PhD Program

The Department of African American Studies

The department began in 1970, as a unit within the newly established special program of Ethnic Studies, comprised of African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Studies, and Native American Studies. An A.B. Degree has been offered in African American Studies since 1973. The department is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the area of African Diaspora Studies.

Graduate Program Introduction

The African American Studies graduate program focuses on the life, culture, and social organization (broadly defined) of persons of African descent. The study of Africa, North America, and the Caribbean are central components of the program. Students are expected to apply a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the international and national divisions of race as they pertain to persons of African descent, wherever they may find themselves. Such an approach is to be employed for the study and understanding of development and underdevelopment, domination and power, self determination, mutual cooperation, and aesthetic and creative expression. Issues of identity construction, marginality, territoriality and the universal role of race in the organization of political economy and in class formation are critical to the program’s intellectual agenda.

Program Requirements

A minimum of two years or four semesters of academic residence is required by the university for all Ph.D. programs. Academic residence is defined as enrollment in at least 12 units in the 200 series of courses. Thus, every graduate student must enroll in and complete a minimum of 12 units of graduate course work per required semester of academic residency. After successful completion of course work with a minimum GPA of 3.30, a pre qualifying examination based upon general knowledge in the field of African American Studies will be administered by the department.

Academic Preparation

Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree and should demonstrate a general knowledge of African American history and an understanding of the disciplinary bases for the study of the African Diaspora. Demonstrated knowledge in the field should include understanding relations among social, economic, and political structures and culture in African American life. Applicant records must also demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language at the undergraduate level comparable to this university’s language requirement.

Graduate Handbook

For more information, please contact Lindsey Villarreal (