"We're not just a group of scholars who happen to be located in one place; we're a real community of people who share a vision for making Africa better known and better understood."
-- Rowland Abiodun, Amherst College
The Five College Certificate in African Studies offers students an opportunity to pursue an interest in African studies as a complement to any academic major.
Drawing on the expertise and courses offered by more than 50 faculty members across the five campuses, students pursuing the Five College African Studies certificate work closely with a faculty advisor to plan a uniquely tailored course of study.
On This Page
Black Studies; Art and Art Studies
Office: 107 Cooper House
Telephone: (413) 542-5801
English; Black Studies
Office: 102 Cooper House
Telephone: (413) 542-5832
Five College Center for the Study of World Lanuages
79 South Pleasant Street, Suite 100
Telephone: (413) 559-5264
History; Black Studies
Office: 25 Chapin Hall
Telephone: (413) 542-2032
Office: 109 Cooper House
Telephone: (413) 542-5516
Anthropology, Literary Arts, and African Studies
Office: Writing Center
Office: Franklin Patterson Hall
Office: Skinner Hall 123
Telephone: (431) 538-2495
Students interested in the Five College African Studies Certificate should contact one of the African Studies faculty members on their campus and submit a Student Interest Form as soon as possible to begin planning course work. With your African Studies advisor, you select courses to meet the certificate program requirements.
In the senior year, students complete the Certificate Completion Form (below) in consultation with a program advisor on their campus, attaching an unofficial transcript acquired from the registrar. On the recommendation of the campus advisor, certificate requirements are reviewed and approved by a committee composed of program advisors from each of the five campuses.
A. Six courses, chosen from at least four different departments, programs, or disciplines. The six courses should carry a total of at least 18 credits. Of the six courses, not more than two may carry less than two credits. The content of each course should be at least 50% devoted to Africa per se.
Historical Overview. Minimum of one course providing historical perspective on Africa. Not limited to courses offered in History. (Normally the course should offer at least a regional perspective.)
Social Science. Minimum of one course on Africa in the social sciences (i.e., Anthropology, Archeology, Economics, Geography, Political Science, Sociology).
Arts and Humanities. Minimum of one course on Africa in the fine arts and humanities (i.e., Art, Folklore, History, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Religion).
B. Language Requirement: Proficiency through two semesters in college in an indigenous or colonial language of Africa other than English. This requirement may be met by examination or course work; such language courses may not count toward the six courses required in Section A.
No more than three courses in any one department or program may count toward the six required in Section A.
A certificate candidate may present courses taken in Africa, but normally at least three of the required courses must be taken in the Five Colleges.
A candidate must earn a grade of B or better in every course for the certificate; none may be taken on a pass/fail basis.
Unusual circumstances may warrant substituting certificate requirements; therefore a candidate through her/his African Studies Faculty Advisor may petition the Faculty Liaison Committee (the Five College committee of certificate program advisors) at least one full semester before graduation for adjustments in these requirements. A successful petition will satisfy the interdisciplinary character of the certificate program.
D. Recommended Actions:
Students are encouraged to spend one semester or more in Africa. Information about study abroad and other opportunities is available through the international program office at each campus.
Students are encouraged to complete their certificate program with an independent study project that integrates and focuses their course work in African studies.
Note that if you don't see classes from all campuses currently listed, they will appear as the campuses release their course schedules for the semester. The five campuses release their schedules on different dates. Visit this page for specific dates.
African Languages offered by the Five College Center for World Languages
Beginning, intermediate, and advanced courses are available every semester. Courses include individual tutorials and small group conversation sessions. Sessions meet on all five campuses and are individually scheduled. Instructor: Dr. Agnes Kimokoti (pictured).
Supervised independent study courses. Beginning and intermediate courses are available. Courses include small group conversation sessions led by native/fluent conversation partners. Sessions meet on the home campus of the conversation partner and are individually scheduled. The availability of languages may vary, and other languages may be added.
Supervised independent study courses. Prerequisite: Two semesters of Modern Standard Arabic or the equivalent. Courses include small group conversation sessions led by native/fluent conversation partners. Sessions meet on the home campus of the conversation partner and are individually scheduled.
On each of the campuses of the five college consortium (except Hampshire College), all students are required to develop a major in one particular field and then to complement that with courses drawn from other subjects. Often, the choice of those other courses is dictated by college requirements or by what is available at particular times. The African Studies Certificate Program is not another major, but it represents an important way for students to bring intellectual coherence to selecting courses outside their own majors. Further, by focusing intensely on the continent of Africa, students develop a keen appreciation of the rich connections between history, politics, economics, cultures, and the humanities.
Those students in the past who have earned the certificate point with pride and satisfaction to having selected a group of courses whose focus is Africa, and they have found the possession of the certificate to be a distinct advantage for getting into graduate school or for employment.
You will need to complete at least 18 credits in various courses which focus on Africa, and you need to demonstrate that you have a working knowledge of a language of Africa either indigenous or official (other than English).
No campus of the Five Colleges has sufficient teaching resources on Africa to enable you to complete the certificate program, but taken together, the five campuses provide one of the richest resources of African Studies expertise and courses anywhere in America. You will likely need to take courses on at least one campus other than your own in order to complete the certificate program.
Since the mid-1980s, faculty in the Five Colleges with Africa interests have been part of the Five College African Studies Council which coordinates offerings of Africa-related courses, supports the certificate program, and plans seminars, study-in-Africa opportunities, and visits to the area by African scholars and artists. One of the more significant achievements of the Council has been the development and management of the certificate program as a way to strengthen the intellectual accomplishments of students.
When you graduate, having completed your baccalaureate degree, your official transcript will say, "Completed the requirements for the Five College African Studies Certificate."
Each campus has African Studies Certificate Program faculty advisors who will help you set up your own personalized certificate program. There is no formal admissions process to the certificate program; all you need to do is to declare with a faculty African Studies advisor on your campus your intent to complete the certificate program and to submit the African Studies Certificate Student Interest Form. Characteristically, students take one or two courses on Africa and then decide to complete the program with course selection advice from an African Studies advisor.
Patrick Mensah, Associate Professor of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, UMass Amherst
Nathalie (Nell) Arnold, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Literary Arts and African Studies, Hampshire College