Certificate Program

Graduate Certificate Program in Africana Studies

The Graduate Certificate Program in Africana Studies draws on Department faculty as well as other faculty from departments in the School of Arts and Sciences and other schools of the University.


The Graduate Certificate in Africana Studies provides students with an interdisciplinary, comparative, cross-national approach to the social sciences and humanities. This approach enables participants to address their research interests from a wide variety of perspectives than is typically allowed in traditional academic disciplines. The Graduate Certificate Program—particularly participation in the proseminar—gives students a familiarity with the essential social, historical, cultural, economic, and political background for studying issues that are central to the Africana experience, and the ability to produce richly contextualized analyses while maintaining their focus within one discipline.


The Certificate Program expands the professional options of its graduates by providing interdisciplinary training and exposure to the totality of the African Diasporic experience. Such training provides graduates with the flexibility to teach in both traditional academic departments (e.g., one of the cognate disciplines) as well as in programs in Afro- or African American Studies, African Studies, Africana Studies, Black Studies, Ethnic Studies or American Studies. The Certificate Program is also open to students from other schools (e.g., Nursing, Engineering, and the Graduate School of Education) and graduate students enrolled in non-PhD. courses of study.


Students in the Certificate Program participate in a year-long proseminar in Africana Studies (AFRC 640), which includes readings from a variety of disciplines in addition to independent research. Students usually take the proseminar during their first or second year of graduate study. In addition to completing the proseminar, students must complete four additional Africana Studies-related courses selected in consultation with Department Graduate chair. These courses may originate in Africana Studies or one of its cognate disciplines, and are intended to best fulfill students’ interests and professional goals. There may be instances, however in which courses not cross-listed with Africana Studies will be suitable for a student’s certificate program, subject to the Graduate chair’s approval.


Students may apply to the Graduate Certificate Program in Africana Studies at any time during their first or second year of study. A maximum of 15 students are admitted to the program per academic year. Applicants are evaluated based on both their academic record and the appropriateness of their interests to the program.

Application to the program requires a letter of interest, a statement of purpose, a CV, and any additional materials you think would demonstrate your interests and commitment to Africana Studies.

Certificate Program Application


Students who have completed the program requirements should complete the certificate worksheet to apply to receive the Graduate Certificate in Africana Studies.

Certificate Program Worksheet

Further information regarding the program may be obtained by contacting:

Graduate Coordinator, Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania 
Suite 331A 
3401 Walnut Street 
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6228 

Phone: 215.898.4965 
Email: daviscl@sas.upenn.edu