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Afro-American Studies Doctoral Degree Requirements

Faculty | Master's | Doctoral | Courses

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The core of the doctoral program is a three-semester sequence of seminars required of all students in their first three semesters. In the first year, students take a two-semester double seminar in which they read fifty-six major works of Afro-American Studies. In the second semester of the first year, students take a course on literary theory in its application to African American literature. In the third semester, students take a seminar on historiography, a seminar on Black politics, and a continuation of the Major Works seminar. At the end of this three-semester sequence, students take a General Examination on the entire three semesters of study.

After completing the first General Examination satisfactorily, students select either the History/Politics or the Literature/Culture track. In the next three semesters, students take a total of nine seminars, several of which will normally be offered by other departments, in either History and Politics or Literature and Culture. At the end of the sixth semester, students take a second General Examination in the field of their research interest, based on a reading list of twenty-five books selected by the student in consultation with the member of the faculty who will direct the student’s doctoral dissertation.

The department has several archival collections available for research, including the W.E.B. Du Bois papers and the Horace Mann Bond Collection.

Students enrolled in the doctoral program will earn the degree of Master of Arts upon completion of the preliminary requirements for the doctorate.

1. Grades of B or better in sixteen graduate courses and seminars for a total of 64 credits.
2. Three semesters of required seminars, including a three-semester sequence devoted to major works of Afro-American Studies, a seminar on Literary Theory as applied to African American Literature, a seminar on Black Politics, and a seminar on historiography.
3. Nine additional seminars or courses, in either the History/Politics or Literature/Culture track, including a reading course in preparation for the second half of the General Examinations.
4. Demonstration of reading proficiency in one language other than English directly related to the research interests and dissertation topic of the student, to be accomplished by the end of the sixth semester.
5. Satisfactory performance on a two-part written General Examination, the first part of which will test the student’s general knowledge of the field of Afro-American Studies, and the second, the student’s mastery of advanced materials in either the History/Politics or Literature/Culture track.
6. A total of ten Dissertation credits (AFRO-AM 899).
7. A Doctoral Dissertation satisfactory in form and content.

Further Information
Further information concerning planned graduate course offerings can be obtained by calling the Afro-American Studies Department office, tel. (413) 545-2751, or by visiting the department’s website at