Graduate Program

Announcement from the Graduate Program

In August, Africana Studies voted to suspend doctoral admissions for the fall of 2020. This decision reflects our deep commitment to support those students already enrolled here at Brown, and our desire to ensure that they have the resources they need to be safe, healthy, and, where possible, productive. We look forward to reading applications again in the fall of 2021.

Graduate Program

The Department of Africana Studies offers a graduate program leading to the Ph.D. in Africana StudiesGraduate students in the program receive rigorous training in the discipline of Africana Studies and the theories and methods of interdisciplinary scholarship. The graduate program trains students to become skilled and informed scholars poised to make significant contributions to academic and nonacademic communities and initiate cultural, economic, political, and social policies informed by critical thinking and global perspectives on social and human development.

The graduate program features three areas of emphasis:

 Studies in History, Politics and Theory

 Studies in History, Politics, and Theory focuses on the institutional, theoretical and material expressions of Africana culture, experience, and thought.  Graduate students with research interests in this area will draw on theories, methods, and approaches in Africana Studies as well as Africana philosophy, critical theory, feminist theory, political theory, history, religious studies, and sociology in developing innovative research projects that engage past and present social and political formations, the production and reproduction of critical knowledges, and the representation of historical and political ideas and formations. 

Studies in Literary, Expressive, and Performance Cultures

Studies in Literary, Expressive and Performance Cultures focuses on the critical study of visual culture, performance, and the literary arts that critique the contributions and (self) representations of people of African descent in global and contested societies.  Graduate students with research interests in this area will draw on the methods and theories in Africana Studies as well as engage scholarship in aesthetic theory, cultural studies, literary theory and criticism, media studies, and performance studies.

Studies in Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality

Studies in Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality focuses on the cultural, ideological, political, and theoretical implications of feminist consciousness, practices, and theories, constructions of gender as well as critical understandings and analyses of sexuality throughout the Africana world.  This area of emphasis also stresses the critical examination of the complex interrelationships between feminist theory, constructions of gender and sexuality, and the constructions and operations of legal systems and public policy.  Graduate studies with research interests in this area will critically engage concepts, methods, and theories developed in critical theories of race, diaspora studies, feminist studies, masculinity studies, queer theory, and womanist theory to examine historical and contemporary forms and formulations of feminism, gender, and sexuality across various Africana social, cultural, economic, political, and theoretical formations. 

Within these three areas Africana Studies graduate students are be able to explore the breadth and depth of the discipline while developing capacity and competence in distinct areas of scholarship.

The goal of the graduate program in Africana Studies at Brown is to rigorously prepare students to develop new and innovative scholarship that explores and analyzes the distinct contributions of Africana cultural, intellectual, political, and artistic productions as well as critically investigate and develop new methods and theories of critical interdisciplinary scholarship.

Please read the Graduate Handbook for complete details of the program.

For more information about the graduate program, please contact Professor Matthew Guterl, Director of Graduate Studies.


Admission Information 

Writing Sample: Required (20-25 pages research paper)
GRE General Subject: Required 
GRE Subject: Not Required 
Application Deadline: December 15


Essay Requirements

  • Research Statement: (700 words) Give us a sense of your primary areas of interest and central research questions as you see them emerging in your graduate studies in Africana Studies at Brown
  • Personal Statement: (250 words) Tell us about your intellectual and personal journey and your motivations for research within Africana Studies.

Note: the personal statement should provide information not included elsewhere in the application. While there is no standard way to write this statement, it is important to understand your audience. Statements should be double-spaced with 1" margins.

 Visit the Brown University Graduate School for application information and procedures.