Program in Latin American Studies

Academic Unit

Program Information

The Program in Latin American Studies promotes interdisciplinary study and seeks to inspire knowledge of and experience in Latin America.

Courses are offered by the Departments of Anthropology, Art and Archaeology, Comparative Literature, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Economics, English, French and Italian (appropriate French courses only), History, Music, Politics, Religion, Sociology, Spanish and Portuguese, the School of Architecture, the Woodrow Wilson School, the Center for African American Studies, the Program in Latino Studies, and the Program in Latin American Studies. Through various approaches in the humanities and the social and natural sciences, the program seeks to guide students toward an understanding of Latin American culture, history, socioeconomic conditions, politics, and society. The student's work is supervised by a departmental adviser and is combined with a departmental program in a regular field of concentration.

Admission to the Program

Students normally enter the program in the sophomore year, but an earlier start is encouraged. The requirements for admission are:

1. Satisfactory completion of the requirements for admission to a department.

2. Satisfactory completion of SPA 107, POR 109, or FRE 107 (for students focusing on the French-speaking Caribbean).

Program of Study

The Program in Latin American Studies offers two tracks of study: Latin American Studies and Brazilian Studies. For satisfactory completion of the program, a student must meet the following requirements:

1. Completion of the normal departmental program in the major department.

2. Satisfactory completion of the language requirement in Spanish, Portuguese, or French (for students focusing on the French-speaking Caribbean). This requirement also applies to certificate candidates who are pursuing degrees in the sciences and engineering.

3. For students pursuing the Latin American Studies track: Satisfactory completion of four courses in Latin American subjects sponsored or cross-listed by the program. At least one of these courses must be in Spanish American or Brazilian literature; one must be in one of the following fields: anthropology, economics, history, politics, or sociology. The remaining two courses may be selected from any field. At least one of the qualifying courses must be a seminar in Latin American studies that examines significant problems of the region in an interdisciplinary fashion.

Additional courses that may be used to satisfy program course requirements are:

ANT 335 Medical Anthropology
ECO 351 Economics of Development
SPA 346 Modern Latin American Fiction in Translation

Written course work for ANT 335 and ECO 351 must be on a Latin American topic.

With the program director's permission, a maximum of two courses not listed above or from study abroad may, if they are relevant to the student's area of research, be designated as "cognates" and counted toward satisfaction of the course requirement.

Students pursuing science studies may fulfill program requirements by taking a number of approved courses in ecology and evolutionary biology and environmental studies.

No course may be taken pass/D/fail or audit for program credit.

3a. For students pursuing the Brazilian Studies track: Satisfactory completion of three courses in Latin American subjects sponsored or cross-listed by the Program in Latin American Studies. At least one of these courses must be in Brazilian literature and culture; the two remaining courses may be selected from any field, and must have a strong Brazil-related content. Courses that are not focused entirely on Brazil must be preapproved by the program director, and the final written work must be Brazil related. At least one of the qualifying courses must be a seminar in Brazilian studies.

With the program director's permission, one of the three courses may be taken abroad, being designated as a "cognate," and will then count toward satisfaction of the course requirement.

No course may be taken pass/D/fail or audit for program credit.

4. For students pursuing the Latin American Studies Track: Completion of a senior thesis on a Latin American subject. Normally it should be written under the supervision of a faculty member associated with the program. If this is not the case, a faculty member associated with the program should be consulted early in the senior year concerning available sources. The thesis should also demonstrate an ability to use primary source materials in the original language. If the senior thesis is not devoted exclusively to a Latin American topic, the director and relevant program faculty will determine its acceptability. Ordinarily, at least half of the thesis content will deal with Latin America, or a substantial portion of the research for the thesis should be conducted in a language -- other than English -- spoken in Latin America.

4a. For students pursuing the Brazilian Studies track: Completion of a senior thesis on a Brazilian subject. Normally, it should be written under the supervision of a faculty member associated with the program. If this is not the case, a faculty member associated with the program should be consulted early in the senior year concerning available sources. The thesis should also demonstrate an ability to use primary source materials in Portuguese. If the senior thesis is not devoted exclusively to a Brazilian topic, the director and relevant program faculty will determine its acceptability. Ordinarily, at least half of the thesis content will deal with Brazil, and a substantial portion of the research for the thesis should be conducted in Portuguese.

5. Students majoring in science or engineering but whose thesis cannot be devoted to a Latin American or Brazilian topic may complete the program requirements by writing a research paper of sufficient complexity and length to substitute for the thesis requirement. The topic should be determined in consultation with the director and relevant program faculty.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who have met the requirements of the program and of their departments will receive upon graduation a certificate of proficiency in Latin American studies.

PLAS has funds available to support student travel to Latin America for research purposes. First- and second-year students are eligible for exploratory research grants; juniors can apply for senior thesis research funding. Please refer to the PLAS website for details.