African American Studies examine the unique experiences of African-descended people living in the North American colonies and the United States from the 17th century to today.

Why Iowa?

Iowa’s African American Studies Program features a broad-based curriculum and faculty who specialize in a wide range of topics. Because it is a small program, there are many opportunities for individualized attention.

The department formed in 1969 with courses intended to foster awareness of the role of African Americans in the development of the United States. Courses also were designed to promote understanding of the conditions and concerns of African Americans. Since then, the curriculum has grown and has become more comprehensive.

Admission Requirements

Students in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


African American Studies
African American Studies
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 

The African American Studies major provides valuable background for careers in a diverse society in areas such as community work, public school teaching, religion, government, political science, and law. Some graduates go on to advanced study, many preparing for work as teachers and administrators at colleges and universities.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 Study Abroad Programs and multiple Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

The African American Studies Program sponsors activities that enrich the community’s social, cultural, and intellectual experiences, such as the Darwin Turner Action Theatre, a social outreach group that focuses on African American dramatic literature.

The Afro-American Cultural Center serves as a museum and library of educational and cultural artifacts and exhibits of Black culture, providing enrichment and knowledge aimed at promoting interracial understanding. 

The center offers programs and services to meet the needs of African American Studies majors, including conferences, workshops, forums, film series, and discussion groups; private meeting rooms; study areas; computers; a library; employment listings; and social areas.

The African American Studies Program alerts students to study abroad opportunities of special interest, including Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and Mexico. 


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college.

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships. 


To gain a broad understanding of the African American experience, students are required to pursue courses in the humanities, social sciences, and performing arts. 

The curriculum begins with two introductory courses: Foundations in African American Studies and either Introduction to African American Society (for students with a social science focus) or Introduction to African American Culture (for those with a humanities focus).

Two courses are required in each of these core areas, in addition to some elective courses:

  • History, Religion, and the Diaspora
  • Literature and Performing Arts
  • Media, Politics, and Social Institutions

All students who wish to earn a bachelor's degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must complete the GE CLAS Core requirements. 

To learn more about course requirements and graduating with honors, view African American Studies in the UI General Catalog.