Frequently Asked Questions


About our department’s former title “Raza Studies.”


The term “Raza” means race or the people. The term figuratively refers to the Spanish conquest of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and the resulting mestizaje or the mixed racial and ethnic identity of indigenous, European and African heritage unique to the Americas. In practical usage, the term Raza refers to mestizos or mixed peoples; we have the blood of the conquered and conqueror, indigenous, (i.e., Aztec, Mayan, Olmec, Yaqui, Zapotec and numerous other Native Americans), European, African, and Asian. The term Raza was popularized by Mexican educator, José Vasconcelos who wrote the book La Raza Cósmica and used the term inclusively to refer to a new "race" of people born out of the unique process of mestizaje in the New World.

The department was originally named La Raza Studies to establish an inclusive identity for the uniquely San Francisco mix of Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Central and South Americans living in the greater San Francisco Bay area. The name of the department was streamlined to "Raza Studies" in 1999 and was recently changed to Latina/Latino Studies in 2011, retaining the inclusiveness that is even more important today than it was in 1969.

Top of page

Why the name change to Latina/Latino Studies?

Following a proud 42-year history as Raza Studies, our department began a new and exciting phase of growth and development in 2011/12 as the newly-named Latina/Latino Studies Department. As Fall 2011 graduates came into the Chair’s office to get their graduation applications signed, they were joyful at the prospect of being the first graduates to have “Latina/Latino Studies” on their diploma. This title says to the world that our students have developed an area of expertise in the growing and recognized academic field of Latina/Latino Studies. Our department retains every aspect of our activist heritage while highlighting our strengths in pan-Latina/Latino studies, including extensive coverage in our curriculum of Latina/Latino populations in the United States (herewith listed as U.S.). with roots in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Our new name also signals our commitment to study gender as well as the many thematic issues that affect Latinas/os/x in the U.S., including transnationalism, migration, language, culture, identity and empowerment. We are already a leading force in the field of Latina/Latino Studies and we look forward to the coming years as we build upon our leadership position as the Latina/Latino Studies Department.


Top of page


What subject areas are covered in Latina/Latino Studies?

Latina/Latino Studies systematically examines the histories and cultures of diverse Latino populations in the United States. This includes the study of internal culture and cultural production as well as the study of Latinas/os in relation to U.S. society and its institutions. The curriculum covers social history, economy, politics, citizenship, immigration, health care and the legal system as well as Latina/o family, culture, social relations, philosophy, literature, arts, and enduring indigenous cultural forms.
Latina/Latino Studies looks at contemporary life and current issues that impact our communities. There are Latina/Latino Studies courses that examine women’s issues, educational equity issues, social problems, social movements, crime and justice, community organizing and transculturation. Latina/Latino Studies majors and minors acquire a substantive body of comparative knowledge about Latina/o peoples’ histories, cultures and contemporary social and political realities. Students gain the necessary skills to think, read, and communicate critically and creatively in diverse multicultural environments. They are able to systematically collect, construct and deconstruct, analyze and interpret information using multiple methods and models, multiple perspectives and paradigms. The curriculum is critical, holistic, reflexive and community-centered. It is designed to develop the knowledge base and the critical skills necessary to pursue a variety of graduate and professional studies and entry level careers. Our majors enjoy the special advantage of close working relationships with faculty and other students. Faculty keep regular office hours and are recognized for accessibility to students in graduating senior exit polls.
The Latina/Latino Studies curriculum is multidisciplinary;  faculty members have completed doctoral and masters degrees in a variety of academic fields, including  political science, economics, communication, history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, law, counseling, literature, and creative writing. The courses offered by Latina/Latino Studies critically examine issues involving multicultural and multi-ethnic Latino populations, drawing upon a range of methodological and theoretical perspectives. The curriculum assists students in the use of data and theories to explain changes and continuities and understand their implications for our communities and the nation at large.
The program pioneered the use of critical pedagogies, multidisciplinary approaches and the integration of social practice with abstract theory in a cutting-edge community service learning program. Graduates of Latina/Latino Studies move on to their life's work with a firm grounding in a multicultural education responsive to the challenges of an increasingly diverse U.S. population.


Top of page


What can I do with a Latina/Latino Studies Major?

