The Latin American Studies Program

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O Reinado do Sol (detail, 2008), by Flávio Roberto Tavares de Melo (Brazil)

Latin American Studies is an interdisciplinary program that bridges the social sciences, arts, and letters to provide students with a broad understanding of Latin America and its connections to the rest of the world. The Latin American Studies Program at Cal State L.A. has the distinction of being among the first Latin American Studies programs to have been established in the United States and is recognized nationally for the excellence of its faculty and the achievements of its alumni.

A degree in Latin American Studies affords students a wide range of career opportunities, both in the United States and abroad.  The continuing importance of Latin America to the United States in combination with the growing Latino population within the country have produced an increasing need for trained persons with a knowledge of the region to work in government, teaching, business, social services, community organizing, the arts, and other fields. Students graduate from the Cal State L.A. Latin American Studies Program prepared for the many scholarly and professional opportunities this situation creates. Additionally, many graduates opt to continue their academic pursuits; they attend graduate school in Latin American Studies and related fields, often at prestigious universities, and are now found teaching at colleges and universities across the country.

The Bachelor of Arts degree includes courses in anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, and Spanish, and allows students to select additional courses from other fields including art, literature, music, philosophy, and economics. 

The Master of Arts degree includes advanced work in these disciplines, and is tailored to meet individual students’ interests and needs. Students complete the degree by passing a comprehensive examination or by writing a thesis. The program emphasizes strong working relationships between instructors and students, and encourages students to work cooperatively as they pursue their research interests.

The program is committed to working with local Latin American populations and community organizations. Southern California is home to the largest Mexican population outside of Mexico, the largest Central American populations outside of Central America, and substantial settlements of South Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Dominicans. This makes Cal State L.A. an ideal place to explore the diversity of Latin American cultures and their increasingly complex transnational connections to the United States.

The program draws upon the expertise of over 30 Cal State L.A. faculty members whose work focuses on Latin America. They are experts in their fields and have published notable works on Latin America and the connections between Latin America and the United States. They travel frequently to Latin America to conduct research and teach, and participate in an array of professional organizations related to Latin American Studies.

Latin American Studies promotes several activities and programs in support of its students. It houses three endowed scholarships funds specifically for Latin American Studies students. It encourages and supports the Latin American Society, a student organization that sponsors educational and cultural programs on campus as well as provides students with the opportunity to work and socialize with each other and the faculty. Latin American Studies majors may join the campus chapters of Golden Key or Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies, which are open to qualified students in all academic disciplines.