Latin American Studies

Latin American Studies is a multidisciplinary major combining courses and faculty from a wide range of departments, including anthropology, art, business, economics, geography, history, Chicana/o studies, political science, public health, sociology, Spanish/Portuguese and women's studies. The goals of the program are to provide a deeper understanding of the people, cultures, and environments of the Western hemisphere and to encourage students to experience Latin America directly.

Why major in Latin American Studies? Latin America is the primary source of immigrants in the US and has a long history of close ties with the US.  Historically, it is the seat of the Aztec, Incan, Mayan, and other great civilizations, and one of the primary targets of European expansion in the 1500s.  It is the source of many everyday foods such as tomatoes and corn, a main supplier of oil and other resources to the US, and its artists and peacekeepers have won a disproportionate share of Nobel Prizes.  The music of Latin America is trend-setting, its politics are diverse, and the economies of Latin American are unpredictable, innovative, and often volatile.  

The value of a degree in Latin American studies is that it will enable you to cross borders.  Whether you work in an office, for an insurance company or bank, a retail store, the military, a high school, government, or in the US diplomatic service, you will be able to cross language borders and cultural borders to explain one group of people for another.  You will be essential to your work environment and a key to its smooth operation.

Program Overview

As preparation for the major, students must achieve competency in either Portuguese or Spanish, which may require the completion of up to six courses. In addition, four other courses must be selected from anthropology, economics, history, Latin American studies, and political science.

At the upper division level, students select courses in a wide variety of areas, with options in anthropology, art, Chicana/o studies, economics, geography, history, Latin American studies, political science, Portuguese, sociology, Spanish, and women's studies.

Special Features

The Center for Latin American Studies administers the undergraduate and graduate degree programs and sponsors teaching and research activities. The Center offers a minor in Latin American Studies, a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Master of Arts degree, a concurrent Master of Arts and Master of Business Administration (MBA) in collaboration with the College of Business Administration, and a concurrent Master of Arts and Master of Public Health (MPH) in collaboration with the Graduate School of Public Health.

The Center is one of a handful of nationally designated National Resource Center for Latin America. It has a national reputation and supplementary federal funding which supports a variety of on-going programs, including the following:

  • A vibrant program of support for the teaching and learning of Native American languages spoken in Latin America, including Mixtec, Zapotec, Nahuatl, and Aymara.
  • The Latin American Studies Lecture Series brings prominent Latin American scholars to campus to speak on a variety of topics.
  • The Latin American Film Collection includes over 350 films and videos on such topics as agrarian reform, the changing role of women in Latin America, Indians, revolution, and social change. New films are added yearly to the collection.
  • The Latin American Studies Student Organization (LASSO) is open to all SDSU students with an interest in Latin America. The group sponsors speakers, films, cultural groups, and get-togethers of students at a variety of social events.
  • Study abroad initiatives facilitate a wide range of international experiences, including classes on border issues that are taught in Tijuana, field schools in Mexico, travel-study programs, and formal semester or year-long study abroad at universities in Latin America.
  •  Student internships in Tijuana are available to both undergraduate and graduate students.  Three units of credit are available for working in social service agencies, health clinics, businesses, and other venues.
  • A consortium agreement with the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies at the University of California, San Diego, enables graduate students to take classes and learn from a wide range of scholars at UCSD.

Career Opportunities

Latin American studies is a general degree that leads to a wide variety of career opportunities.  Latin American studies graduates work in state and federal governments, educational institutions, businesses of all sorts, international organizations, and non-profits in Latin America and the US. In addition, both the B.A. and the M.A. degrees prepare students to continue on to more advanced degree programs.

To further explore career options in this field, visit the Career Services Web site for more information.

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the Latin American Studies program in the General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the university. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a General Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.