School of Interdisciplinary Studies African American Studies and Research Center

African American Studies Graduate Programs

The Purdue African American Studies and Research Center offers two options for graduate study.

  1. The African American Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Program provides current M.A. and Ph.D. students the opportunity to specialize in Black Studies research and methods within their major field. These graduate students can build their expertise in the practice, theories, methods, and approaches to the study of African American life and African diasporic history, culture, and experience. A concentration is completed in collaboration with the graduate student’s home department or program and in consultation with the student’s major adviser. The following departments and programs offer an AAS concentration: American Studies, Anthropology, English, History, Languages and Cultures, and Political Science.
  2. Students not enrolled in one of the participating graduate departments or programs can earn a graduate certificate in African American Studies. The graduate certificate is also available for non-degree seeking students who wish to enhance their professional skills. While pursuing the certificate, students gain valuable insights and experiences that bring issues of race, diversity and inclusion, social movements, social justice, and other topics into clearer focus.

The African American Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs provide graduate students the opportunity to work with our nationally and internationally recognized faculty who share their passion for research in the classroom and throughout the Purdue intellectual community.


African American Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

The African American Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Program is offered to M.A. and Ph.D. students who wish to specialize in African American Studies within their chosen disciplines. This concentration is completed in collaboration with the graduate student’s home department or program and in consultation with the student’s major adviser. The following departments and programs currently offer the AAS concentration: American Studies, Anthropology, English, History, Languages and Cultures, and Political Science.

To receive the concentration designation on your transcript, students must complete our two core graduate seminars (6 credit hours): AAS 574 Research Methods in African American Studies and AAS 575 Theories of African and African American Studies. Additionally, M.A. students can choose two other seminars as electives (6 credit hours). Doctoral students can take as many additional courses as necessary to provide expertise in their specific research area. Electives come from multiple fields, which represent the breadth of African American Studies’ interdisciplinary scope. Eligible courses are described below. Students may also take approved special topics courses related to their course of study. Special topics course eligibility will be determined in consultation with the student’s major adviser and the director of African American Studies.
We invite you to apply for the concentration here.

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Core Courses

AAS 574 Research Methods in African American Studies
This course covers research techniques used by researchers to observe and to interpret scholarly investigation on race, class and gender from an African American perspective. It is envisioned as one of three required courses for students studying African American Studies at the graduate level. In investigating topics involving race, class, and gender from an African American perspective, students will gain some experience utilizing African American Studies research methods. The course is taught in a seminar format.
AAS 575 Theories of African and African American Studies
This course addresses the development of an African American intellectual tradition. The course will span disciplines and swathes of time in order to understand how scholars not only created new ideas but developed theories that shaped and changed academic inquiry. The objective of the course is to provide a history of the black intellectual tradition, which will then provide an important perspective for use in other course work. Upon its completion, students will gain understanding of major theories, theorists, and intellectual debates surrounding the field of African American Studies. Taught in a seminar format the course, students will be expected to read deeply, prepare seriously for class, and write a final paper of near publication quality.

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Elective Courses

AAS 590 Directed Reading in African American Studies
HIST 594 Afro-American Thought & Ideology
HIST 651 Reading Seminar in American History [when the focus is Race/Civil Rights in the US]
ENGL 557 19th-Century African American Narrative
ENGL 583 US Ethnic/Multicultural Literature [when the focus is African American Literature]
ENGL 597 Contemporary Black Feminist Literature
ENGL 672 Seminar in Women’s Literature and Feminist Theory [when offered as African American Women Writers]
LC 601 Seminar in Latin America and the African Diaspora
PHIL 542 Rationality and Relativism: African American Perspectives
POL 520 Special Topics in Public Policy [when the focus is on race and public policy]
POL 611 Research Seminar in American Government and Politics [when the focus is on race and American politics]
SOC 515 Black Americans
SOC 611 Social Inequality: Class, Race, and Gender
WGSS 681 Black Sexualities


African American Studies Graduate Certificate

The African American Studies Graduate Certificate is a 12-credit hour course of study designed for degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking graduate students. Students must complete our two core graduate seminars (6 credit hours): AAS 574 Research Methods in African American Studies and AAS 575 Theories of African and African American Studies. Additionally, students must choose two other seminars as electives (6 credit hours). Course selections come from multiple fields, which represent the breadth of African American Studies’ interdisciplinary scope. Courses are described below.

The certificate provides current M.A. and Ph.D. students the opportunity to deepen their specialties in Black Studies research and methods. Graduate students in departments and programs across campus can build their expertise in the practice, theories, methods, and approaches to the study of African American life and African diasporic history, culture, and experience.

For non-degree seeking students, the certificate delivers the credentials needed to enhance professional opportunities. While pursuing the certificate, students gain valuable insights and experiences that bring issues of race, diversity and inclusion, social movements, social justice, and other topics into clearer focus.

Whatever reason you chose to pursue our certificate, you will have the opportunity to work with our nationally and internationally recognized faculty who share their passion for research in the classroom and throughout the Purdue intellectual community.

We invite you to apply for the certificate here.

Graduate Certificate Core Courses

AAS 574 Research Methods in African American Studies
This course covers research techniques used by researchers to observe and to interpret scholarly investigation on race, class and gender from an African American perspective. It is envisioned as one of three required courses for students studying African American Studies at the graduate level. In investigating topics involving race, class, and gender from an African American perspective, students will gain some experience utilizing African American Studies research methods. The course is taught in a seminar format.

AAS 575 Theories of African and African American Studies
This course addresses the development of an African American intellectual tradition. The course will span disciplines and swathes of time in order to understand how scholars not only created new ideas but developed theories that shaped and changed academic inquiry. The objective of the course is to provide a history of the black intellectual tradition, which will then provide an important perspective for use in other course work. Upon its completion, students will gain understanding of major theories, theorists, and intellectual debates surrounding the field of African American Studies. Taught in a seminar format the course, students will be expected to read deeply, prepare seriously for class, and write a final paper of near publication quality.

Graduate Certificate Elective Courses (Select 2)

AAS 590 Directed Reading in African American Studies
HIST 594 Afro-American Thought & Ideology
HIST 651 Reading Seminar in American History [when the focus is Race/Civil Rights in the US]
ENGL 557 19th-Century African American Narrative
ENGL 583 US Ethnic/Multicultural Literature [when the focus is African American Literature]
ENGL 597 Contemporary Black Feminist Literature
ENGL 672 Seminar in Women’s Literature and Feminist Theory [when offered as African American Women Writers]
LC 601 Seminar in Latin America and the African Diaspora
PHIL 542 Rationality and Relativism: African American Perspectives
POL 520 Special Topics in Public Policy [when the focus is on race and public policy]
POL 611 Research Seminar in American Government and Politics [when the focus is on race and American politics]
SOC 515 Black Americans
SOC 611 Social Inequality: Class, Race, and Gender
WGSS 681 Black Sexualities

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