African American Studies is not just about the history of slavery in America. It is a broad academic field, involving multiple disciplines across the liberal arts. It focuses on politics, history, sociology, economics, and the arts of the African American people.
For those interested in the Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies, the main focus of such programs is on the history of the African American people. Basic focal points include the history of slavery in the United States and the Civil Rights movement that soon followed.
Students of African American Studies will learn about the circumstances, causes, and results of the Diaspora. This is the mass dispersion of peoples from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trades, which took place between the 1500s and the 1800s. Millions of people from Central and Western Africa were forcibly taken from their lands and sent to the Americas and the Caribbean to become slaves.
Other areas of interest include African American art, literature, music such as jazz, blues, and rap, and the influence of African American culture on mainstream America which has become quite evident since the early part of the 20th century.
Usually, admission to the African American studies program requires a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Different schools may have their own course work and requirements. For example, some schools may require senior research essays, so it is best to inquire with the school’s admissions office regarding their requirements.
As the focus of African American Studies is historical, many graduates become history teachers, either in high school or college level. Others also become research historians.
But many also use this knowledge to improve the welfare of African Americans or of the disadvantaged in general. They can become community organizers, human services workers, or political activists campaigning for African American and minority rights.
Many of these political groups are spread all over the country, and they work to continue the struggle for what they call “black equality”. Despite the ascension of an African American into the White House, it is evident that racial discrimination is still a problem that must be studied, analyzed and solved.
A few, however, use the knowledge they have gained to go into business. For the most part, their focus is on providing products and services that would be popular among the African American market. The understanding they developed will give them an advantage in determining what people in the community will appreciate and like.
Best Schools to Get an African American Studies Degree
African American Studies is so integral to the understanding of US history that it should come as no surprise that many of the top colleges and universities in the country offer it.
At the top of the list there is Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, and Duke. The list of best schools for African American Studies undergraduate programs include Pomona, UPenn, Swarthmore, Notre Dame, and Vanderbilt.
These schools do have rather strict acceptance standards, so perhaps just having a high school diploma won’t be enough to get in to these schools.