Academic Program

African American studies is an interdisciplinary program designed to enrich knowledge of the experience of African Americans from the past to the present, both within and beyond the United States. Attention is given to "race" as a critical tool of analysis for explaining the allocation of economic resources, the formation of personal and group identity, and the changing nature of political behavior. Study of African American experiences provides insight into secular cultural practices, intellectual traditions, religious doctrines and practices, and social institutions with attention to issues of class, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

The chair of African American studies provides a list of courses offered each year. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, students should 1) consult regularly with the chair or a faculty advisor in African American studies to ensure that their program has both breadth and depth and 2) devise programs of study approved by the chair or a faculty advisor by the fall semester of the junior year.

Thesis advisors should be chosen by each student, in consultation with the chair, according to the subject matter of the thesis.

More information on the African American studies program is available on the website (

Major Requirements. Students must complete eleven courses and a thesis. Required courses for the major include Introduction to African American Studies (AAS 100), Interdisciplinary Studies: Methods and Modes of Inquiry (INDS 250), a junior-senior seminar, at least one course that has an experiential component, and a senior thesis (AAS 457 and/or 458). Majors must also take at least one course that emphasizes feminist histories and analyses and one that focuses on black diasporic life outside the United States. Possible areas of concentration may be in literature or the arts (music, theater, dance, fine art), film studies, environmental studies, gender studies, politics, public policy, anthropology, economics, education, sociology, psychology, history, philosophy, race and science, or may focus on a particular world region (e.g., the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America). To fulfill these requirements courses may be chosen, with the guidance of a faculty advisor and the approval of the chair, from African American studies or from the list of approved electives that follows the course descriptions.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.

Minor. A minor in African American studies allows students to develop a basic foundation in the field and to complement the perspective and modes of analysis offered in their major area of study. The program has established the following requirements for a minor in African American studies:

1) AAS 100. Introduction to African American Studies.
2) AA/WS 201. Race, Ethnicity, and Feminist Thought.
3) AA/HI 243. African American History.
4) Three additional courses, of which one should focus on black diasporic life outside the United States, and one should be at the 300 level.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the minor.

  • Contact Us