Graduate Certificate

Black Studies

The Frederick Douglass Institute offers a formal graduate certificate in Black studies.

The institute is committed to the interdisciplinary study of Africa and its diaspora. This program brings together historical, cultural, psychological, economic, and political approaches and perspectives to the study of people of African descent in the Atlantic world, including the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

This certificate can be tailored to focus on either the humanities or the social science and, once complete, becomes part of the student's record.


This program is open to any student enrolled in a master's or PhD program at the University of Rochester, as well as non-matriculated students who complete four or more courses, with at least two courses being graduate-level courses.



Students must successfully complete four graduate level courses in Black studies. At least two must be University of Rochester courses. Successful completion of the courses is determined by the departments or programs through which the courses are offered.


Students compile a portfolio that includes:

  • AAS coursework
  • Curriculum vitae
  • A statement detailing how their AAS studies has affected their writing, research, and teaching

The portfolio is submitted to and evaluated by the graduate advisor of the Frederick Douglass Institute.

Letter of Recommendation

Students must submit a letter of recommendation from the student's departmental advisor.

Programs of Study

Appropriate programs of study are developed in consultation with the graduate advisor. The graduate advisor mentors, or arranges mentorship for each graduate student to make sure that her/his program of study is coherent.


Course offerings will vary from year to year. What follows is a list of representative courses offered over the last few years. In addition to the graduate courses listed below, students may elect to do an independent study with a faculty member in some aspect of Black studies.

ENG 426: African American Writers
ENG 428: African American Drama
ENG 450: Representing Race in American Culture
ENG 543: The Africanist Presence in American Literature
ENG 545: Studies in African-American Literature and Culture
ENG 552: Post Colonial Theory

HIS 436: Plantation Societies in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
HIS 437: Plantation Societies in America in the Eighteen and Nineteenth

HIS 439: America at War: The Civil War and Reconstruction
HIS 440: The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom
HIS 444: North Africa and the Middle East in the Age of Imperialism
HIS 456: The Atlantic Slave Trade, 1650-1850
HIS 480: Topics in African-American History
HIS 485: Guns, War, and Revolution in Southern Africa
HIS 443: Race and the American City

Modern Languages and Cultures
CLT 422: Gender, Race and Immigration in Contemporary Western Europe

Political Science
POL 530: Urban Change and City Politics
POL 203: Twentieth-Century African-American Political Thought
POL 224: African American Politics
POL 525: Race and Political Representation

Visual and Cultural Studies Program
AH 405: Representing Differences
AH 488: Cross-cultural Representation
CLT 419: Contemporary Popular Film: Race and Gender
ENG 542: The African-American Postmodern
AH 468: Black Masculinities