2006 - 2007 Site Archive



Graduate Bulletin

African American Studies, M.A.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: January 15

Applications for admission are processed together shortly after the deadline date.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation are preferred from college/university professors who have taught or worked with the applicant in her/his major or minor area of concentration.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

An applicant is expected to have some academic background in African American Studies.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

All applicants must present credentials that are the equivalent of the appropriate baccalaureate degree at Temple University.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should be approximately 500-1,000 words in length and should include the following elements: your specific interest in Temple's Department of African American Studies; your research goals as they relate to African American Studies; your research goals as they relate to the social relevance of the discipline; your future career goals; and your academic and research achievements.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE is required.  A combined minimum score of 1,000 on the verbal and quantitative sections is expected.

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, or 79 internet-based.


An interview may be required.


A resume is required.

Writing Sample:

The writing sample should demonstrate the student's ability to conduct research and to write a scholarly paper relevant to the discipline. The paper should be no more than 20 pages in length and fully referenced according to a professional, scholarly style manual.

Transfer Credit:

During their first semester of enrollment at Temple, incoming graduate students may apply to have graduate credits taken at other accredited institutions count toward completion of the degree. Grades of transfer courses must be "B" or better. After consultation with and approval of the advisor, the student must submit to the Graduate Committee: (1) a letter specifying the course(s) the student wishes to have considered for credit toward the M.A. and the corresponding Temple course related to the transfer course; and (2) supporting documents (e.g., syllabi, course descriptions from college catalogs, a letter from the transfer course instructor or department) showing the overlap by which the course covers material from Temple courses. The maximum number of credits a student may transfer is 6.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 30

Required Courses:
AAS 8001

AAS 8002

AAS 8003

AAS 8005 or 8006

AAS 8007

AAS 8008

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Culminating Events:

Students have the option of completing the program with either a written comprehensive examination or a thesis.

Comprehensive Examination:

The comprehensive examination is intended to probe the student's knowledge of content, literature, theory/methodology, and methods in African American Studies and to test the student's ability to apply theoretical issues to praxis. It is a proctored, closed book, 6-hour written examination.  Students may not use a computer or any other electronic device for the examination unless there is a documented medical necessity.

The M.A. comprehensive exam covers the content, theories, and paradigms of the discipline and/or relevant coursework that students may have taken. Students must take the comprehensive exam after completing all required coursework. The student must answer every question on the examination in order to be evaluated. The evaluators look for content mastery and coherent application of the discipline's theories and paradigms.

The comprehensive examination is offered twice a year:  the first week of April and the first week of November. The hours of the exam are from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The student must schedule her/his examination with the Graduate Secretary after consultation with her/his advisor at least one month in advance of the exam date. In order to arrange an examination date, the student must be sure that her/his record is free of encumbrances that would prevent her/him from meeting University requirements for taking the examination.  In addition, the student intending to take the exam must ensure that all of her/his coursework has been completed in the previous semester.

The Examination Committee prepares and administers the student's written M.A. comprehensive exam. Students are advised to choose an Examination Committee at the beginning of their final semester. They should consult with their graduate advisor to select the second member of the committee and set the date for the comprehensive exam. The Examination Committee is composed of two Graduate Faculty from the Department of African American Studies, one of whom is the major advisor who will write one half of the questions; the other committee member will provide the remaining questions.

The Examination Committee evaluates the answers. The Graduate Director will notify the student of the comprehensive exam results no later than five weeks after the completion of the exam. Based on the quality of the examination results, the Examination Committee may make one of the following determinations: (1) Pass: The M.A. student may receive a master's degree when all other departmental and University requirements are met; (2) Fail: The M.A. student is not awarded the M.A. degree, and the student may retake the exam once; or (3) Fail/Termination: The M.A. student has failed to pass the written examination a second time and is terminated from graduate status in the department.


Students who choose to complete a thesis are given the opportunity to demonstrate specialized knowledge and their ability to do original research in Africana studies.  The student must have completed at least 27 hours of coursework, including the core.  S/he then registers for AAS 9996: Master's Thesis Research, and completes a Master's Thesis Option form, duly signed by the student and the designated advisor.  The student must work with the advisor to produce and successfully defend a thesis on an approved topic.  The student then submits the following to the Graduate School by the deadline listed in the Dissertation Handbook: (1) two copies of the thesis on white 25% cotton, water-marked paper; (2) a "Certificate of Thesis/Dissertation Acceptability," and (3) two title pages bearing the title and advisor's signature.

