College of Letters & Science


The Certificate Program in the Department of Afro-American Studies will introduce students enrolled in degree programs in other majors and special students to new knowledge, technologies, analyses, and interpretations of African-American, African diaspora and African subjects, communities, and institutions. Certificate courses span areas of history, literature, music and culture, literature, art history and visual culture, gender and women’s studies (black women’s studies), and race and intergroup relations. This program will offer the student opportunities for understanding, practice, and collaboration that will enhance intellectual and creative participation in world citizenry.

Upon earning the Certificate in Afro-American Studies, this emphasis is noted on the student’s official transcript. The Certificate is of value to students wishing to demonstrate their knowledge of African American Studies either to potential employers or graduate schools.

Certificate Program Requirements

Required course work for a certificate consists of 15 credits. It must demonstrate cohesiveness and range from elementary to advanced levels.

  • Approved certificate courses must be graded. Credit/No Credit and Pass/Fail do not qualify.
  • GPA of 2.5 in certificate courses. This certificate is only for undergraduate and special students who began the certificate program as undergraduates.
  • At least 50 percent of credits applied toward the certificate must be taken in residence at UW-Madison. The study abroad program is considered resident credit. However, that study abroad must qualify as Afro-American Studies credit.
  • A student may not be awarded a major and certificate in the same subject area.
  • Substitutions for courses in a certificate program are not permitted, unless the courses are in the Afro-American Studies curriculum. The certificate program advisor can recommend an exception to the student’s Dean. For example, an equivalent substitute transfer course or a directed study constitutes an individual exception.
  • Only one course of independent study is permitted; no more than 3 credits.

To pursue a certificate in Afro-American Studies, students must be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program in any college and school at the University of Wisconsin, or as a special student. Only special students who began the certificate program as undergraduates are allowed to complete the program. Rules regarding transfer credits, up to 50%, which apply to undergraduates, also apply to special students. Finally, all certificate students must declare their interest in the program and plan with the advisor a cohesive program consisting of 15 credits. 

The cohesiveness of the certificate program will be selected from concentration areas and other core courses in the curriculum of the Department. For example, students may select courses in the areas of history, literature, black women’s studies, music and cultural history, art history and visual culture, among others to meet their specific interests. All students, however, must take Introduction to Afro-American History (106-231) 3 credits. No more than two of the other courses may be taken at the 100 or 200 level. One course must be a 500-600 level course or seminar. Collectively, the 15 selected credits will come from models and core courses that majors and graduate students take to fulfill requirements.

All certificate students must notify the Afro-American Studies advisor while they are completing their final course in order to get approval of completion and be awarded the certificate. The certificate is not awarded automatically based on DARS. If there are questions about a DARS report, please contact the certificate advisor.