Undergraduate Programs

Boston University provides an excellent opportunity to develop or further your interests in the study of Africa. Students can reflect their area studies strengths through two minors managed by the African Studies Center or a major in Linguistics and African Languages administered by the Department of Linguistics. To see all that the ASC has to offer for undergraduates—and for reasons to pursue African studies—check out our comprehensive guide here. We also encourage our undergraduate students to consider applying to our Unpaid Internship Funding Program, so they may receive financial support while partaking in unpaid internships.

Minor in African Studies

The undergraduate minor in African Studies is designed to expose students to disciplinary approaches to Africa outside their major. The requirements are:

  • Six 4-credit courses (24 credits total) must be chosen from three or more disciplines to constitute a coherent program of study. The courses should be chosen in consultation with an advisor from the African Studies faculty.
    • CAS ID 116 Africa Today is the foundational required course of the minor. Students with an unusually good preparation in African Studies may petition to have this requirement waived.
    • Four of the six courses must be outside the discipline of the student’s major.
    • Four courses must be at the 300 level.
  • Students must complete a substantial research paper related to African studies of at least 20 pages (double-spaced). A paper supervised by a faculty member and completed as a capstone, thesis, or research paper that is a major component of a class at the 300 level or above may be used to meet this requirement. If the paper is part of a graded assignment, it must receive a B or better; if it does not receive a letter grade, it must pass as determined by the appropriate faculty member(s). The paper must be reviewed and approved by the African Studies Center’s academic advisor for the African studies minor.
  • A grade of C or better is required for courses to be accepted for the minor.

Learn more about the African Studies minor


Niger Study Abroad
Study Abroad: Enjoying a view of the flooded Niger River

Minor in African Languages and Literature

The African languages and literatures minor combines language and culture study with the study of written literature and oral traditions in the African context. In-depth knowledge of an African language of the student’s choosing is applied in courses in cultural and linguistic anthropology, sociology of language, history, language in government and education, literature, international relations, ethnomusicology, and folklore and oral traditions. This minor is made up of required and elective courses from the African Studies Center, as well as elective courses from other College of Arts & Sciences departments. The required courses are:

  • Six 4-credit courses (24 credits total) in African languages, literatures, or linguistics chosen from the list of approved courses or chosen in consultation with an advisor from the African Studies Center.
    • Two years (four courses) of African language study at or above the 200-level. Students must possess knowledge of an African language (Amharic, Hausa, Igbo, Mandinka, Swahili, Twi, Wolof, Xhosa, or Zulu, or where appropriate, another African language) through the 312 level (6 semesters) or its equivalent, as demonstrated through testing or coursework.
    • CAS LD 491 and 492 Directed Study in African Languages and Linguistics may serve as substitutes if 400-level language courses are not available
      • If either CAS LD 491 or LD 492 is not offered in a given year, an acceptable alternative may be selected in consultation with the student’s advisor.

Learn more about the African Languages and Literature minor


Major in Linguistics and African Languages

The new major in Linguistics and African Languages provides a solid foundation in linguistics as well as the opportunity for in-depth study of one or more African languages, along with aspects of the history and culture of the speakers. Students will be prepared to pursue graduate degrees in a variety of research and professional fields, as well as to develop careers in government and non-government organizations where interdisciplinary training in linguistic theory and practice as well as language and cultural competencies are increasingly in demand. The program is administered by the Department of Linguistics. The required courses are:

  • Required courses
    • CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics
    • CAS LX 301 Phonetics
    • CAS LX 321 Syntax
    • CAS LX 331 Semantics
    • CAS LX 391 Field Methods
    • CAS AN 521/CAS LX 341 Sociolinguistics
    • CAS AN 524 Language and Culture Contact
  • Two electives in African languages at or above the 5th semester level, chosen from offerings in Akan (Twi), Amharic, Hausa, Igbo, Kiswahili, Wolof, isiXhosa, and isiZulu. Students looking to take a placement test in an African language should e-mail African Language Program Director, Dr. Zoliswa Mali.
  • Four additional electives from among offerings in Linguistics (at or above the 300-level) and African Studies, with at least one in each of those areas.

Learn more about the Major in Linguistics and African Languages


For further information about these minors, contact Eric Schmidt or Michael Diblasi, African Studies Center, 232 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215; 617-353-3674. For further information about the major in Linguistics and African Languages, contact the Department of Linguistics.