Founded in 1969, the African American Studies Program at Boston University was the first graduate program of its kind in the country. Today, students who enroll in the MA program are required to take eight total courses —African American History, The History of Racial Thought, and six electives—to complete the degree. The electives can be taken in a variety of disciplines, from a diverse group of faculty who hail from departments across the university, including History, English, Art History, American Studies, Political Science, Economics, and Sociology. In addition, the program has worked to create strong connections with other schools at the university, including the College of Communication and the School of Education.
Boston University as a major research institution offers students in the program a wide range of academic resources. The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University holds the papers of many notable African American figures, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Senator Edward Brooke, and writers Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni. The African American Studies Program collaborates closely with the Gotlieb Archive, and students in the program can improve their research skills by working with the range of primary documents that it holds. The wider Boston area has one of the highest concentrations of stellar colleges and universities, thus allowing access to their academic resources as well.
In addition to its academic programs, the African American Studies Program at Boston University is also very active in the surrounding community. The program runs a regular lecture series through the academic year that has hosted such distinguished speakers at Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Isabel Wilkerson, Roland Fryer, Benjamin Chavis, and Paul Farmer. In addition, the program regularly holds symposia and conferences that investigate the many dimensions of the African American experience. Graduate students in the program not only have the opportunity to attend these programs but have in the past also been instrumental in the planning and implementation of such events.
The one-year Masters program in African American Studies hopes to offer its graduate students the best of both worlds: a small program housed in a great research university in an exciting and diverse city and an environment in which students can forge close relationships with faculty.