University of Wisconsin–Madison

Undergraduate

B.A. Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies

The aim of the major is providing students with a solid knowledge to understand the social and cultural processes that occur in Latin America, Caribbean, Spain, and Portugal, from a multidisciplinary perspective. Our undergraduate program offers a wide range of courses in fields such as anthropology, business, economics, geography, history, journalism, political science, sociology, Spanish, Portuguese, among others.

The program offers the following advantages:

  1. A broad exposure to Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies by requiring students to take area and language specific content courses.
  2. Flexibility, which allows students to take courses of interest, study abroad, and develop innovative academic projects.
  3. Access and opportunity to earn Honors in the LACIS major.
  4. Basic working knowledge in Spanish and/or Portuguese and the opportunity to study Quichua and Maya Yucatec.
  5. Career-related advice and opportunities including volunteer work and internships with international organizations working in the Latin American and Caribbean area.

Requirements:

A minimum of 40 credits is required for the LACIS major. Upon declaration of the LACIS major, an assessment file is opened for each student which will include: writing samples, results of an oral proficiency interview (not required for Spanish or Portuguese majors), and an exit survey.

Introductory requirement: Choose one of the following four options:

  • History 260: Latin America: An Introduction
  • Poli Sci 261: Introduction to Latin American Politics
  • History 241: Latin America: 1780-1930
  • History 242: Latin America: 1898-Present

Language: Students must either complete or test out of the fourth semester of Spanish or Portuguese as well as complete four courses in Spanish and/or Portuguese language, literature, and civilization above the second-year level. In addition to the four courses required for the program, non-Spanish/LACIS Double Majors are required to take a Spanish proficiency exam prior to graduation.  Please consult the information about this exam in the Spanish and Portuguese Department.

Area of Concentration: Students must take at least five courses with 25% Latin American, Caribbean, and/or Iberian content in an area of concentration which the student self-selects. The concentration may be disciplinary (history, anthropology etc.) or topical (poverty, gender, social justice etc). The courses in the area of concentration CAN NOT be Spanish or Portuguese language or literature courses. Study abroad courses often satisfy major requirements, but you should consult with your advisor before and during your study abroad program to be sure that the credits transfer (please note that questions regarding course equivalencies for approved study abroad programs should be directed to the International Academic Programs office. Courses for the concentration can be chosen from the LACIS Course Master List, but note that this list does not reflect current offerings. LACIS also publishes a list of courses that are being offered in the upcoming semester which count towards the major. Students are required to submit a proposed area of concentration statement to the LACIS Advisor shortly after declaring the LACIS Major. Please complete this form and email it to Sarah Ripp or turn it into 209 Ingraham Hall. Ideally, students should submit a one paragraph description of their intended area of concentration to the LACIS Advisor prior to their junior year for approval. Sample Areas Concentration.

Breadth Requirement: Students must complete three courses outside the area of concentration which can be either:

  • Additional courses in Spanish and/or Portuguese language, literature, and civilization over the 220 level; and/or
  • Courses in Quichua and Yucatec Maya; and/or
  • Additional Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian courses

Study Abroad (Optional)

Students are encouraged, but not required, to study abroad. Living and studying in a foreign country provides a great introduction to the culture and valuable language practice. In addition, participating in a study abroad program often proves to be a valuable personal experience. For information about the multitude of UW study abroad programs in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, visit the International Academic Programs website.

Other Notes

Students are encouraged to declare this major by the end of their sophomore year if possible. Those considering a major in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies are encouraged to consult the undergraduate advisor during their freshman or early sophomore year, since a number of L&S requirements in humanities and social sciences may be met by some courses in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies. Students who enter the university without previous training in Spanish or Portuguese are urged to begin language study freshman year. All students are required to fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. Courses designated as “advanced” (300-699, with the exception of Portuguese 301-302) count toward this requirement.

Students should contact Sarah Ripp, LACIS’ undergraduate advisor, at skripp@wisc.edu, to determine which courses may satisfy major requirements.

Career Opportunities

So, you’re getting a degree! Presumably, you now have an above average familiarity with Latin America, the Caribbean, or the Iberian Peninsula, you can speak Spanish or Portuguese with some proficiency, and you hope to utilize the degree in a professional setting. The following is a broad list of options for employment, geared towards (but not exclusively for) those with a new B.A., and some helpful resources to pursue one or all of them.There are ample choices for even the most discriminating of newly endowed specialists, but finding that ideal situation will require a modicum of effort on your part: research and writing do not end with the oral exam!

What follows should be helpful to most graduates and pre-graduates of the program, though it is by no means exhaustive, and does not eliminate the need for some active research on your part. There is a tremendous wealth of information right here on campus, and somewhere within could be the ticket to your golden opportunity! The above-mentioned links are certainly not the only options available. You could become an independent consultant to a number of corporations, work for a Washington “think tank,” get involved in journalism, do a translation for a publishing house, teach secondary school or community college courses, sell real estate with your Dad, or wait tables at your favorite restaurant. The options available to someone with a well-rounded interdisciplinary degree and a proficiency in a foreign language are as diverse as the people who seek them out, and your own creativity and long-term goals are the most critical factors in finding the right position for you. Remember as you embark on the search that patience is critical. Finding the right position may well require taking a job you don’t want to a place where you do want to be working. Be flexible, be patient, take the time to write reams of letters, and be confident that you are the right candidate for whatever you want! Make sure to join the LACIS Alumni LinkedIn Group to keep up to date on what fellow LACIS alumni are doing and to assist you in finding the right path for you!

Use the resources available at UW – you can find everything you seek or at least find out how to find it, right here on campus. Polish your resume, and make the effort to tailor it to each job you apply for. And remember every stodgy old uncle, every annoying friend of your father’s, every old professor, every contact you’ve ever made, and don’t be shy about re-establishing old connections – in many cases a passing comment can lead to the perfect situation!  You will probably find the information contained in this document (PDF) very helpful as you begin your job search; it lists tips provided by hiring managers from various industries regarding how to best market oneself, etc.

Questions? Take a look at our FAQ page.