The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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M.A. Requirements

Terminal Master’s Degree

In addition to offering a Master of Arts degree to our doctoral students, the W.E.B. Du Bois Department offers a terminal M.A. to students who satisfy the course requirements. Master’s students will take 46 credits in courses over two years. Students take the Comprehensive Examination after the first year based on the Major Works seminars. See the Graduate Student Handbook for more information.

Total Requirements

  • 46 Course Credits
  • The Comprehensive Exam

The First Year

All first-year graduate students in the Du Bois Department take Major Works in Afro-American Studies, a one-year-long, team-taught seminar. Major Works counts as a double seminar (2 courses) each semester. This seminar meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30 – 5:00 p.m. AfroAm 701 and 702, Major Works I & II, are open only to first-year students in the Du Bois Department. The seminar is structured around the two graduate program tracks: History/Politics and Literature/Culture.  In it you will receive an introduction to some of the critical issues, ideas, and readings in African American studies, with an emphasis on the culture, politics, history, and literature of African Americans in the U.S. with some attention paid to other African diasporic communities in the western hemisphere.  

5 Courses   (Major Works I and II count as 4 courses)

The Major Works seminar affords you an opportunity to meet every faculty member in the department. We encourage you to schedule time with those individual professors whose scholarship is of particular interest to you.

The Second Year

6 Courses    

  • Fall:        Register for three elective courses (12 credits/3 courses)                                  
  • Spring:   Register for three elective courses (12 credits/3 courses)

The Comprehensive Examination

All second-year students will take the Comprehensive Examination in May and/or September before the Fall term of the second year. The examination will focus on your readings in Major Works. The faculty readers will expect you to demonstrate a firm grasp of the content of your readings in Major Works and a critical and analytical mind in response to the topics you will write on for the examination. 

Transfering Courses to the Master's Program

Graduate courses which have been applied toward any baccalaureate or advanced degree may not be used for fulfilling other master's degrees at at the University. 

Master's Degree Eligibility Form for Non-Thesis Students
Master's Degree Eligibility Form for Thesis Students
Master's Degree Checklist for Requirements to Graduate
Master's Thesis Submission Guidelines