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Major Requirements

Students majoring in African and African American Studies create their own program of study by choosing courses in a structured and reflective manner from a variety of departments. Students should note that courses in italics have particularly high AFAM-related content and are highly recommended. Courses marked AFAMPERT complement the major but do not fulfill any requirements without special permission from the Program Director. Because creating a meaningful program from a wide array of offerings is complex, students interested in majoring should work with the Program Director to draw up a program of study that has breadth and depth before declaring their major.

The African and African American Studies major thus prepares students for lifetime engagement in scholarship as well as in fields such as law, public policy, education, public health, social work, and the arts. Toward this end, and in addition to coursework, students are encouraged to take advantage of the rich array of speakers, exhibits, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities related to Africans and their diasporas.


I. Admission to the Program depends upon the acceptance by the AFAM Committee of a written proposal outlining a student’s program of study

II. Interdisciplinary Course (6 credits). Each student must complete an interdisciplinary, six-credit course that specifically discusses African and African American Studies as a discipline.

  • AFAM 100: Here, There, and Everywhere: African Diaspora Formations in and Beyond The Atlantic
  • AFAM 113: Introduction to African/African American Studies
  • AFAM 130: African American Social Movements
  • AFAM 182: Black Identity & Belonging
  • AFAM 194: The Black Middle Class
  • AFAM 220: The Souls of Black Folks: African Diaspora Intellectual Thinkers & Questions of Black Identity and Belonging
  • AFAM 230: The Black Middle Class

III. Survey Courses (18 credits). Each student must complete three six-credit survey courses that introduce the “state of the field” of African and African Diaspora studies within specific disciplines.

  • ENGL 117: African American Literature
  • HIST 125: African American History I
  • HIST 126: African American History II
  • HIST 180: An Historical Survey of East Africa
  • HIST 181: West Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade
  • HIST 182: Living in the Colonial Context: Africa, 1850-1950
  • HIST 183: History of Early West Africa
  • HIST 184: Colonial West Africa

IV. Distribution Courses (30 credits). Among these distribution courses, students must choose at least one 6-credit course each from among the three disciplinary groups: humanities, social sciences and arts and literature; at least four of the distribution courses must be at the 200-level or above and at least one at the 300-level. The 300-level course should be completed in one of the two disciplines in which the student writes his/her comprehensive exercise; in this course the student must produce a substantial paper or project in African and/or African American Studies. In addition, majors are highly encouraged to take the AMST 345 junior methods course. HIST 182 cannot double count as a survey course.

  • Arts & Literature
    • ENGL 238: African Literature in English
    • ENGL 243: Text and Film
    • ENGL 252: Caribbean Fiction
    • ENGL 258: Contemporary American Playwrights of Color
    • ENGL 350: The Postcolonial Novel: Forms and Contexts
    • FREN 235: Francophone Literature of Africa and the Caribbean
    • FREN 245: Francophone Literature of Africa and the Caribbean
    • MUSC 332: Motown
  • Humanities
    • HIST 100: American Antebellum Slavery
    • HIST 181: West Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade
    • HIST 276: The African Diaspora in Latin America
    • HIST 280: African in the Arab World
    • HIST 281: War in Modern Africa
    • HIST 282: Masquerades in Africa
    • HIST 286: Africans in the Arab World: On Site and Revisited
    • HIST 322: Civil Rights and Black Power
    • HIST 381: History, Memory and the Atlantic World: Ghana and the United States
    • HIST 382: History, Memory, and the Atlantic World: On Site and Revisited
    • RELG 246: Religion and the Black Freedom Struggle
    • RELG 247: RAP and Religion: Rhymes about God and the Good
    • RELG 262: Islamic Africa
    • RELG 330: Radical Pacifism
  • Social Sciences
    • EDUC 225: Issues in Urban Education
    • ECON 247: Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution 
    • ENTS 264: Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods in Africa
    • ENTS 280: Tanzania Program: Research Projects on Conservation and Development
    • ENTS 284: Tanzania Program: Cultural Studies
    • ENTS 285: Wildlife Conservation and Livelihoods
    • POSC 207: Urban Politics in a Global Era
    • POSC 266: Urban Political Economy
    • POSC 306: How Race Matters in American Politics
    • POSC 366: Urban Political Economy
    • PSYC 384: Psychology of Prejudice
    • RELG 277: Truth and Reconciliation Commissions
    • SOAN 256: Transformations in African Ethnography
    • SOAN 395: Ethnography of Reproduction
  • Arts Practice
    • MUSC 183J: Ethnic Drumming Instruction
    • MUSC 192: Karimba
    • MUSC 192: African Drum Ensemble
    • MUSC 193: African Mbira Ensemble
    • MUSC 196: Jubilee Singers
    • MUSC 199: African Drum Class
    • DANC 301: Contemporary Styles and Techniques: African Dance

V. Senior Seminar (6 credits)

The AFAM senior seminar can be fulfilled by a 300-level course with high AFAM content and in which a major term paper in AFAM is completed. This 300-level capstone should be completed in one of the two disciplines in which the student writes his or her comps.

VI. Comprehensive Exercise (6 credits)

The comprehensive exercise, or comps, is a research paper of about 34 to 40 pages on a topic related to AFAM. It is grounded in two complementary disciplines and advised by two professors, one from each discipline. The student should have completed a senior seminar in one of these disciplines. The comps process begins with a proposal in fall term of the senior year, and it ends with a written thesis and oral presentation early in spring term.