African American History Graduate Programs

Jan 15, 2019

Individuals who are interested in African American history may be considering pursuing advanced study in this field by enrolling in a graduate program in African American history. This article will focus on providing information about what types of programs like this exist, common course requirements, and general admission standards.

Information about African American History Graduate Programs

Graduate study in African American history is most commonly available through African American or Africana studies programs, which generally have a strong history component or allow students to specialize in history through their elective course selection. Additionally, students in master's programs will need to write a thesis, while Ph.D. students are required to write a dissertation, either of which could be done in an area related to African American history. Students generally write their thesis or dissertation in the last half of the program, after completing the course requirements. Five courses that are commonly offered as part of the curriculum of these programs are described below.

African American History

These programs will likely require one or more courses that focus on either African American history in a broad sense to provide students with a foundational understanding, or may focus on a specific time period, geographic location, or aspect of African American history. For example, some courses may focus on providing students with a timeline of African American history from the origins in Africa through the diaspora, American slavery, the civil rights movement, to contemporary issues. Other courses may focus more specifically on the history of various African civilizations before the diaspora, or the history of religion in Africa before colonialism.

African American Diaspora

Students will likely be required to take a course that focuses on the African American diaspora. In such a course, they will learn about the African diaspora through the descriptions and theories of various scholars, as well as accounts by the people themselves after arriving in the Americas. This course will introduce students to some of the most prominent events and movements that help describe the African diaspora and it will likely include a discussion on who is included in the diaspora community.

African American Women's History

It is common that these programs offer a course that focuses exclusively on the history and role of the African American woman. In such a course, students will seek to understand the history of African American women from diverse set of viewpoints, as well as the experiences and challenges that African American women have faced throughout history. This course will also likely explore the relationship between gender and race, as well as the contemporary experience of African American women today. Some topics that may be covered include patriarchy, sexism, collective action, sexual violence, and the civil rights movement.

History of African American Music

These programs will likely also include a course that focuses on the history of African American music. In this course, students will learn about some of the main themes and movements that have shaped the development of African American music over the years, as well as the use of music as a political or cultural statement. Some topics that may be discussed in this course include the different forms and styles of African American music, cultural appropriation, black power, and feminism.

History of Racial Thought

Programs in African American history may also require that students take a course that focuses on the history and development of the concept of race and racial thought. This course may cover how some groups throughout history have been marginalized or taken advantage of by groups in power who are able to rely on appeals to fear of the other. Students will learn about topics like imperialism, slavery, territorial expansion, and the development of racism from its early origins to today. In addition, this course will likely cover the response of the marginalized group and implications of this response.

Admission Standards for African American History Graduate Programs

When applying to a graduate program in African American history, students will need to supply admissions committees with a number of application materials in order to be considered. These include letters of recommendation, undergraduate transcripts, a CV or resume, personal statement, GRE results, and a writing sample. In addition, some programs may require that students have taken some courses related to African American history or studies during their undergraduate career in order to be prepared for the graduate level coursework.

In summary, students who are interested in African American history can pursue a graduate degree in this field by enrolling in an African American studies program and selecting courses that are related to history, which will prepare them for a number of interesting career paths or further study.

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