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Our Master of Arts Program is designed to provide students with a thorough grounding in the literature and research of African-American Studies, and enable them to produce critical analysis and research about the complex and historically specific experiences of Africans in the Americas. However, students will also be expected to demonstrate how those experiences have contributed to, and been shaped by, political, cultural and economic forces both nationally and globally.

For social service and health professionals who deliver services to African-American populations, the degree of Master of Arts in African-American Studies will enhance their understanding of the complex social, cultural and historical experiences of these communities, which will lead to more effective delivery of service.

For teachers or education administrators at the secondary or community college level, the degree of Master of Arts in African-American Studies will enhance their understanding of race relations between all actors in the school environment. It will also enable them to develop curricula and courses that address specific ethnic/racial groups who have been integral to the American experience and have contributed significantly to American culture.

For professionals engaged in producing cultural representations (encompassing everything from museum curators to advertising executives), the degree of Master of Arts in African-American Studies will enhance their understanding of the shared and unique social indices, historical experiences and the patterns and processes of culture of the people of African descent.

For students who plan to go on to complete a doctorate, the M.A. program can provide them with a solid foundation from which they can effectively pursue a Ph.D. program; and provide them with an area of expertise in African-American Studies that will serve as a basis for teaching and further research once they complete the doctorate.

Our graduate program builds on the unique synergy created between the Institute’s programs and the Harlem community. The graduate students matriculating into the M.A. program are expected to participate in the ongoing lecture series and contribute to the proceedings of the conferences sponsored by the Institute. This promotes a critical exchange between our graduate students and our undergraduate majors, as well as the intellectuals, community leaders and social service providers who regularly attend the activities of the Institute. The faculty encourages and facilitates building relationships between our students and members of the Harlem community, so that students can develop community-based research projects

Admission & Program Requirements

The admission standards and selection procedures are identical to those
followed by the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
for all of its M.A. Programs (with the exception of the Liberal Studies
Program). Applicants must provide a 10-15 page writing sample, three (3)
letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with their academic
work and history, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.

The deadline for the submission of fully completed applications for each
fall semester's M.A. class is March 1, although students with
outstanding academic records may be considered and admitted after that
date. The deadline for the submission of fully completed applications
for each spring semester's M.A. class is October 15, although students
with outstanding academic records may be considered and admitted after
that date.

The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences prefers on-line applications. You
can apply online at If you
wish to use the paper application you should download it from the Graduate School webpage at For any additional questions on the Graduate School webpage please call 212.854.4737.

Most of our graduate students complete all of their requirements for the M.A. degree in African-American Studies in either three or four semesters (30 points and two full residence units). It is also possible to complete the M.A. degree in only two semesters, just nine months, by taking 15 points each semester. Some students who are employed full-time or part-time may find it more convenient to take a reduced course load, gradually completing their requirements over a period of two to three years.

To successfully complete the Master of Arts Degree in African-American Studies at Columbia University, students must (1) take a minimum of 30 points of graduate course credit, which includes an M.A. thesis; (2) pay for two full residence units; and (3) maintain at minimum a B (3.00) grade point average. The specific course work requirements for the M.A. Degree are as follows:

First, all students must take two courses that provide both a theoretical overview to the basic concepts in the study of race, and a detailed survey of some of the major texts examining the black experience. For academic year 2004-2005 students are required to take two (2) of these three courses:

African-American Studies G4520x. Race and the Articulation of Difference. 4 pts. Professor Steven Gregory.

African-American Studies G4510y. Critical Approaches to African-American Studies. 4 pts. Professor Manning Marable

African-American Studies G4990x. African-American Research Writing. 4pts Professor Sudhir Venkatesh

Second, as an interdisciplinary field of scholarship, African-American Studies includes research in the social sciences and humanities, examining topics and issues drawn from Africa, the Caribbean and the United States. M.A. students must therefore establish their expertise in the field by fulfilling the governed electives requirement. All students, regardless of their areas of concentration, must take at least one graduate level course in each of the following disciplines or areas: (1) history; (2) humanities (e.g., English and Comparative Literature, Art History); and (3) social and behavior sciences (e.g., Anthropology, Economics, Political Science and Sociology). At least one of these courses must focus primarily on Africa, the Caribbean or the African diaspora outside of the United States.

Third, all students must complete an “area of concentration,” a minimum of three additional courses beyond the governed electives requirement. The area of concentration may focus on: (1) a single discipline (such as History, Anthropology, or Sociology); (2) an interdisciplinary sub-field (such as Women and Gender Studies); (3) area studies (such as Africa or the Caribbean region); or (4) a set of related courses that lead to a professional or research career (such as archival and rare manuscript management, or oral history).

Fourth, all students must complete an M.A. thesis, African-American Studies G6999, under the supervision of the student’s concentration adviser and the Chair of Graduate Studies.

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