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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

W.E.B. Du Bois Department

The Graduate Program in Afro-American Studies

Ph.D. Degree: The Doctor of Philosophy

M.A. Degree:  The Master of Arts Degree


Graduate Program Director: James Smethurst

Contact: Tricia Loveland
Office: 329 New Africa House
Phone: (413) 545-2751

Chair of Department: Professor John H. Bracey.

Professors Bracey, Jimoh, Shabazz, Sinha, Smethurst, Tracy; Assistant Professors Losier, Parker, Rusert; Adjunct Professors Bowman, Higginson, Paynter.


The Program

The objective of the graduate program in Afro-American Studies is to produce scholars and teachers in the tradition of the Department's namesake, W. E. B. Du Bois, a native son of Massachusetts who throughout his long life insisted that a commitment to social justice must be rooted in scholarship of the highest order. Our graduate students receive a thorough grounding in the historical and cultural realities of the African American experience and are assisted in developing the intellectual and scholarly capacity to undertake an Afro-American critique of American life, history, and society, as well as to make on-going contributions to the scholarship on the questions of race and race relations. Our graduate program encourages our students to adopt a critical perspective requiring an integrative approach to the study of history, politics, economics, and culture that does not abstract them from their political and social contexts, but rather relocates them within the social and political contexts out of which they have developed. Students are required to focus not only on the experiences of African Americans, but also on the linkages of those experiences to the cultural, political, and economic forces of the larger society to which Black people have been, and are, inextricably linked. There is a growing demand for scholars and teachers who are professionally trained in African American Studies and who are able to teach the subject at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is our aim to produce a steady stream of superbly trained scholar-teachers who will help to staff the undergraduate and graduate departments and programs in Afro-American Studies throughout the country as well as the numerous public and private schools which have expanded their curricula to include the study of Black people in the United States. In addition to African American Studies departments and programs which will provide a natural source of teaching positions for our graduates, there are hundreds of history departments and literature departments seeking scholars and teachers to staff courses in Afro-American history or literature. As a consequence, our graduates will be able to obtain teaching positions in four year colleges and in universities. Graduates of the Du Bois Department also are prepared to meet the growing demand for men and women possessing a scholarly understanding of Afro-American Studies, a demand expressed by federal, state, and local government, by charitable organizations, and by other organizations of public trust and responsibility.