African American Studies, by its very nature, is an interdisciplinary field. It acquaints the student with myriad ways of thinking (historical, sociological, literary, quantitative and qualitative analysis), researching, and writing about the diverse experiences of African Americans in the United States and of African descended people throughout the African Diaspora (from dispersion, colonialism, the slave trade and slavery, through emancipation, decolonization, independence, and postcolonialism). African American Studies brings together the voluminous scholarship generated by past and present historians; political scientists; sociologists; anthropologists; cultural, literary, and performance studies critics; and scholars working on diverse topics and constructions of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.
The Department offers advanced graduate training through a PhD in African American Studies. Students who have completed either the B.A. or M.A. degree may apply to the Ph.D. program in African American Studies.
Three substantive areas form the basis of this program:
- Expressive Arts and Cultural Studies
- Politics, Society, and Culture
Each of these areas is populated by scholars within the department who focus their research within a domestic and/or international context. The PhD program in African American Studies provides students with the historical background in the experiences of people of African descent, the analytic preparation to carry out rigorous empirical research, and the professional development to pursue careers in academia or beyond.
We also offer a Certificate Program in African American and Diaspora Studies for graduate students who are enrolled in other Northwestern University departments.