SPHS 6 or PORT 65B) to be ready to take courses in Spanish or Portuguese.

Spanish Placement: take the online assessment; if you are a fluent heritage speaker, see the guidelines for self-placement.

Portuguese Placement: enroll in PORT 1, Intro to Portuguese, or for enrollment in a more advanced level see the placement guidelines.

We want to emphasize that students are not required to take language instruction courses. Students are responsible for placing themselves in LALS courses taught in Spanish and Portuguese. Other departments on campus may use language placement prerequisites for their courses, which you can review in the catalog or in the searchable schedule of classes.

Contact the LALS Undergraduate Program coordinator for more information.

Upper-Division Requirements

LALS 100Concepts and Theories in Latin American and Latina/o Studies


LALS 100ASocial Science Analytics


LALS 100BCultural Theory in the Americas


POLI 140CLatin 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


POLI 140AEuropean Politics


POLI 140DPolitics of East Asia


POLI 160ATheories of International and World Politics


/LGST 160B
International Law


POLI 160CSecurity, Conflict, Violence, War


POLI 160DInternational Political Economy


Two from LALS

One elective must be taught 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:

LALS 100ASocial Science Analytics


LALS 100BCultural Theory in the Americas


Comprehensive Requirement

To complete the senior comprehensive requirement, students may take either a Politics (190 series) or LALS (194 series) senior seminar. Students who choose the LALS senior seminar option may use the course as one of their required upper-division electives.


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.

Four-Year Sample Course Planner for Frosh Students

  Fall Winter Spring
1st (frosh) LALS 1 (ER) POLI lower-division elective SPAN 3 (PORT 3)
SPAN 1 (PORT 1) SPAN 2 (PORT 2)  
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* Study abroad or research Study abroad or research

*Students have the option to take POLI 190 and another upper-division LALS elective; see advisors for more information.

Two-Year Sample Course Planner for Transfer Students

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*

*Students have the option to take POLI 190 and another upper-division LALS elective; see advisors for more information.