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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The PhD in AAAS is a five-year program – two years to complete the MA, and three years to fulfill the requirements for the PhD Students entering the program with a BA or BS are expected to satisfy the requirements for the MA degree and produce a substantial writing sample (such as a MA thesis or long essay) based on original research. Admission to the PhD program is contingent upon the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee. Students with a MA degree in field or disciplines other than Africana Studies are required to complete the required core courses for our Master’s degree:

AAAS 7753: Graduate Survey in African American and African Studies
AAAS 7754: Methodological Perspectives in African American and African Studies
AAAS 7756: Theorizing Race and Ethnicity

In addition to the credits for the M.A. degree, the required PhD coursework is inclusive of 51 credits, of which:

  • 15 credits in the main area of concentration (African American, African, or Comparative Diaspora Studies). For the African American Studies and African Studies area concentrations, at least 6 credits are required in each of two “focus areas” (Social Studies and Cultural Studies).
  • 9 credits in the other two areas of concentration, of which at least 3 credits in each area of concentration.
  • 12 credits in the elective category.
  • 15 Credits for the Prospectus and Dissertation

Language Requirement

Reading knowledge of at least one language other than English is required for all students. Students researching their dissertations in a language other than English must demonstrate a reading knowledge of the main language related to their research. Competency must be demonstrated before the student advances for the candidacy exam. An African language may be required depending on the student’s primary area of study.

Students must demonstrate language proficiency by means of

  1. Passing an examination with an appropriate language department;
  2. Completing a language course certifying reading ability;
  3. Petitioning the Graduate Studies Committee by showing evidence of competence, for example an undergraduate major or minor in a foreign language.

Courses taken to satisfy the language requirement cannot be counted toward the degree.

The Candidacy Examination

All students must take a "candidacy examination" consisting of a written portion followed by a two-hour oral defense. The examination normally takes place after coursework is completed, generally after the third year in the program.

The student is examined on his/her knowledge of one major field—chosen among the three area concentrations of African American, African, and Comparative Diaspora Studies—and two minor fields, corresponding to the remaining concentrations. Major and minor fields are determined in consultation with the student's advisor.

Each member of the committee will submit at least one question, and the student is expected to answer one question from each faculty member. Students will have 48 hours to answer each question in each of the minor fields, and 48 hours to answer both questions in the major field. All written responses must be submitted at least one week before the scheduled oral defense. The candidacy examination must take place at least three weeks before the end of a semester.

The Dissertation

All students must complete a PhD dissertation, generally over a time period of two to three years. When funding permits, the university generally provides funding for three or four years after the MA