What can I do with a Bachelor of Arts in African and African Diaspora Studies?

African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) is relevant to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, or gender. Students learn to view complex situations from multiple perspectives; synthesize known information and hypothesize about the unknown; apply lessons from the past to problems of the present, and critique current and past practices.

In doing so, the African and African Diaspora Studies major and minor prepare students for a wide range of careers and equips them with skills desired in many professional arenas: critical thinking, oral and written communication, problem-solving, research, and leadership.

The major also provides students with a foundation for graduate studies in African & African Diaspora/Africana/Black/African American Studies, as well as disciplines like economics, political science, sociology, history, English, anthropology, and communication.*

Listen and watch alumni reflect on the AADS experiences that were influential in their career paths and provide useful advice for current students.

Elijah Nicks, Science Teacher at Believers in Christ Christian Academy

Geraud Blanks, Chief Innovation Officer at Milwaukee Film

Rachael Harris, Account Executive at DSplus

Teonna Cooksey, Graduate Student at Columbia University and Racial Equity & Climate Resilience Planning Fellow at The City of Racine

Career Areas/Job Titles

Business, Management, Industry, and Labor
Entrepreneur, Cultural Resources Management, Human Resources, Union Arbitration, and Leadership

Communication & Media
Journalist, Media Relations Specialist, Linguist Interpreter

High School Teacher, Administrator, Professor, Student Affairs, Intercultural Relations Director, Chief Diversity Officer

Peace Corps, Americorp, Program Administration, Policy Analysis, Human Rights Commissioner, Family/Child Advocate Work, Case Management, Therapeutic Behavioral Specialist, and Community Outreach

Government, Law, and Politics
Foreign Service Specialist, Political Analyst, Public Administration, State and Local Government, Civil Service Work, Community Urban Planning, Public Affairs and Policy,  Civil Services, Immigration Law, Civil Rights Law, Deputy District Attorney, Mediator, Legal Analysis.

Medicine & Health
Physician, Surgeon, Veterinarian, Dentist, Public Health Administrator, Health and Disease Researcher, Health Equity Coordinator

Graduate School
*AADS offers graduate degrees at the MA & PhD levels.

Notable Black Studies Majors

  • Tatyana Alie, Actress (“Fresh Prince of Bel Air), model, and R&B singer. (BA, Harvard)
  • Angela Bassett, award-winning actress. (BA in African-American Studies from Yale University)
  • Rakim H. D. Brooks, Rhodes Scholar and C. Edwin Baker Fellow in Democratic Values at Demos. (BA in Africana Studies from Brown University.
  • Rashida Bumbry, Director of Artistic Affairs at the Duke Ellington School of Arts. (BA, Oberlin College, MA, NYU [both degrees in African American Studies)
  • Megan L. Comfort, Senior Research Sociologist, Urban Health Program at RTI International and Adjunct Asst Professor of Medicine, UCSF. (BA in Black Studies from Wellesley College)
  • Michael Datcher, Award-winning poet and journalist who has made numerous TV and radio appearances. Author of Raising Fences: A Black Man’s Love Story (2001). (M.A., UC-Berkeley)
  • L. Divine, Author of 15 popular novels, set in high school, aimed at black young adult (teenage) female readers. (M.A. and M.Ed at UCLA)
  • Charles Dumas, Actor, director, and theater professor at Penn State. Appeared in several popular Hollywood movies and is seen on such TV shows as “Law & Order.” B.A., State University of New York-New Platz. J.D., Yale University)
  • Jendayi Frazer, Distinguished Professor, Carnegie Mellon University and former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.. (BA in African and Afro-American Studies & Political Science from Stanford University.)
  • Brian L. Harper, Medical Director and COO of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention. (BA in Afro-American Studies & Biology from Brown University.)
  • Marsha Jackson-Randolph, Show Director at Walt Disney World (B..A., Smith College, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa)
  • Antwan Jamison, Pro basketball star (Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, et al.), broadcaster (Time Warner Cable SportNet). (B.A., the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Mae Jemison, Physician and NASA astronaut on the Endeavor in 1992. (BA in Afro-American Studies from Stanford University)
  • Myesha Jenkins Award-winning poet residing in Johannesburg, South Africa. Anti-apartheid activist and feminist. (B.A., the University of California at Riverside)
  • Eugenie J. Joo, Curator and Director of Art and Cultural Programs at Instituto Inhotim in Brumadinho, Brazil. Formerly contemporary art curator at the New Museum in New York City. Winner of the 2006 Walter Hopp Award for Curatorial Achievement (B.A., Vassar College. Ph.D., University of California-Berkeley)
  • Isissa Komada-John, Exhibition Director for the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn New York. (B.A., Brown University)
  • Do Kim, Civil rights attorney & founder of the Korean American Youth Leadership Program. (BA in Afro-American Studies & Sociology from Harvard University)
  • Yolanda King, Actress-instructor. Daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. Taught theater at Fordham University and acted in stage productions across the country.(B.A., Smith College)
  • Sanaa Lathan, Award-winning Hollywood actress. Played the female lead role in the movie “Out of Time’ (2003) starring Denzel Washington and has appeared in episodes of television’s “Nip/Tuck.”(B.A., UC-Berkeley. M.A., Yale School of Drama)
  • Aaron McGruder, Cartoonist, writer and creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip “The Boondocks.” (BA in African-American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park)
  • Gloria Naylor, Educator and novelist. Winner of the National Book Award in 1983 for The Women of Brewster Place. (MA in Afro-American Studies from Yale University)
  • Jill Nelson, Novelist, freelance journalist and former staff writer at the Washington Post. Winner of the America Book Award for her memoir, Volunteer Slavery (1993). She is Professor of Journalism at the City College of New York.B.A., City College of New York. (M.A., Columbia School of Journalism)
  • Michelle Obama, attorney and Former First Lady of the United States. (BA in Sociology with a minor in African-American Studies from Princeton University)
  • Richard W. Roberts, US District Court Judge for Washington DC. (BA in Black Studies & Political Science from Vassar College0
  • Andre De Shield, Actor, director, narrator, labor union activist, adjunct professor. Has appeared in a number of movies, television shows, and stage shows. He has won an Emmy and been nominated for a Tony Award. Has honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin. (M.A., New York University)
  • Jerry Stackhouse, NBA-TV analyst and former basketball star with several pro basketball teams, including the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons (B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Myshell C. Tabu,Graphic designer for the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, former owner of Myshell Tabu Designs, actress, dancer. (B.A., California State University at Dominguez Hills)
  • Claudia Thomas, author and first black female orthopedic surgeon in the U.S. (BA in Black Studies from Vassar College)
  • Bill Whitaker, CBS news correspondent based in Los Angeles. (M.A., Boston University)

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