Graduate Certificate

Graduate Certificate Program in Africana Studies

The Department of Africana Studies and the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African American and African Studies are pleased to announce that we now offer graduate students in M.A .or Ph.D. programs at the University of Virginia the opportunity to acquire a graduate certificate in Africana Studies.

The purpose of this certificate is to provide foundational training in graduate-level research in the interdisciplinary field of African American, African, and Caribbean Studies.  Students will be mentored by faculty from across the humanities and social sciences who are appointed in or formally affiliated with the Department of Africana Studies and/or the Woodson Institute. Students will gain knowledge of the content and methods necessary to conduct comparative and transnational analysis of the African diaspora from both a theoretical and historical perspective. Areas of study might include critical race studies, gender and sexuality, the history of slavery and abolition, immigration, carceral studies, environmental studies, literary and cultural studies, social justice, intellectual history, economic history, media studies, and international politics.

Curriculum Requirements: 

Students will complete a core course titled “Introduction to Africana Studies” (offered inaugurally in spring 2020 by Professor Kevin Gaines) that surveys key texts and major themes that have shaped the development of African American, African, and Caribbean Studies. 

Students must complete an additional three elective courses – with offerings in African, African American, and Caribbean Studies – from a roster approved by the faculty in the Department of Africana Studies. The graduate advisor will also review requests from students to take relevant courses with faculty in other departments, which may fulfill the elective requirements. The particular combination of electives should be sufficiently flexible to align the breadth of our faculty’s expertise with the range of our students’ intellectual interests and prospective professional applications of the certificate.  Students must take at least one of these electives outside of their home department.

Students will consult regularly with an advisor drawn from the faculty of the Department of Africana Studies in addition to coordinating course selection with the director of graduate studies or advisor for his or her master’s or doctoral program.  The Africana Studies advisor will participate on the examination or thesis committee for master’s students and on the dissertation proposal and defense committees for a doctoral student.


Certificate Program Requirements 

Total Number of Credit Hours: 12 graduate-level credits


Core Course – 3 credits 

AAS 6XXX – Introduction to Africana Studies (3 credits)

Electives – 9 credits 

Students will be encouraged (but not required) to select at least one course from each of three subfields: African Studies, African American Studies, and Caribbean Studies.


Eligibility and Time to Completion

Participants who are enrolled in master’s and doctoral degree programs at the University of Virginia. In consultation with the Africana Studies faculty and the graduate advisor in the student’s home department,  completion of the credit requirement for the certificate will be integrated with coursework for the student’s terminal degree. 

All doctoral students who are enrolled full-time should complete the certificate requirements within four semesters, typically during their second and third years of study.  Full-time master’s students can complete the certificate requirements in one semester, but may take up to three semesters.  Part-time master’s students may take up to four semesters to complete the certificate.



Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Applicants must be currently enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree at the University of Virginia and submit:

  • A two-page statement of their intellectual and professional goals for the proposed program
  • Their UVA graduate-level transcript
  • A 20-page writing sample
  • An endorsement of their participation in the certificate program from the director of graduate studies for their degree program.

Please send all application materials to Debbie Best at:



Faculty teaching in the certificate program are all full-time tenured or tenure-track members of the graduate faculty in Arts & Sciences whose research interests are related to Africana Studies.

The roster of current faculty can be accessed here:


Core course Description:

AAS 6XXX: Introduction to Africana Studies (3 credits)

Spring 2020

Professor Kevin Gaines

This is an introductory course that will survey key texts in the interdisciplinary fields of African American, African, and Caribbean Studies. By the end of the course, students will be prepared to identify and understand the major themes that have shaped the development of the discipline of Africana Studies. Assignments in the course will help students to develop an understanding of both the methodological and theoretical challenges that prevail in studies of the African Diaspora, such as learning to evaluate sources and to acquire an awareness of, as well as to question, the silences, repressions, omissions, and biases involved in interpreting writing both from and about the African diaspora. Some of the key terms that students will become familiar with are: ethnocentrism, white privilege, race, racism, hegemony, colonialism, imperialism, agency, diaspora, power, identity, modernity, nation, citizenship, sovereignty, and globalization, as well as how these concepts intersect with ideas of both gender and class.

For more information, please visit us on the web: