Majoring in African American Studies

To receive a major in African American Studies, students have to take a total of 12 courses inside of the Department, and 5 related courses outside of the Department. The 12 courses in the Department include 5 Core Courses, 6 Elective Courses, and 1 Senior Course. To sign up for the major in African American Studies, contact Professor Celeste Watkins-Hayes (c-watkins@northwestern.edu). The course requirements are as follows:

Core courses (choose any 5):

  • Af Am St 236: Introduction to African American Studies
  • Af Am St 210-0: Survey of African American Literature
  • Af Am St 211-0: Literatures of the Black World
  • Af Am St 212-1 or -2: Introduction to African American History 1 or 2
  • Af Am St 213-0: History of the Black World
  • Af Am St 214-0: Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Af Am St 215: Introduction to Black Social and Political Life
  • Af Am St 245: Black Diaspora and Transnationality

Elective Courses (6 required):

In addition to the Core Courses, 6 Elective Courses in the Department (that is, with Af Am St course numbers) are required, including at least 4 at the 300 level. This allows students to further specialize in one of the Department's strength, or to continue to broadly sample the range of scholarly production in the field. Any substitutions must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Senior Course (1 required):

Af Am St 390: Senior Seminar

This course is sometimes driven by student research projects or intellectual interests, and other times it allows students to participate in the research questions being pursued by the professor.

Af Am St 396: Internship in African American Studies

The Department circulates information about internships that students can pursue for credit. Students are also able to propose an internship that includes an intellectual question and short reading list. Internship curricula must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Af Am St 399: Independent Study

Students work in a one-on-one relationship with a faculty member to pursue further an area of interest to the student. The schedule and curriculum is jointly decided by the student and professor. Students writing a Senior Thesis can use an independent study for research or writing.

Related Courses (5 required):

Majors must take 5 courses outside the Department, including at least 3 at the 300 level, that relate to the field of African American Studies. As examples, these courses may develop methodological skills in literary criticism or archival research, or they may follow a substantive focus in racial inequality in the U.S., African politics, or global colonialism. These courses are subject to the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and students should consult with the DUS in advance if the course content is unclear.