The Department of African and African-American Studies offers interdisciplinary substantive and language courses leading to the Master of Arts degree in two areas of concentration: (1) African, and (2) African-American studies.

The master's degree in African and African-American Studies has two related objectives: (1) it fulfills the educational needs of persons who seek positions with organizations in both the public and private sectors, and (2) it prepares persons who desire to pursue the terminal degrees in their field. The program emphasizes the broader concepts in the humanities and the social sciences, but provides an option for concentration in either African or African-American Studies.

The integrative focus of the curriculum is an important characteristic of the interdisciplinary nature of this program. In this regard, the candidate should develop the capacity to continue as a self-educator throughout their career. Broad background study in this field enables the graduate to assimilate newly-acquired skills and methodologies quickly. Graduates should be prepared to cope with the rapid changes in Africa and the African diaspora. The program places considerable emphasis on both the internal and external forces which affect African and African-American societies. The continuity and change in Africa and their impact on world civilizations are emphasized in both the required courses and through electives.

Accommodations are made under African Studies component for Arabic and Islamic Studies concentration, and under African-American Studies component for students who may be interested in an Haitian Studies concentration. Accommodation also exists for members of the Armed Forces to complete their studies on any and all regions of the African continent in less than two years if they are willing to study through summer.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Admission to the M.A. Program

Prospective students are admitted to the M.A. program for the fall or spring semester. The deadline to submit applications is May 1st for fall admission and October 1st for spring admission.

Eligibility criteria for admission to the M.A. program follow Graduate Studies' admission policy. To be considered for admission to regular graduate status in the program, a student must hold a bachelor's degree and have earned at least a B (3.0) grade-point average in previous academic work. A full list of the required application materials can be found on the Department's website.

Non-native speakers of English must meet English proficiency requirements as described here

M.A. Degree Requirements

The African and African-American studies M.A. program takes 2 years of full-time study. Nine upper-division and graduate courses, in addition to a thesis or additional course work for a nonthesis option, are required for the degree—a total of 33 credit hours. There are 4 core courses:

Core courses
AAAS 801Introduction to Africana Studies: African-American3
AAAS 802Introduction to Africana Studies: African3
AAAS 803Research Methods in Africana Studies3
AAAS 804Seminar in Africana Studies3
Area of specialization
Students are expected to choose 5 courses in their areas of specialization.15
Thesis Option
AAAS 899Thesis6
No more than 6 thesis hours may be applied toward the 33 credit hours.
Credit hours outside the department
Students can take 6 credit hours outside the department in related course offerings including among others American studies; anthropology; art; communication studies; economics; education; English; film and media studies; geography; history; philosophy; political science; religion; sociology; theatre; and women, gender, and sexuality studies.

Non-thesis Option

A non-thesis option of 6 credit hours of course work and research papers in one’s area of concentration is also available.  If this option is chosen, the student will take 2 more courses, each of which will have 2 large research-oriented essays for their final projects.

Research Skills

Students will fulfill a language/research skills requirement in accordance with the concentration chosen. Language/research skills courses must be at the 500 level or above to be counted toward the 33 hours required for the degree.

  1. A master’s degree in African and African-American studies with an African studies concentration requires proficiency in an African language. Proficiency may be fulfilled by 1 of the following:
    • Completing 2 years of college-level language study at KU, at an equivalent institution, or through an intensive course. Language courses offered on a regular basis at KU that count toward proficiency are Amharic, Arabic, Hausa, KiSwahili, Somali, Wolof and any one of the number of African languages for which the Kansas African Studies Center has pedagogical materials and proficiency-testing capabilities.
    • The equivalent of 2 years of an approved language.
    • Proof that the student is a native speaker of an African language.
  2. A master’s degree in African and African-American studies with an African-American Studies concentration requires that a student
    • Fulfill the African language requirement outlined above, or
    • Fulfill Haitian Creole or any other non-African language requirement employing standards comparable to those governing the African language requirement outlined above, or
    • Demonstrate competence in a research skill relevant to the student’s specific concentration in African-American studies. Competence in a research skill is certified by the department’s graduate studies director.

In consultation with their advisors and to the satisfaction of the department, students must demonstrate that their choice of a language or research skill is appropriate for their specific research interest in the field of African-American studies.

Handbook for Graduate Students

Detailed information, application deadlines, and general information may be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Plan of Study

Students are expected to discuss their plans of study with the graduate advisor. The information that follows is only a guide toward that discussion, using fall admission as an example:

Semester 1HoursSemester 2HoursSemester 3HoursSemester 4Hours
AAAS 801 (required)3AAAS 802 (required)3AAAS 803 (required)3AAAS 804 (required)3
2 electives62 electives61 elective36 thesis hours or 2 elective courses for non-thesis option6
Demonstrate research skill competence or begin work toward itDemonstrate research skill competence or continue work toward itDemonstrate research skill competence or continue work toward itDemonstrate meeting research skill competence requirement
 9 9 6 9
Total Hours 33