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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

W.E.B. Du Bois Department

The M.A. Program in Afro-American Studies

Terminal Master’s Degree

In addition to offering a Master of Arts degree to our doctoral students, the W.E.B. Du Bois Department offers a terminal M.A. to students who satisfy the course requirements. Master’s students will take 46 credits in courses over two years. Students take the Comprehensive Examination after the first year based on the Major Works seminars.

Master's Degree Eligibility Form 

M.A. Degree Requirements

Total Requirements: (46 Course Credits and the Comprehensive Exam)


The First Year


All first-year graduate students in the Du Bois Department take Major Works in Afro-American Studies, a one-year-long, team-taught seminar. Major Works counts as a double seminar (2 courses) each semester. This seminar meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30 – 5:00 p.m.   AfroAm 701 and 702, Major Works I & II, are open only to first-year students in the Du Bois Department. The seminar is structured around the two graduate program tracks: History/Politics and Literature/Culture.  In it you will receive an introduction to some of the critical issues, ideas, and readings in African American studies, with an emphasis on the culture, politics, history, and literature of African Americans in the U.S. with some attention paid to other African diasporic communities in the western hemisphere.  

5 Courses   (Major Works I and II count as 4 courses)

Fall:                   AfroAm 701: Major Works I  (9 credits/2 courses)

Spring:              AfroAm 702: Major Works II (9 credits/2 courses)

                          One elective course


Your academic advisors will be the Major Works Coordinators:


                      History/Politics = Professor Traci Parker

                      Literature/Culture = Professor Steven Tracy


The Major Works seminar affords you an opportunity to meet every faculty member in the department. We encourage you to schedule time with those individual professors whose scholarship is of particular interest to you.


The Comprehensive Examination: All second-year students will take the Comprehensive Examination in September before the Fall term of the second year. You should plan to be available to receive this take-home examination during the first weekend of the Fall semester. The examination will focus on your readings in Major Works. The faculty readers will expect you to demonstrate a firm grasp of the content of your readings in Major Works and a critical and analytical mind in response to the topics you will write on for the examination.



6 Courses    

Fall:               Register for:      Three (3) elective courses (12 credits/3 courses)                                  

Spring:           Register for:      Three (3) elective courses (12 credits/3 courses)



     Master's Degree Eligibility Form