The Department of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison offers students an opportunity to study those aspects of black history, culture, and society in ideal interdisciplinary models that reconstruct African American life. It challenges students to critically examine facts and issues that are historically and contemporaneously relevant to the African American experience. The department offers an undergraduate major and certificate. The M.A. program is based on personalized programs of study shaped to meet the needs of individual students, many of whom participate in the “Bridge” programs which enable them to move directly into Ph.D. programs in English and History. Faculty members and students are active in a broad range of activities, including hip-hop programs for at-risk youth, community theater, college classes for low-income adults, and the Public History Project. The department prides itself on positive working relationships with our colleagues in other disciplines, including  the other ethnic studies programs, the departments of Gender and Women’s Studies,  African Cultural Studies, English, ​History, Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, and the School of Education. A vibrant community of scholars and students who believe in the ideal of unity without uniformity, we welcome all those committed to a deeper understanding of race and ethnicity in America and the world.

Students should inform the Department of African American Studies office of their intention to major and be assigned an advisor within the department.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree requirements.


Mathematics Complete two courses of 3+ credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level in MATH, COMP SCI, or STAT subjects. A maximum of one course in each of COMP SCI and STAT subjects counts toward this requirement.
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language.
L&S Breadth Complete:
• 12 credits of Humanities, which must include at least 6 credits of Literature; and
• 12 credits of Social Science; and
• 12 credits of Natural Science, which must include 6 credits of Biological Science and 6 credits of Physical Science.
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework Complete at least 108 credits.
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced Coursework Complete at least 60 credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level.
Major Declare and complete at least one major.
Total Credits Complete at least 120 credits.
UW-Madison Experience Complete both:
• 30 credits in residence, overall, and
• 30 credits in residence after the 86th credit.
Quality of Work • 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
• 2.000 in Intermediate/Advanced level coursework at UW–Madison


Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements. They do not need to complete the L&S Degree Requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

The major in African American Studies requires a minimum of 30 credits. 15 credits must be numbered 300 and above. Students must take 2 courses from each of the four areas listed below: 1) Literature; 2) History and Society; 3) Arts and Culture; 4) Seminars and Advanced Courses; and Electives to achieve a total of 30 credits.


Two Courses From:6
Introduction to Black Women Writers
Introduction to African American Dramatic Literature
Masterpieces of African American Literature
African-American Autobiography
The Harlem Renaissance
The Black Arts Movement
Total Credits6

History and Society

Two Courses From:6
Introduction to Contemporary Afro-American Society
Introduction to Afro-American History
Race and American Politics from the New Deal to the New Right
Afro-American History Since 1900
Afro-American History to 1900
Black Women in America: Reconstruction to the Present
Race and Gender in Post-World War II U.S. Society
Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction, 1848-1877
Total Credits6

Arts and CuLture

Two Courses From6
Hip-Hop and Contemporary American Society
Black Music and American Cultural History
Introduction to African Art and Architecture
Introduction to Afro-American Art
Artistic/Cultural Images of Black Women
Blacks, Film, and Society
Art and Visual Culture: Women of the African Diaspora and Africa
Total Credits6


Two Courses From6
African American Women's Activism (19th & 20th Centuries)
Gender, Race and the Civil Rights Movement
History of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States
Colloquium in Afro-American History
Interdisciplinary Studies in the Arts
Selected Topics in Afro-American History
Selected Topics in Afro-American Literature
Selected Topics in Afro-American Society
Selected Topics in Afro-American Culture
Critical and Theoretical Perspectives in Black Women's Writings
Visual Culture, Gender and Critical Race Theory
Total Credits6


Two Courses From6
Introduction to Comparative US Ethnic and American Indian Studies
They: Race in American Literature
Introduction to Black Women's Studies
Selected Topics in African American Culture
African and African-American Linkages: An Introduction
Undergraduate Studies in Afro-American History
Cultural Cross Currents: West African Dance/Music in the Americas
Gender, Race and Class: Women in U.S. History
Black Feminisms
The Caribbean and its Diasporas
Soul Music and the African American Freedom Movement
Interdisciplinary Studies in the Arts
African American Political Theory
Race, American Medicine and Public Health
History of African American Education
Total Credits6


2.000 GPA in all AFROAMER and major courses

2.000 GPA on at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major, in residence2

15 credits in AFROAMER, taken on the UW–Madison campus


Upper-level in the major includes AFROAMER courses numbered 300 and above and courses that count for the major that are designated as Intermediate or Advanced level.

