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Africana Studies


MALS students take four classes within the program—Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies, two core courses in their chosen track, and the thesis/capstone project—and choose their remaining electives from among courses offered across the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and Humanities at the Graduate Center.


MALS Track in Africana Studies


Stemming from the Black Studies programs and departments formed in the late 1960s, Africana Studies is the study of cultures, politics, and histories of peoples of African origin in both Africa and in the African diaspora. At present, Africana Studies is a systematic way of studying black people’s religion, sociology, culture, cultural expression and history throughout the world. It examines the iterative effect of the black experience on society as well as society’s impact on the black experience. Therefore, this academic endeavor relies heavily on many disciplines across the social sciences and humanities.

The question of diversity in general and Africana Studies in particular at higher levels of education is no longer a “yes-or-no” query; it is a matter of “when” and “how.” The matter of “when” is a question of will, commitment, and resources; and it is a question that university administrators across the country are addressing. The matter of “how,” though, is a question for research scholars; and it raises questions proper to disciplines across the humanities and social sciences.

This MALS Track is the only M.A. or M.S. degree offered in Africana Studies within the CUNY system.

Degree Requirements

This Master's degree program requires the following coursework for a total of 30 credits:

  • A required introductory course [MALS 70000: Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies].
  • Two required core courses to introduce students to Africana Studies [MALS 73400 and MALS 73500].
  • 18 credits from courses of the student's choice.
  • A master's thesis/capstone project [MALS 79000].

Core Courses

The two core courses will provide the student with multiple perspectives on Africana Studies in order to prepare him/her to take advanced courses in Africana Studies and other relevant disciplines.

  • MALS 73400 Africana Studies: Introduction

This course provides a broad overview of the issues and methods of Africana Studies. The instructor will use an interdisciplinary approach to consider some of the themes, questions, methodologies, and findings of Africana Studies scholarship. The course will introduce students to a selection of texts, taken from literary, cultural, and social science sources; additionally, both classic and contemporary theoretical works will be incorporated. Students will explore the ways in which the field of Africana Studies has raised new questions and brought new perspectives to the humanities, the social sciences, as well as their intersection(s). The purpose here is to challenge conventional disciplinary boundaries.

  • MALS 73500 Africana Studies: Global Perspectives

The Global Perspectives course will explore the dynamics of racial, ethnic, and economic relations of power in domestic, international, and transnational settings. The course will examine scholarship produced by and about Black people, Third World citizens, and other social and political actors whose experiences and thinking have shaped contemporary ideas about race, power, and international political economies. The course will explore how both self-identified people of color and people who do not consider themselves as such write about and understand race, gender, justice, human rights, tolerance, agency, imperialism, and other relevant topics. Though many experiences will be considered, this course is specifically designed to foreground experiences beyond the borders of the United States.

Elective Courses

Electives can be chosen among courses offered across most of the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and Humanities at the Graduate Center.

For related coursework in Africana Studies, students may look to offerings in the certificate programs in Africana Studies and Women's Studies and the doctoral programs in Anthropology, Art History, English, History, Political ScienceSociology, and Music.

Click here to view current and past courses offered by the certificate program in Africana Studies.


MALS faculty associated with this track:

Library Resources

Visit the GC Mina Rees Library's Africana Studies Research Guide.
Students' contact for Africana Studies research is reference librarian Shawn(ta) Smith.

Questions about the MALS track in Africana Studies may be directed to