Indiana University Bloomington
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MA in African Studies

The African Studies master's degree program is intended for students who wish to: (1) obtain a graduate degree in African Studies in order to pursue careers in government, international relations (e.g. the Diplomatic Corps), international development, international business, or a professional field; or 2) continue graduate work in a discipline; or (3) combine an M.A. degree in African Studies with another Master’s degree in the Arts, Social and other Sciences, or in one of the professional schools.

The program normally takes two years to complete. It gives students the flexibility to tailor coursework to their needs and interests while requiring them to develop competence on a particular topic or region as well as in research methods and at least intermediate proficiency in an African language.

Admissions Requirements

Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education with evidence of superior ability, completion of the graduate record exam, a statement of interest and a writing sample.

Course Requirements

  • AFRI A731 African Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar (3 cr)
  • AFRI A650 Interdisciplinary Research Methods (3 cr)
  • AFRI A651 Independent Research / Directed Readings (up to 6 cr)
  • Elective courses organized around a topical or regional concentration to complete a total of 30 credits

Elective courses are to be selected from the range of cross-listed African Studies offerings in the College of Arts and Sciences and several professional schools, with the approval of the student’s major advisor.

Electives may include three additional credits of AFRI A-731 since the topic for the African Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar changes every semester and is offered by different faculty members on a rotating basis.

Language Requirement

At least four semesters of an African language.  The credits accrued for the four semesters of language study are not counted toward the total credits required for the degree.  Students who continue their language study to the advanced level may count up to three credits of study beyond the second year toward the elective requirement.  

Students may have the four semester language requirement waived by demonstrating equivalent competence through an examination.

M.A. Committee and Thesis

Students are required to constitute a committee composed of a disciplinary advisor and two additional members with relevant regional or topical expertise, approved by the director of the African Studies Program. Committee members must be selected from African Studies affiliate faculty with professional experience on the African continent. The purpose of the committee is to provide consultation to the student and to read and comment on the Master’s thesis or Project. There is no M.A. examination option.

The thesis option is strongly recommended for students intending to pursue a Ph.D. following completion of the Master’s degree. The thesis should be an in-depth treatment of the chosen topic, interdisciplinary in nature and 70 to 100 double-spaced pages in length. It may be an expanded seminar paper or an entirely new project based on library, archival, field, or museum research, and should make use of relevant sources in a language other than English. All three committee members must approve the thesis but may agree to waive an oral defense.


The project option is designed for students wishing to pursue a non-academic career in a variety of fields. A “project” may be a thematic video or other media product; an internship in Africa; or an internship related to African issues in an organization, government agency, museum, or other institution elsewhere in the world (including the United States). A thematic video or other media product should be accompanied by an essay of 25-30 pages in length. The plan for this project and paper, as well as the final products, need to be approved by all three committee members.  An internship should be at least four weeks in duration and culminate in an essay or portfolio, 25-30 double-spaced pages long. All three committee members must agree to the internship in advance and approve the completed essay or portfolio. No oral defense is required.