College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Graduate Certificate

Academic goals of the program

AAAS & KASC’s central objective in this certificate program is to formally recognize the expertise students in a range of disciplines already obtain in African Studies, in a manner that enhances students' career opportunities. The Certificate in African Studies enables graduate students to formally claim expertise in an area of the field of African Studies, through completion of 12 hours of graduate coursework.

Why should I apply for the Graduate Certificate in African Studies

In any given year, KU regularly has more than fifty Africa-focused students in a variety of disciplines, across seven professional schools and 17 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences departments. The Graduate Certificate in African Studies helps bring this wide-ranging body of graduate students into closer contact with the Center's resource base. The Certificate also enhances graduate students' future marketability. Many disciplines in which the AAAS & KASC graduate student community is concentrated advertise jobs for PhD candidates with African expertise. The Certificate in African Studies strengthens KU graduates' opportunities in this specialist job market.

Course sequence

General Requirements: 12 credit hours are required. This includes the core introductory seminar course, Introduction to African Studies (Africa) (AAAS 802). Students are then required to take an additional 9 hours or three courses. All courses, including language course work, must be at the 500-level or above. At least one of these courses (three credit hours) must be taken at the 700-level or above. Only courses with an Africa focus may count toward the required hours. No more than three hours of directed readings or independent study may be counted. Any students who utilize directed readings or independent studies courses are required to submit a paragraph summary of the course of study signed by the professor directing the project, so that AAAS can know how the course counts toward fulfillment of the cluster requirements. All approvals of course sequences are at the discretion of the Center. Make sure to have your adviser fill out the graduate certificate checklist.

Core introductory seminar

Introduction to African Studies (Africa) (AAAS 802) – 3 credit hours. An interdisciplinary approach to cross-cultural understanding of Africa 's place in the modern world. Specific emphasis will be given to the role of Africa in world history, African cultures, modern African history, and problems of development and nation-building in Africa . Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Other courses

In close consultation with her or his graduate adviser, a student designs a coherent sequence of three courses. To gain approval, this sequence should not be a random selection of Africa-related classes; the student and adviser must provide AAAS with an explanation of how the sequence meets the objectives of the Graduate Certificate in African Studies to recognize expertise in the field of African Studies at the graduate leve

Admissions criteria

Current KU graduate students wishing to be admitted to the Graduate Certificate Program should write a letter to the AAAS Graduate Director stating their interests in African Studies, and send a current ARTS form. A graduate GPA of 3.0 or higher is required. Students applying for admission to another graduate program at KU should send a letter of application stating their interests in African Studies and request a letter stating that they have been admitted from the other department or school upon admission thereto. They may be admitted to the African Studies Graduate Certificate Program on the condition that they are admitted by the other program in regular status. If they are not admitted to the other program in regular status, they may use the following procedure for admission to the Graduate Certificate program. Non-KU graduate students (Non-degree C category students) should complete an application to the Graduate School and send an application fee of $35, two copies of official transcripts from all previous post-secondary educational institutions, a personal statement of interest in African Studies, and two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with their academic work or potential for graduate school. Minimum requirements will be a bachelor's degree; a GPA of 3.0 or higher in undergraduate work is normally required for admission, but the GPA requirement may be waived at the discretion of the Graduate Director. An admissions committee consisting of the AAAS Graduate Program Committee will meet at least once each semester to make admissions decisions. All inquiries should be directed to Shawn Leigh Alexander, AAAS Graduate Director, 15 Bailey Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, email: or Elizabeth MacGonagle, KASC Director, 207 Bailey Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, email:

Recognition ceremony

AAAS sponsors a small commencement program each spring to award students their certificates.

Course options (students choose from among the following):

NOTE: these courses vary in content, for recent examples:

  • Language and Culture in KiSwahili-speaking Communities
  • Peoples and Cultures of North Africa
  • Islam, Colonialism and Nationalism in North Africa

In addition, students may be permitted to take "Topics" classes with an Africa focus that are offered almost every semester in other departments. The various directed readings, independent study, or 700-, 800-, or 900-level graduate seminars of nearly a dozen disciplines will count if these are taught by AAAS faculty and AAAS & KASC-affiliated faculty. AAAS has designated advisers according to clusters of faculty expertise that exist across disciplines and schools, in the areas of

Politics and Development Studies, Histories and Societies, Literature and Orature, Visual and Performing Arts, and African Languages and Cultures, and certificate students should take courses that cluster along the lines of these areas of expertise.



Follow us @kascafrica! 
Instagram  Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

KASC Annual Report