African Studies is an interdisciplinary technique in deciphering the African way of life and its diaspora. With Africa being the second-largest continent in the world and having a population of over 1.3 billion, it’s without a doubt that much learning can be derived from their experiences. The diversity and rich history of the region make it all the more interesting. Due to the region’s size and geographical divisions, diverse languages, cultures, and traditions were developed.

In the 1960s, African students and their supporters challenged the traditional educational system for its lack of teachings on Africa. This protest led to an awakening, where more questions, critiques, and contemporary ways of thinking emerged. Consequently, further innovations in the curricula of liberal arts and humanistic disciplines were made. It also broadened the perspective of many by challenging the stereotypes and false beliefs about Africans.

The African Studies program explores multiple disciplines to understand the complex and vast realities of Africa – its culture, history, language, economy, politics, and religion. They will gain an overall better understanding of Africa and African peoples from a global perspective.

Students of the program will gain advanced research skills and linguistic proficiency. They will also actively use and develop their written and oral communication skills, as they are expected to initiate dialogue on relevant issues and ideas involving African descent. Through this scholarly work, students gain interdisciplinary analytical and critical thinking skills.

African Studies programs are offered by several schools, which range from undergraduate to postgraduate studies. Also, it is sometimes combined with other international studies or disciplines for a more integrated approach. Opportunities in both private and public sectors await African Studies graduates, and some career paths include public relations, international trade, human resources, journalism, and research.

Below, we talk about some of the best schools to study African Studies across the world.

Top African Studies Schools in the World

1. Brown University

Brown University is one of the leading schools for African Studies, and its program explores Africa’s history, community, politics, among others. To earn an undergraduate degree, students are required to finish nine semesters.

The graduate program for a Ph.D. in Africana Studies spans a period of five years, which is geared towards establishing recognizable contributions, theories, and methods in the field. The school also has an open master’s program, which Brown University students who belong to other areas of study can enroll in.

2. University of California, Los Angeles

The African Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has been in the industry for 60 years, making it one of the oldest academic centers in the United States. They offer academic programs in African Studies and African and Middle Eastern Studies, wherein students are expected to have intermediate proficiency in any associated modern foreign language upon graduation.

An M.A. and joint degree program with Public Health are also available for more in-depth knowledge and research on African studies.

3. Yale University

One of the first schools to include African Studies in their curriculum is Yale University, an institution that is also known as one of the best for African Studies. They are committed to better understanding African realities through their degree programs and publicly offered scholarly activities. With this, they’ve built an outstanding library collection for robust scholarly references. The school conducts Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs in African Studies, along with joint degree programs in partnership with other departments.

Yale is also renowned for its African Languages program which includes Swahili, Yoruba, Zulu, to name a few. Their summer program also allows students to learn more about these languages and conduct research while they are based in Africa.

4. SOAS University of London

SOAS University of London is a great school to study African Studies, with an undergraduate degree that can be completed in either three or four years. Students will spend one year at a partner school in Africa such as Kenyatta University to gain advanced competency in the culture and language of Swahili.

Meanwhile, the postgraduate degrees are also comprehensive with a focus on language ability and cultural understanding. Aside from Africa, the school has expertise in other regions like the Middle East and Asia, which gives students a more holistic and global perspective when they complete their course.

5. Columbia University

Columbia University offers an undergraduate Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies program, wherein students get to choose if they want to study all these regions combined or focus on only one region. The African Studies track particularly focuses on African civilization, culture, literature, history, and language.

On the other hand, graduate students of this top-notch African Studies institution are also encouraged to enroll in the school’s graduate certificate in African Studies, which will give them more insight into their humanities and social science programs.

6. New York University

New York University’s excellent African Studies program is committed to examining the political, social, and economic life of Africans around the world. Undergraduate students can major or minor in this field, by completing nine or five courses respectively. Qualified students may also register in the school’s Honors Program, which grants them the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of a faculty member and graduate with distinction.

In addition, a master’s degree in African Studies is available at NYU, which consists of a wide curriculum that can be combined with Economics, Museum Studies, and Journalism. Aside from its academic programs, NYU is also home to top-notch and multi-disciplinary research on Africa and its Diaspora.

7. Cornell University

Students can apply for undergraduate and doctoral degrees at Cornell University as it is recognized as one of the best universities for African studies. Its Ph.D. program is also fully funded with health insurance and allowance. These programs aim to instill awareness, creativity, and mental discipline in preparation for their chosen professional careers.

Meanwhile, the university’s faculty consists of experts in different areas like anthropology, sociology, and literature, making them a good resource for scholarship in the field. They are also known for their global studies on African popular culture, and the relationship of race to sexuality, giving students more opportunities for learning and dialogue.


Hopefully, this article on the best African studies schools around the world was helpful. If you are interested in learning more, check out the Available Programs for International Students