About us

African American & African Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Students in this department have an opportunity to investigate the history and culture of communities of African descent around the world. Our curriculum brings together the experience of communities of African descent in the United States and on the African continent, as well as in Diasporic communities in Canada, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. We also explore how social, political, and economic factors shape community experience in these locations. We are interested in aesthetic dimensions of Black life as expressed in varied artistic forms.

Students are expected to complete courses in the study of other ethnic cultures as part of their general graduation requirements.

Our students also have the opportunity to participate in program internships (AAS 192), Tutoring (AAS 197T), Directed Group Study (AAS 198) and Special Study for Advanced Undergraduates (AAS 199). Students may also enroll in the UC Davis Washington Program, Study Abroad programs, and Honors research courses.

The department supports many groups and organizations designed to meet the academic and social needs of students of African descent and others at Davis including the Black sororities and fraternities, the Pan-African Student Association, and pre-professional groups in engineering, law, and medicine as well as the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association. Other events in which the department participates are the Black Fall Welcome, Black History Month Celebration, Black Family Day, the African American and African Graduation Celebration, and the Annual Student Leadership Conference.

Students may apply for financial support for innovative research projects undertaken under the guidance of individual instructors. Majors and minors are encouraged to take advantage of various internship programs on and off campus. Interns have been placed in state government offices in Sacramento, the national office of the NAACP, and the National Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Why Study African American & African Studies?

We need to learn and appreciate more fully the history and culture of the various peoples who make up our American nation and the world community — especially where neglect and misrepresentation have led to the development of ethnic stereotypes that breed misunderstanding. Until recently the study of African Americans and Africans was a negligible part of the university curriculum. As an aspect of the expanded social awareness of the 1960s, Black Studies courses were introduced, and today, undergraduate and graduate programs are to be found at several campuses across the country. The UC Davis program offers a major and a minor, and is committed to providing students with a multidisciplinary learning experience. For more information about majoring or minoring in African American & African Studies, please contact Katherine Ampaw-Matthei at kampaw@ucdavis.edu or 530-754-9581.

Career Alternatives

Students completing the African American and African Studies major are well prepared for graduate study in psychology, education, sociology, human development, history, etc. Majors in African American and African Studies can also pursue professional training in fields such as pharmacy, medicine, or law. Graduates with this major have also pursued employment opportunities in the federal and state government, in international development agencies, in human service units, in country social service programs, and counseling services. African American and African Studies is also an appropriate background for work in community organizations like the Urban League, NAACP, Urban Affairs, and the Office of Economic Opportunity, and for teaching at all levels.

To gain a better idea of what specific people who have degrees in Black Studies do, take a look at this document What Can I do with a Black Studies Major? 500+ Answers, by Robert Fikes, Jr. black_studies_majors_2015.pdf