Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated October 2010
Studying In the Field
African American studies is a new and developing field that has the potential for great expansion and definition in the coming years. As it develops, this field is often being viewed through the concept of race as a social construction. Because African American studies can encompass so many topics, it is difficult to summarize them succinctly. However, some of the most frequent topics include African history, culture, and languages, as well as studies of the African Diaspora, and study of the cultures, politics, life conditions, and patterns of social organization in African-based societies and communities. While African American studies may center on the Americas, it frequently becomes relevant to look at communities throughout the world to understand the complicated interrelationships that exist.
Often students specialize in particular areas of African studies, which can include sociology, literature, music, dance, economics, history, community development, or psychology. Generally, students also study at least one, if not multiple African languages such as Swahili, Hausa, Yoruba, and Zulu. Overall, a degree in African American studies prepares students to examine race in a global context as it relates to human behavior and relationships as well as how it relates to class, gender and nation.
Job Opportunities In the Field
Careers in African American studies can cover a wide range of interests. Many people who pursue advanced degrees desire to teach at secondary schools, community colleges, colleges or universities depending on whether a Master's degree or a Ph.D. is earned. However, there are many opportunities for those who are not interested in pursuing careers in teaching or academia. Graduates have pursued careers in government, foreign affairs, journalism, museum or information services, social work, and international relations. Some particular areas of interest for graduates tend to include public policy and administration, combating racial inequities in the United States and beyond, economic and political welfare in Africa, and promoting equality globally.
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