PhD Requirements

The Program is designed to provide students with the flexibility to design courses of study that reflect their individual interests and are responsive to emerging fields of research within African, African American, and African Diaspora Studies. The program's requirements have also been specifically designed so that dual degree students can complete all requirements in both programs. The Program admits students for the PhD degree only. All applicants will automatically be considered for fellowship awards. All students in good standing are provided full tuition and living stipends.

To obtain the PhD, students will be required to meet the following requirements:

• Complete the five Core Courses

• Pass an examination in a language of library research by October of the second year (for students pursing research in a language other than English)

• Complete 14 course units (includes five Core and two Second-Tier Courses)

• Complete 2nd and 3rd Academic Years of TA/Teaching Service  (Fall and Spring Terms)

• Complete a 30-book exam at the end of the second year 

• Pass the Comprehensive Exams in the fall of the third year

• Defend the Dissertation Proposal in Spring of the third year.

• Submit a Dissertation that is acceptable to the student’s dissertation committee.

The Core Program consists of five courses, as follows: 

• Proseminar in Africana Studies (2 semesters): Focuses on the historical and cultural relationship between Africans and their descendants abroad.

• Introduction to Africa and African Diaspora Thought: Examines the processes by which African peoples have established epistemological, cosmological, and religious systems both prior to and after the institution of Western slavery.

• Cultural and Literary Theory of Africa and the African Diaspora: Introduces students to the theoretical strategies underlying the construction of coherent communities and systems of representation and how those strategies influence the uses of expressive culture over time.

• Political Economy and Social History of Africa and the African Diaspora: Provides the opportunity for students to investigate the relationship between the emergence of African peoples as historical subjects and their location within specific geopolitical and economic circumstances.

In some cases, other courses may serve as alternatives for fulfilling these requirements.


Second-Tier Courses

Students are required to take two methodology courses. Examples are, ethnographic methods, historical methods, quantitative methods. 

Apart from the Core and Second-Tier Courses, no other specific courses are required. The remaining courses of the 14-course unit requirement are expected to satisfy disciplinary standards and are chosen in consultation with faculty advisors.

Students in the second year in the Africana Studies doctoral program will be expected to develop a reading list of 30 books. Ten of these are selected from the master list of books that are deemed to be integral to the field of Africana Studies. Ten books are prescribed by the faculty as foundational texts. The remaining 10 books, selected in consultation with their Africana Studies faculty advisor, reflect students’ research interests and must be approved by their faculty advisor. Students must submit their complete booklist to the Graduate Chair for approval by September 15 of the second year. 

Students must have completed all course work and be in good academic standing in order to sit the Second-Year Exam.

Students whose research is conducted in a language other than English are required to pass an examination in a language of library research. In order to pass, the candidate must translate into English at a level that demonstrates an ability to do library research reliably in the language. Students should take the examination in a language that they are likely to need in their doctoral research. The examination can be taken in any language spoken in Africa or the African Diaspora except English. 

Passing the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam, is required of all students before they can begin to undertake dissertation research. Taken in the first semester of the third year, the exam consists of: (1) a written component, the specifics of which are determined by the members of each student’s exam committee; (2) an oral examination, that will not exceed two hours. Students prepare for their exam by compiling a comprehensive list of texts for each field in consultation with each of their examiners. Once approved, students read the texts on their lists with the objective of demonstrating in-depth knowledge of the scholarly debates that define each field, as well as an expectation that they can discuss their future research and teaching goals in relation to those debates. 

A doctoral dissertation in the program is expected to be a substantial work of original scholarship demonstrating theoretical sophistication and intensive research. Ph.D. Graduate students submit a dissertation proposal which they will defend to their committee members before they can begin independent dissertation research or fieldwork. Joint degree students are responsible for making sure that the dissertation proposal meets the requirements of both their departments. 

A doctoral dissertation in the program is expected to be a substantial work of original scholarship demonstrating theoretical sophistication and intensive research. Ph.D. candidates are expected to begin full-time research on their dissertation projects immediately upon passing their comprehensive examinations. During the third year of graduate study (or in the case of students with A.M.s, in the second term of the second year), candidates will submit a dissertation proposal to and receive the approval of all members of their advisory committees.