Interested in pursuing the certificate?

Completing the certificate?

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. 

In the senior year, students complete the Certificate Requirements Checklist Form 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. 


Certificate Requirements

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)

1. 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.)

2. Social Science. Minimum of one course on Africa in the social sciences (i.e., Anthropology, Archeology, Economics, Geography, Political Science, Sociology).

3. 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 the level of the second year 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.

For more information about language study opportunities see Language Courses in the Five Colleges.

C. Further Stipulations:

1. No more than three courses in any one department or program may count toward the six required in Section A.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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:

1. 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.

Amherst College Study Abroad Office
Hampshire College Global Education Office
Mount Holyoke College McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives
Smith College Office for International Study
University of Massachusetts Amherst International Programs Office

2. Students are encouraged to complete their certificate program with an independent study project that integrates and focuses their course work in African studies.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why an African Studies Certificate?

On each of the campuses of the five college consortium, 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.

What does it take to get a certificate?

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, of course).

The African Studies Certificate is a Five College Program. What does that mean to me?

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."

Where to enroll in the certificate program: 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.

Certificate Program faculty advisor

With your African Studies advisor, you select courses to meet the certificate program requirements; when you complete those courses, the advisor recommends to the Five College African Studies Council that you receive the certificate, and your registrar notes on your transcript that you have completed the Five College African Studies Certificate Program. For the names of advisors, see the People page.