Bachelor’s Degree

In the African Studies major, students gain a cross-disciplinary exposure to the arts, history, cultures, politics, and development of Africa. In the junior and senior years, students develop analytical ability and focus research in a particular discipline such anthropology, art history, history, languages and literatures, political science, or sociology or on topics such as global health, economic development, or human rights.

African Studies provides training of special interest to those considering admission to graduate or professional schools, careers in education, journalism, law, management, city planning, politics, psychology, international relations, creative writing, or social work. The interdisciplinary structure of the program offers students an opportunity to satisfy the increasingly rigorous expectations of admissions committees and prospective employers for a broad liberal arts perspective that complements a specialized knowledge of a field.

Students in the Class of 2018 may fulfill the requirements of the African Studies major that were in place when they entered the major, as described in previous editions of this bulletin. Alternatively, they may fulfill the requirements for the major as described below for the Class of 2019 and subsequent classes.

Requirements of the major: The program in African Studies consists of thirteen courses including:

  • at least one humanities and at least one social science Africa related course;
  • unless waived by examination, two years of study in an African language (Arabic,
    Kiswahili, Yorùbá, isiZulu or others with permission of the director of undergraduate studies);
  • AFST 401, the junior seminar on research methods, or an alternative course that either serves to deepen the concentration or provide methodological tools for the senior essay; and

  • a concentration of four term courses and one research methods seminar, selected in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies, in a discipline such as anthropology, art history, history, languages and literatures, political science, or sociology, or in an interdisciplinary program such as African American Studies, Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, or Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, or in a cross-disciplinary area such as diaspora studies or development studies.

The required courses represent the core of the program and are intended to expose the student to both the interdisciplinary nature of African studies and to the methodologies currently being brought to bear on the study of African cultures and societies. Students are encouraged to include upper-level courses, especially those centering on research and methodology.

Senior requirement: Students are required to complete a senior essay in AFST 491, working under the guidance of a faculty adviser. With prior approval by the director of undergraduate studies, a combined senior essay may be submitted for those pursuing a double major.

Languages requirement: African Studies majors are required to complete at least the equivalent of two years of college-level study of an African language, and they are strongly urged to continue beyond this level. For the language requirement to be waived, a student must pass a placement test for admission into an advanced-level course or, for languages not regularly offered at Yale, an equivalent test of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills administered through the Center for Language Study. Students should begin their language study as early as possible. If the requirement is waived, students must substitute other African Studies courses for the four required language courses. Instruction is offered in five major African languages: Arabic, Kiswahili, Yorúbá, Wolof, and isiZulu. First-year instruction is sometimes available in other languages. Students interested in studying an African language should contact the director of the Program in African Languages.

With the approval of the director of undergraduate studies, a student may take a double major in African Studies and an appropriate discipline or interdisciplinary program.

Procedure: Students planning to major in African Studies should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies as soon as possible. The DUS is Daniel Magaziner. Official Yale College program and course information is found in the Yale College Programs of Study.