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 U.S. 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 sectors. 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.

How to Get in

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

AFRICAN 100 Introduction to African Cultural Expression3
AFRICAN/​HISTORY  129 Africa on the Global Stage3-4
AFRICAN 201 Introduction to African Literature3
AFRICAN 202 Introductory Topics in African Cultural Studies3
AFRICAN 203 Introductory Topics in African Literature3
AFRICAN 204 Introductory Topics in African Languages3
AFRICAN/​FOLKLORE  210 The African Storyteller3
AFRICAN/​AFROAMER  220 HipHop, Youth Culture, and Politics in Senegal3
AFRICAN 212 Introduction to African Popular Culture3
AFRICAN 230 Introduction to Yoruba Life and Culture3
AFRICAN 231 Introduction to Arabic Literary Culture3
AFRICAN 232 Introduction to Swahili Cultures3
AFRICAN/​AFROAMER  233 Global HipHop and Social Justice3
AFRICAN/​AFROAMER/​ANTHRO/​GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI/​SOC  277 Africa: An Introductory Survey4
AFRICAN/​AFROAMER/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  297 African and African-American Linkages: An Introduction4
AFRICAN 300 African Literature in Translation3
AFRICAN 303 African Literature and Visual Culture3
AFRICAN 304 Soccer in Africa3
AFRICAN 321 First Semester Arabic5
AFRICAN 322 Second Semester Arabic5
AFRICAN 323 Third Semester Arabic4
AFRICAN 324 Fourth Semester Arabic4
AFRICAN 329 Fifth Semester Arabic3
AFRICAN 330 Sixth Semester Arabic3
AFRICAN 325 Colloquial Arabic2
AFRICAN 326 Colloquial Arabic2
AFRICAN 331 First Semester Swahili5
AFRICAN 332 Second Semester Swahili5
AFRICAN 333 Third Semester Swahili4
AFRICAN 334 Fourth Semester Swahili4
AFRICAN 335 First Semester-A Language of Southern Africa5
AFRICAN 336 Second Semester-A Language of Southern Africa4-5
AFRICAN 338 Fourth Semester-A Language of Southern Africa4
AFRICAN 339 First Semester Summer Arabic4
AFRICAN 340 Second Semester Summer Arabic4
AFRICAN 341 Third Semester Summer Arabic4
AFRICAN 342 Fourth Semester Summer Arabic4
AFRICAN 343 Fifth Semester Summer Arabic4
AFRICAN 344 Sixth Semester Summer Arabic4
AFRICAN 361 First Semester Hausa5
AFRICAN 362 Second Semester Hausa4-5
AFRICAN/​ASIAN/​RELIG ST  370 Islam: Religion and Culture3-4
AFRICAN 371 First Semester Yoruba5
AFRICAN 372 Second Semester Yoruba5
AFRICAN 373 Third Semester Yoruba4
AFRICAN 374 Fourth Semester Yoruba4
AFRICAN 391 First Semester-A Language of West Africa5
AFRICAN 392 Second Semester-A Language of West Africa4-5
AFRICAN 393 Third Semester-A Language of West Africa4
AFRICAN 394 Fourth Semester-A Language of West Africa4
AFRICAN 402 Theory of African Literature3-4
AFRICAN 403 Theories of African Cultural Studies3
AFRICAN 405 Topics in African Cultural Studies3
AFRICAN 406 Topics in African Literature3
AFRICAN 407 Topics in African Languages3
AFRICAN 409 Topics in US and Global Black Music Studies3
AFRICAN 412 Contemporary African Fiction3-4
AFRICAN/​AFROAMER  413 Contemporary African and Caribbean Drama3-4
AFRICAN/​RELIG ST  414 Islam in Africa and the Diaspora3
AFRICAN 435 Fifth Semester Swahili3
AFRICAN 436 Sixth Semester Swahili3
AFRICAN/​FRENCH  440 African/Francophone Film3
AFRICAN/​COM ARTS/​L I S  444 Technology and Development in Africa and Beyond3
AFRICAN 445 Advanced Readings in Arabic Texts3
AFRICAN/​PORTUG  451 Lusophone African Literature3
AFRICAN 453 Modern African Literature in English3-4
AFRICAN 475 Fifth Semester Yoruba3
AFRICAN 476 Sixth Semester Yoruba3
AFRICAN 500 Language and Society in Africa3-4
AFRICAN 605 Advanced Topics in African Cultural Studies3
AFRICAN 606 Advanced Topics in African Literature3
AFRICAN 609 Advanced Topics in Global Black Music Studies3
