The Latin American Studies (LAS) Program builds upon the College's substantial presence in the region offering a uniquely integrated approach to the study of Latin America's human and ecological diversity, thereby providing a broader perspective than would be possible by taking classes within a single department. Drawing on already developed resources in Yucatán and Costa Rica, as well as those coordinated through the International Education Office (such as Institute for Study Abroad programs in Argentina, Chile and Mexico), students from all three divisions of the College have the opportunity to design a multi-disciplinary course of study tailored to their own interests, whether they lie in Mexico or the Caribbean, Central or South America.
Study abroad and field-based learning are central to the mission of the LAS program. Linguistic competency is essential to cultural understanding, therefore all students majoring in Latin American Studies complete a substantial language core. In most cases, this will mean the study of Spanish at the intermediate to advanced level (though a student may petition to substitute French, Portuguese, or one of the region's native languages if appropriate).
What Can I Do with a Major in Latin American Studies?
While Latin American Studies may not sound like a vocational degree, LAS majors are highly employable.
First, LAS gives students a holistic understanding of a region of enormous importance - economically, politically, and culturally - to the United States. Careers in business and government gain a boost from an intimate knowledge of a specific part of the world. Careers in medicine and law benefit from understanding the cultural heritage of the 15-20% percent of the U.S. population that is Hispanic.
Second, the discipline of LAS - whose origins in the USA date from the 1960s - has a long association with the non-profit sector and oversees employment. Many LAS graduates go on to work for the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and Amnesty International. Others are hired by fair trade collectives, micro-lending institutions, and immigrant rights associations. Still others find jobs at U.S. embassies and as foreign correspondents for U.S. media.
Third, LAS lends itself to double-majoring: it helps build an area of expertise that complements a major in fields from Spanish to Environmental Science. At Millsaps, a number of classes can be double-counted towards two separate majors (e.g. "Introduction to Latin American Studies" may be double-counted with History, Political Science, or Peace Studies), a policy that facilitates the double-major experience. Of Millsaps' first six graduates in LAS, five were double majors, combining with such fields as Anthropology, Spanish, and Communications.
Whether you enter the workplace with an MBA, an MA, a PhD, or simply an undergraduate degree, having a BA or BSc in Latin American Studies will help distinguish you from the pack.