Latin American Studies, B.A.

Program Code: LATAM_BA

Program Description

This interdisciplinary major is designed for students who want a basic understanding of Latin America. The program is organized so that it may be combined with a second major or a minor subject.

What is Latin American Studies?

Latin American studies covers numerous disciplines such as history, politics, art, geography, gender studies, and sociology and uses them to critically examine and analyze the experiences of Latin Americans in Latin America and elsewhere.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You’re interested in gaining further understanding of Latin America and the many rich histories and cultures that it encompasses.
  • You want to take part in exciting study abroad opportunities to places such as Santiago, Dominican Republic and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • You’re looking for an interdisciplinary area of study that can lead you toward multiple paths: Anthropology, art, language, and more.
  • You want to be involved with a dynamic and diverse community of faculty and students through enriching courses and opportunities.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have at least third-semester classification.


Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American Studies, a minimum of 121 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 21-24
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 40

9-12 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 6 credits of GH courses; 3-6 credits of GS courses.

3 of the 24 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements are included in the Requirements for the Major, General Education, or Electives and 0-12 credits are included in Electives if world language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.

Per Senate Policy 83-80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of coursework in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
ANTH 45NCultural Diversity: A Global Perspective Keystone/General Education Course3
HIST 178Latin-American History to 1820 Keystone/General Education Course3
HIST 179Latin-American History Since 1820 Keystone/General Education Course3
PLSC 456Politics and Institutions of Latin-American Nations3
PORT 1Elementary Portuguese I4
SPAN 131Ibero-American Civilization Keystone/General Education Course3
SPAN 200Intensive Grammar and Composition3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select 18 credits of the following:18
Afro-Hispanic Civilization Keystone/General Education Course
Aztec, Inca, Maya Keystone/General Education Course
Meso-American Archaeology and Ethnography
Inter-American Literature
Principles of Economics Keystone/General Education Course 1
Introductory Microeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course
Introductory Macroeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course
International Economics Keystone/General Education Course
Advanced International Trade Theory and Policy
Latin America and the United States
Mexico and the Caribbean Nations in the Twentieth Century
Comparative Urban Politics
American Foreign Policy
Elementary Portuguese II
Intermediate Portuguese
Advanced Composition and Conversation
Advanced Grammar and Composition Through Reading
Spanish for Social Services
Advanced Oral Expression and Communication
The Contemporary Spanish American Novel
Masterpieces of Spanish American Literature

Choose only one course from ECON 102, ECON 104, or ECON 14.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

World Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one world language in addition to English. This proficiency must be demonstrated by either examination or course work. See the Placement Policy for Penn State World Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, World Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; world language credits in this category must be in a second world language in addition to English or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language). Credits must be selected from the list of approved courses.

World Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the University Cultural Diversity (US/IL) requirement.​

Program Learning Objectives

  • Critical Understanding of the Region: Graduates will be able to explain the geography, history, and cultures of Latin America within a regional comparative context.
  • Develop Arguments: Graduates will be able to develop arguments or intellectual positions regarding Latin America's past and present, built on evidence, in ways consistent with standards of academic integrity.
  • Evaluation of Multidisciplinary Methods and Sources: Graduates will be able to evaluate and interpret both primary and secondary source materials, as well as varying methodological approaches, as found in the many disciplines applied to the study of Latin America.
  • Hemispheric and Diasporic Thinking: Graduates will be able to demonstrate hemispheric (i.e., the Americas) and diasporic thinking, by comparing North and Latin America, and by contrasting the experiences of Latin Americans both within their own nations and across the hemispheric diaspora.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising
Use the Liberal Arts Meet the Academic Advisers web page to see the contact information for the specific adviser(s) of this program

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2024-25 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition.

Latin American Studies, B.A. at University Park Campus and Commonwealth Campuses

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
General Education Course (GWS)3Course in LATAM Related Topic*13
Course in LATAM Related Topic*13HIST 178 (GH)*†3
ANTH 45N (GS)*†3General Education Course3
General Education Course (GQ)‡†3General Education Course (GQ)3
SPAN 1†24SPAN 2†24
 16 16
Second Year
General Education Course (GWS)3SPAN 131*3
Course in LATAM Related Topic*23PORT 1*4
HIST 179 (GH)*†3General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
SPAN 3†24SPAN 100†23
 16 16
Third Year
400 Level Course in LATAM Related Topic*13400 Level Course in LATAM Related Topic*13
SPAN 200*3General Education Course (GWS)3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
BA Requirement3Elective33
 15 15
Fourth Year
400 Level Course in LATAM Related Topic*13Elective33
PLSC 456*3Elective33
BA World Cultures†13Elective33
BA Requirement3Elective33
General Education Course (GHW)1.5General Education Course (GHW)1.5
 13.5 13.5
Total Credits 121

Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education


Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement


 See adviser for approved list.


 SPAN 1, 2, 3, and 100 are not required for the Latin American Studies major. Students who place into SPAN 200 based on other criteria need to replace the skipped credits with additional electives.


Electives: 15 credits or more, depending on major. Students are able to focus these courses in a secondary program. 

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy Cultural Diversity Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ), Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS) and Integrative Studies (Inter-domain) requirements. N or Q (Honors) is the suffix at the end of a course number used to help identify an Inter-domain course, but the inter-domain attribute is used to fill audit requirements. Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of 'C' or better.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and satisfy a portion of that General Education requirement. If the student’s program prescribes GWS these courses will replace both ENGL 15/ENGL 30H and CAS 100A/CAS 100B/CAS 100C. Each course is 3 credits.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in World Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as World Cultures courses.

Advising Notes:

  • All incoming freshmen must take a First-Year Seminar (FYS) during Fall or Spring of their first year. Academic advisers can provide a list of FYS being offered and help the student enroll. Most FYS in the College of the Liberal Arts are worth 3 cr. and count as a General Humanities (GH) or General Social Sciences (GS) course. For this reason, the FYS is not listed separately on this eight-semester plan; most students will be able to fulfill the FYS requirement while also fulfilling a GH or GS requirement.
  • Students pursuing this major at a campus might require summer attendance, study abroad, or additional semesters to complete the major coursework. In their second semester, students should contact the University Park adviser to discuss options and plan their major courses accordingly.

Career Paths

The major and minor in LAS are designed to be combined with other majors and minors to create a multidisciplinary degree that will enrich the student’s educational experience at Penn State and be appealing to potential graduate programs and employers. Most LAS majors go on to law school or graduate school; others find jobs with corporations that have Latin American interests or with US government agencies such as the NSA and State Department.


  • Law
  • Business
  • NSA or State Department
  • Historic Preservation
  • United Nations Organizations / Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Medicine
  • Secondary Education Teaching


University Park

108 Weaver Building
University Park, PA 16802