African and African American Studies

The secondary field enables students whose concentration is outside the field of African and African American Studies to gain a basic understanding of the history, cultures, politics, and social problems of Africans and peoples of African descent. Africans and peoples of African descent have developed cultural forms and traditions that are worthy of study in their own right and that also have profoundly shaped the fine arts and popular culture in the Americas and all around the planet. Black struggles for freedom, both on the continent of Africa and throughout the Western hemisphere, have served as a model for other oppressed groups throughout the world. Comparative and cross-cultural studies of Africa and its diaspora contribute enormously to our understanding of race and ethnicity, and in addressing the ethical, social, and political consequences of racial and ethnic antagonism, the field of African and African American Studies raises questions relevant to the experiences of all peoples. The Department of African and African American Studies (AAAS) offers two secondary field pathways.

African Studies

Requirements: 5 half-courses

  1. One introductory half-course in African Studies

  2. One half-course in African history

  3. Three additional half courses in African Studies, two of which may primarily be focused on language study

  4. At least one of the five half-courses must be at the 100-level

African American Studies

Requirements: 5 half-courses

  1. One introductory half-course in African American Studies

  2. One half-course in African American history

  3. Three additional half courses in African American Studies

  1. At least one of the five half-courses must be at the 100-level

Other Information

With the exceptions of Freshmen Seminars and courses taken abroad, only one course can be taken Pass/Fail or SAT/UNS. All grades must be passing grades.

Students may petition the director of undergraduate studies to have a relevant course taken in another FAS department or in the Core count toward the secondary field requirements. (Note: Courses cross-listed with AAAS automatically count toward the secondary field requirements.) Students may also petition to have a Freshman Seminar, a course taken abroad, a Harvard Summer School course, or a Harvard course outside of FAS count toward the secondary field requirements. However, at least three of the five courses must be drawn from regular AAAS course offerings.

After concentrators, students who are signed up for the secondary field will receive priority in limited enrollment courses.

Advising Resources and Expectations

Students considering a secondary field in AAAS should contact the director of undergraduate studies, Tommie Shelby (tshelby@fas.harvard.edu), or the undergraduate program officer, Kathleen Cloutier (cloutier@fas.harvard.edu) for further information or advising.