Field of Study: African-American and Black Studies
Programs in African-American and black studies focus on the lives of people whose ancestors came to the Americas from Africa. Students learn to analyze the concepts of race and ethnicity by studying African-American communities primarily in the United States and the Caribbean. They also learn history, political theory, and critical analysis skills.
Thanks to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an African-American historian, February was established as Black History Month in 1976. Before the efforts of Woodson and other civil rights leaders, many people erroneously believed that African-Americans had made no useful contributions to human civilization.
1976 wasn't very long ago, was it? Do you ever wonder why we single out one month in honor of African-Americans? What happens during the other 11 months, you might ask. This is the same sort of questioning that spurred many scholars and professors to start African-American and black studies programs in colleges and universities.
In this program of study, you learn about the history of African-Americans and how it is a part of American history. You study the connections between Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas. You think about the implications of things society does that are related to African-Americans, including Black History Month.
You could also focus on the role of gender issues in race issues. Or you might examine representations of African-American identity in literature and other art forms. The field is broad and encourages interdisciplinary study.
A background in this program of study prepares you for careers directly related to race issues such as civil rights law and multicultural education. But you can also apply your expertise in this field to any of a wide range of jobs that could benefit from an understanding of racial and cultural differences.
More than 200 colleges and universities offer programs in African-American and black studies. You can earn a bachelor's, a master's, or a doctoral degree in this program. You can also sometimes earn an undergraduate or graduate certificate while completing the curriculum for another program of study.
A bachelor's degree typically takes about four years of full-time study after high school. After a bachelor's degree, a master's degree usually takes about one to two additional years. And after a master's degree, a doctoral degree generally takes between four and five years.