African American Studies

Degree Types: PhD

African American Studies by its very nature is an interdisciplinary field. It acquaints the student with myriad ways of thinking (historical, sociological, literary, quantitative analysis), researching, and writing about the diverse experiences of African Americans in the United States and of African descended people throughout the African Diaspora (from dispersion, colonialism, the slave trade and slavery, through emancipation, decolonization, independence, and postcolonialism). African American Studies brings together the voluminous scholarship generated by past and present historians; political scientists; sociologists; cultural, literary, and performance studies critics; and scholars working on diverse topics and constructions of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

The Department of African American Studies is comprised of renowned core faculty and faculty affiliates who are integrally involved in the teaching, service, and research interests of the department. Affiliated faculty members are invited, and in fact expected, to be key participants in African American Studies. Both our core and affiliated faculty have appointments in the following Northwestern University schools: Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, School of Communication, Human Development and Social Policy, the Law School, the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, and the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. This involvement of affiliates positions us well to mobilize their active support and engagement for the graduate program in African American Studies. Affiliated faculty stand poised to assist with graduate teaching by cross-listing their current graduate course offerings; to serve on the examination and dissertation committees of our students; and to participate on administrative committees related to the graduate program such as in-house competitive fellowships, admissions, and program governance.

The Department offers advanced graduate training through a PhD in African American Studies. Three substantive areas form the basis of this program: 1. Expressive Arts, Literature and Cultural Studies; 2. Politics, Society, and Policy; and 3. History. Each of these areas is populated by scholars within the department who focus their research within a domestic and/or international context. The Ph.D. program in African American Studies provides students with the historical background in the experiences of people of African descent, the analytic preparation to carry out rigorous empirical research, and the professional development to pursue careers in academia or beyond.

Students in this program are also encouraged to participate in TGS’s Interdisciplinary Cluster Initiative program. For more information on how you can have a second intellectual “home” outside of your department or program, please visit the Interdisciplinary Cluster Initiative page.

See African American Studies Degree Requirements for specific classes and procedures needed to complete this program.

PhD Program Statistics