The admission standards and selection procedures are identical to those followed by the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences for all of its M.A. Programs (with the exception of the Liberal Studies Program). Applicants must provide a 10-15 page writing sample, three (3) letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with their academic work and history, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
The deadline for the submission of fully completed applications for fall 2019 semester's M.A. class is Thursday, February 6, 2020.
We do not accept applications for the spring semester.
The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences prefers on-line applications. You can apply online at For any additional questions on the Graduate School webpage please call 212.854.4737.
The MA in African American Studies at Columbia is a 32 credit interdisciplinary program that will support your scholarly interests and research in the African-American experience and in the cultures and histories of the wider African Diaspora. Our program is organized to provide you with the opportunity and flexibility to design a program of study and a thesis project that addresses your intellectual interests and career ambitions.
The capstone of your degree is your MA thesis.  Your thesis topic will be developed in concert with a member of the IRAAS faculty; this faculty member will work closely with you during the course of your tenure at Columbia. Typically, the faculty member that you request to be your thesis advisor will be an instructor with whom you have taken a course and who shares an interest and expertise in your thesis topic. During your final semester, you will enroll in a thesis-writing workshop and work closely with your thesis advisor. The thesis workshop allows all thesis writers to share their work, receive guidance and feedback from your peers as well as the workshop leader. Your thesis advisor also will advise you during the course of this semester towards the completion of your MA thesis.
In addition to completing your MA thesis there are four further requirements:
You must take four (3) required seminars: Total (12 points)
1.) African American Studies Pro-Seminar (4 points)
2.) Research methodology (e.g., historical research, statistics, oral history, etc.); (4 points)
3.) Thesis / Practicum Research (4 points)
-The successful completion of a Master's Thesis or Final Project

A distribution requirement – 3 Courses:
ONE (1) course in history;
ONE (1) course in the humanities (e.g., literature, theater or the visual arts)
ONE (1) course in the social sciences (e.g., political science, sociology or anthropology)
This will fulfill your distribution requirement.
These courses can be taken within the department or outside the department.
3 courses @ 4 points = 12 points
Total: 24 points
A concentration requirement – 2 Courses:
In consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and your MA thesis advisor, you will identity TWO (2) graduate courses that address your intellectual focus and your proposed thesis topic. This concentration or cluster of courses can reflect, for example, a topical focus (e.g., women novelist of the French Caribbean) or a disciplinary focus (e.g., 19th century African American historiography). In short, your concentration will be designed to express your specific intellectual interests.
2 courses @ 4 points = 8 points
Total: 32 points to (fulfill GSAS Requirements)

An MA Thesis / Final Project Presentation: After you have completed your MA Thesis / Final Project, and it has been approved by your thesis advisor, you are required to present a summary of your thesis/final project at our annual Student Conversations. This oral presentation, supported by your MA thesis advisor, will occur during your last semester of study.