2006 - 2007 Site Archive



Graduate Bulletin

African American Studies, Ph.D.


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 faculty members who have taught or worked with the applicant. Letters from employers with relevant relation to the applicant's area of study are also useful.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

The applicant's official transcripts must show formal course-based exposure to and education in an area that the Admissions Committee judges to be closely related to African American Studies.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A master's degree in American Studies, Black Studies, Ethnic Studies, History with a concentration in African or African American Studies, or other content areas with a concentration in African or African American Studies is required.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A baccalaureate degree is required.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should be approximately 500-1,000 words in length and should include the following elements: the nature of the applicant's specific interest in the Ph.D. Program in African American Studies at Temple University; a clearly articulated research goal as it relates to African American Studies; future career goals; academic and research achievements; community service activities; and an explanation of exceptional circumstances.

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: 600 paper-based, 250 computer-based, or 100 internet-based.


A resume is required.

Writing Sample:

The writing sample should demonstrate the student's ability to conduct research and 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.

Advanced Standing:

A student who enters the Ph.D. Program with an M.A. in African American Studies from one of the AAS M.A.-degree granting programs (e.g., Berkeley, Ohio State, SUNY–Albany, Wisconsin, Yale) may apply for advanced standing. The maximum number of advanced standing credits awarded is 30.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Master's: 48

Required Courses:
AAS 8001

AAS 8002

AAS 8003

AAS 8004

AAS 8005 or 8006

AAS 8008

AAS 9001

AAS 9002

Additional course requirements include:
Three courses from among AAS 8008, AAS 8521, AAS 8542, AAS 8547, and AAS 8566

Three from courses numbered AAS 9001-9761

6 s.h. of dissertation research post-candidacy 

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: The language requirement in African American Studies is intended to ensure that students have a working familiarity with a language and culture other than English and/or their native language. The Ph.D. student may take the exam at any time, but must pass it before taking the Preliminary Examination. The student who has English as a second language may use English to fulfill the language requirement. With the recommendation of the advisor, a student may demonstrate competency in Statistics to fulfill the language requirement. The language examination must be administered and graded by a college/university affiliated or certified instructor in the exam language, but may not be from the Department of African American Studies. The results must be forwarded on letterhead that attests to the examiner's credentials. Temple University's various language departments offer non-credit language courses and administer examinations for graduate students needing to fulfill the language requirement.

Culminating Events:

Preliminary Examination:
The preliminary examination is a culminating examination 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, 12-hour written examination administered by the student's Examination Committee. Students are expected to take the preliminary examination upon completion of the coursework component of the program and upon the satisfactory completion of the language requirement.

The student is strongly advised to choose an Examination Committee at the beginning of the semester in which the last course is taken. The student should consult with her/his graduate advisor in selecting members of the Examination Committee and in setting the date for the exam. The student should then write to prospective members requesting that they serve on the Committee. In the letter, the student should mention the course(s) taken with the professor, and include a copy of her/his statement of research interests and career goals. The faculty member should notify the student's advisor in writing of her/his agreement to serve on the Committee.

The subject areas are chosen by the Examination Committee. Particular reading lists or specific materials may be suggested for review before the exam. The student's major advisor composes six hours of the examination, and the other members compose the balance. Examiners submit exam items directly to the Graduate Director. In order to take the exam, the student must register for AAS 9994: Preliminary Exam Preparation.

The preliminary examination is offered in January and May. 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 should notify the Graduate Secretary of her/his intention to take the examinaton at least one month in advance after consultation with her/his advisor.  The Graduate Secretary will check to be sure the student's records are free of encumbrances that would prevent her/him from meeting University requirements for taking the exam. If the student meets all requisites, the Graduate Secretary informs the student's Committee of the planned date of the exam.

Each member of the Examination Committee evaluates her/his exam question(s). The student may be required to retake all or part of the examination.

The Graduate Director will notify the student of the preliminary 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 student passes the exam and may now write her/his dissertation proposal; (2) Fail: The student fails the written and/or oral examination, but may retake part or all of the examination once; or (3) Fail/Termination: The student fails the written examination for the second time, may not retake the exam, and is dismissed from the program.

Dissertation Proposal:
The formal research proposal, usually at least 30 pages long, presents a plan for increasing the knowledge base in the discipline. The student works in concert with the Chair of the Doctoral Advisory Committee to fine-tune the proposal. With the Chair's approval, the student submits the proposal to the other Committee members who make suggestions for changes. When the entire Committee is satisfied with the proposal, the student makes an oral presentation and defends the proposal, where other suggestions to strengthen the proposal can be made. After a successful oral defense and submission of the proposal along with the Proposal Transmittal form to the Graduate School, the student is raised to candidacy.


