BA in Latin American Studies

The Latin American Studies (LAS) major provides students with a versatile and powerful vehicle for developing an in-depth understanding of the complexities and remarkable diversity of the Latin American region, defined as the 20 independent countries in the Western Hemisphere that are south of the United States, with Spanish, French, or Portuguese as their official languages. The major is broadly interdisciplinary, drawing on a wide range and variety of regionally focused courses taught by faculty experts in fields including archaeology, economics, history, history of art and architecture, musicology and ethnomusicology, international relations, political science, romance studies, geography, political economy, health sciences, and sociology.

The major combines coursework across historical, artistic and literary, and contemporary contexts with an integrating course taught jointly by members of the LAS faculty, as well as substantial study of Spanish or Portuguese to gain functional proficiency in a language used extensively in the region. LAS faculty closely advise each student in the major to ensure intellectual coherence between the student’s interests and coursework.

Study abroad at one of Boston University’s Study Abroad programs in Latin America for at least a semester is strongly encouraged. Courses abroad count toward Latin American Studies major requirements.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate substantive interdisciplinary knowledge of legal, political, economic, social, cultural, and historical factors influencing Latin American Studies.
  • Display an in-depth understanding of an important functional subfield of the discipline and a major geographical region of the world.
  • Conduct theoretically informed and empirically based analysis of real-world conditions and events and present the results of that analysis persuasively in written and oral forms.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Latin American Studies will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship, as well as some requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic and Historical Interpretation, Scientific and Social Inquiry, Communication, and the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

Ten principal courses, including one integrating course, with a final grade of C or higher, of which eight must be at the 300-level or above:

  • Two courses from Group 1 (Historical Context)
  • Two courses from Group 2 (Literary, Artistic, and Cultural Contexts)
  • Two courses from Group 3 (Contemporary Context)
  • Three electives from LAS course offerings chosen in consultation with an advisor
  • One integrating course, usually taken in the student’s junior or senior year: CAS IR 410 Latin America Today: An Interdisciplinary Approach (topic changes every year)

Foreign Language Requirement

Completion of a fifth-semester course in either Spanish or Portuguese (one course beyond the College of Arts & Sciences language requirement).


Consult departmental listings for complete course descriptions. Unless otherwise indicated, all required courses are 4 credit hours.

Group 1: Historical Context

  • CAS AA 385 Atlantic History (meets with CAS HI 350)
  • CAS AA 489 The African Diaspora in the Americas (meets with CAS HI 489)
  • CAS AR 201 Americas Before Columbus
  • CAS AR 222 Art and Architecture of Ancient America
  • CAS AR 250 The Aztecs, Maya, and Their Predecessors: Archaeology of Mesoamerica
  • CAS AR 251 Ancient Maya Civilization
  • CAS AR 551 Studies in Mesoamerican Archaeology
  • CAS HI 350 Atlantic History (meets with AA 385)
  • CAS HI 397 Modern Latin America
  • CAS HI 489 The African Diaspora in the Americas (meets with AA 489)
  • CAS HI 582 Social Movements in Twentieth-Century Latin America
  • CAS HI 584 Labor, Sexuality, and Resistance in the Afro-Atlantic World (meets with AA 514)
  • CAS IR 394 Power, Leadership, and Governance in Africa and the Caribbean (meets with AA 395 and HI 352)

