Graduate Certificate in African Studies

The Graduate Certificate in African Studies provides specialized training and research experience in African studies to advanced students interested in fields such as law, management, international relations, communication, education, fine arts, medicine, and public health. While the African Studies Center is based in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, students in any Boston University graduate or professional program who fulfill the requirements outlined below, in addition to the requirements of their degree programs, can earn the certificate. Typically, no additional coursework is required because courses completed for the African Studies Certificate usually also fulfill course requirements toward students’ degree programs.

Courses with substantial African content from any of Boston University’s schools may be used toward the certificate, with approval from the African Studies Director or Assistant Director.

The African Studies Center offers several Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships annually to qualified candidates for MA or PhD degrees who plan to specialize in African Studies and have an interest in learning an African language. Financial support for summer study of an African language is also available.

All students intending to complete the certificate must submit a Verification of Eligibility for Certificate form to the African Studies Certificate director.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the history, politics, religions, and/or arts of historical or contemporary Africa.
  • Demonstrate reading proficiency at the intermediate level in at least one African language.
  • Demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives on the growth and development of society in one or more African societies, including observations and critiques that have been developed both within and outside these societies.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the commonalities and differences across the geographically dispersed societies and civilizations of Africa.


For a full list of approved courses both within the Pardee School of Global Studies and from the University’s other schools and colleges, please consult the Assistant Director of the African Studies Center.

To receive the certificate, students must:

  • Successfully complete at least 16 credit hours of coursework from the African Studies curriculum with a minimum grade of B in each course.
  • Include courses from at least two departments or schools.
  • Include no more than 8 credit hours of coursework in directed study or research.
  • Complete a significant piece of research such as an MA or MFA thesis or doctoral dissertation, or two substantial research papers in graduate-level seminars, on Africa.
  • Demonstrate reading knowledge of an African language or a European language used in African Studies. This is demonstrated by passing the language proficiency test of the student’s own department, where it is required. For students in schools or departments that do not offer language proficiency testing, African Studies will arrange an assessment of reading proficiency.
  • Receive approval of completion from the Director or Assistant Director of the African Studies Center and the student’s academic advisor.