Timothy Peck 9 min read Academic Tips and Info, College Lists

List of All U.S. Colleges with a Black Studies Major

Black Studies is a relatively new major on college campuses—the nation’s first Black Studies department was established in 1968 at San Francisco State State University, and was born out of faculty and student activism. More than a half-century later, Black Studies programs are a fixture at schools across the country and have helped pave the way for the creation of other ethnic and gender studies programs. 

 

Black Studies is a field that goes by many different names depending on the college offering it. You might also hear it called:

 

  • African American Studies
  • Afro-American Studies
  • Africana Studies
  • Pan African Studies
  • Black World Studies 

 

Students interested in pursuing a degree in Black Studies are often faced with the question of its practicality. Although the applicability of a Black Studies degree is not as clear-cut a major when compared to a degree such as accounting, those pursuing Black Studies (similar to those graduating from other liberal arts fields) develop interdisciplinary knowledge that spans multiple areas, including the humanities and social sciences. 

 

The question isn’t what can you do as a Black Studies major, rather, it’s what can’t you do as a Black Studies major? As the National Council for Black Studies points out, degree holders’ professions range from A (Astronaut) to Z (Zoo administrator). 

 

Overview of a Black Studies Major

 

Black Studies is an interdisciplinary major for students interested in learning about the experience of the Black diaspora through the study of their life, culture, and history. 

 

What are the course requirements most majors will need to take?

 

The course requirements of a Black Studies degree program vary from school to school. In general, however, students should anticipate taking a diverse courseload covering fields like African Diaspora History, African American Literature, Black Media, and Black Politics and Theory. 

 

Students will also have an opportunity to follow their intellectual interests with electives like: 

 

  • Black Feminism
  • Islamophobia 
  • Race in Education 
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Black Family 
  • Comparative Study of Injustice
  • U.S. Constitutional Law: Post-Civil Rights Movements

 

What sort of student would succeed in this major?

 

Beyond an interest in the experiences of Black Americans and the African diaspora, students enrolling in a Black Studies program need a broad skill set, as the core coursework covers a wide range of information from humanities to the social sciences. The most successful Black Studies majors are critical thinkers who are able to approach problems from multiple perspectives. They’re also excellent oral and written communicators, exceptional researchers, and have a deep understanding of cross-cultural issues. 

 

Other valuable skills include the ability to: 

 

  • Understand social context
  • Understand the components of complex problems
  • Articulate ideas and theories
  • Create persuasive arguments
  • Assess conflicting viewpoints
  • Speak in public 
  • Identify cultural and social forces
  • Understand diversity

 

Famous Black Studies degree holders include:

 

  • Michelle Obama: the former first lady minored in African American Studies at Princeton University.
  • Mae Jemison: this NASA astronaut received a B.A. in Afro-American Studies from Stanford University.
  • Angela Bassett: the award-winning actress has a B.A. in African American Studies from Yale University.
  • Aaron McGruder: the creator of the popular comic strip The Boondocks earned a B.A. in African American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park.
  • Gloria Naylor: National Book Award Winner for The Women of Brewster Place has an M.A. in Afro-American Studies from Yale University.

 

Do most students go on to grad school?

 

Graduate school is a popular destination for Black Studies majors, as the core skills built and knowledge gained while earning an undergraduate degree provides an excellent foundation for the pursuit of graduate degrees in fields such as law, politics, business, and the arts. 

 

What are the popular career paths for this major? 

 

Like other graduates with liberal art degrees, students graduating from Black Studies programs are well-suited to a variety of career paths, thanks to a deep and transferable skill set. Common fields for Black Studies majors include: 

 

  • Government and politics
  • Education 
  • Communications and media 
  • Advocacy 
  • Human resources 
  • Social work 

 

What to Look for in a College as a Black Studies Major

 

There are differences between every institution’s Black Studies program, but there are some unifying characteristics among the best programs. 

 

Living-Learning Communities

 

Several colleges have residential houses for Black students and their allies. For example, at Amherst College, Drew House is a space where members of the Amherst community can engage in intellectual debate, social activities, artistic expression, and all other endeavors which highlight the accomplishments of Blacks throughout the years and around the world.” 

 

These living-learning communities can allow students to feel more confident in their identities, and be a place for like-minded students to participate in enriching activities and activism.

 

Student Activism

 

Speaking of activism, one important component of Black Studies is advocating for Black rights. If you want to be involved in calling for change, evaluate the availability of student activist groups and events on-campus. You may also consider the location of the college and whether that’s conducive to a safe learning environment, or local activist movements. For example, students in Washington, D.C. have access to many political institutions, resources, and grassroots movements.

 

Study Abroad 

 

Studying in predominantly-Black countries provides students with a different perspective on their field, and allows them to explore a wide range of historical and current issues, including: 

 

  • Culture and religion
  • Apartheid in South Africa 
  • HIV/AIDS in Africa 
  • Colonization in Africa and the Caribbean
  • International development
  • Human rights   
  • Language  

 

Language 

 

Although not always a requirement for a degree, some Black Studies programs offer classes in relevant languages. Speaking a foreign language can provide an undergraduate additional insight into students’ reading and research, make for a more immersive study abroad experience, and further connect them to the subject matter they are studying. 

 

It’s common to see languages like Arabic (commonly spoken in Algeria, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Tunisia) and Swahili (common in Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda Tanzania, South Sudan, and Uganda). Other languages relevant to Black Studies include:

 

  • Yoruba: spoken in Benin Republic, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo; it’s also spoken in Cuba and Brazil
  • Zulu: the official language of South Africa 
  • Afrikaans: spoken in  Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, and Zambia
  • Wolof: the most widely spoken language in Senegal
  • Amharic: primarily spoken in Ethiopia

 

Keep in mind that languages like Spanish, French, and Haitian Creole can connect you to Black communities, especially in the Caribbean.

 

Extracurricular Lectures 

 

The Black experience is fluid and continues to reshape itself within culture and society—look no further than the killing of George Floyd and the massive Black Lives Matter protests it spurred in 2020. The best Black Studies programs have regular lectures and seminars scheduled to keep undergraduates informed of the latest in events, thought, perspectives, and news about the Black experience, and how it impacts the field. 

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

List of All U.S. Colleges With a Black Studies Major

 

School

Location

Ramapo College of New Jersey | RCNJ

Mahwah, New Jersey

Seton Hall University

South Orange, New Jersey

Rutgers University, Newark

Newark, New Jersey

University of California, Riverside | UC Riverside

Riverside, California

University of California, Irvine | UC Irvine

Irvine, California

Drew University

Madison, New Jersey

North Carolina State University | NC State

Raleigh, North Carolina

Pomona College

Claremont, California

Pitzer College

Claremont, California

Youngstown State University

Youngstown, Ohio

Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina

University of Connecticut | UConn

Storrs, Connecticut

Berea College

Berea, Kentucky

Rhodes College

Memphis, Tennessee

Rutgers University‚ Camden

Camden, New Jersey

Arizona State University | ASU

Tempe, Arizona

Florida State University | FSU

Tallahassee, Florida

Florida A&M University | FAMU

Tallahassee, Florida

Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Scripps College

Claremont, California

Lake Forest College

Lake Forest, Illinois

Saint Mary’s College of California | St. Mary’s

Moraga, California

College of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina

California State University, Northridge | CSUN

Northridge, California

University of Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee

Pennsylvania State University | PSU

University Park, Pennsylvania

Indiana University Bloomington | Indiana

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana State University | ISU

Terre Haute, Indiana

University of California, Santa Barbara | UCSB

Santa Barbara, California

Claflin University

Orangeburg, South Carolina

Brandeis University

Waltham, Massachusetts

Wellesley College

Wellesley, Massachusetts

Loyola University Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

Earlham College

Richmond, Indiana

DePauw University

Greencastle, Indiana

Purdue University

West Lafayette, Indiana

Old Dominion University | ODU

Norfolk, Virginia

Ohio University

Athens, Ohio

Denison University

Granville, Ohio

Ohio Wesleyan University

Delaware, Ohio

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Eastern Michigan University | EMU

Ypsilanti, Michigan

Rutgers University‚ New Brunswick | Rutgers

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Brooklyn College

Brooklyn, New York

Fordham University

Bronx, New York

Gettysburg College

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

The State University of New York at Buffalo | SUNY Buffalo

Buffalo, New York

Sonoma State University | SSU

Rohnert Park, California

University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia

University of North Carolina at Charlotte | UNC Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina

University of Nevada, Las Vegas | UNLV

Las Vegas, Nevada

University of Mississippi | Ole Miss

University, Mississippi

Stanford University

Stanford, California

The State University of New York at Stony Brook | SUNY Stony Brook

Stony Brook, New York

San Diego State University | SDSU

San Diego, California

Southern Illinois University Carbondale | SIU

Carbondale, Illinois

Tufts University

Medford, Massachusetts

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts Boston | UMass Boston

Boston, Massachusetts

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

Ohio State University | OSU

Columbus, Ohio

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities | Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

The College of New Jersey | TCNJ

Ewing, New Jersey

Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey

University of Wisconsin-Madison | Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire

University of Rochester

Rochester, New York

The State University of New York at Geneseo | SUNY Geneseo

Geneseo, New York

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Indiana

Luther College

Decorah, Iowa

California State University, Long Beach | Long Beach State

Long Beach, California

California State University, Fresno | CSU Fresno

Fresno, California

University of California, Davis | UC Davis

Davis, California

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

The State University of New York at Albany | SUNY Albany

Albany, New York

University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio

Miami University

Oxford, Ohio

University of Texas at Austin | UT Austin

Austin, Texas

University of California, Berkeley | UC Berkeley

Berkeley, California

College of the Holy Cross | Holy Cross

Worcester, Massachusetts

Wheaton College (Massachusetts)