Program Contact Information:


Department Information:

Dept. of African American Studies
810 Gladfelter Hall

1115 W. Berks Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Department Contacts:


Jacqueline Farley

Graduate Secretary

Program Coordinator:


Graduate Chairperson:

Abu Abarry , Ph.D.


Nathaniel Norment

About the Program

The mission of the Department of African American Studies is to provide an intellectual arena in which students learn to critically examine, analyze, and interpret the experiences, traditions, and dynamics of people of African descent. The Department's undergirding philosophy is that the specific historical experiences of a people must be the central axis guiding and informing any effective analysis and interpretation of that people's past, present, and future. Our graduate program is informed by the African-centered/Afrocentric paradigms in relation to other perspectives in Africana studies. The program reflects a deeply ingrained commitment to the self-directed study of African peoples and has benefited from a variety of conceptual and political inputs from diverse, but fully committed, faculty participation as well as invaluable contributions from the community. The M.A. program seeks to answer the personal and intellectual aspirations of the student and the particular needs of society that are not satisfied by a baccalaureate degree. Thus, the M.A. provides more specialized study in African American Studies than the B.A. or B.S. degree and often serves as the terminal degree. It is the goal of the Department that graduates with an M.A. in African American Studies be prepared to engage in a diverse range of intellectual issues that affect the lives of Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.  The M.A. also serves as a strong foundation for those who intend to apply to the Ph.D. program.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 3 years

Campus Location:


Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are able to complete the degree program through classes offered before and after 4:30 p.m. Students are also able to complete the degree program on a part-time basis (8 credit hours or less per semester).

Department Information:

Dept. of African American Studies
810 Gladfelter Hall

1115 W. Berks Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Interdisciplinary Study:

Advisors may encourage or require students to take courses in other departments in order to enhance or supplement their program.


Faculty are affiliated with a variety of professional organizations such as the African Heritage Studies Association (AHSA); African Literature Association; African Studies Association (ASA); American Anthropological Association; Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH); Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC); Association of Black Women Historians; Black Expressive Culture Association; Black History Advisory Committee of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; College Language Association (CLA); Germantown Friends Summerbridge Program; Modern Language Association (MLA); National Council for Black Studies (NCBS); National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE); Pan African Studies Association; Pennsylvania Humanities Council; Teachers of English as a Second Language (TESL); and Young Scholars Program of Temple.

Study Abroad:

The Department offers study abroad in the Temple University Ghana program.  A maximum of 6 credits may be applied toward the master's degree.


Not applicable.


This program is accredited by the National Council for Black Studies.

Areas of Specialization:

Faculty specialize, offer substantial coursework, and mentor in a variety of areas, including Afrocentric Theory, African Civilizations, African and African American Literature, African American Drama, African Languages, the Narrative Tradition, African and African American History, Mass Media, Social and Political Thought, Women's Studies, Cultural Studies, Caribbean Culture, Linguistics, Rhetoric and Composition, African American Psychology, Research Methods, Popular Culture, and Ethnographic Methods.

Job Placement:

Graduates of the M.A. Program in African American Studies find employment in a variety of public and private sector areas:  teaching, arts and humanities, business, and social services. Many secondary school teachers desire to enhance their skills by obtaining an M.A. degree in African American Studies.


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

A non-matriculated student may take a maximum of 9 credit hours in the Department. Those semester hours may be credited to the degree if the student applies and is admitted to the degree program. Non-matriculated students may not take AAS 9982:  Independent Study.

Financing Opportunities

The Department offers a limited number of assistantships on a highly competitive basis. The awards usually involve teaching. Teaching Assistants receive a stipend and full tuition remission of up to 9 credits. The applicant must have a grade point average of 3.5 or better and strong letters of recommendation. A resume, writing sample, and/or syllabus are also required with the "Teaching Assistantship" application, which is obtained from the Graduate Secretary. Normally, awards are given to doctoral students who best meet the criteria.

Updated 4.12.07