Lively dancing in West Africa

The African Studies Program supports research, teaching, and outreach at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, bringing together scholars in multiple disciplines, students, teachers, and community partners to consider all aspects of land and life in Africa. The African Studies Program is a US Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center for Africa, a unit in The International Division, and a member of the campus consortium of internationally oriented programs known as the Institute for Regional and International Studies.

The program was established in 1961 by an interdisciplinary team of internationally respected scholars including Jan Vasina, Philip Curtin, Frederick Simoons, and Aristride Zolberg. The center continues to enjoy a reputation for excellence, having awarded more degrees to Africa specialists than any other American university. No other university boasts such a depth and range of expertise in Africanist scholarship. Over 70 affiliated faculty offer more than 100 courses in 35 departments around campus. The department of African Cultural Studies offers students an opportunity to study a number of African languages including Arabic, Hausa, Swahili, Yoruba, Wolof, and Zulu, as well as options for self-directed study of less-commonly taught languages.

Undergraduates from any department can benefit from access to our programs and top-ranked faculty by completing a certificate in African studies. The certificate is highly interdisciplinary and welcomes students with backgrounds in the humanities, social sciences, business, health, agriculture, or the environment. What unites certificate students is a shared interest in the people, places, and stories of the continent of Africa.

A certificate in African Studies indicates that a student has acquired an interdisciplinary knowledge about the African continent, its histories, its stories, and its people. African studies alumni serve in a number of important leadership positions in both the private and public sector. Former students have gone on to serve as ambassadors, presidential advisors, and leaders of investment firms and Washington think tanks. Many undergraduate certificate holders launch their internationally-oriented careers by joining the Peace Corps after graduation.

Students interested in declaring the undergraduate certificate should contact the African Studies Program undergraduate advisor (


15 credits in African Studies approved courses

At least two SUBJECTs represented: 1

Introduction to African Cultural Expression
Africa on the Global Stage
Introduction to African Literature
Introductory Topics in African Cultural Studies
Introductory Topics in African Literature
The African Storyteller
HipHop, Youth Culture, and Politics in Senegal
Introduction to African Popular Culture
Introduction to Yoruba Life and Culture
Introduction to Arabic Literary Culture
Introduction to Swahili Cultures
Global HipHop and Social Justice
The Hero and Trickster in African Oral Traditions
Africa: An Introductory Survey
African and African-American Linkages: An Introduction
African Literature in Translation
African Literature and Visual Culture
Soccer in Africa
First Semester Arabic
Second Semester Arabic
Third Semester Arabic
Fourth Semester Arabic
Fifth Semester Arabic
Sixth Semester Arabic
Colloquial Arabic
Colloquial Arabic
First Semester Swahili
Second Semester Swahili
Third Semester Swahili
Fourth Semester Swahili
First Semester-A Language of Southern Africa
Second Semester-A Language of Southern Africa
Third Semester-A Language of Southern Africa
Fourth Semester-A Language of Southern Africa
First Semester Summer Arabic
Second Semester Summer Arabic
Third Semester Summer Arabic
Fourth Semester Summer Arabic
Fifth Semester Summer Arabic
Sixth Semester Summer Arabic
First Semester Hausa
Second Semester Hausa
Islam: Religion and Culture
First Semester Yoruba
Second Semester Yoruba
Third Semester Yoruba
Fourth Semester Yoruba
First Semester-A Language of West Africa
Second Semester-A Language of West Africa
Third Semester-A Language of West Africa
Fourth Semester-A Language of West Africa
Theory of African Literature
Theories of African Cultural Studies
Topics in African Cultural Studies
Topics in African Literature
Topics in African Languages
Topics in US and Global Black Music Studies
Contemporary African Fiction
Contemporary African and Caribbean Drama
Islam in Africa and the Diaspora
Fifth Semester Swahili
Sixth Semester Swahili
African/Francophone Film
Technology and Development in Africa and Beyond
Advanced Readings in Arabic Texts
Lusophone African Literature
Modern African Literature in English
Fifth Semester Yoruba
Sixth Semester Yoruba
Language and Society in Africa
Advanced Topics in African Cultural Studies
Advanced Topics in African Literature
Advanced Topics in Global Black Music Studies
Special Topics
Theories and Methods of Learning a Less Commonly Taught Language
Multilanguage Seminar
Intensive Summer Multilanguage Seminar
Directed Study of a Less Commonly Taught Language
Directed Study
Directed Study
Introduction to African Art and Architecture
Introduction to Afro-American Art
African and African-American Linkages: An Introduction
Contemporary African and Caribbean Drama
Selected Topics in Afro-American Culture
The Growth and Development of Nations in the Global Economy
Economic Problems of Developing Areas
Agricultural and Economic Development in Africa
Freshman/Sophomore Seminar in Anthropology
Prehistory of Africa
Family, Kin and Community in Anthropological Perspective
Economic Anthropology
Bones for the Archaeologist
Introduction to African Art and Architecture
Proseminar in African Art
African Dance
World Dance Cultures: Traditional to Contemporary
African Dance Performance
Cultural Cross Currents: West African Dance/Music in the Americas
Economic Problems of Developing Areas
Education and Public Policy
Environmental Conservation
Agricultural and Economic Development in Africa
The Hero and Trickster in African Oral Traditions
French/Francophone Literary Studies Across the Centuries
French/Francophone Cultural Studies Across the Centuries
Introduction to Francophone Studies
Environmental Conservation
Africa, South of the Sahara
Introduction to the History of Africa
Africa on the Global Stage
Explorations in Third World History (H)
Africans in the Americas, 1492-1808
Afro-Atlantic History, 1808-Present
African and African-American Linkages: An Introduction
The Caribbean and its Diasporas
History of East Africa
History of Equatorial Africa
Globalization and Education
Globalization, Poverty and Development
The Growth and Development of Nations in the Global Economy
Women's Global Health and Human Rights
International Communication
Introduction to Luso-Afro-Brazilian Literature
Musical Cultures of the World
African and African-American Linkages: An Introduction
African Politics
Political Economy of Development
Conflict Resolution
Analysis of International Relations
International Institutions and World Order
Principles of International Law
Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict
African International Relations
Lusophone African Literature
Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean

