African American Studies

A group of students participate in the 2018 Kente Cloth Ceremony.
A group of students participate in the 2018 Kente Cloth Ceremony.
African American Studies is an intellectual field of inquiry that examines the history of people of African descent from the colonial period through the present. Other topics that are examined include: -how systems of racial inequality are produced through state policy; -traditional western scholarly disciplines and popular discourse; and -the social, political, and cultural movements that Black people have developed to identify and resist the unequal material and political conditions that shape Black social life in the African Diaspora. The undergraduate major and minor provide a strong foundation in the key theoretical concepts in the discipline and the historical formation of African American Studies as an interdisciplinary field of study and prepare students to apply what they have learned in the classroom through independent research and in internships with social justice and service organizations.
Degree Types: Bachelor of Arts, Minor

Degree Options

  • Political Science
  • International Politics
  • Global and International Studies
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Economics

About the Program

You might like this program if…

  • You are passionate about learning more about the history, cultures, and political struggles of people of African descent in the West.
  • You are interested in understanding how racism operates structurally and shapes the social experiences and life opportunities of Black communities.
  • You want to study social, cultural, and political movements connected to the African Diaspora.
  • You are interested in pursuing independent research or internships with non-profit, research, and community-based organizations committed to racial equity and social justice.


  • Hip hop
  • Civil Rights/Black Lives Matter Movements
  • African American Religion and Spirituality
  • Black Women’s History

Out-of-Classroom Experiences

  • Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern School of Law
  • U.S. Department of Justice

Post-Graduation Opportunities

  • Law school
  • Graduate school to study public policy
AmeriCorps), Consulting, Education (K-12), Management, Service (Teach for America)

Have questions about this program?

This program is housed in the Department of African American Studies
 at Penn State University Park.
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