BYU’s Latin American Studies major provides a multidisciplinary approach to university study through the languages, cultures, and history of Latin American countries. Our graduates go on to a variety of activities. Many go to work in business, while others enter various graduate programs (law school, MPA programs, medical and dental school, among others), while still others go into teaching or government work. For a sampling of what some of our past majors are doing now (including what they did while at BYU), look here.
In this major, students learn skills in perceptive reading, analytical thinking, and clear, forceful writing in courses from BYU’s various academic departments. Students will study Latin America through the perspectives of history, political science, sociology, Spanish and Portuguese language, anthropology, geography, and more. Many students test out of a portion of the language requirements, which shortens the major and allows those students to: pursue more internships, go on study abroad programs, and engage in other experience-building opportunities.
If you love Latin America, this is a great major for you.
The Latin American Studies Major
Where can I learn more about majoring in Latin American Studies?
Interested students should meet with either the Latin American Studies faculty coordinator, Professor Jeffrey Shumway or one of the counselors at the Kennedy Center Advisement Center (273 HRCB).
How do I declare a major in Latin American Studies?
Go to the Kennedy Center Advisement Center (273 HRCB), where the secretaries will assist you. Seniors must meet with an academic advisor before approval to switch to the major will be granted.
What knowledge and skills may I expect to gain as a Latin American Studies major?
For the expected Learning Outcomes for the Latin American Studies major, click here.
The Latin American Studies Minor
The Latin American Studies minor allows students who have completed a mission, internship, or study abroad in Latin America—or simply have a love for Latin America’s people and cultures—to expand their knowledge of the area and receive a formal credential signaling their international expertise. Requiring 18–34 hours beyond the GE language requirement, a minor in Latin American Studies is a perfect way to complement a degree in just about any field.
The major is regularly evaluated and reviewed by the six-member Executive Committee of LAS, composed of faculty from the Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences. This evaluation is based on questionnaires or essays that graduating seniors complete during their last semester. The Executive Committee and the group of affiliated faculty review the results of the assessment work annually, and faculty make decisions regarding the curriculum structure of the major.
Student Association for Latin American Studies (SALAS), Model United Nations, International Society, foreign language clubs, choirs, and honor societies. See the clubs page.
Recent experience has proven that Latin American Studies majors and minors who have completed internships fare significantly better when applying for jobs or graduate school. The gold standard is spending a semester or summer interning in Latin America.
If finances or life circumstances make it impossible to leave Provo, you can still have an outstanding internship experience through local providers. Visit the Internships page for more information.
Excellent career opportunities exist for those who prepare well in Latin American Studies. The degree offers a broad, general background in the liberal arts, and graduates are well prepared for careers in government, private industry, nonprofit organizations, some domestic and foreign teaching opportunities, the Peace Corps, the military, and other professions in which an understanding and appreciation of Latin America are required. Many graduates go into law, medicine, business, journalism, editing, advertising, etc. Others have had success in government, such as working for the State Department, immigration, the FBI, and other agencies.
Students are encouraged to take a double major or at least a strong minor in a single academic discipline to enhance their career objectives. The combination of another discipline and Latin American Studies makes the student attractive to employers desiring specific job skills as well as cultural understanding and appreciation.
These alumni notes appeared in past issues of Bridges, the Kennedy Center’s alumni magazine.