Admissions

APPLICATION

Applicants to the PhD program in African American Studies are expected to submit the following by December 15th.

  • Graduate application: Click here for the online application form
  • Statement of purpose: Applicants will supply statements in which they describe their intellectual interests and the factors that have shaped them. Applicants should demonstrate why a degree in African American Studies at Northwestern is relevant for their professional aspirations. We will use the essay to rank applicants and to assess each applicant's fit for our graduate program given the research and teaching areas of the faculty. Be as specific as possible about your research interests and qualifications.
  • At least two letters of recommendation: Reference letters should speak to students' writing, research, analytical, and teaching skills where applicable, and all letters should comment on students' intellectual creativity and enthusiasm. Students who are returning to academia after significant work experience must still include one academic letter of reference while the other may be from a professional supervisor, colleague, or community leader.
  • Writing sample: Candidates will need to demonstrate a critical facility in their writing and in the analysis of intellectual problems. The writing sample of 15-25 pages can be in any area of study, but should address issues relevant to the Black community, nationally or internationally defined.
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts: Please submit transcripts via online application.
  • Exams: TOEFL scores will be required of non-native English speakers. GRE scores are not required.

TOEFL or IELTS test scores are required of most international applicants. Official scores must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry and must come directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). For example, to be considered valid for Fall 2013 admission, TOEFL scores must be no older than September 2011.

The Graduate School's school code for TOEFL is 1565. Test takers may be asked by ETS to choose the "department" to which they want their scores sent. While you should choose the department most closely aligned to the program to which you are applying, we do not use this information to distribute scores. ALL scores sent to school code 1565 are made available to our programs, regardless of the "departments" selected on the ETS form. For more information regarding the TOEFL click here.

Copies of your IELTS scores must be sent directly from IELTS to your admitting department. For more information regarding IELTS click here.

You will also be asked scan and upload a copy of your score report (if you have it available) while submitting your online application. This uploaded version is not considered "official" and will be used only for preliminary review purposes until your official scores have been received from ETS or IELTS.

GRE scores are NOT required.

UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE AND COURSEWORK

A suitable background for an interdisciplinary advanced degree in African American Studies will be a significant factor. This is most clearly signaled by an undergraduate degree in African and/or African American Studies, but may also be satisfied by relevant coursework in African American Studies, African Studies, Ethnic Studies (with a concentration on Blacks in the U.S. and/or the diaspora), or Area Studies (e.g., Caribbean Studies, Latin American Studies). We will definitely consider applicants with majors in the traditional disciplines that illustrate significant interest in African American Studies through their additional coursework and/or baccalaureate work/research.

Additional Considerations: While we do not yet offer a terminal MA degree, students entering our program with a Masters degree may be exempt from certain course requirements to be decided in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Generally, only Masters degrees in African American or African Diasporic Studies will be considered as satisfying requirements toward the degree. Students with Masters in other fields must illustrate a concentration through significant coursework and writing in African American Studies.
Click here for the online application form.

DEADLINE

Applications for the PhD program must be received by December 15th.

FINANCIAL AID

Students admitted to the PhD program typically receive five years of funding, including a fellowship in the first year and teaching and research fellowships or departmental assistantships in subsequent years. Students will also receive summer support for three years. Fellowships and assistantships cover the full cost of tuition and provide a stipend. Ongoing funding is contingent upon the student's satisfactory progress towards the degree (please see the Guide to Graduate Study for details).

Some PhD students may be eligible for funding through the Illinois Consortium for Educational Opportunity Program (ICEOP), a state-funded, need-based program awarding fellowships that provide a stipend, with tuition scholarships provided by the Graduate School. To be eligible, minority students must be Illinois residents and intend to seek faculty positions in Illinois upon degree completion.

QUESTIONS

Please see the department's Admission FAQ page.

GENERAL INFORMATION

General information on graduate study at Northwestern University is available at The Graduate School web site.