Concentration Requirements

Students who choose to declare a concentration in African American Studies experience a fuller account of the field, preparing them for a range of professions, as well as graduate work in African American Studies.

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.


The steps to complete the concentration are as follows:

  1. Students complete two core survey courses listed below.  At least one of these must be a Pre-20th century course.
    • AAS 244 Introduction to Pre-20th Century Black Diaspora Art (Pre-20th century)
    • AAS 245 Introduction to 20th Century African American Art
    • AAS 353 African American Literature: Origins to 1910 (Pre-20th century)
    • AAS 359 African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance to Present
    • AAS 366 African American History to 1863 (Pre-20th century)
    • AAS 367 African American History Since Emancipation
  2. In the fall of their junior year, concentrators take AAS 300 Junior Seminar: Research and Writing in African American Studies. This course introduces students to theories and methods of research design in African American Studies in preparation for the junior paper.
  3. At the end of their fall semester, juniors declare a subfield to pursue, selecting from:
  4. Four courses must be taken in the chosen subfield with two additional courses as follows:
    • If the chosen subfield is AACL or RPP, then two GRE courses. 
    • If the chosen subfield is GRE, then one AACL and one RPP.  

Students may choose up to two approved cognate courses in other departments. In total, nine courses are required for the concentration. PDF courses cannot be counted toward your concentration requirements (not including P/D/F Only courses). 

During semesters of online instruction due to the pandemic, students may count P/D/F courses toward the concentration requirements. 

Students should plan to complete independent work for a letter grade. During the semesters of pandemic-related disruptions, however, it may be necessary for students to opt for the P/D/F grading option for independent work. The decision to P/D/F independent work may be discussed with the adviser, but the student must then choose the P/D/F option during the regular selection period (usually weeks 7-9 of the term).


Additional Requirements

Demonstrate proficiency by completing independent writing and research.

  1. In the spring of their junior year, students complete independent research in order to write a junior paper that incorporates African American Studies.
  2. Seniors complete independent reading and research to develop a senior thesis that incorporates African American Studies and their chosen subfield.
  3. Seniors take a comprehensive exam derived from the work of their thesis.

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 the 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.

Departmental GPA Calculation

  • Departmentals (8) = 50%
  • Junior Paper = 15%
  • Senior Thesis = 30%
  • Senior Exam = 5%

The Rule of 12

In accordance with Princeton University’s academic regulations, all students are limited to 12 one-term courses in a given department. For accounting purposes, please note that cross-listed courses should be identified with the home department, which is the first department listed in the course identification number. Please note that all AAS required courses count toward the total of 12 departmental courses; that is, there are no AAS prerequisite exclusions to the Rule of 12. AAS 300 and the core survey courses must be counted toward the departmental course limit of 12. Independent work is excluded from the count. Any student who exceeds the 31 courses required for graduation will be permitted to take extra departmentals. Exceptions to departmental course limits will be made on a case-by-case basis for students studying abroad, with the approval of the associate dean for international programs.