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, Du Bois insisted throughout his long life that a commitment to social justice must be rooted in scholarship of the highest order, and scholarly excellence requires us to be socially responsible and engaged in improving our world.

In 1996, we were the second stand-alone department to create a doctoral degree program in the interdiscipline of Africana Studies—not as a hybrid degree with some other discipline or department. Our work has resulted in great rewards, honors, and recognitions. We were awarded the American Historical Association’s Equity Award because we “demonstrated an exceptional record in the recruitment and retention of students and new faculty from racial and ethnic groups under-represented within the historical profession.” Our near 100% record of placing our graduates in faculty positions at colleges and universities is unrivaled.

When you pursue Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst, you'll join a department with a combined total of more than fifty students actively pursuing the PhD or MA degree in Afro-American Studies or our graduate certificate in African Diaspora Studies. The people who will be your peers come to us from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Ivy League liberal arts colleges, as well as from international institutions as far away as Japan, France, China, Colombia, Brazil, and Austria. Each year’s class forms a cohort that collaborate and support each other in a collegial way.