African American History Degree Program Overviews

Oct 14, 2019

Individuals with an interest in African American history can pursue the subject through African American studies programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Graduates often go on to careers as historians or postsecondary teachers.

Essential Information

Those interested in postsecondary education in African American history can pursue a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in African American studies with a concentration in history. These programs explore African American culture, politics, religion, music, art, literature, economics and voting rights.

Applicants to a master's program are required to have a bachelor's degree in a related field as well as a minimum score in entrance examinations. Entrance into a doctoral program requires the completion of a bachelor's and master's degree. A minimum of 3.0 GPA and relevant research experience are generally considered helpful as well.

In these research- and writing-intensive programs, master's students are required to complete a thesis, while doctoral students must complete a dissertation in order to graduate.

Bachelor's in African American Studies

Bachelor's degree curriculum includes liberal arts classes in addition to core black history courses like the following:

  • Pre-colonial African history
  • African American religions
  • Post-emancipation life
  • Introduction to W.E.B. Dubois
  • The civil rights movement

Master's in African American Studies

Master's students are allowed to choose courses that match his or her narrower interests. A few examples are:

  • African spirituality in America
  • Harlem renaissance literature
  • African American economic history
  • Black radicalism

Doctorate in African American Studies

At the Ph.D. level, students can focus on specific periods and aspects of African American history, like slave trade or the civil rights movement. Other options include:

  • Modern African American poetry
  • Urban ethnography
  • History of jazz music
  • History of black feminism
  • History of race and class in America

Popular Careers

Graduates are prepared for a variety of positions, including as a youth counselor and non-profit organizer. Doctorate degree holders are eligible for the following career roles:

  • Postsecondary educator
  • Historian
  • Human rights advocate
  • Researcher

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for postsecondary teachers and historians is expected to grow at a rate of 11% and 6% during the 2018-2028 decade, with median salaries of $78,470 and $61,140 as of May 2018, respectively (

African-American history can be studied at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Popular career options for graduates of these programs include education, history, law, and social work.

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