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 School of Engineering, 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 arts, cultures, histories, socioeconomic conditions, politics, and natural environments. The student's work is supervised by a departmental adviser and is combined with a departmental program in a regular field of concentration.

Experience abroad is not required, but PLAS strongly encourages students to travel to and explore Latin America. Together with the Office of International Programs (OIP), PLAS supports the Princeton in Cuba program every spring in Havana, and sponsors the Princeton in Argentina and Princeton in Brazil summer programs. Funds are available to support student travel to Latin America for research purposes. Freshmen and sophomores are eligible for exploratory research grants and juniors can apply for senior thesis research funding. Seniors are encouraged to apply to Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) for postgraduate opportunities.

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. Fulfillment of the university's language requirement in Spanish, Portuguese, or French (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 approved or cross-listed by the program. At least one of these courses must be in the humanities; two courses may be selected from any field, and must have a strong Latin American-related content; and at least one must be a seminar..

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

ANT 335 Medical Anthropology
ECO 351 Economics of Development

Written course work for these courses must be on a Latin American topic.

With the program director's permission, a maximum of two courses 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.

In agreement with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages, only one course can be used towards both the certificate in the Program in Latin American Studies and a certificate in the Program in Language and Culture. Similarly, in agreement with the Program in Latino Studies, only two courses can be used towards both the certificate in the Program in Latin American Studies and a certificate in the Program in Latino Studies.

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 approved or cross-listed by the Program in Latin American Studies. At least one of these courses must be in the humanities; the two remaining courses may be selected from any field, and must have a strong Brazil-related content. At least one of the qualifying courses must be a seminar in Brazilian studies. Courses that are not focused entirely on Brazil must be preapproved by the program director, and the final written work must be Brazil related.

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.

In agreement with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages, only one course can be used toward both the certificate in the Program in Latin American Studies and a certificate in the Program in Language and Culture. Similarly, in agreement with the Program in Latino Studies, only two courses can be used towards both the certificate in the Program in Latin American Studies and a certificate in the Program in Latino Studies

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 whose thesis cannot be devoted to a Latin American or Brazilian topic may complete the program requirements either 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) or by taking an additional approved course.

Certificate of Proficiency

Upon graduation, students who have met all the program requirements will receive a Certificate of Proficiency in Latin American Studies along with their diploma.