Group 2: Literary, Artistic, and Cultural Context

  • CAS AH 114 Kongo to Cuba: Art, Exchange, and Self-Determination in Africa and Latin America
  • CAS AH 242 Latin American Art Since Contact
  • CAS AH 323 Topics in Latin American Art
  • CAS AH 527 Topics in Art and Society
  • CAS AH 543 Latin American Art and the Cold War
  • CAS LP 305 Topics in Portuguese Language and Culture
  • CAS LP 352 Tropical Metropolis and Brazil Modernity
  • CAS LP 360 Introduction to Brazilian Cinema (in English translation)
  • CAS LP 362 Inventing Brazil (in English translation)
  • CAS LS 307 Spanish Through Literature & Arts
  • CAS LS 308 Spanish Through Film and New Media
  • CAS LS 350 Introduction to Hispanic Texts
  • CAS LS 452 Topics in Latin American Literature and Culture
  • CAS LS 455 Spanish American Literature Through the Nineteenth Century
  • CAS LS 457 Twentieth-Century Spanish-American Literature
  • CAS LS 576 Topics in Spanish-American Literature
  • CAS LS 579 Topics in Hispanic Cinemas
  • CAS LS 581 The Mexican Revolution Revisited
  • CFA FA 540 Arts and Culture in Mexico, Revolution to the Present
  • CFA MH 561 World Music Ensemble
  • CFA MH 563 World Music in Culture
  • GRS AH 742 Colloquium in Latin American Art

Group 3: Contemporary Context

  • CAS AA/HI/IR 395/352/392 Power, Leadership, and Governance in Africa and the Caribbean
  • CAS EC 369 Economic Development of Latin America
  • CAS HI 397 Modern Latin America
  • CAS HI 582 Social Movements in Twentieth-Century Latin America
  • CAS HI 587 US-Mexican Borders
  • CAS IR 242 Globalization and World Poverty (meets with SO 242)
  • CAS IR 251 Introduction to Comparative Politics (meets with PO 151)
  • CAS IR 290 Drugs and Security in the Americas (meets with HI 331)
  • CAS IR 302 Campaigns and Elections Around the World (meets with PO 325)
  • CAS IR 367 Introduction to Latin American Politics and International Relations (meets with HI 399 and PO 360)
  • CAS IR 375 International Law and Organization
  • CAS IR 395 North-South Relations (meets with PO 328)
  • CAS IR 411 Conflict and Conflict Resolution in Latin America (meets with PO 566)
  • CAS IR 425 Seminar: Women and Social Change in the Developing World (meets with SO 420)
  • CAS IR 502 Latin-American Political Parties (meets with PO 561)
  • CAS IR 529 Cuba in Transition
  • CAS IR 566 History of Deportation & Border Security in the Americas
  • CAS IR 568 US–Latin-American Relations (meets with HI 523 and PO 565)
  • CAS IR 590 Political Economy of Latin America (meets with PO 562)
  • CAS IR 592 Economic Development and International Institutions
  • CAS IR 597 Development and Environment in Latin America (meets with GE 597)
  • CAS PO 381 History of American Foreign Relations since 1898 (meets with HI 287)
  • CAS PO 561 Latin American Political Parties
  • CAS RN 383 African Diaspora Religions

Integrating Courses

  • CAS IR 410 Latin America Today: An Interdisciplinary Approach (topic changes each year)

Note: Courses not listed above may fulfill Latin American Studies major requirements with approval from the program director.

Honors in the Major

Honors in the Latin American Studies major within the Pardee School may be earned by completing two semesters of independent senior honors work (CAS IR 401/402) and presenting an original research paper (thesis) in written and oral form to a committee of faculty readers. The committee will consider both the thesis and the result of the oral examination to determine whether the student will receive honors in the major. A grade of B+ or better in each semester of CAS IR 401/402 is also required for the award of honors. CAS IR 401 carries one of each of the following Hub units: Writing-Intensive, Critical Thinking, and Research & Information Literacy. CAS IR 402 carries one unit in Writing-Intensive and a unit in Oral and/or Signed Communication. Students are required to attend structured workshops in the fall and spring related to each of these competencies. The research and writing is conducted under the guidance of a faculty advisor who will serve as the instructor of record for CAS IR 401/402. In consultation with their faculty advisor, students are also required to complete cocurricular activities that expand their understanding of their research topic. Latin American Studies majors may earn principal course credit for CAS IR 401 and 402.

Admission to the Latin American Studies Honors program requires a 3.50 cumulative and 3.60 major grade point average, at the time of application. To learn more about the application process, please visit the Pardee School of Global Studies website. Interested students should contact their Academic Advisor to discuss ideas for research and faculty advisors. Students typically apply for the Honors program in the spring of their junior year. Effective fall 2022, students may not simultaneously study abroad and participate in the Honors program.