Schools, Departments & Programs

African American & African Diaspora Studies

Major in African American and African Diaspora Studies

The B.A. Major in African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAAD) examines the experiences of people of African descent in the United States and throughout the world. As a humanistic discipline in the democratic tradition, African American and African Diaspora Studies dispels myths and exposes those attitudes that perpetuate racism in American life. Students in AAAD study art, literature, film, folklore, music, dance, history, institutions, communities, culture, stratification, movements, or identities.

Liberal arts skills stressed in AAAD include critical thinking and experiential learning skills, creative writing, reflective critical reading and writing, ethical and moral reasoning, service learning, community service, intercultural competence and social justice as civic duties of value, scholarship of engagement, and interdisciplinary analysis. The department also offers an AAAD interdepartmental major with English, History, Religious Studies, or Sociology.

Graduates from AAAD successfully pursue careers in academics, theatre and drama, music composition, information technology, law, engineering, education, journalism, criminal justice, creative writing, fundraising, politics, social work, business, community organizing, non-profits, health care, the legal profession, banking and technology industries.


Students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of undergraduate coursework selected from the department’s three concentration areas (see the Courses list):

  1. Arts
  2. Literature
  3. History, Culture, and Social Issues

No more than 6 credit hours at the 100 level and no more than 6 credit hours at the 200 level can be counted toward the major. At the time of admission to the department, each student and the undergraduate advisor together plan an individualized program of study, including the selection of a major concentration area.

Majors must complete the following:

  1. A150.
  2. A355 or A356 (history).
  3. A379 or A380 (literature).
  4. A493 Senior Seminar in African American Studies.
  5. An additional 18 credit hours in AAAD electives are required to complete the major. A minimum of 9 of the 18 credit hours must be at the 300 or 400 level.
    • 9 credit hours taken in one African American and African Diaspora Studies concentration area.
    • A355, A356, A379, and A380 will count in the major but will not count in the concentration areas. 
    • 3 credit hours in each of the other two concentration areas for a total of 6 credit hours.

Note: Credit hours in the major cannot be double counted.

Students must also complete the degree requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences.


During the freshman and sophomore years, students should take African American and African Diaspora Studies courses at the 100 and 200 level that satisfy General Education requirements. During the senior year, however, majors are strongly encouraged to enroll in the department’s suggested electives (A400, X373, and X490) to help them more clearly define their last year, which AAADS is calling the fourth-year senior experience. These 400-level courses are suggested in order to create space within the curriculum to provide majors with additional understandings concerning how they can use their degree in AAADS to secure career opportunities and/or continue their studies at the graduate and/or professional level. The AAADS academic advisor will work closely with students to ensure that all required courses for the major are completed during the first three years, thereby making it possible for majors to utilize the fourth year for specific learning contexts.

Students who plan to have a double major should make this decision as early as possible so that course selections in African American and African Diaspora Studies and the second major can be closely coordinated.

Majors in media, business, public and environmental affairs, pre-law, social work, education, and many other disciplines have found African American and African Diaspora Studies courses to be useful, interesting, and important to their chosen fields.