The Catholic University of America

LALS Certificate

The Certificate in Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) is an interdisciplinary program open to all undergraduate students enrolled at CUA. The Certificate is intended to provide students with qualifications that supplement their course of studies in their major area of concentration. Specifically, the goal of the LALS Certificate program is to produce graduates who are well-versed in multidisciplinary perspectives on an area of the world, as well as competent in a relevant foreign language.
In comparison to the LALS minor, the LALS Certificate provides students with a richer opportunity to engage in a deep, rigorous, and integrated educational experience, while developing advanced linguistic proficiency, in the following ways:


  • Core Courses: LALS Certificate students must complete TWO required courses for the Certificate, chosen from the following courses. Each of these courses covers a range of historical and contemporary issues in Latin America.
    • HIST 371A (Colonial Latin America), or
    • HIST 371B (Modern Latin America), or
    • POL 350 (Latin American Politics), or
    • SPAN 301 (Society and Culture in the Spanish Speaking World), or
    • SPAN 270/MDIA 309: (Latin American Cinema: A History), or
    • TRS 328 (Makers of Hispanic Catholic History).
  • Elective courses: Four additional courses must be taken.
    • Like the minor, the courses must be taken from at least three different departments.
    • However, unlike the minor, the certificate students must take a minimum of two courses from a specific department outside the student’s major in order to strengthen their understanding of how another discipline approaches the study of Latin American and Latino Studies.
    • Elective courses can be selected from an approved list (see tab on left); any course not on the course list must be approved by the LALS Director. She, in consultation with the Steering Committee, will review the addition of the course.
    • These courses may also satisfy general education or “distribution” requirements for Religion, Philosophy, Social Science and Humanities.
  • Language proficiency – The LALS Certificate requires completion of
    • SPAN 204: Advanced Spanish Conversation and Composition, or
    • SPAN 211: Advanced Spanish Conversation and Composition for Heritage Speakers II.
    • Equivalent courses in Portuguese, or an equivalency exam in either language would also meet this requirement. Other replacements may include Spanish or Portuguese study abroad and/or intensive summer programs, followed by testing acceptable to the Modern Languages department. Note that language courses do not count towards the 6 courses for the certificate. The language requirement is not a prerequisite for beginning the Certificate program; students may work towards the language requirement while also taking their substantive LALS-approved courses.


Students who achieve at least a 3.5 GPA average in the six courses completed for the Certificate will be awarded the Certificate in Latin American and Latino Studies with Distinction. Students with a lower GPA but who complete all requirements for the certificate (the six courses, plus SPAN 204 or equivalent, as noted above), will be awarded the standard Certificate (i.e., without Distinction).


The LALS Certificate is open to all undergraduate students at CUA who have declared a major. Students can sign up at any time after consultation with the LALS Director and their academic adviser.

Progress and Advising:

Students electing the LALS Certificate are encouraged to meet with the LALS Director each semester to discuss course selection, to obtain assurance that selected courses count toward the Certificate, and to discuss their progress toward fulfilling the language proficiency requirement. Students must obtain prior approval from the LALS Director for participation in study abroad programs and for internship selections if these are to count for their LALS Certificate.
Not all courses will be offered each year, so each student’s curriculum will have to be planned and closely monitored to assure the required distribution of two core courses, no more than two in the major, at least four in other departments of which two are in the same department, plus language courses. Fulfilling the distribution and language requirements would nominally take at least 6 semesters, which could include summer study. A student beginning in the Freshman or Sophomore year could complete the Certificate within a four-year BA or BS program by selecting LALS courses for language and other General Education requirements.
The ideal sequence for a student starting at CUA with no Spanish or Portuguese would be to begin with SPAN or PORT 101 in the Freshman year or Sophomore at the latest, taking core courses in the Sophomore year (the core courses, while introductory, are not formally prerequisites for other LALS-approved course, which can thus be taken in any order) and the remaining four by the second semester of the Senior year.