The dissertation is an original and definitive empirical study that makes a significant contribution to the field of African American Studies. It should add to the knowledge of one or more areas either by uncovering new information, providing an innovative synthesis of existing information, propounding a new theory, fine-tuning an existing theory, or offering a new interpretation substantiated by data. The length of the dissertation varies but should be in excess of 150 pages.

The Doctoral Advisory Committee guides the candidate's doctoral research. This committee offers regular advice and expertise as the student collects data, researches, and writes the proposal and dissertation. The DAC must include at least three Graduate Faculty members from Temple University; two of them, including the Chair, must be from the Department of African American Studies. The Committee may be expanded to include other Temple University faculty (from within or outside the Department) and/or doctorally prepared experts from outside the University, provided that a majority of the Committee members are Graduate Faculty members.

The function of the Dissertation Examining Committee is to evaluate the dissertation and the student's performance in the oral defense, and to decide whether the candidate passes or fails. All members of the DEC must be physically present for the oral defense. Exceptions must be specifically approved in writing by the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dissertation Examining Committee is composed of the DAC plus at least one additional reader who may be a Graduate Faculty member from Temple or another university, but cannot be a member of the Department of African American Studies.

A student must have an advisor at all times. However, it is possible that as the student's interests develop, s/he may find it desirable to change major advisors and/or advisory committees. The advisee/advisor relationship can be terminated by mutual consent with a note to the Graduate Director signed by both parties or by either party through negotiation with the Graduate Director, who must not at the time be serving as a member of the Doctoral Advisory Committee. When the Graduate Director is also a member of the Committee, then another member of the Graduate Faculty, appointed by the Department Chair, should serve as the negotiator between the student and the Committee member. The student must complete a "Change of Advisor" form, which may be obtained from the Graduate Secretary. Once a defense date is set, no changes can be made in major advisor or Committee membership.

When the Chair of the Doctoral Advisory Committee is satisfied with the dissertation draft, s/he will advise the student to distribute it to the other members of the Committee. When the entire Committee is satisfied with the draft, the student and Chair will decide on an examination date. At the conclusion of the dissertation defense, the Dissertation Examining Committee may recommend either that the candidate passes or fails. After the student passes the dissertation defense, certification forms are signed by the Committee members and forwarded to the Graduate School. Failure may call for substantial revisions and a new defense.

Students who are preparing to defend their dissertation should confirm a time and date with their Doctoral Advisory Committee and register with the Graduate Secretary.  The Graduate Secretary will arrange for the room; prepare the appropriate forms; send copies of the announcement to the Graduate School and departmental Graduate Faculty; and post the announcement on public bulletin boards. Every dissertation defense must be publicly announced in writing at least 10 working days prior to the defense and must be open to the academic community.

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, Jr., Ph.D.

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. It is the goal of the Department that graduates of our Ph.D. program be prepared to engage in a diverse range of intellectual issues that affect the lives of Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location:


Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

The majority of courses are offered after 4:30 p.m.  Students are 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 at least one or more courses outside the Department of African American Studies to enhance their research agenda.  A student must obtain prior approval from her/his major advisor for any courses taken outside the Department that s/he wants to use to fulfill departmental requirements.  However, for personal and intellectual enrichment, a student may take as many external courses as s/he wishes.


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 doctoral degree.


Not applicable.


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

Areas of Specialization:

Applicants to the Ph.D. program should have a clearly articulated research interest that fits within the Department's faculty expertise. African American Studies is a discipline that draws from diverse academic fields. Most research areas fall into two general categories: cultural aesthetic and social behavioral. The cultural aesthetic focus engages interests in the humanities, particularly history, literature, and the performing arts. The study of society from a social and behavioral standpoint comprises the social behavioral focus. These are issues that may be addressed under the broad domains of sociology, political science, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and the like.  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 Ph.D. Program in African American Studies generally find employment based on their area of concentration in one or more of the following areas: public and private high school administration; college and university administration; academia; social work; public relations; journalism; criminal justice; non-profit organizations; local, state, and federal government; and entertainment.


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students who desire to take courses at the Ph.D. level in the Department of African American Studies must first submit an academic transcript to the Department's Graduate Director for review. The prospective non-matriculated student will receive a letter stating whether or not s/he has been approved to take courses in the Department. A maximum of 9 credits may be applied toward a degree if the student later matriculates. 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 or assisting one or more faculty with instructional duties. 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. Applications for a Teaching Assistantship should be submitted along with the application for graduate study.

Updated 5.3.07