African American Studies

Program Details

African American Studies Program

Undergraduate Program

The Department of African American Studies provides a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary education emphasizing informed multicultural, analytical, and critical approaches to the historical development; societies; cultures; economic, social, and political problems; contributions; and potentials of Black people of the Americas and Africa. Students can earn a major or a minor through this deparment. 

A major course of study in African American studies enhances students' abilities to re-examine traditional paradigms of knowledge in the humanities and social sciences, and develop the necessary skills and methodologies to understand the cultural patterns, knowledge, and behaviors that are not commonly represented in a Eurocentric education.  Furthermore, African American Studies students acquire dynamic perspectives and transformative knowledge, which prepare them for an increasingly diverse nation and world.  They also acquire the ability to evaluate, criticize, research, and re-conceptualize personal and social constructions of race and class.  These skills and abilities are indispensable in a changing society and will prove to be especially valuable in contemporary and future occupations where employees will be expected to cope with new demographic factors and expand traditional horizons. (Learn more...)


The Department of African American Studies offers courses for graduate credit to any interested graduate student registered at WIU. Students from other departments interested in earning graduate credit in AAS should first contact their Department Graduate Advisors for guidance about which AAS courses will count toward their graduate degree program.


Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences

MLAS students are required to complete a minimum of 33 hours of credit. After the students satisfy necessary course requirements, they are also able to proceed to the Thesis, Internship, or Applied Project stage level (6 hours) and work within an AAS area under the supervision of a committee that includes AAS Faculty. (Learn more...)

MLAS students are required to select either a Thesis, Internship or an Applied Project. Completed Thesis, Internships, and Applied Project must be defended before a committee of three faculty members, including the Director of MLAS and two members selected by the student and approved by the Director.

The MLAS program is designed to promote the understanding of an appreciation for the value of the fundamental knowledge and “Great Ideas” in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences and mathematics.

Our graduates have secured employment in national and international career areas and many have proceeded to do further graduate studies. The Masters of Liberal Arts and Sciences Degree is a great opportunity for students to specialize while also taking the core courses in liberal arts and science education to position them to explore the scholarly, professional, and career opportunities of the twenty-first century. 

students in classroomHonors Program

The honors experience in African American studies prepares students for careers in various fields, which include international relations, writing, publishing, social work, communications, community development, law enforcement, and many other careers that can be obtained through a liberal arts/humanities degree. Moreover, the honors work in African American Studies prepares the student for graduate studies. (Learn more...)

Academic Internship in African American Studies

Students who undertake an academic internship in African American Studies will have a supervised work assignment in an applied occupational area involving specific projects in areas related to African American Studies. Students may register for an academic internship (AAS 499) after consultation with and approval of the department chair.  The students will select between 3 and 12 semester hours of academic credit, depending on the amount of work they will perform at the internship site.  A maximum of 6 semester hours may be counted toward the AAS major.

The course will enable students to gain experience in a work setting; prepare to ultimately decide upon a career path; and, transition from college to the world of work. Students will experience day-to-day hands-on practices in a professional setting; obtain supervised work experience in real-life public or private organizations; establish social and professional networks; gain an understanding of the cultural, professional and personal demands in given careers and organizations as related to under-represented groups, cultures, and perspectives; and obtain experience gathering information about prospective career options.

Students wishing to pursue an academic internship in African American Studies are encouraged to contact the AAS Department Chair.

Apply for Admission Now!