photo of a student at commencement How Will I Benefit from a Degree in African and African American Studies?

Students in the African and African American Studies (AAFS) program will learn about the contributions Africa has made to the global human experience and explore the various conditions that have affected people of African descent. The AAFS program provides students with skills that will enable them to more effectively speak and write about the experiences and contributions of people in Africa and the African Diaspora.

A major or minor in AAFS will give students an invaluable foundation in critical thinking, research, writing, and analysis—skills that form the core of a liberal arts education. Students educated through the program will gain:

  • Effective critical thinking and communication skills
  • Knowledge of the diversity of the cultural experiences of people in Africa and the African Diaspora
  • An understanding of the role of important figures, intellectuals, movements, and ideas specific to the Pan-African experience
  • A heightened awareness of the historical forces that have shaped the experiences of people in Africa and the African Diaspora
  • A familiarity with African and African American literature and art

The possibilities of what you can do with an African and African American Studies degree are limitless—you can work to develop your experiences across the globe, teaching high school teens in South Africa or developing public health solutions in Tanzania. A degree in AAFS qualifies students to find employment in areas ranging from government, to the non-profit sector, as well as in public and private businesses, medicine, and education. Recent graduates of the Wright State AAFS program have gone on to receive graduate degrees, work in the non-profit sector, higher education, and allied healthcare.

Notable African and African American Studies Majors

  • Angela Bassett, Award-winning actress. (BA in African-American Studies from Yale University)
  • Rakim H. D. Brooks, Rhodes Scholar and C. Edwin Baker Fellow in Democratic Values at Demos. (BA in Africana Studies from Brown University)
  • Megan L. Comfort, Senior Research Sociologist, Urban Health Program at RTI International and Adjunct Asst. Professor of Medicine, UCSF. (BA in Black Studies from Wellesley College)
  • Jendayi Frazer, Distinguished Professor, Carnegie Mellon University and former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. (BA in African and Afro-American Studies & Political Science from Stanford University)
  • Brian L. Harper, Medical Director and COO of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention. (BA in Afro-American Studies & Biology from Brown University)
  • Mae Jemison, Physician and NASA astronaut on the Endeavor in 1992. (BA in Afro-American Studies from Stanford University)
  • Do Kim, Civil rights attorney & founder of the Korean American Youth Leadership Program. (BA in Afro-American Studies & Sociology from Harvard University)
  • Aaron McGruder, Cartoonist, writer and creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip "The Boondocks." (BA in African-American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park)
  • Gloria Naylor, Educator and novelist. Winner of the National Book Award in 1983 for The Women of Brewster Place. (MA in Afro-American Studies from Yale University)
  • Michelle Obama, Attorney and First Lady of the United States. (BA in Sociology with a minor in African-American Studies from Princeton University)
  • Richard W. Roberts, US District Court Judge for Washington DC. (BA in Black Studies & Political Science from Vassar College)
  • Claudia Thomas, Author and first black female orthopedic surgeon in the U.S. (BA in Black Studies from Vassar College)

Source: Fikes, Robert. "What Can I Do With A Black Studies Major? 500+ Answers." 4th ed. San Diego State University. 2015.