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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

W.E.B. Du Bois Department

The Major

The major in Afro-American Studies requires that a student complete a minimum of 11 courses in the Du Bois Department in addition to the Junior Year Writing requirement. Independent study credits do not count toward the major requirements.

The Minor

A minor sequence in Afro-American Studies requires that a student elect a minimum of 5 courses the Du Bois Department. Any department-based course not taken as an independent study counts towards the minor requirement. Credits earned in any regular courses taught in other Five College Black Studies departments count towards the minor requirement as well. Students who intend to fulfill the minor requirements in Afro-American Studies are required to register with the department at the beginning of their junior year. Graduating seniors must submit a Declaration of Minor form to the department main office at the beginning of the semester in which they intend to graduate.

The Major Requirements (pdf)


I. INTRODUCTION    (1 course)

           101 Introduction to Black Studies


           Humanities Group (2 courses required)
           111 Survey of African Art
           113 Aesthetics of Afro-American Art
           117 Survey of Afro-American Literature I
           118 Survey of Afro-American Literature II   (4 credits)
           151 Culture and Literature  (4 credits)
           155 Concepts in Afro-American Music I
           156 Concepts in Afro-American Music II
           MUSIC 102 Afro-American Music
           MUSIC 103 History of Jazz


          History and Social Science Group (2 courses required)
           132 Afro-American History, 1619-1860   (4 credits)
           133 Afro-American History, Civil War to 1954
           161 Introduction to Afro-American Political Science
           ECON 144 Political Economy of Racism
           HISTORY 160 History of Africa to 1500
           HISTORY 161 History of Africa since 1500


Four courses at the 200-400 level.

Students may choose to concentrate their studies in a particular area (history, social sciences, literature, arts), or may select from a number of areas.

           222 The Black Church in the U.S.
           232 History of Black Nationalism
           234 Literature of the Harlem Renaissance  (ALU)   (4 credits)
           235 Black Sociological Thought (SBU)
           236 History of the Civil Rights Movement (HSU)   (4 credits)
           238 Arts and Cultural Identity
           252 Afro-American Image in American Writing
           254 Introduction to African Studies (HSU)   (4 credits)
           257 Afro-American Novel
           262 Radical Traditions in American History
           264 Foundations of Black Education in the U.S. (HSU)
           290C The Blues Came Down Like Dark Night Showers of Rain (ATU)
           290D Afro-Am Poetry: Beginning to 1900 (ALU)
           291C Black Autobiographies
           318 Black Music and Theater
           326 Black Women in U.S. History (HSU)
           331 The Life and Writings of W.E.B. Du Bois (U)
           332 Blacks and Jews (U)
           345 Southern Literature (ALU)       
           350 Seminar:  African American Islam
           361 Revolution in the Third World
           365 Composition: Style & Organization
           390A Jazz and Blues Literature (ALU)
           390B Life & Work of Richard Wright
           390C Afro-American Literature of the 1930’s (ALU)
           390D Langston Hughes (ALU)
           390E Race, Ethnicity and Gender in U.S. History (HSU)
           391A Political Thought of Martin and Malcolm
           391B Modern Afro-American Women Novelists
           391C Creative Writing
           391  Critique of the Concept of Racism
           394A  Seminar:  African Art History
           395A  Seminar: The Writings of Chinua Achebe

           397A  Abolition and Antislavery

III. Junior Year Writing  (1 course)

           365 Composition: Style and Organization

IV. Senior Seminar Sequence (2 courses)

      *Both courses required for all primary and secondary majors

           494DI "Du Bois Senior Seminar," (IE), 3 credits, *for Afro-Am Juniors and Seniors

           496 "Independent Project" 3 credits    


*Note: Only 1 course in AFROAM can count toward Gen. Ed. as well.


Integrative Experience (IE) GenEd Requirement

What's the IE requirement? Do I have to take it?

WHO? If you entered UMass Amherst (as a freshman or transfer) in Fall 2010 or later, you will need to take the Integrative Experience course as part of your GenEd requirements. Any students who entered F10 or later who will complete all graduation requirements - except the IE - for graduation in May or September 2012 may appeal for a waiver of the requirement (see your advisor or academic dean for more information). Transfer students who entered the University for the first time in Fall 2010 or Spring 2011 and brought in 57 or more transfer credits prior to enrollment were granted a waiver of the Integrative Experience.

WHAT? The W.E.B. Du Bois Departmen offers the 3-credit IE course 494DI "Du Bois Senior Seminar" to satisfy the upper division Integrative Experience requirement. Check with the departments Director of Undergraduate Studies/Chief Undergraduate Advisor or your ARR (on SPIRE) for more details.

WHEN? Plan to take your IE course in your junior or senior year, after you have completed most or all of your other GenEd requirements.

WHERE? The IE requirement appears on your Academic Requirements Report in SPIRE, after your Gen Ed Diversity requirements. The IE requirement is associated with your primary major, and only courses/options approved by that department can be used to satisfy the requirement. Specific courses that will fulfill your IE requirement are listed on your Academic Requirements Report.

WHY? The upper-division integrative experience (IE) provides students with a structured opportunity to look back on their early college (and GenEd) learning experiences, reflect upon and make connections between those earlier experiences and the more advanced work in their major, and use their integrated learning to prepare for the demands of the world beyond the University.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies have entered graduate schools in the fields of African and Afro-American studies, history, political science, public health, industrial relations, urban planning, law, literature, and several other areas. They have secured employment in areas such as teaching, journalism, television communications, criminal justice, insurance sales, and community organizing.

Please click"What Can I Do With A Black Studies Major? 222 Answers" by Robert Fikes, Jr., Librarian, San Diego State University, for more information (PDF).


Courses accepted towards the Advanced Sequence from outside departments

ANTHRO 382                Caribbean Cultures
ANTHRO 470                Cultures of Africa
ANTHRO 497AA          African American Anthropology
FRNCH STDS  564        Literature of Africa and the Caribbean
JOURN 310                     The Press and the Third World
POLSCI 307                    Black Politics
POLSCI 341                    Government and Politics of Central America and the Caribbean
POLSCI 343                    Government and Politics of East Africa
POLSCI 345                    Revolutionary Nationalism and Imperialism in the Caribbean
POLSCI 346                    Government and Politics of West Africa
POLSCI 397                    Comparative Politics of Cuba, Puerto Rico and Haiti    
SOC 340                          Race Relations
SOC 397                          Martin Luther King Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement
WOST 292                       Black Women in U.S. History
WOST 394                       Black Feminist/Womanist Thought
WOST 297                       Afro-American Women in the Civil Rights Movement