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The M.A. in Pan African Studies


The M.A. in Pan African Studies is a 30-credit program offering students a comprehensive understanding of the global African experience. This interdisciplinary program is structured around:

  • Four core courses
  • Two electives
  • An external site experience
  • A thesis


Courses explore the Pan African experience as reflected in multiple historical, social, and political contexts, most notably in Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. With the approval of the Graduate Committee, students may participate in the Scholar Exchange Program, a cooperative relationship with the University of Rochester and Cornell University.

This innovative program is distinct from any other of its kind. It has a unique experiential component that requires a residency at an external site where the department either runs a Division of International Programs Abroad (DIPA) program, or has established an institutional affiliation. This experience offers students alternative academic exposure while confronting them with the challenge of merging theory and practice as they learn to operationalize Pan African Studies in the larger world.


The targeted sites are located in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Canada, and the United States. At the site, students complete a pre-approved project involving research, practical education, independent study, an internship, or a related activity. Two of the graduate courses that contribute to the core offerings in the program, AAS 611 Arts, Literatures, and Cultures of the Pan African World and AAS 612 Societies and Politics of the Pan African World, are unlike any courses offered in similar graduate programs around the country. The courses create a comprehensive framework that brings together concentrations from specific disciplinary foci, as well as the transformations in those foci that have occurred through the Black encounter. Students learn to appreciate intellectual nuances, dynamism, and diversification as these pertain to Pan African Studies, a layered and complex field of academic engagement. Equally important, they are taught to engage the silences inherent in many disciplines and paradigms, including those associated with traditional Africana Studies approaches. The M.A. in Pan African Studies degree exposes students to the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences, and incorporates a wider global framework against which the spectrum of the entire Black world is critically, comparatively, and contrastively examined and theorized.


The program aims to produce well-groomed, master's level scholars ready either to proceed to further doctoral studies in the humanities or the social sciences, or to enter the world of work. Potential areas of employment include the local non-governmental sector, international organizations, social services, criminal justice, education, and health care, among others.


For further information on our program please contact our Administrative Assistant, Ajajielle A. Brown, Room 204 Sims Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-1725. Phone: (315) 443-5599.


Bob Marley, Social Justice Songwriter and Reggae Musician; a dying Hector Pietersen becoming an icon of the anti-Apartheid South Africa struggle while being carried away by a fellow student, with his sister running next to them during the 1976 Soweto Uprising, Johannesburg, South Africa; Black feminists demonstrating (ca. 1980); Black Liberator and South African President Nelson Mandela (with wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and supporters) after being released from prison in 1990, after serving a 27 year sentence as a political prisoner in staunch opposition to Apartheid.