African Studies (M.A.) Program Details

Degree Requirements

    ❱   Required coursework 
    ❱   Qualifying examination or comprehensive examination
    ❱   Foreign language proficiency
    ❱   Graduate School writing proficiency requirement
    ❱   Graduate School Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement
    ❱   Thesis
    ❱   Final oral examination/Thesis defense

Research Specializations

    ❱   Development and public policy
    ❱   Africa in world affairs
    ❱   Language, literature, and the arts

Foreign Language Requirement

In consultation with an advisor, M.A. students must demonstrate proficiency in an African language relevant to their geographical or cultural area of concentration. In addition, students should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies about a language's appropriateness in fulfilling the language requirement. A student may demonstrate proficiency in an African language in one of the following ways:

Native Speakers

If a student is a native speaker of an African language, they must demonstrate proficiency in that language within the African Studies department. Native speakers will need approval from the Director of Graduate Studies to pursue this route. 

Language Coursework

A student may demonstrate proficiency through submission of a transcript for 6-semester credits of coursework in an African language (students must maintain a B average in the coursework). The Department of African Studies maintains the right to independently certify a student’s proficiency.

Language Examination

A student may demonstrate proficiency by passing an examination administered by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Howard University upon the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. Language course offerings include Amharic, Arabic, Swahili, Yoruba, Wolof, Zulu, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Spanish. In addition, the Center for African Studies offers fellowships to graduate students who wish to study a language.

Research Areas & Interests

Faculty Research Interests

A sampling of research interests: 

  • African development paradigms
  • African political economy
  • Sino-African diplomatic and trade relations
  • Critical theory in international relations
  • Language in education policy
  • Colonial and post-colonial African politics
  • Representations of Pan Africanism
  • African feminist identities and thought in popular culture
  • African hip-hop as social commentary
  • Black mobilization and its impact on shifting African and Diaspora identities
  • Development policy and planning
  • Human development paradigm and economic theory
  • Colonialism, trade and exchange, slavery through the post-Reconstruction period
  • International development and poverty alleviation
  • Anti-racism initiatives and transformation in professional organizations
  • Modern African literature
  • African cinema and film
  • The politics of AIDS policy
  • Language use in advertisements as a reflection of speakers' language habits

Program of Study* 


AFST 211   Scope & Methods of African Studies

AFST 212   Theory in African Studies

AFST 225   Public Policy & Development in Africa

AFST 304   Africa in World Affairs

AFST 322   Language, Literature & Arts

AFST 232   Gender Theory & Practice in Africa


A sampling of elective courses

AFST 328   Film & History in Africa

AFST 245   Foreign Policymaking in African States

AFST 243   Issues in Public Health Policy & Development

AFST 234   Globalization in Africa

AFST 237   Africa & International Law and Organization

AFST 290   History of South Africa

AFST 356   Education Systems & Social Change in Africa

AFST 357   Migrant Remittances & African Development

AFST 372   African Political Thought


*Courses included in the sample program of study are subject to change. Students should consult with their programs regarding their required program of study. 

Admission to Candidacy 

Students are admitted to formal candidacy by the Graduate School when they have completed the required coursework, passed the qualifying or comprehensive examination, shown evidence of proficiency in a foreign language, submitted an approved topic for research, and been recommended by the Department. Candidates must also have satisfied the Graduate School writing proficiency requirement and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement.

Graduate Funding 

Graduate research or teaching assistantships that may be available at the department level, that provide tuition remission or a stipend during the academic year. Research assistants and teaching assistants work about 10 hours a week under the program's direction, usually in support of faculty research (research assistants) or in support of assigned courses (teaching assistants).