AFRICAN 669 Special Topics3
AFRICAN 670 Theories and Methods of Learning a Less Commonly Taught Language2
AFRICAN 671 Multilanguage Seminar4
AFRICAN 672 Intensive Summer Multilanguage Seminar8
AFRICAN 697 Directed Study of a Less Commonly Taught Language3-5
AFRICAN 698 Directed Study1-6
AFRICAN 699 Directed Study1-6
AFROAMER/​ART HIST  241 Introduction to African Art and Architecture3
AFROAMER/​ART HIST  242 Introduction to Afro-American Art3
AFROAMER/​GEN&WS  367 Art and Visual Culture: Women of the African Diaspora and Africa3
AFROAMER 675 Selected Topics in Afro-American Culture3
A A E/​INTL ST  374 The Growth and Development of Nations in the Global Economy3
A A E/​ECON  474 Economic Problems of Developing Areas3
A A E/​ECON  477 Agricultural and Economic Development in Africa3
ANTHRO 120 Freshman/Sophomore Seminar in Anthropology3
ANTHRO 333 Prehistory of Africa3
ANTHRO 345 Family, Kin and Community in Anthropological Perspective3
ANTHRO 348 Economic Anthropology3-4
ANTHRO 391 Bones for the Archaeologist3
ART HIST 579 Proseminar in African Art3
DANCE 118 African Dance1
DANCE 165 World Dance Cultures: Traditional to Contemporary3
DANCE/​THEATRE  218 African Dance Performance2
DANCE/​AFROAMER/​MUSIC  318 Cultural Cross Currents: West African Dance/Music in the Americas3
ED POL 150 Education and Public Policy3
ENVIR ST/​GEOG  339 Environmental Conservation4
FRENCH 285 Rebellious Women3-4
FRENCH 461 French/Francophone Literary Studies Across the Centuries3
FRENCH 462 French/Francophone Cultural Studies Across the Centuries3
FRENCH 665 Introduction to Francophone Studies3
GEOG 355 Africa, South of the Sahara3
GEOG/​C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST  434 People, Wildlife and Landscapes3
GEOG 538 The Humid Tropics: Ecology, Subsistence, and Development3
HISTORY 105 Introduction to the History of Africa3-4
HISTORY 225 Explorations in Third World History (H)3-4
HISTORY 179 Afro-Atlantic Histories and Peoples, 1791-Present3-4
HISTORY 278 Africans in the Americas, 1492-18083-4
HISTORY/​AFROAMER  347 The Caribbean and its Diasporas3
HISTORY 444 History of East Africa3-4
HISTORY 445 History of Equatorial Africa3-4
INTL ST/​ED POL  335 Globalization and Education3
INTL ST/​GEN&WS  535 Women's Global Health and Human Rights3
JOURN 620 International Communication4
LITTRANS 226 Introduction to Luso-Afro-Brazilian Literature3
MUSIC/​FOLKLORE  402 Musical Cultures of the World3
POLI SCI 329 African Politics3-4
POLI SCI 330 Political Economy of Development3
POLI SCI 345 Conflict Resolution3-4
POLI SCI 348 Analysis of International Relations3-4
POLI SCI 354 International Institutions and World Order3-4
POLI SCI 356 Principles of International Law3-4
POLI SCI 437 Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict3-4
POLI SCI 455 African International Relations3-4
RELIG ST/​CLASSICS/​HISTORY  517 Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean3

 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 and Quality of Work

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

Certificate Completion Requirement

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

Learning Outcomes

  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.

Advising and Careers

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 Dr., Madison, WI 53706
phone: (608) 262-2380
fax: (608) 265-5851

Marissa Moorman, 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: Nancy Kendall; Mary Hark; Janis Tupesis; Nevine El-nossery; Jeremy Foltz; Matthew Brown; Matthew Turner; Luis Madureira

Wisconsin Experience

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.

Resources and Scholarships

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.