African Cultural Studies

College of Letters & Science
HomeDegree ProgramsGraduate Programs M.A. in African Languages and Literature (research focus)

M.A. in African Languages and Literature (research focus)

Prospective graduate students should note that we are in the process of changing the name of all of our degree programs to "African Cultural Studies," to match the name of our department. Admitted students should expect that their degree will be in African Cultural Studies rather than African Languages and Literature.

The research-focused M.A. program involves four semesters of an African language, 30 total credits of graduate coursework, and a Qualifying Paper.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

All M.A. students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress and the African Languages and Literature program requirements published in the Graduate Catalog at the time of matriculation. However, the most basic M.A. program requirements are outlined below. Note that these requirements are different from the M.A. with pedagogy focus.

Degree Requirements

1. Two years' study of an African language. Students may petition for an exemption if they have an equivalent level of proficiency in an African language.

2. 30 additional credits with no grade below B in coursework, including: 

  • African 700: Reading and Writing African Cultural Studies (3 credits)
  • African 803: Theories of African Cultural Studies (3 credits)
  • Two seminars at the 900-level (6 credits)
  • 6 elective courses chosen in consultation with the Graduate Advisor (18 credits)

3.  Qualifying Paper

Required Assessments and Examinations

By the beginning of the fourth semester (e.g. the end of January), the candidate will complete a Qualifying Paper (QP) in the form, length, and quality of a publishable article. The QP may be based on a paper written for a departmental seminar, revised based on the instructor’s feedback, and then read by two faculty members who agree to serve this role. Acting as if they are reviewers for a journal determining whether the QP is publishable, the two faculty members will deem the QP “publishable,” suggest additional revisions, or reject it.

Students who have not produced a “publishable” (passing) QP by the beginning of the fourth semester (e.g. the end of January) must write a brief request for an extension to the end of the fourth semester, to be presented by their advisor for approval by the faculty. No more than one such extension will be granted.

Students who have not produced a “publishable” (passing) QP by the end of their fourth semester will leave the program with a terminal MA. Those who produce a “publishable” QP by the end of their fourth semester will be considered for admission to the PhD program. A decision regarding admission to the PhD will be taken at a faculty meeting, based on a recommendation by the QP readers and input from other faculty members.

Advisor and Committee Requirements

M.A. students are required to meet with the Director of Graduate Studies and/or another faculty member who has agreed to read their Qualifying Paper every semester prior to enrolling for the next semester. Failure to meet this requirement will result in a hold on the student's enrollment.


See our FAQs.

Current graduate students, see useful deadlines.

For more information about applying, see our Graduate Applications page.