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the African American Studies Major in consultation with the African American Studies undergraduate advisor(s).

Honors in the African american Studies Major Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major in African American Studies, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • 3.300 University GPA
  • 3.500 GPA in all AFROAMER courses, and all courses accepted in the major
  • Complete at least one course with a cross-cultural or comparative focus:
AFROAMER/​ART HIST  241 Introduction to African Art and Architecture3
AFROAMER/​AFRICAN/​ANTHRO/​GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI/​SOC  277 Africa: An Introductory Survey4
AFROAMER/​AFRICAN/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  297 African and African-American Linkages: An Introduction4
AFROAMER/​HISTORY  347 The Caribbean and its Diasporas3
AFROAMER/​AFRICAN  413 Contemporary African and Caribbean Drama3-4
  • Complete at least 15 credits in AFROAMER at the 500 or 600 level, to include a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in AFROAMER 681 and AFROAMER 682, for a total of 6 credits.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Familiar with the history, culture and social conditions of African Americans in the United States and, secondarily, in the African diaspora.
  2. Prepared to interact effectively in a multicultural world.
  3. Prepared to share the results of academic research in the area of race with their communities in Wisconsin, the U.S., and the world.
  4. Prepared for careers working in institutions that address the needs of multicultural communities.
  5. Develop an understanding of the connection between different disciplinary approaches to the study of race.

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

First Year
Communication-A (complete during your first year)3AFROMAER major course3
Quantitative Reasoning-A (complete during your first year)3AFROMAER major course (Literature)23
Foreign Language4AFROAMER elective (Ethnic Studies)33
AFROAMER Arts & Culture course13AFROMAER major course (History & Society)43
Elective (eg. SEED = 1 credit)1-3Elective3
 16 15
Second Year
Quantitative Reasoning-B4Communication-B3-4
INTER-LS 210 (Elective)1AFROMAER major course numbered 300-above (History & Society)3
AFROMAER major course (Arts & Culture)3Physical Science Breadth3
Biological Science Breadth3Elective3
 14 15
Third Year
Declare the Major (before 86 credits)4AFROAMER major course numbered 300-higher (Literature)3
I/A Comp Sci, Math or Stats (if required for BS)3AFROMER major course numbered 300-higher3
AFROAMER major course numbered 300 and higher3Science Breadth3
Science Breadth3Elective3
 15 15
Fourth Year
AFROAMER seminar3AFROMER Seminar3
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Many AFROAMER courses from Arts & Culture carry Humanities breadth and will also meet the L&S Breadth requirement for Humanities (up to 6 credits).


 AFROAMER literature courses will satisfy the L&S Literature Breadth requirement (6 credits of Literature course work).


 Nearly all AFROAMER courses carry the Ethnic Studies (ESR) designation and will apply to General Education and the major.  Students should complete ESR within first 60 credits.


Many AFROAMER courses in History & Society will carry Social Science Breadth and also meet the L&S Breadth requirements for Social Science (12 credits) course work.


 Students must declare a major by the time they reach 86 credits.


Students are limited to a maximum of 6 credits of Directed Study courses (AFROAMER 199 Directed Study or AFROAMER 699 Directed Study in Afro-American Studies). With consent of the undergraduate adviser, students may substitute directed studies or thesis credits to satisfy requirements for the major.

The Department of African-American Studies encourages our majors to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after arriving on campus. We partner with SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science. L&S graduates are in high demand by employers and graduate programs. It is important to us that our students are career ready at the time of graduation, and we are committed to your success.


Professor Sandra Adell, Undergraduate and Certificate advisor in the major
4115 Helen C. White Hall


African American Studies Main Office:

Department of African American Studies
4141 Helen C. White Hall
600 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706
Phone: 608-263-1642; Fax: 608-263-7198

L&S career resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.

Professors Adell, Clark-Pujara, Greene, Plummer, Whitmire

Associate Professor Davis

Assistant Professors Collin Wilkins, Edmonds, Ifatunji