Latin American Studies Major

The major in Latin American Studies is designed to further understanding of the societies and cultures of Latin America as viewed from regional and global perspectives. The Latin American Studies major builds on a foundation of language and literature, history, history of art, theater studies, humanities, and the social sciences; its faculty is drawn from many departments and professional schools of the University.

The major:  The major in Latin American Studies is interdisciplinary. With two goals in mind—intellectual coherence and individual growth—the student proposes a course of study that must satisfy the requirements listed below. The proposed course of study must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies. Though all students choose courses in both the humanities and the social sciences, they are expected to concentrate on one or the other.

Prerequisite to the major is knowledge of the two dominant languages of the region, Spanish and Portuguese. Depending on their interests, students select one language for two years of instruction and the other for one. Other languages necessary for research may in appropriate circumstances be substituted for the second language with the consent of the director of undergraduate studies. Students are encouraged to meet the language requirements as early as possible. Courses used to satisfy the language prerequisite may not be counted toward the major.

The major itself requires twelve term courses: one introductory course approved by the director of undergraduate studies; eight courses related to Latin America from departmental offerings or from a provided list of electives (two of these electives should be seminars) and the senior essay, LAST 491. The eight Latin American content courses should be selected from the following categories: two courses in the social sciences (anthropology, economics, or political science), two courses in history, two courses in Spanish American or Brazilian literatures beyond the language requirement, one course in one of the following areas: art, architecture, film studies, music, and theater studies.  Recommended courses are SPAN 266 and 267.
Students must enroll in three seminars or upper-level courses during their junior and senior years. For a list of seminars, students should consult the director of undergraduate studies. Elective seminars must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies.

Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of study abroad opportunities during summers or through the Year or Term Abroad program.

The senior essay is a research paper written usually in one term (LAST 491). Students choose their own topics, which may derive from research done in an earlier course. The essay is planned in advance in consultation with a qualified adviser and a second reader. In preparing the senior essay, Latin American Studies majors may undertake field research in Latin America. Students are encouraged to apply for summer travel grants through the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies to conduct field research for their senior thesis. The Albert Bildner prize is awarded to an outstanding Junior who submits an application in Spanish or Portuguese in addition to the English application essay. Information about these and other grants is available on the Web at 

Prerequisites:  2 years of 1 language (Spanish or Portuguese), 1 year of the other

Number of courses:  12 term courses beyond prerequisites (including senior essay)

Distribution of courses:  1 intro course approved by DUS; 8 courses related to Latin America in specified fields, one a seminar from approved list; 2 electives; 3 seminars or upper-level courses in junior and senior years 

Senior requirement:  Senior essay (LAST 491)

Electives within the major:
Students wishing to count toward the major courses that do not appear on this list should consult with the director of undergraduate studies.   

Directed reading and senior essay courses

Other courses relevant to the major
A list of courses intended as a guide to students in preparing their programs is available at the office of the director of undergraduate studies and in the Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies. Qualified students may also elect pertinent courses in the Graduate School and in some of the professional schools with permission of the director of graduate studies and the director of undergraduate studies.

Official Yale College program and course information is found in Yale College Programs of Study, available on line at