African Studies M.A.

Use your Graduate Academic Bulletin

Students pursuing a graduate degree in African Studies should use the University Graduate School Academic Bulletin.

Official requirements for our M.A. degree can be found by clicking on the Bulletin below:

2019-20: African Studies University Graduate School Academic Bulletin

Degree information

For official degree requirements, you must consult with the Graduate School Bulletin. The information below is not the official record.

Core courses (up to 12 credit hours)
  • African Studies (AFRI)-A731: African Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar (3 cr.)
  • African Studies (AFRI)-A650: Interdisciplinary Research Methods (3 cr.)
  • African Studies (AFRI)-A651: Independent Research/Directed Readings (up to 6 cr.)

Elective courses (18 credit hours)

Electives are chosen from a selection of cross-listed African Studies offerings in the College of Arts and Sciences and several professional schools, with the approval of the student’s major advisor.

Electives may include three additional credits of African Studies (AFRI)-A731 since the topic changes every year and is offered by different faculty members on a rotating basis.


Language requirement

Students must take four semesters of an African language, however, these credits are not counted toward the total credits required for the degree. This language requirement may be waived by demonstrating equivalent competence through an exam completed under the supervision of the African languages coordinator.

Beyond the second-year level, up to three credits for the study of African languages may count toward electives.


M.A. committee

Your M.A. committee is the team of faculty who will read and comment on your master’s thesis or project. This committee should be composed of a disciplinary advisor and two additional members with relevant regional or topical expertise. The committee chair and at least one additional committee member must be selected from the African Studies affiliate faculty with professional experience on the African continent. All committee members must be approved by the director of the African Studies Program.


M.A. thesis or project

M.A. students may choose from a thesis or project in order to complete their degree. The thesis option is strongly recommended for students intending to pursue a Ph.D. following completion of their master’s degree. The project option is designed for students wishing to pursue a non-academic career in a variety of fields. There is no M.A. exam option.


Thesis

Your thesis is an in-depth treatment of your topic of choice, should be interdisciplinary in nature, and 70 to 100 double-spaced pages in length. It may be an expanded seminar paper or an entirely new project based on library, archival, field, or museum research, and should make use of relevant sources in a language other than English. All three committee members must approve the thesis but may agree to waive an oral defense.


Project

The project option is designed for students wishing to pursue a non-academic career in a variety of fields. A “project” may be: an internship related to African issues in an organization, government agency, museum, or other institution in Africa or elsewhere (including the United States); or a media project (thematic video or other media production).

The plan for the project must be approved by three committee members. The plan should include: a brief description of the internship or media project; and a brief definition of the internship portfolio or media project’s analytical essay that will be submitted for evaluation by the M.A. committee. After endorsement by all committee members, the plan must be approved by the African Studies director before the student begins the project.

An internship (in Africa or elsewhere) should be at least six weeks in duration and culminate in a portfolio, including an abstract, an analytical essay of at least 30 double-spaced pages, and an addendum of at least 30 pages. The analytical essay should include: a description of the internship; a discussion of internship activities; and a rigorous analysis of the internship experience based on engagement with cross-disciplinary insights gained through relevant courses taken for the M.A. degree. The addendum might include: a journal, reports written during the internship, and other relevant items.

A media project must be accompanied by an analytical essay of at least 30 double-spaced pages. The analytical essay should include: a description of the media project; a discussion of the process of producing the media project; and a rigorous analysis of the media project based on engagement with cross-disciplinary insights gained through relevant courses taken for the M.A. degree. An addendum might include materials related to the project, such as a script, storyboards, and other relevant materials related to the thematic video or other media production.

No formal defense is required, but an M.A. review must occur after the student submits the internship portfolio or media project’s analytical essay to the M.A. committee. Once the committee evaluates and approves the internship portfolio or media project’s analytical essay, students are encouraged to make a presentation to the African Studies Program community in a venue such as the Friday colloquium, the annual Graduate Students in African Studies conference, or another program-supported public event.