Based on the experiences of our recent graduates, the possibilities are endless for students who complete the Latina/Latino Studies major. Some graduates pursue careers in the non-profit sector as leaders and directors of community-based organizations or in public service through jobs with the city, county or state. Graduates have also been hired into private sector jobs in companies that draw upon their familiarity with the Latina/o community in order to more effectively engage with the ever-growing ranks of Latina/o consumers. Other students combine the Latina/Latino Studies major with another major such as psychology, journalism, marketing, or public health so that they can deepen their capabilities as professionals to serve our complex multicultural society. Latina/Latino Studies majors who want to teach or work in the public school system have valuable cross-cultural skills that help schools to be more responsive to the Latina/o and immigrant communities that now constitute the majority of public school students and families. Prospective teachers often move into a one- or two-year certification program after completing our degree. Some Latina/Latino Studies majors continue their studies in graduate and professional programs including law school, medical school, business school, or M.A. and PhD. programs in a variety of disciplines and professional fields.

Whether in the public or private sector, our students bring their expertise to a variety of professional and vocational realms and are  uniquely qualified to act as a bridge between the general population and the growing Latino population.  Each graduate is challenged to figure out how to draw on their education in Latina/Latino Studies in the service of their community.


Top of page


Why should I minor in Latina/Latino Studies?

Much of the reasoning for majoring in Latina/Latino Studies also applies to a decision to minor in our program (see “Why should I major” above.)  A student that has fewer units and time to dedicate to Latina/Latino Studies may choose to minor instead of majoring. The minor degree is a good way to represent a student’s area of expertise in Latina/Latino Studies that compliments their primary major.  


Top of page


How do I apply for the Major or Minor?

Students can apply to the Latina/Latino Studies major at any time during their academic careers. They are encouraged to declare the major before entering junior status in order to allow for timely completion of the major requirements in coordination with the General Education Program. All Latina/Latino Studies majors must have a Major Advisor. Students should consult with their advisor prior to or at the time that they declare the major. Students who do not yet have an advisor will have the option to choose or be assigned an advisor when they declare the major. A further discussion regarding choosing your advisor can be found on the Major page. Forms to declare the major are available in the Latina/Latino Studies Department Office (EP 103).


Top of page


How do I choose a Major Advisor?

All  Latina/Latino Studies majors must have an advisor. The major advisor is the student's primary connection to the Department, the major and the field. They are responsible for helping students plan their academic careers. They are prepared to help students sort through course options and choose distributed and elective courses. The choices of courses and their sequencing are important for efficient progress through the major and to insure timely graduation. Advisors can also help students with academic and bureaucratic problems that students might encounter. Many University forms and the application for graduation must be signed by an advisor. Advisors can also be a source for reference letters for graduate schools or employment applications. Advisors may be mentors as well.
Major advisors are generally available throughout the semester.  Students are required to see an advisor at least three times during their university careers - when they enroll, when they declare a major and when they are ready to graduate.
Students have the option of choosing their major advisor and should choose based on shared interests and focus. Students should inform the Department of their choice of advisor or if they do not have a preference, they will be assigned by the Department Chair according to areas of expressed academic interests and with attention toward equalizing advising roles among the faculty.

Latina/Latino Studies faculty advisors will help you with the forms to declare a major, minor or double major, assist with your area of academic focus or interest, help you problem-solve as you move toward graduation and support you with graduate school or career advice and resources. For maximum benefit you should keep the same advisor throughout your progress at SFSU. Latina/Latino Studies advisors will advise only about the Latina/Latino Studies major and minor degree programs.  We also encourage students to consult with university advisors for questions regarding GE and other general graduation requirements. University advisors can be reached at:

Undergraduate Advising Center
Graduate Advising Office

The Latina/Latino Studies advisors are as follows: 

  • Katynka Martinez, Chair
  • Teresa Carrillo
  • Jeffrey Duncan-Andrade
  • Melissa Guzman-Garcia
  • Alejandro Murguia
  • Belinda Reyes

Advising Checklists

Major Checklist
Minor Checklist
Departmental Intake Form


If you experience any problems with the department forms, please contact the Latina/Latino Studies Department Staff at (415) 338-6160.


Top of page