Graduate Programs

The Ph.D. program in Africana Studies provides a firm base for graduate students to create new and innovative knowledge within the discipline as well as develop cutting-edge scholarship that contributes to the broader academy and public life.

The Department of Africana Studies at Brown University is the intellectual center for faculty and students interested in the critical study of the artistic, cultural, historical, literary and theoretical expressions of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. The department has one of the leading faculties in the discipline. Members of the faculty have received many prestigious honors and awards such as the Gish Award, the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, the Guggenheim Fellowship and the MacArthur Fellowship, in addition to successfully competing for fellowships and grants from the Ford Foundation, the Fulbright Program, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Science Foundation.

The Ph.D. program in Africana Studies provides a firm base for graduate students to create new and innovative knowledge within the discipline as well as develop cutting-edge scholarship that contributes to the broader academy and public life. Graduate students in the program receive rigorous training in the discipline of Africana Studies and the theories and methods of interdisciplinary work, with an acute focus on race, class, gender, and sexuality, while being critically conversant with the methods and theories of other academic disciplines. The goal of the program is to prepare students to become skilled and informed scholars and educators poised to make significant contributions to academic and nonacademic communities and initiate cultural and social policies with humanitarian objectives informed by critical thinking and global perspectives on social and human development.

The department is the home of the C.L.R. James Journal, the official journal of the Caribbean Philosophy Association, and Rites and Reason Theatre, a forum for arts and ideas that brings together artists and scholars to collaborate on modes of expression in communicating new thoughts and ideas about the world and human existence. Africana Studies graduate students work closely with faculty in a number of Brown University departments including American Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, English, History, and Modern Culture and Media and are able to participate in the exchange scholar program that enables Brown graduate students to take courses in the graduate schools of other participating institutions, including the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University, MIT, Princeton University, Stanford University, and Yale University.

Application Information

Application Requirements

GRE Subject:

Not Required

GRE General:

Not Required

Writing Sample:

Required (20–25 pages)


Application Deadline

Completion Requirements

The Africana Studies graduate program is organized around three areas of emphasis: 1) History, Politics, and Theory focuses on the institutional, theoretical, and material expressions of Africana culture, experience, and thought; 2) Literary, Expressive and Performance Cultures focuses on the critical study of visual culture, performance, and the literary arts that critique the contributions and (self) representations of people of African descent in global and contested societies; 3) Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality focuses on the cultural, ideological, political, and theoretical implications of feminist consciousness, practices, and theories; constructions of gender; and critical understandings and analyses of sexuality throughout the Africana world. Within these three areas, Africana Studies graduate students are able to explore the breadth and depth of the discipline while developing capacity and competence in distinct areas of scholarship.

The Ph.D. in Africana Studies requires the successful completion of no fewer than 12 courses, of which six must be in the student's chosen area of research emphasis and four in another secondary area of emphasis. Students entering the program with a master's degree may petition the graduate program for advanced standing after one year of residency in the program. All doctoral students must take: AFRI 2001: Seminar in Theories, Politics, and Histories; AFRI 2002: Seminar in Literary, Expressive, and Performance Cultures; AFRI 2003: Seminar in Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality; AFRI 2101: Methods in Africana Studies; and AFRI 2102: Professionalization Seminar. Students must demonstrate competency in one of the following languages: French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, or another language relevant to their area of scholarly interest. As teaching is a vital part of graduate training, students are also required to serve as teaching assistants for at least two semesters. In addition, all doctoral students must successfully complete a qualifying examination in their chosen field of emphasis and additional examinations in secondary field of research and teaching competence, an oral examination of the dissertation proposal, and an oral defense of the dissertation.

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Department Chair
Noliwe Rooks
Director of Graduate Studies
Françoise N. Hamlin

Contact and Location

Department of Africana Studies

Mailing Address

Brown University
Box 1904
Visit the Department of Africana Studies