Africana Studies Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Africana Studies

Program Description

The Graduate Field of Africana Studies at Cornell University established the first Ph.D. program in Africana Studies in New York State in Fall 2013. The Africana Studies Ph.D. program is a small and high quality program designed to expand knowledge production about peoples of African descent and to train future generations of scholars who will deepen and refine the field.

An interdisciplinary field of study, Africana Studies embraces the study of people of African ancestry on the African continent and in the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America and the broader diaspora. Toward that end, it is at the forefront of scholarship that both transcends disciplinary fields and brings more powerful explanatory value to issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. Accordingly, since its inception, Africana Studies has profoundly shaped research and discourse in the humanities and social sciences by altering traditional epistemologies and methodologies. Africana Studies has historically resisted the confines of national borders in its analyses. The rise of the nation‐state is a recent historical development in world history, and because boundaries and borders are permeable in the transmission of art, dance, music, and literature, scholars do not confine the field spatially or temporally in examining the dynamics of change for peoples of African ancestry. As a result, Africana Studies helps students to appreciate cultural and epistemological diversity, multidimensionality, multiple perspectives, and interconnectivity, which are essential for higher education and its production of knowledge and for the world in the 21st Century.

Indeed, the diversity of the Cornell University's college system, its strengths in the traditional disciplines and its strong support and encouragement of interdisciplinary work provides students an ideal environment in which to pursue graduate training in this field. Moreover, Cornell now has a critical mass of scholars in the Humanities, Visual and Expressive Culture and Social

Sciences whose work collectively sits on the cutting edge of Africana Studies. Furthermore, our faculty offers regional expertise in Africa, the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America allowing us to offer a Ph.D. program that is multi-disciplinary and transnational.

The Ph.D. program in Africana Studies augments Cornell University’s mission to discover, preserve, and disseminate knowledge. Cornell’s world class libraries makes it possible for its faculty and students to carry out the University’s mission. Important collections on Africa and the diaspora are housed across the nineteen units of the University Library system. In addition, the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library at the Africana Studies and Research Center and its collection of [21,100] volumes focuses on the social and political dimensions of the history and culture of peoples of African ancestry.

We seek to enroll students who share the Cornell’s mission and have demonstrated strong research, written and analytical skills either through the completion of an undergraduate thesis or a Master’s degree in the humanities and social sciences. Although the cohort each year will be small, three to four students, we will recruit nationally and internationally for the best students.

Successful applicants will help satisfy the future demand for scholars with the rigorous intellectual training that Africana Studies offers. Graduates of this Ph.D. program entering the field of Higher Education will be entering a vibrant and growing labor market for doctorates in Africana Studies. Students with doctoral degrees in Africana Studies will be equally prepared to work in a variety of fields from business to the government.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-4625

Africana Studies & Research Ctr.
310 Triphammer Road
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • Africana studies
  • cultural, literary, and visual analysis
  • historical, political, and social analysis


Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, January 15; no spring admissions

Requirements Summary:

Learning Outcomes

Make an original and substantial contribution to the field

  • Think originally and independently to develop concepts and methodologies
  • Identify new research opportunities within the field

Demonstrate advanced research skills

  • Demonstrate proficiency in language
  • Master application of existing research methods and techniques
  • Communicate in a style appropriate to the discipline

Demonstrate professional skills and commitment to the values of scholarship

  • Listen, give, and receive feedback effectively
  • Show commitment to professional development and knowledge transfer

Complete degree in a timely fashion (5 years)