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African American Education Studies

African American studies are a subset of Africana studies, or Black American studies and degree programs in this field explore the culture, politics and history of people of African descent who are living in the United States and other parts of the Western world. Many degree programs in African American studies cover a wide range of disciplines including religious studies, humanities, sociology and social sciences. Many colleges and universities across the United States offer either or both an undergraduate or masters degree, and offer students a chance to engage in cultural activities and programs that enrich their educational experience.

About African American Studies

The primary objectives of these programs are to:

  • Provide students with an in-depth look at the history, culture and art of the African American population
  • Understand the social impact of various African American events throughout history
  • Encourage the development of in-depth research skills to understand social and cultural events that have affected African Americans throughout history
  • Promote the understanding of people of African descent and their experiences throughout history
  • Illuminate the history of African Americans in a global context
  • Increase political awareness of the black community
  • Establish relationships with leaders in the college's city or town

Pan-Africanism is a subset of African American studies that explores the cultural, spiritual, artistic and philosophical legacy of African Americans throughout history. This field takes a close look at the effects of slavery, neo-colonialism, racism and the ramifications of European slave trade throughout history. Other subject areas include afrocentric movements, Kawaida and the history of hip hop and its relation to black identity.

Many African American study programs at colleges and universities sponsor cultural events and activities including Black arts festivals, workshops, lectures from community leaders and author events. Students who participate in these programs and events enjoy a more enriched educational experience and can network with key contacts in the local community.

Careers with a Degree in African American Studies

Graduates that hold a degree in African American studies can explore a number of careers including:

  • Staff positions at an African American cultural center
  • Federal government positions with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department
  • Non-profit organizations that reach out to African American minority groups
  • African American history teachers
  • African American historians
  • Media careers

Students interested in teaching African American studies or history at the high school or college level typically need at least a master's degree. Individuals interested in pursuing research in the field can work towards a doctoral degree after completing a master's program from an accredited institution.

Getting a Degree in African American Studies

Many liberal arts colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate programs for students interested in getting a degree in African American studies. The courses in these programs explore a number of significant social structures, cultural traditions, economic factors and the social development of Black Atlantic societies throughout African American history.

Since the program is multidisciplinary, students can explore a number of disciplines including education, business management, psychology, social work, international relations, law, politics and even publishing. Some colleges and universities offer opportunities for students to network with prospective employers and community leaders during their senior year of studies.

In order to complete a degre, students typically need to have a strong background in humanities, social sciences and participate in seminars. Some schools requires students who are majoring in African American studies to choose an area of concentration such as sociology, African American history and the English language.

Courses for Students Pursuing African American Study Programs

Some of the most common courses that are a part of these programs include:

  • African American Politics
  • Black Women's Literature
  • Psycho-Social Aspects of African American Culture
  • African American Poets of the Modern Era
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Interraciality and Hybridity
  • African American Freedom Movements in the 20th Century
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction Era
  • Blacks and the Law
  • African American Literature through the Decades
  • Ethnic Politics in the United States
  • Dynamics of Pan-Africanism
  • Black Freedom Movement

Another component of many programs is to use scholarly and academic journals to conduct in-depth research. Some of the leading scholarly and academic journals used in these programs include:

  • Journal of Black Studies
  • Journal of Pan African Studies
  • Transition Magazine
  • Journal of Negro History
  • African American Review
  • Negro Digest
  • Negro History Bulletin
  • Journal of African American History

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