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Edmund T. Gordon, Chair 2109 San Jacinto Blvd , Mailcode E3400, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4362

Ph.D. Program

AADS will be accepting applications for the terminal Master's Degree and PhD Program in African and African Diaspora Studies for the 2015–16 academic year starting September 1.
For information, please contact Nia Crosley, AADS Graduate Program Coordinator.

The African and African Diaspora Studies graduate program is a full-time course of study for students seeking a terminal doctoral degree. The program includes an integrated Master of Arts degree that serves as the initial requirement towards receiving the Ph.D. Students entering the AADS program with a master's degree from another university are automatically admitted to the doctoral program.  Students entering the program with a bachelor’s degree must complete the conditions for the AADS M.A. including required coursework and a written project in the second year of study.

Upon completion of the master's degree requirement, all students must take qualifying exams in the third year of study.  Upon successful completion of exams, students enter candidacy, form a dissertation committee and submit a dissertation proposal.  

Doctoral Core Coursework

The Ph.D. in African and African Diaspora Studies requires a minimum of 54 credit hours, including dissertation research and writing.  All African and African Diaspora Studies graduate students enroll in a core of required courses that explores the theoretical and methodological foundations of Black Studies. These core courses are:

  • AFR 390 Black Studies Theory I 
  • AFR 391 Black Studies Methods 
  • AFR 392 Black Studies Theory II 
  • Students are required to take a supporting methods course. This course is chosen in consultation with the student's advisor and may be taken from another University of Texas department.

Interdisciplinary Coursework

The AADS graduate program is interdisciplinary and includes study in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. The remainder of the coursework must be chosen from AFR courses and other courses from a variety of other fields of study.  The AADS major coursework must include the following area requirements:

  • 1 course in the Fine Arts (Art, Art History, Dance, Music, and Theatre)
  • 1 course in the Humanities (History, Literature, Philosophy, Religion, Languages, and Law)
  • 1 course in the Social Sciences (Anthropology, Economics, Education, Psychology, Government, and Sociology)
  • 1 course in the African Diaspora (African Studies, non-U.S. Black Studies)

 Students entering the doctoral program without a master's degree may elect to take up to 12 hours of conference courses in their third year designed to prepare students for qualifying exams. Students with a master's degree from another institution may elect to take up to 9 hours of conference courses.

Students without a master's degree from another institution must complete the core curriculum, the interdisciplinary coursework, the Master's report, and language requirements (as determined by the Graduate Advisor) before taking qualifying exams. Students with a master's degree from another institution must fulfill these same requirements with the exception of the Master's report before taking the qualifying exams.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination

All Ph.D. candidates must pass a comprehensive examination that consists of two parts:

1) AFR 396 Bibliographies and Syllabi with Lecture:  In consultation with the student’s advisor, the student will develop syllabi for three distinct courses which reflect research areas in support of her/his dissertation.  Each syllabus will include a bibliography of course readings and supporting texts; a narrative that discusses why these specific readings were selected; and a schedule of daily activities in the course.  The dissertation committee will choose one of the syllabi on which to base an introductory lecture.  The lecture serves to demonstrate the student’s oral competency, and the narrative serves to demonstrate the student’s writing competency. 

 2) AFR 396 Prospectus - Dissertation Proposal with Job Talk

The student will create a dissertation proposal following the guidelines set forth in the Guidelines for Developing a Dissertation Proposal in African and African Diaspora Studies. The student will offer a mock job talk to the dissertation committee that uses the dissertation proposal as the research discussed in the talk.  The committee will ask questions about the proposed research as a way to strengthen the components of the dissertation proposal.


Upon successful completion of the qualifying examinations and all Ph.D. coursework (including foreign language proficiency), students may file for doctoral candidacy and register for dissertation hours (AFR 399R/699R/999R and AFR 399W/699W/999W). The dissertation serves as a culminating original body of scholarly, independent research demonstrating the candidate's expertise in their selected area of concentration.

In consultation with the Graduate Advisor, the candidate selects a dissertation supervisor (co-supervising is possible) and at least four other committee members (or three others, if the committee is co-chaired). At least three members of the dissertation committee must be members of the Graduate Studies Committee in AADS, and at least one member must be from an outside department or program.

An off-campus scholar may be appointed to a committee if the application for candidacy is accompanied by the scholar's curriculum vitae and a letter stating that the person is willing to serve and that the University will not pay travel expenses or provide recompense for such service. If later changes to the committee are necessary, requests must be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies through the African and African Diaspora Department.

When the candidate has completed the research and writing phase of her or his dissertation, the candidate then prepares for an oral defense before faculty and other interested members of the academy. The Request for Final Oral must be signed by all committee members and submitted to the Graduate Dean's Office at least two weeks before the examination is to be held. The defense consists of an oral examination on the dissertation and the student's future research plans. At least four members of the committee must participate. For more details on the oral defense process see

Candidates are encouraged to complete the Ph.D. in a timely manner, however candidacy is automatically subject to review three years after admission to candidacy and annually thereafter. This review is conducted by the supervisory committee for the dissertation, which makes specific recommendations to the Graduate Advisor, the Graduate Studies Committee, and the Graduate Studies Committee Chair, who, in turn, make a recommendation to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

For more information on dissertation requirements, guidelines and timelines, visit

 Language Proficiency

Ph.D. students must demonstrate proficiency in a non-English language before advancing to candidacy; ideally, this should take place before the qualifying examination. The language will be determined by the student, his/her advisor and approved by the GSC, and should reflect the student's research interests. The language requirement will be fulfilled with a translation exam administered and evaluated by AADS faculty members. The student's advisor will determine whether or not the student should also demonstrate speaking proficiency in the chosen language, in which case a proficiency exam will be required.

Non-English proficiency is not required upon admission to the AADS graduate program.

Click Here for Requirements

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