Norton, Massachusetts

University of New Mexico | UNM

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Portland State University | PSU

Portland, Oregon

University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky

Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Mercer University

Macon, Georgia

Morehouse College

Atlanta, Georgia

Morgan State University

Baltimore, Maryland

Oberlin College

Oberlin, Ohio

University of Virginia | UVA

Charlottesville, Virginia

San Francisco State University | SF State

San Francisco, California

Marquette University

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee | UWM

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Smith College

Northampton

University of Massachusetts Amherst | UMass Amherst

Amherst, Massachusetts

Amherst College

Amherst, Massachusetts

Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley, Massachusetts

University of Pittsburgh | Pitt

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

University of Maryland Eastern Shore | UMES

Princess Anne, Maryland

Johns Hopkins University | JHU

Baltimore, Maryland

University of Maryland, Baltimore County | UMBC

Baltimore, Maryland

San Jose State University | SJSU

San Jose, California

University of Montana

Missoula, Montana

University of Oklahoma

Norman, Oklahoma

Emory University

Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia State University

Atlanta, Georgia

University of Nebraska Omaha | UNO

Omaha, Nebraska

University of Rhode Island | URI

Kingston, Rhode Island

Rhode Island College | RIC

Providence, Rhode Island

University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

University of North Carolina at Greensboro | UNC Greensboro

Greensboro, North Carolina

Kent State University

Kent, Ohio

College of Wooster

Wooster, Ohio

California State University, Los Angeles | Cal State LA

Los Angeles, California

Coe College

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

Hamilton College

Clinton, New York

Syracuse University

Syracuse, New York

Saint Louis University | SLU

Saint Louis, Missouri

Washington University in St. Louis | WashU

Saint Louis, Missouri

Wayne State University | WSU

Detroit, Michigan

University of Illinois at Chicago | UIC

Chicago, Illinois

DePaul University

Chicago, Illinois

Roosevelt University

Chicago, Illinois

University of California, Los Angeles | UCLA

Los Angeles, California

Loyola Marymount University | LMU

Los Angeles, California

Knox College

Galesburg, Illinois

University of Wyoming

Laramie, Wyoming

University of Miami

Coral Gables, Florida

University of Delaware

Newark, Delaware

University of Maryland, College Park | Maryland

College Park, Maryland

Western Michigan University | WMU

Kalamazoo, Michigan

University of Puget Sound

Tacoma, Washington

East Carolina University | ECU

Greenville, North Carolina

Indiana University Northwest | IU Northwest

Gary, Indiana

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | UIUC

Champaign, Illinois

Cleveland State University | CSU

Cleveland, Ohio

University of South Carolina | USC

Columbia, South Carolina

University of Toledo

Toledo, Ohio

The State University of New York at Binghamton | SUNY Binghamton

Vestal, New York

University of Northern Colorado | UNC

Greeley, Colorado

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | UNC

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Wesleyan University

Middletown, Connecticut

University of South Florida | USF

Tampa, Florida

Virginia Commonwealth University | VCU

Richmond, Virginia

University of Pennsylvania | UPenn

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Temple University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Southern Methodist University | SMU

Dallas, Texas

University of Southern California | USC

Los Angeles, California

New York University | NYU

New York, New York

Columbia University

New York, New York

Trinity University

San Antonio, Texas

Colby College

Waterville, Maine

Bates College

Lewiston, Maine

University of Washington

Seattle, Washington

University of Alabama at Birmingham | UAB

Birmingham, Alabama

University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Howard University

Washington DC

Georgetown University

Washington DC

 

Notice a school with a Black Studies major that’s missing? Email us and let us know!

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

A good predictor of your chances of acceptance at a particular college is how you stack up academically against previously accepted students. Many selective schools use the Academic Index—a calculation of a student’s overall academic performance—to filter out weaker applicants. The better your grades and test scores compared to previous admits, the higher your chances of acceptance.

 

In addition to academic excellence, how a student will fit in and contribute to the college plays a large role in admission decisions. Extracurricular activities like participating or organizing Black Lives Matter protests, volunteering with the NAACP, or working to drive voter turnout in largely Black communities help show colleges that you’re serious about the subject you hope to study, and an active and contributing member of the community.

 

CollegeVine can also help you discover your odds of acceptance. Our free Chancing Engine takes into account factors like GPA, SAT/ACT test score, and extracurricular activities to predict your odds of getting accepted into over 500 colleges and universities.

Want more tips on improving your academic profile?

We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.


Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.