The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Graduate Program

Ph.D. Degree: The Doctor of Philosophy

M.A. Degree:  The Master of Arts Degree

picture of several graduates on the front steps of New Africa House

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. We are proud of program as we celebrate its 20th anniversary. In 1996, we were the second stand-alone department to create a doctoral degree program in the interdiscipline of Africana Studies and not as a hybrid degree with some other discipline or department. Our work has reaped 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.

We have been successful because 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 a meaningful critique of society, history, and cultural life, as well as to make on-going contributions to 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 can 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.

Graduate Program Director: Professor James Smethurst

Assistant to the Graduate Program Director: Tricia Loveland 

Office: Room 329, New Africa House
Phone: (413) 545-2751

Chair of Department: Yolanda Covington-Ward, Professor

Professors: Jimoh, Rusert, Shabazz, Smethurst, Tracy

Associate Professors: Losier, Lao-Montes (Sociology)

Assistant Professor: Kerth