Requirements for Master’s Degree


Campus view from across the Charles River.

M.A. in African American Studies

The Master of Arts degree program is focused on building conceptual and research skills that will allow students to become lifelong critical investigators of cross-cultural interactions. While our focus is on the African American experience, our program approaches that experience in the context of global processes and in terms of its relationship to other groups such as Latinos, Asians, European Americans, Africans, and Native Americans.

Admissions Tests and Prerequisites

Candidates for the Master of Arts in African American Studies must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Because of the broad focus of this program, there are no specific undergraduate concentration requirements except that the student must have completed some study in both the humanities and the social sciences. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Tests are required of all applicants.

Course Requirements

The course requirements for the master’s degree in African American Studies consist of GRS AA 871 African American History and CAS AA 580 History of Racial Thought, plus six additional courses in African American Studies, for a total of eight courses or 32 credit hours:

• CAS AA 501/502 Topics in African American Literature
• CAS AA 504 African American and Asian American Women Writers
• CAS AA 507 Literature of the Harlem Renaissance
• CAS AA 510 Afro-American Drama
• CAS AA 513 Readings in American Politics
• CAS AA 514 Labor, Sexuality, and Resistance in the Afro Atlantic World
• CAS AA 517 Urban Politics and Policy
• CAS AA 538 Studies in West Indian Literature: Caribbean Poetry
• CAS AA 569 African American Economic History
• CAS AA 571 African American Art
• CAS AA 580 The History of Racial Thought
• CAS AA 588 Women, Power, and Culture in Africa
• CAS AA 590 The World and the West
• GRS AA 716 African Diaspora Arts in the Americas
• CAS AA 804 Seminar: The Family
• GRS AA 808 Seminar: Ethnic, Race, and Minority Relations
• GRS AA 871 African American History
• GRS AA 882 Religions in Precolonial Africa
• GRS AA 885 Atlantic History
• GRS AA 901, 902 Directed Study in African American Studies
Unlisted professional courses may be selected, in consultation with the director, for graduate credit as part of the African American Studies Program.

Students are also expected to produce two major research papers, one of which must be orally defended during the last semester in residence. The two papers should not be undertaken during the same semester. Each paper should be completed as part of the requirements of a graduate course, with the consent of the professor.

Language Requirement for the M.A.

All students must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language. This can be done by having completed at least two years of study in a foreign language at the undergraduate level, by passing a language examination administered by the program on the first Friday of the first semester, or by successfully completing a language reading course numbered 621 offered through the Graduate School.

Doctoral Work in African American Studies

Although Boston University does not currently offer a PhD major in African American Studies, it is possible to pursue a concentration within a related PhD program, such as History or American & New England Studies.