The Latin American Studies major consists of 11 courses: two language courses and nine courses from disciplines within the social sciences and humanities. The language requirement normally consists of two Spanish courses at the 241 level or above. In exceptional circumstances when a student can demonstrate oral and written mastery of Spanish, she may be exempted from this requirement by taking an oral and written examination. Furthermore, she may petition to replace her Spanish language with Portuguese courses of equal rigor. MIT offers Portuguese language courses at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of study.
For the nine courses beyond the language requirement, students must choose a concentration consisting of four courses taken in one of the following disciplines: art history, history, political science, sociology, or Spanish. (In special circumstances, students may petition the directors for an alternative field of concentration.) Overall, students must complete courses in at least three different disciplines. Out of the nine required courses, at least two must be taken at the 300 level. At least one 300-level course must be in the student’s field of concentration. It is also recommended that one 300-level course be a seminar.
Upon declaring the major, students must submit to the directors a plan of study for approval. In cases where the student’s chosen concentration is in a discipline other than those of the directors, a second advisor in the student’s field of concentration must also be arranged.
Students should note that those courses listed with an asterisk (*) in the course book require that the student upon enrollment inform the instructor that the course is to be counted towards her Latin American Studies major. Students enrolled in these courses must complete a research paper on a Latin American theme.
The only route to honors in the major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100-level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. Students who are interested in writing an honors thesis in Latin American Studies should submit a proposal to the faculty committee by the end of their junior year. The proposal should include a description of the thesis project, a sample bibliography and a copy of the student’s transcript. It is required that the student has already completed fundamental coursework in the area in which she proposes to do her honors work.
Majors may also apply to the Five-Year Cooperative Degree Program at Georgetown University in Latin American Studies. This program enables the student to apply upper-level Latin American Studies courses taken at Wellesley toward the master’s degree at Georgetown. A summer of study at the Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile, taken during an undergraduate summer, and a year of academic work at Georgetown are required to earn the master’s degree at Georgetown in one year. Interested students should contact the directors of Latin American Studies or the Center for Work and Service.