By pursuing a degree in Latin American area studies (LAAS), you’ll gain an in-depth knowledge of Latin American history, culture, society, economy, and politics. You’ll have a better understanding of the region, as well as a deeper appreciation for the profound differences that continue to exist between and within countries of the region.

The LAAS program incorporates multiple disciplines with related coursework in anthropology, history, political science, sociology, and Spanish. This varied approach covers Latin American political, historical, and contemporary topics from multiple perspectives and allows you to craft your own curriculum (in consultation with faculty) to fit your specific interests.

In addition to taking courses in Latin American history and literature, you’ll choose electives focused on Latin America from at least three of the five incorporated disciplines just mentioned. Four semesters of Spanish language study are also included in the coursework.

Student Learning Outcomes

By completing a degree in Latin American area studies, you will be able to

  • think critically and communicate effectively about historical, social, economic, and political processes affecting the Latin American regions;
  • locate relevant resources and apply them in conducting research on Latin America; and
  • competently compare and contrast the different countries and regions of Latin America from the perspective of its diverse human populations and societies.

General Education Requirements

The University of Minnesota and its faculty are committed to providing an education that invites you to investigate the world from new perspectives, learn new ways of thinking, and grow as an active citizen and lifelong learner. The University’s general education requirements are designed to be integrated throughout your four-year undergraduate experience. These courses provide you an opportunity to explore fields outside your major and complement your major curriculum with a multidisciplinary perspective.

Careers & Graduate School


In a world becoming more connected daily, Latin American area studies opens doors to many influential and rewarding public and private sector career paths in areas, such as:

  • Human rights
  • Cultural studies
  • Government
  • NGOs
  • Policymaking
  • International aid and service organizations

With increased demand for Spanish-speaking professionals in jobs across multiple sectors, an LAAS degree can lead to a career in a variety of fields. Graduates of the UMN Morris LAAS program have continued on to employment in many occupations, including:

  • Accounting
  • Counseling
  • Community health
  • County government
  • Early childhood education
  • Farming
  • Human resources
  • Human services
  • Law
  • Law enforcement
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Social work
  • Teaching

Graduate School

UMN Morris LAAS alumni have also pursued prestigious graduate programs in Latin American area studies and other disciplines as well:

  • Bilingual methodology
  • Business administration 
  • Business writing
  • Community relations and fundraising
  • English
  • History
  • International affairs
  • Journalism
  • Latin American literature
  • Law
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Public affairs
  • Religious studies
  • Teaching

Research & Engagement


Independent research is fully encouraged in the Latin American area studies program at UMN Morris. You will be motivated to initiate and execute your own research or creative project. There may also be opportunities for you to assist faculty with projects, either on campus or in the field. These are excellent opportunities to participate in scholarly and academic work outside the classroom or to apply knowledge from coursework to real life situations.

One of the most notable opportunities you’ll have as a LAAS student is the chance to travel to Latin America and engage in meaningful and fulfilling study and work. Among other things, you’ll have the opportunity to

  • travel to northeastern Brazil for four months through the School for International Training’s Culture, Development and Social Justice program to study social programs that work to enhance the rights of women, indigenous people, rural peasants, and the urban poor;
  • conduct ethnographic field research in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and work at a domestic abuse crisis center evaluating the program; or
  • spend a year in the Dominican Republic studying at several Dominican institutions, and interning at a free legal services office devoted to women’s rights.


When taking the one-credit Contemporary Latin America course, you’ll read about up-to-the-minute Latin American news and issues and discuss them in a historical and political context. You’ll also delve more in depth into topics of personal interest when taking the Directed Study courses.

Joining a student organization, such as La Unión LatínX, allows you to either find a safe space as a Latinx or Hispanic student or to learn more about the culture as a whole.

Elizabeth and Harold Hinds Latin American Folk Art Collection

Quick Facts

Program Offerings
  • Major
  • Minor


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