 No more than two courses from any one SUBJECT may count toward the certificate. A cross-listed course may count in either—but not both—SUBJECTs in which it is cross-listed.

Residence & Quality of Work

  • Minimum 2.000 GPA on all certificate courses
  • At least 8 certificate credits must be completed in residence


This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

  1. (Historical Grounding) understanding the historical, political, and cultural forces and conditions that have given rise to the unity and diversity in the region today.
  2. (Multi-disciplinarity) analyzing contemporary political, economic, and cultural realities in the region from at least two disciplinary perspectives, ideally including humanities, social sciences and sometimes natural science approaches.
  3. (Depth of knowledge) mastering at the undergraduate generalist level a particular facet of life in the region by taking courses on a particular sub-region or country, or by studying a regional language, or by taking at least two courses on the region in one discipline.

We require that students visit with the advisor at least once per semester. Advising for the certificate is run by the African Studies Program advisor, Aleia Ingulli McCord,, who can assist you in developing your plan of study for the certificate, track progress toward the certificate, explore study abroad and international internship options, and begin the career exploration process. We offer walk-in advising, advising workshops, and scheduled appointments.

We strongly encourage students to enroll in  Africa: An Introductory Survey (AFRICAN/​AFROAMER/​ANTHRO/​GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI/​SOC  277), to study an African language, and to study abroad on the continent.

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.

205 Ingraham Hall 
1155 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706
phone: (608) 262-2380
fax: (608) 265-5851

Luís Madureira, Faculty Director,
Aleia McCord, Associate Director,
Olayinka Olagbegi-Adegbite, Assistant Director,

Faculty members specializing on Africa are based in more than 40 departments throughout the university's schools and colleges:

African Studies Program Steering Committee: Jeremy Foltz (Ag & Applied Econ), Nancy Kendall (Education), Mary Hark (Design Studies), Janis Tupesis (Emergency Medicine), Vlad Dima (African Cultural Studies)

As a regional center within the Institute for Regional and International Studies, we support and enhance international and global awareness in our student communities and inspire informed thinking about the complexities of our world. We encourage our students to connect to international networks and our regional communities through our program’s lecture series, film screenings, and varied outreach events and activities. We encourage our students to study abroad, do international internships, learn foreign languages, and expect them to gain an interdisciplinary grounding in global and regional affairs. We provide resources and expertise on our world area to students, and prospective students, and more broadly to K–12 teachers and students, postsecondary educators and graduate students, businesses, the media, the military, the community at large, and anyone else who is interested.

Information about funding through the African Studies Program is available on our website. We also encourage our students to explore funding options available through the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) Awards Office.