African American and Africana Studies Major

Assistant Program Director and Academic Advisor: Marshal Washington

The African American and Africana Studies Department offers a Bachelor of Arts in African American and Africana Studies or a Bachelor of Arts in African American and Africana Studies with a concentration in Public Policy. All students will take three foundation courses, two methods courses and one of three capstone options. Students choosing the African-American and Africana Studies major take five courses in two thematic areas (or clusters): 1) Cultural and Historical Analysis and 2) Civic Engagement and Social Justice. Students choosing the major will take courses that emphasize understanding historical and cultural context, developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills and fostering the capacity to effect change locally, nationally and globally. Courses cover a wide range of topics, including history, literature, health and well-being, family, politics, criminal justice, gender and race, and incorporate both the African-American and African Diasporic experience. 

Students who choose the Public Policy Concentration must take six courses in our Public Policy sequence.  The Public Policy concentration offers an emphasis on problem-solving, analytical decision-making, and practical applications of policy analysis and management skills.  Courses in public policy cover a range of policy areas, including health, criminal justice, reproduction and education, and also address the institutions and processes involved in policy-making. Students have the opportunity to pursue a Joint BA/MPP degree. 

Admission to the Major

Students wishing to major in African American and Africana Studies must make an advising appointment for an orientation to the major. Students must complete an application and attend a BSOS academic plan workshop.

Please call the AAAS office at 301-405-1158 or contact to schedule an advising appointment.

Program Objectives

The African American and Africana Studies Department (AAAS) fosters an intellectual environment in which majors learn to critically examine, analyze, interpret and discuss the experiences, culture, traditions, and dynamics of people of the African Diaspora. A primary goal of the program is to develop strong critical thinking, analytical skills, research and writing skills, through our curriculum, such that AAAS majors learn the interdisciplinary methods used in examining the socio-economic, historical, and political experiences and contributions of people of African descent. Our curriculum is organized and structured to introduce AAAS majors to African American and Africana Studies and to ensure that they receive an appropriate grounding in the major themes of the field and can place these themes in the historical context of the African Diaspora such that they are better prepared to address the social science issues of race, racism, and inequality. The program provides preparation in fundamental research methodology so that AAAS majors are able to explore research questions with sufficient rigor.

Relevance of goals to the mission statements and/or strategic plans of the university, college, or program as applicable:

The University of Maryland's stated goals for undergraduates include the ability to learn and develop critical reasoning and research skills; written and oral communications skills; science and quantitative reasoning, and technological fluency. AAAS majors are well prepared upon graduation in these areas through the department's curriculum and extensive one-on-one mentoring by the AAAS faculty.

Program Learning Outcomes

A primary goal of the African American and Africana Studies Department is to develop strong critical thinking, research and writing skills, through our curriculum, such that AAAS majors learn the interdisciplinary methods used in examining the socio-economic, historical, and political experiences and contributions of people of African descent. Students should acquire the following knowledge and skills:

  1. Describe the social and historical context of the issues in African American and African Diaspora communities related to health and well-being, family functioning, economic development, political participation and contemporary culture.
  2. Explain the dynamic interplay between social oppression and resistance in African-American Communities and the African Diaspora
  3. Identify critical events and historical periods and analyze their implications for politics, economics, health and psychological functioning in African American and African diaspora communities.
  4. Use social science methods and data to analyze social problems and propose solution.
  5. Evaluate the validity of claims and conclusions in secular and scientific publications.
  6. Identify, compute, and interpret common methods for analyzing quantitative data.
  7. Write clearly and speak persuasively.

Students must earn a grade of "C-" or better in each course that is to be counted toward completion of degree requirements.  Students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average across all courses used to satisfy major degree requirements.  All related or supporting courses in other departments must be approved by an AAAS academic advisor. Each semester there will be an approved list of courses for both those choosing the major or the concentration in Public Policy. The academic advisor will review the student's options during their mandatory advising appointment. 

African-American and Africana Studies Major: 35 Total Credits

Public Policy Concentration: 38 Total Credits

Course Title Credits
College Requirements
Foundation Courses Required for All Majors
AASP100Introduction to African American Studies3
AASP200African Civilization3
AASP101Public Policy and the Black Community 13
or AASP202 Black Culture in the United States
AASP210Intro to Research Design and Analysis in African American Studies3
AASP399Research in African-American Studies (Research Practicum) 22
Select One:3
Fundamentals of Quantitative Research in Socio-Cultural Perspective 1
(Advanced Qualitative Methods)
Capstone (Choose One)3
Senior Thesis
(Study Abroad in Africa or the African Diaspora)
(Capstone Seminar and Community Practicum)
Total Credits20

Required for Public Policy Concentration Students


Research Practicum is taken for 1 credit per semester.

African-American and Africana Studies Major

Course Title Credits
Five courses at the 300 or 400 level are required. There must be at least one course in Cluster 1 and one in Cluster 215
Cluster 1
(Gender, Race and Health)
(Black Children and Youth)
(Diversity in Black Family Life)
(Racial Socialization of Children)
(The Role of Place in Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities)
(Structural Violence and Medical Apartheid in Black Communities)
(Race, Reproduction and Population Policy: An International Perspective)
(Race, Poverty and Transition to Adulthood)
(Reducing Black White Achievement Gaps)
(Black Men, Popular Culture and Disability)
Cluster 2
Caribbean Women (Intro to Pan-Africanism)
(African Contributions to History)
(Africa in World Politics)
Black Feminist Thought (Comparative Racial Politics)
(The Commodification and Economics of the Prison Industrial Complex)
(Black Women's Political and Cultural Engagements/Representations of Africa and the Global Diaspora)
(Social Inequality and Social Policy in a Global Perspective)
(Race, GIS and Social Inequalities)
(Negroes with Guns)
(African Americans and Public Policy)
(The History of Conservative Black Politics)
Total Credits15

Public Policy Concentration

Course Title Credits
Analytic Component
AASP301Applied Policy Analysis and the Black Community3
ECON200Principles of Microeconomics3
PLCY388Special Topics in Public Policy3
or PLCY401 Contemporary Issues in Public Policy
AASP Policy Electives in African American Studies9
Selected Topics in the African Diaspora
Black Resistance Movements
Science, Technology, and the Black Community
Blacks and the Law
Special Topics in Black Culture
Advanced Topics in Public Policy and the Black Community
Total Credits18

Click here for roadmaps for graduation plans in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Additional information on developing a graduation plan can be found on the following pages: