The Department of Afro-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 various support activities for the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Alabama. The department prides itself on positive working relationships with our colleagues in traditional disciplines as well as the other ethnic programs, the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, the Department of African Cultural 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 the deeper understanding of race in America and the world.

Students should inform the Department of Afro-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 Breadth and 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 a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.


Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language
Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 86th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced 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 and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non-L&S-degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major

The major in Afro-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
19th Century Afro-American Literature
Major Authors
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 on Afro-American Artists
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
Gender, Race and Class: Women in U.S. History
Black Feminisms
The Caribbean and its Diasporas
Mutual Perceptions of Racial Minorities
Soul Music and the African American Freedom Movement
Interdisciplinary Studies in the Arts
African American Political Theory
African American Families
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


Distinction in the Major

Afro-American studies majors not enrolled for Honors in the Major may receive the "Distinction in the Major" notation on the transcript by earning a 3.750 grade point average in major courses and successfully completing the AFROAMER 691AFROAMER 692 Senior Thesis project.

Thesis of Distinction

The award Thesis of Distinction is granted for an exceptionally good or original thesis, without consideration of the student's record in other work. A committee of at least two faculty members will evaluate the thesis and recommend to the dean the granting of this award when appropriate.

Honors in the Major

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

Honors in the Afro-American Studies Major Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major in Afro-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
AFROAMER/​ASIAN AM  443 Mutual Perceptions of Racial Minorities3
  • 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
AFROMAER Arts & Culture course13AFROMAER major course (History & Society)43
Elective (eg. SEED = 1 credit)Elective3
 13 15
Second Year
Quantitative Reasoning-B4Communication-B3-4
Elective: INTER-LS 210: Taking Initiative1AFROMAER 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 higher3Natural Science Breadth3
Natural Science Breadth3Elective3
 15 15
Fourth Year
AFROAMER seminar3AFROMER Seminar3
 15 15
Total Credits 117


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

The Department of Afro-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


Afro-American Studies Main Office:

Department of Afro-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

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.

Professors Adell, Drewal, Greene, Plummer, Thornton, Whitmire

Associate Professor Clark-Pujara

Assistant Professors Brown, Davis, Edmonds, Ifatunji