New Students

Welcome to LALS!

Start here if you are a:

  • new first-year student
  • junior transfer student
  • continuing student changing your major to LALS


All of our majors are required to experience our introductory LALS course:

  • LALS 1: Introduction to Latin American and Latino Studies
    Interdisciplinary introduction presenting the elements for studying Latin American politics and economics, culture, and society as well as the dynamics of Latino communities in the U.S. Special attention paid to issues of colonialism, human rights, U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America, racism, capitalist globalization, migration, to emerging political and economic shifts in the Americas, and to new local and transnational efforts for social change on the part of Latin America's peoples and Latinos in the U.S.

Students tell us they love this course because it changes how they view the world! LALS 1 is offered in fall, winter, and summer, and we recommend jumping in as soon as you decide to major in LALS.


Language Requirement

Majors are also required to complete two courses taught in Spanish or Portuguese (only one course for combined majors with Politics or Sociology). Students can assess their language preparation through the Language Studies Program. Placement exams may be used to enroll in the appropriate language-instruction courses, or to help direct self-study, to prepare for enrollment in a required course(s).

We want to emphasize that students are not required to take language instruction courses. Students are responsible for placing themselves in LALS courses taught in Spanish and Portuguese. Other departments* on campus may include language placement prerequisites for their LALS elective courses, which you can review in the catalog or in the searchable schedule of classes. A list of all pre-approved electives shows that the Spanish-language LALS-focused courses are offered through the LIT and SPAN departments.

Contact the LALS Undergraduate Program Coordinator for more information.

You may find it useful to review our major requirements as you prepare to dive into the major. It is also never too soon to explore the many support services UCSC provides to its students.

When possible, we strongly encourage students to consider study in a Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking country. Explore your study abroad options, and be sure to look at deadlines, which come up many months before departure. And yes, in many cases you can use your Financial Aid to study abroad!

*LALS students can take 2 pre-approved electives outside of our program; transfer students can take up to 4 courses including transfer work. (Students who study abroad may take up to 3 courses outside of LALS.) See our major requirements for more information.