Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies

Wayne State University’s Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in African American Studies degree is an interdisciplinary program that utilizes community engagement to foster an understanding of the culture and history of African Americans.

Each facet of the program invites critical analysis and thought-provoking discussions to gain insight into the ongoing struggles for racial justice across the world. To encourage the continued advocacy of racial equality, Wayne State University developed the curriculum for students to examine the intersectionality of race with related social factors, preparing them to enter their careers as informed, ethical leaders.

Why Wayne State’s African American studies major?

  • Build a direct path to graduate study.
  • Make valuable professional connections through internships and research.
  • Challenge your cultural awareness through a study abroad travel program to Brazil or Africa while earning credits toward your African American studies degree.
  • Enrich your educational experience with unparalleled access to the cultural epicenter of Detroit, where every corner tells a story of Black culture and resilience.
  • Join the Crockett-Lumumba Scholars (CLS), a program dedicated to using education to fight structural racism.

What is African American studies?

African American studies encompasses the analysis of the cultural, historical, intellectual and social development of people of African descent through the use of an interdisciplinary lens. This study examines the principal geographic domains of the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, the African continent and increasingly Western Europe, where large African communities reside.

Those who major in African American studies not only develop an understanding of the historical relevance of African American history but also gain the tools needed to challenge discrimination across contexts. These individuals often enter careers in business, law, health care, journalism and medicine.

Learning objectives

Wayne State University’s African American studies degree program teaches students to:

  • Prepare for a rewarding career in business, journalism, law, medicine and social sciences or enter graduate study.
  • Develop an awareness of cross-cultural perspectives as well as hone their critical thinking, research, writing and analytical skills.
  • Utilize the diverse areas of metro Detroit, MI, to analyze intergroup relations and intercultural conflicts to prepare for the complex challenges in leadership roles.

B.A. in African American studies program requirements and curriculum

To meet the requirements for degree completion, you must complete the following:


To support the exploration of your interests toward your career, you'll enroll in elective courses that span from law to psychology.

Your major requirements cover a few of the following topics:

  • African Americans in film
  • African Americans and law
  • Black diaspora
  • Black women in America
  • Black social movements
  • Race and racism

View all available courses

Internships and research

Meaningful community engagement acts as an integral component of the African American studies degree program. These experiences are conducted through the following:

  • Getting involved with Black alternative organizations
  • Working alongside Detroit community service agencies
  • Joining community-based self-development organizations
  • Researching with the Department of African American (AFAM) Studies

Students may also work directly at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and conduct a practicum with one of nine African American studies professors. 

Take a look at a few of our talented professors’ areas of expertise and interests to start planning your research:

  • African American cinema and literature
  • African American, Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Latin-American politics
  • Black feminist thought
  • Black social movements in Detroit
  • Literacy, gender and third world studies
  • Representation in popular culture

Explore research in African American studies

Crockett-Lumumba Scholars Program

The Crockett-Lumumba Scholars Program is a student success program available to students of all majors who want to fight against structural racism and promote social justice. It unites students through social responsibility and cultural heritage across the Detroit region.

Students in the program have access to paid, part-time academic jobs, study abroad opportunities, summer enrichment programs and more throughout their enrollment.

To challenge highly motivated students to achieve excellence in their studies, the department offers the African American studies honors curriculum. Each component encourages students to develop active interests in probing the outstanding research and scholarship related to the global Black experience.

Enroll in an accelerated graduate degree program

While the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences does not offer a graduate program in African American studies, you may apply a maximum of 16 credits to both your bachelor’s degree and any master’s or Ph.D. program at Wayne State University. This allows you to save valuable time and money along your academic journey.

Learn more about earning your graduate degree at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

African American studies bachelor’s degree career outlook

Our African American studies majors begin careers across the sectors of business, law, marketing, medicine or social sciences. This could mean entering a vocation such as teaching, promoting civil rights activism or conducting vital on-ground journalism — the choice is yours.

Each aspect of the African American studies degree program prepares you for graduate study or careers across the following unique settings:

  • Broadcast media
  • Colleges
  • Human resource agencies
  • Libraries
  • Local and state government offices
  • Museums
  • Private law offices
  • Public schools
  • Research labs

Financial aid and tuition

We’re committed to providing you with an affordable undergraduate education. That’s why we offer five scholarships to African American studies majors.

Review all scholarships and financial aid at the College of Liberal Arts and Science and use our net price calculator to determine your tuition savings after financial aid.

Learn more about Wayne State University’s African American studies major

Gain the skills to enter a rewarding career across diverse fields or enter graduate study by earning your Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies at Wayne State University.

Career insights

This tool provides a broad overview of how major selection can lead to careers and is provided without any implied promise of employment. Some careers will require further education, skills, or competencies. Actual salaries may vary significantly between similar employers and could change by graduation, as could employment opportunities and job titles.