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Latin American Studies

Founded in 1947 as an Institute for Brazilian Studies, Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) is one of the oldest and strongest interdisciplinary centers for the study of Latin America in the country. In 2006, the U.S. Department of Education designated CLAS a National Resource Center on Latin America. The Center is dedicated to advancing scholarly and applied knowledge about Latin America.  It offers an interdisciplinary major and minor in Latin American Studies as well as a Masters of Arts and a Certificate in Latin American Studies. The Center also offers a Minor in Brazilian Studies. CLAS offers students who major in LAS the opportunity to earn a M.A. degree with one additional year of coursework plus the writing of a thesis through the 4+1 program.

Major and Minor Requirements

The LAS major requires language study in Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, or an indigenous Latin American language; a set of core requirements; and a concentration in one of three areas: 1) History, 2) Language, Literature and the Fine Arts, or 3) Social Science. The LAS minor requires completion of 15 hours of approved courses with Latin American content including Latin American Studies 2101 and completion of intermediate knowledge of one Latin American language. Brazilian Studies minor in LAS students must complete 15 hours of approved courses with Brazilian content including LAS 2102 and Portuguese 2203.

Recently Offered Courses

Center faculty are nationally and internationally recognized scholars who bring their latest research into the classroom. LAS students can learn about subjects as diverse as newly rediscovered Mayan cities, mortuary cannibalism in the Amazon, literature and the arts in Latin America, the unique features of tropical capitalism, development and democratization, or African slave rebellions in Latin America.  Some examples of recently offered courses are: Introduction to Latin America, Brazilian Civilization, Ancient Mesoamerican Civilization, Latin American Economic Development, and Politics of Mexico.

Honors Program

An honors program is available, acceptance into which must be approved by the faculty of the Center for Latin American Studies. Students must have a minimum 3.0 general GPA and a 3.3 GPA in Latin American Studies courses to be accepted into the program. The Honors Program requires the writing of an honors thesis and passing an oral honors examination. Interested students should consult their academic advisor during their junior year.

Other Special Opportunities

The Center for Latin American Studies sponsors faculty colloquia, conferences, and a speaker’s series which brings distinguished scholars, government and business leaders, and social activists to campus. The Center also publishes a bi-annual newsletter. In addition to the core program LAS students may participate in an honors program, independent study, internships, and study abroad programs in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala.

After Vanderbilt

As our international connections to Latin America and its economies grow stronger and the Hispanics constitute 17.6% of the Nation’s total population, Latin American Studies has never been more relevant. Now, as in the past, Latin American Studies provides a strong base for careers in international business, law, banking, and management. Our graduates also have made careers in the Foreign Service, education, government and non-government organizations. Others go on to do graduate work in area studies or related academic disciplines. 

Recent LAS graduates include:

Marvin Figueroa (B.A. Latin American Studies 2007) is a senior policy advisor in the United States Senate.

Ana Victoria Hubickey (B.A. 2011) is an associate attorney at the Morgan Lewis law firm in Washington, DC.

Blair Amorello (B.A. Latin American Studies 2015) is an analyst at Bloomberg LP in New York City.

Hannah Elbaum (B.A. Latin American Studies 2015) is a volunteer coordinator at Mayan Families, a Mayan non-profit operating in Guatemala.

Jay Moody (B.A. Latin American Studies 2015) works in sales and trading analysis at Citibank in New York City.

Garrett Richards (B.A. Latin American Studies 2017) is a U.S. Navy Ensign stationed abroad.


The Center draws upon renowned Vanderbilt faculty from the Departments of Anthropology, Art History, Economics, History, Political Science, Sociology, and Spanish & Portuguese, as well as each of the professional schools. Center faculty include award-winning and innovative teachers who are involved in a wide array of University projects such as Alternative Spring Break in Mexico, service learning in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Costa Rica, and outreach to Nashville's Hispanic community. They are also active in national and international conferences, editorial boards and publishing, and documentary film and museum projects. A complete listing of faculty and course offerings is available on the Center website.


Nicolette Kostiw, PhD
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Latin American Studies
236 Buttrick Hall
Phone: (615) 875-8149

Latin American Studies Website