African American Studies, B.A.

Our program investigates Black experiences in an interdisciplinary field that examines the history, culture, beliefs and actions of people of African descent in the United States and across the world.   

A Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies provides students skills to work collaboratively in various career fields, from education and criminal justice to law or journalism.   

Students learn to apply awareness and empathy to solve challenging problems, develop oral and written communication skills, explore the multi-dimensional experiences of people of color in local and global contexts, conduct research, take courses across diverse departments and work with an engaged, award-winning faculty. Our program allows students to build a unique course of study with abundant opportunities for learning and service.  

Learning Outcomes 

  1. Majors will learn the importance of the principal movements, pivotal figures, and conceptual ideas that shape the academic study of African American experiences. Students will acquire the tools for contextualizing the dynamic realities of race in America and for analyzing their social, political, and cultural implications.
  2. Majors will work across academic disciplines in the humanities and social sciences to synthesize the multiple roots and routes of intellectual inquiry within African American Studies. Students will interpret primary and secondary source material using both individual and collaborative methods of study.
  3. Students will develop as scholars and researchers in African American Studies through effective oral, written, and aesthetic forms of communication. Assignments will emphasize the tasks of rigorous scholarship, including: critical thinking, creative expression, precise writing, constructive discussions, and standards of professional engagement.


Entrance Requirements

New freshmen who meet University admissions standards are eligible for admission to degree programs offered by the college. A student who wishes to enter the College of Arts and Sciences from another college on the Columbia campus must be in good standing and have a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or higher. A student who wishes to enter the College of Arts and Sciences from another USC campus must fulfill one of the following requirements:

  1. Be in good standing, meet the admission requirements for a baccalaureate degree on the Columbia campus, and have a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or higher.
  2. Be in good standing and have completed 30 semester hours with a GPA of 2.00 or higher on a USC campus.

Some programs in the College of Arts and Sciences have special admission requirements established by the department or committee that supervises the specific degree program, for example, Cardiovascular Technology, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Economics, Environmental Science, the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. These requirements are listed in the sections of this bulletin that describe department and special degree programs.

Degree Requirements (120 hours)

Program of Study

Requirements Credit Hours
1. Carolina Core 32-44
2. College Requirements 15-18
3. Program Requirements 28-43
4. Major Requirements 30

Founding Documents Requirement

All undergraduate students must take a 3-credit course or its equivalent with a passing grade in the subject areas of History, Political Science, or African American Studies that covers the founding documents including the United State Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation and one or more documents that are foundational to the African American Freedom struggle, and a minimum of five essays from the Federalist papers.  This course may count as a requirement in any part of the program of study including the Carolina Core, the major, minor or cognate, or as a general elective.  Courses that meet this requirement are listed here.

1. Carolina Core Requirements (32-44 hours)

CMW – Effective, Engaged, and Persuasive Communication: Written (6 hours)

must be passed with a grade of C or higher

ARP – Analytical Reasoning and Problem Solving (6-8 hours) 

SCI – Scientific Literacy (8 hours)

  • Two 4-credit hour CC-SCI laboratory science courses

GFL – Global Citizenship and Multicultural Understanding: Foreign Language  (0-6 hours)

Demonstration of proficiency in one foreign language equivalent to the minimal passing grade on the exit examination in the 122 course is required. Students can demonstrate this proficiency by successfully completing Phase II of the Proficiency Test or by successfully completing the 122 course, including the exit exam administered as part of that course.

It is strongly recommended that students continuing the study of a foreign language begin college-level study of that language in their first semester and continue in that language until their particular foreign language requirement is completed.

GHS – ​Global Citizenship and Multicultural Understanding: Historical Thinking (3 hours) 

GSS – Global Citizenship and Multicultural Understanding: Social Sciences (3 hours) 

AIU – Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding (3 hours)

CMS – Effective, Engaged, and Persuasive Communication: Spoken Component1 (0-3 hours)

INF – Information Literacy1 (0-3 hours)

VSR – Values, Ethics, and Social Responsibility1 (0-3 hours)


Carolina Core Stand Alone or Overlay Eligible Requirements — Overlay-approved courses offer students the option of meeting two Carolina Core components in a single course. A maximum of two overlays is allowed. The total Carolina Core credit hours must add up to a minimum of 31 hours. Some programs may have a higher number of minimum Carolina Core hours due to specified requirements.

2. College Requirements (15-18 hours)

Foreign Language (0-3 hours) 

  • only if needed to meet 122-level proficiency

History (3 hours) 

The College of Arts and Sciences requires one additional GHS course beyond the Carolina Core GHS requirement. 

