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Columbia University Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :02 Feb 
International :02 Feb 

MA African-American Studies

 Course Level
Masters / PG
Full Time

2 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

27180 USD
27180 USD

Application fee

International 105 USD
National 105 USD
Institute for Research in African-American Studies
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7.5
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600
GRE (avg)315

World University Ranking

About this course

The African-American Studies MA program is designed to provide graduate-level training in African-American studies to scholars, teachers, and professionals whose career or professional needs may be furthered or served by intensive scholarly engagement. The program provides students with a thorough grounding in the literature and research of African-American studies, and enables them to produce critical analysis and research about the complex and historically specific experiences of Africans in the Americas. Students also learn how those experiences have contributed to and been shaped by political, cultural, and economic forces both nationally and globally.

To fulfill the MA degree requirements, students must take two residence Units (30 points of graduate credit) and complete an MA thesis. It is possible to complete the degree in two semesters.

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Eligibility Criteria

The admission standards and selection procedures are identical to those followed by the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences for all of its M.A. Programs (with the exception of the Liberal Studies Program). Applicants must provide a 10-15 page writing sample, three (3) letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with their academic work and history, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.

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Course Modules

The MA in African American Studies at Columbia is a 31 credit interdisciplinary program that will support your scholarly interests and research in the African-American experience and in the cultures and histories of the wider African Diaspora. Our program is organized to provide you with the opportunity and flexibility to design a program of study and a thesis project that addresses your intellectual interests and career ambitions.

The capstone of your degree is your MA thesis. Your thesis topic will be developed in concert with a member of the IRAAS faculty; this faculty member will work closely with you during the course of your tenure at Columbia. Typically, the faculty member that you request to be your thesis advisor will be an instructor with whom you have taken a course and who shares an interest and expertise in your thesis topic. During your final semester, you will enroll in a thesis-writing workshop and work closely with your thesis advisor. The thesis workshop allows all thesis writers to share their work, receive guidance and feedback from your peers as well as the workshop leader. Your thesis advisor also will advise you during the course of this semester towards the completion of your MA thesis.

In addition to completing your MA thesis there are four further requirements:

You must take four (4) required seminars: Total (11 points)

1.) African American Studies Pro-Seminar (4 points)
2.) Independent Studies (3 points)
3.) At least one seminar selected from the following: (4 points)

a.) Critical Approaches to African American Studies
b.) Race and Articulation of Difference OR
c.) Racial Disparities: Causes & Consequences

A distribution requirement – 3 Courses:
ONE (1) course in history;
ONE (1) course in the humanities (e.g., literature, theater or the visual arts)
ONE (1) course in the social sciences (e.g., political science, sociology or anthropology)
This will fulfill your distribution requirement.
These courses can be taken within the department or outside the department.
3 courses @ 4 points = 12 points

Total: 23 points


A concentration requirement – 2 Courses:

In consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and your MA thesis advisor, you will identity TWO (2) graduate courses that address your intellectual focus and your proposed thesis topic. This concentration or cluster of courses can reflect, for example, a topical focus (e.g., women novelist of the French Caribbean) or a disciplinary focus (e.g., 19th century African American historiography). In short, your concentration will be designed to express your specific intellectual interests.
2 courses @ 4 points = 8 points

Total: 31 points to (fulfill GSAS Requirements)

An MA thesis presentation: After you have completed your MA thesis, and it has been approved by your thesis advisor, you will be invited to present a summary of your thesis at IRAAS’s annual Graduate Student Conference. This oral presentation, supported by your MA thesis advisor, will occur during your last semester of study.

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How to Apply

All prospective students must apply using the online application. Printed applications are not available.

You must specify in your application the department, doctoral program subcommittee, or free-standing master’s degree program in which you wish to study. If required, you must indicate the sub-field of study and the term for which you are applying. A complete application includes:

  • transcripts of all previous post-secondary education
  • a statement of academic purpose
  • a curriculum vitae or résumé
  • three letters of recommendation from academic sources
  • GRE scores and, if applicable, results of the TOEFL or IELTS examination to fulfill the English Proficiency Requirement
  • a sample of scholarly writing, if required by the department or program
  • payment of the application fee

Check further details on University website

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