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African Diaspora Studies

The Graduate Certificate in African Diaspora Studies (ADS) is organized through the graduate program in the W.E.B Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. In addition to the Du Bois Department faculty members and affiliated faculty in other campus departments, participating faculty from Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges may offer courses in the ADS certificate program. The ADS Coordinator is Professor A. Yemisi Jimoh, who administers the program in conjunction with a rotating ADS Advisory Council made up of faculty members from the Five College consortium.

Participating Faculty:
All Faculty of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department
Sonia Alvarez, Professor of Political Science and Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies
Joye Bowman, Professor of History
Ginetta E.B. Candelario, Associate Professor of Sociology and Latin American and Latina/o Studies, Smith College
Tanya Fernando, Assistant Professor of English
John Higginson, Professor of History
Daphne Lamothe, Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies, Smith College
Augustine Laó-Montes, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Kara Lynch, Associate Professor of Video Production, Hampshire College
Roberto Marquez, Professor of Latin American Studies, Mount Holyoke College
Dorothy Mosby, Associate Professor of Spanish, Mount Holyoke College


The purpose of the ADS graduate certificate is to provide specialized credentials for individuals whose intellectual and professional interests would be enhanced by advanced study of diverse peoples and by studies in internationalism. The certificate also prepares its awardees to teach and to conduct advanced research in this specialized and increasingly important area of African American studies.

The Program

The faculty in the Graduate Certificate Program in ADS engage students in the scholarly study of the African Diaspora within the context of the historical, political, and social reality as well as the consequent aftermath of slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, and imperialism. In this cross-disciplinary program, ADS faculty members also place special emphasis on the aforementioned issues in relation to their various intersections among African descendants in the Caribbean and the Americas.


Five content courses, AFROAM 790A Diaspora Research course, and a publication-quality paper or an approved scholarly project. Content courses are to be selected from among the following:
1. AFROAM 690E African Diaspora/Pan-Africanism: Foundational Theories and Concepts
AFROAM 690F Special Topics in African Diaspora Studies

2. One or more content courses from the ADS course list, available from the ADS Coordinator

3. Two elective content courses (approved by the ADS Coordinator) on Diaspora-related topics, selected from the current course offerings of all participating faculty. Students are strongly encouraged to select one course that provides a substantial focus on a Diaspora group other than the African Diaspora. For graduate students in the Du Bois Department’s Ph.D. program, elective courses that apply to the requirements toward the Graduate Certificate in African Diaspora Studies cannot be applied to the Ph.D. degree.

For AFROAM 790A Diaspora Research course and the Scholarly Paper or Project, students will select an ADS faculty member to lead the course and two additional faculty members, selected by the student in consultation with the lead faculty, to comprise a three-person committee to guide the final paper or project.
As part of AFROAM 790A Diaspora Research, students in the ADS program must also present a public talk that focuses on their publication-quality paper or on their scholarly project. With the approval of a student’s graduate degree-granting program and the ADS Coordinator, the public talk for the Graduate Certificate in ADS may be presented as part of the master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation defense. In such cases, a substantial portion of the thesis must focus on issues related to the African Diaspora among peoples in the Caribbean and/or the Americas.

The Graduate Certificate Program in ADS will not accept transfer credits; all courses must be selected among those offered by faculty from the Five College consortium during the student’s course of study for the Graduate Certificate in ADS; that is, course work applied to a degree received before admission to the ADS program will not be applied to the ADS certificate.


The Graduate Certificate Program in ADS welcomes applications from persons who have gained admission into a graduate degree-granting program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst or have earned a bachelor’s or graduate degree from an accredited university and have made application for and gained admission to the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a non-degree student through the Graduate Admissions Office.

All applicants for the Graduate Certificate in ADS must demonstrate a basic familiarity with the scholarship in Diaspora studies along with strong research and analytical skills.