  • If the Carolina Core GHS requirement is fulfilled by a U.S. history course, the College of Arts and Sciences history requirement must be fulfilled by a non-U.S. history course.
  • If the Carolina Core GHS requirement is fulfilled by a non-U.S. history course, the College of Arts and Sciences history requirement must be fulfilled by a U.S. history course. 

Please select the College of Arts and Sciences history requirement from the approved list of U.S. and non-U.S. history courses.

Social Science and Fine Arts or Humanities (12 hours)

3. Program Requirements (28-43 hours)

Cognate or Minor (12-18 hours)

Students must complete a cognate (12 hours) or a minor as part of this program.  In lieu of a cognate or minor, an additional major may be added to a student’s program of study. Additional majors must include all major courses as well as any prescribed courses noted (*) in the bulletin.  Prescribed courses noted in the bulletin may be shared with Carolina Core, College requirements, and Program requirements in the primary program. 

Cognate (12 hours)

The cognate must consist of twelve (12) hours of courses at the advanced level, outside of but related to the major. The cognate may be taken in one or more departments or programs.

Courses offered by departments and programs that are acceptable for cognate credit are outlined in the section titled Courses Acceptable for Cognate Credit in Degree Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. Some major programs have specific cognate requirements. It should be emphasized that the cognate is not a second set of elective courses to be chosen at random by the student. Students are urged to consult their major advisors for specific requirements in their major.

For Bachelor of Arts degrees, all cognate courses must be passed with a grade of C or higher.

Minor (18 hours)

In place of the cognate a student in the College of Arts and Sciences may choose a minor consisting of at least 18 credit hours of prescribed courses.

The minor is intended to develop a coherent basic preparation in a second area of study. It differs from the cognate inasmuch as the courses must follow a structured sequence.

Courses applied toward general education requirements cannot be counted toward the minor. No course may satisfy both major and minor requirements. All minor courses must be passed with a grade of C or higher. At least half of the courses in the minor must be completed in residence at the University.

A list of minor programs of study can be found at Programs A-Z.

Electives (10-31 hours)

120 (or 128) degree applicable credits are required to complete any degree at UofSC. After the cognate, minor or second major is complete, any additional credits needed to reach 120 (or 128) total credits can be fulfilled by electives. No courses of a remedial, developmental, skill-acquiring, or vocational nature may apply as credit toward degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences allows the use of the Pass-Fail option on elective courses. Further clarification on inapplicable courses can be obtained from the College of Arts and Sciences.

4. Major Requirements (30 hours)

A minimum grade of C is required in all major courses

Major Courses (9 hours) 

Course Title Credits
AFAM 201Introduction to African American Studies: Social and Historical Foundations3
AFAM 202Introduction to African-American Studies3
AFAM 498Seminar in African-American Studies3
or AFAM 499 Seminar in African-American Studies
Total Credit Hours9

Major Electives (21 hours) 

Course Title Credits
Arts and Culture6
Select two courses from the following list:
Introduction to African American Religions
African-American Cultures
African-American Feminist Theory
Religions of the African Diaspora
Cultural History of Hip Hop Music
Race and Science Fiction
Special Topics in African-American Arts and Cultures
Independent Study
Slavery, Literature & Culture
African-American Literature I: to 1903
African-American Literature II: 1903 – Present
African Literature
Caribbean Literature
African-American English
African-American Rhetoric
Black Women Writers
Race, Gender, and Graphic Novels
An Anthropological View of Blacks in Film
African American Theatre
Culture and Identity in the African Diaspora
Society and History6
Select two courses from the following list:
Convergence and Divergence in African American and Jewish Relations: Historical and Contemporary
Psychology and the African-American Experience
Black Experience in the United States to 1865
Black Experience in the United States since 1865
The American Civil Rights Movement
Environmental Racism and Justice
Antiracist Education
Introduction to U.S. Racial and Ethnic Politics
Race and Ethnic Relations
African-American Politics
Medical Experimentation and the Black Body
Medicine, Disease, and Slavery
Special Topics in African American Society and History
African American Political Thought
Jim Crow: Histories & Revivals
Black Activism
Additional Electives9
Students choose three additional courses from AFAM 300 or higher.

Note: Selected courses may apply only once in one category.

Major Map

A major map is a layout of required courses in a given program of study, including critical courses and suggested course sequences to ensure a clear path to graduation.

Major maps are only a suggested or recommended sequence of courses required in a program of study. Please contact your academic advisor for assistance in the application of specific coursework to a program of study and course selection and planning for upcoming semesters.

African American Studies, B.A.