Completing a Concentration in African American Studies

Students who choose to declare a concentration in African American Studies experience a full account of the field of African American Studies and gain practical knowledge of how to conduct independent research in the field. Concentrators graduate from Princeton prepared for a range of professions, as well as graduate work in African American Studies and related disciplines. Concentrators are required to complete 10 units of coursework, which include AAS 201; a junior seminar; and eight additional African American Studies courses. Concentrators must make race central in their senior thesis and pass a comprehensive oral exam based on this thesis.

Professor Naomi Murakawa serves as the director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of African American Studies. Administrative questions should be directed to Jana Johnson.

Course Requirements for Completing the Concentration

Introduction Course (1)

Students take the departmental survey course, AAS 201 Introduction to the Study of African American Cultural Practices

At this point, students may notify the Department of their intention to complete the concentration (or, a certificate). Early concentration is open to spring semester sophomores who have completed the prerequisite for entry into the department by the end of the fall semester of sophomore year.

Survey Courses (2)

Students choose and complete two AAS survey courses of the following four: 

AAS 353 African American Literature: Origins to 1910
AAS 366 African American History to 1863
AAS 359 African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance to Present
AAS 367 African American History from Reconstruction to the Present

At least one survey course should be a pre-20th century course. 

Subfield Courses (6) 

African American Studies is organized into three subfields. A concentrator selects one subfield to focus their studies within. 

African American Culture and Life (AACL)
Global Race and Ethnicity (GRE)
Race and Public Policy (RPP)

Concentrators take at least four courses in the African American Studies subfield they have chosen.  Concentrators must also take at least one course from each remaining subfields (or approved cognates).  

Additional Requirements 

Junior Seminar 

During the fall term all juniors will participate in a seminar with a member or members of the faculty. Students are expected to produce a research paper at the conclusion of the seminar. The paper should be related to the topic of the junior seminar. In the spring term, juniors will complete independent work that includes independent reading and the writing of the junior paper working with a faculty advisor.

Senior Colloquium 

Concentrators are required to participate in the Senior Colloquium, which seeks to provide a space for seniors concentrating in African American Studies to reflect upon their experiences within the Department, and upon how the understanding and insight they have gained here can and should influence their lives beyond graduation. The Senior Colloquium meets a total of six times per term, and once during reading period. A member of the AAS core faculty leads each colloquium meeting.

Senior Thesis & Exam

During the senior year each student, with the guidance of a faculty advisor, must complete independent work, which consists of writing a thesis. The senior thesis will then serve as the basis of the senior comprehensive exam.