Graduate Degree

The Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with one of the most successful graduate programs in the field, offers an M.A. in a wide range of disciplines. The department’s strong emphasis on research and writing prepares students for entry into Ph.D. programs and for professional positions in education and related fields. Its faculty is committed to academic excellence and to the department’s initial objective to promote interdisciplinary study in three major areas: Culture (the arts and humanities), History, and Society (social sciences). Students are guided in using innovative as well as conventional methods of scholarship in a way that contributes to the development of African-American Studies and to the diversification of academic disciplines, communities, and institutions. To achieve that goal, the Department maintains flexible models of study which can be adapted to fit individual student interests.
Students with an interest in pursuing a Ph.D. in either English or History might be interested in applying to the in English Bridge Programs or History, which allow a student who has completed an M.A. in Afro-American Studies to move directly into one of those Ph.D. programs.

Requirements for the M.A. degree

Students may choose one of two plans for completion of the Master of Arts Degree. All students must take a total of 30 credits: 24 credits of approved graduate coursework and 6 Research and Thesis credits. At least 12 of the course credits must be taken in the Department of Afro-American Studies. Half of the coursework must be completed in graduate-level Afro-American Studies courses or in courses outside Afro-American Studies that have been designated for graduate credit by the course’s subject owner and approved by the Afro-American Studies Graduate Director or their graduate advisor. While the department encourages independent work, no more than 6 hours of directed study (AAS 699) credits may be applied toward fulfillment of the M.A. course credit requirements. The Graduate School requires an average GPA of 3.0 or better.

In addition to the 24 credits of coursework, students choose one of two options for completion of the degree. Plan A requires the completion of a Master’s Thesis. The purpose of the M.A. thesis is to demonstrate that degree candidates have acquired the knowledge and skills to carry out scholarly writing and research in their discipline, and to advance knowledge in the field itself. Students who plan to earn a Ph.D. are strongly encouraged to choose Plan A for their Master’s degree. Plan B requires the completion of a final paper followed by an oral defense on a reading list developed in consultation with the student’s advisor.