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Academic Program

Professor Désirée Díaz at the Swarthmore Reception for Latinx Families.

The Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) minor and special major is an interdisciplinary program of study open to students of all divisions. Students interested in a special major must consult with the program coordinator and members of the LALS Committee before developing a proposal. The proposal should establish how Latin American and Latino Studies relates to the overall program of undergraduate study. Special majors must combine LALS with another program or department. 

Requirements for all minors, special majors, and Honors minor


I. Language

LALS requires the successful completion of SPAN 004 Advanced Spanish or its equivalent.

This requirement is waived for native and heritage speakers of Spanish, and for students who demonstrate sufficient competence in this or another Latin American language (including Portuguese and relevant indigenous languages), as determined by the Latin American and Latino Studies Committee. Note: LALS credit is not offered for language courses.

II. Study Abroad or Other Immersive Learning Experience

  • Students are required to spend at least one semester engaging in an immersive experience off campus. By extending learning beyond the traditional classroom, students have distinctive opportunities for enriching intellectual experiences and unique opportunities for personal growth.  
  • Students who cannot fulfil this requirement should talk to the program coordinator. This requirement may be waived in special circumstances.
  • Students on financial aid may apply that aid to designated programs of study abroad. Consult with the Off-Campus Study Office for details.
  • The immersive experience may take one of two forms:
    1. either studying abroad in a program approved by both the Latin American and Latino Studies Committee and the Off-Campus Study Office
    2. or completing an internship or community service project in Latin America or in a Latinx community in the U.S. This option must be approved by the Latin American and Latino Studies coordinator.
  • Students may apply up to two courses from work taken abroad in Latin America to their Latin American and Latino Studies academic program.
  • Courses taken abroad must have a clear Latin American focus and must be preapproved by the appropriate department in order to count for the LALS minor/special major.
  • Study abroad must be pursued in Spanish or Portuguese. Students must complete Spanish 004, or its equivalent, before going abroad. Native or fluent speakers of Spanish or Portuguese should consult with the coordinator since you might be able to go abroad without fulfilling this language requirement.
  • Language courses are not eligible for study abroad credit.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to complete the introductory course requirement (see below) prior to their immersive off-campus learning experience.

III. Courses

  • In order to develop a basic introduction to Latin America as a social, political and cultural region, students must complete one of the following courses, preferably by the end of their sophomore year: ANTH 031C: Hispanics, Mestizos, Latinxs; HIST 004: Introduction to Latin American History; POLS 057: Latin American Politics; or SPAN 012: Imágenes y contextos hispánicos.
  • To graduate with a minor, special major or Honors minor in Latin American and Latino Studies, a student must maintain a minimum grade of “B” in the program, and a “C” average in any other course work.

Course Minor


Latin American and Latino Studies minors must complete the following requirements:

  • A minimum of 5 Latin American and Latino Studies-eligible courses and/or seminars.
  • These 5 courses must span both the Humanities and Social Sciences Divisions.
  • In order to develop a basic introduction to Latin America as a social, political and cultural region, students must complete one of the following courses, preferably by the end of their sophomore year: ANTH 031C: Hispanics, Mestizos, Latinxs; HIST 004: Introduction to Latin American History; POLS 057: Latin American Politics; or SPAN 012: Imágenes y contextos hispánicos.
  • Only 1 of the total 5 courses required for the Latin American and Latino Studies minor may overlap with a student’s major or other minor.
  • Maintain a minimum grade of “B” in the program, and a “C” average in any other course work.

Special Major


  • Students may plan a Latin American and Latino Studies special major that includes closely related work in LALS and one or more departments or programs. Students must have completed at least two LALS-related courses with grades of B or better to be accepted into the special major.  Students also have the possibility of designing an individualized special major in coordination with other departments.
  • Special majors consist of at least 10 courses and no more than 12 courses.
  • Latin American and Latino Studies special majors and individualized special majors must complete the major comprehensive requirement of a 1-credit thesis or other written research project designed to integrate the work across departmental boundaries, or a comprehensive examination. Any student interested in pursuing an individualized special major must meet with the LALS Program Coordinator to establish a concrete plan for meeting these requirements.

Honors Minor


To complete an Honors minor in Latin American and Latino Studies, students must have completed all requirements for the interdisciplinary minor. From within these offerings, they may select for outside examination a seminar taken to fulfill the interdisciplinary minor’s requirements. However, the seminar chosen may not be an offering within their major department. Students considering an Honors minor must meet with the program coordinator as soon as they know they’ll do Honors to design a coherent curricular plan for Honors.

Life After Swarthmore


Swarthmore graduates who have taken part in the Latin American and Latino Studies Program find that their rich understanding of the cultures and people of Latin America and Latinos in the U.S. is attractive to employers. Graduates most frequently pursue careers in public service, law, government, education, humanities, social sciences, and the media.