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Coterminal Bachelor's and Master of Arts in African Studies

The one-year master's program in African Studies is designed for students who have experience working, living, or studying in Africa, and little prior course work on the region.

Undergraduates at Stanford may apply for admission to the coterminal master's program in African Studies. Coterminal degree applications will only be accepted from students in their fourth year, meaning that the program must be completed in the fifth year. An exception can only be made for students who completed an honors thesis in their third year. For University coterminal degree program rules and application forms, see Requirements for the master's degree are summarized below.

The annual deadline for all applications, including coterminal and master's, is January 8. All applicants must submit an online application, including a 500-word statement of purpose, resume, 15-20 page double-spaced academic writing sample, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and Graduate Record Examination scores. TOEFL scores are required of applicants for whom English is not their first language or who did not attend an undergraduate institution where English is the language of instruction. To apply online and for information on graduate admissions, see


University requirements for the master's degree are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin. A description of the M.A. program is also available from the Center or at

The program requires completion of a minimum of 45 graduate units. Upon entering, each student is assigned a faculty adviser who works with the student to develop a customized program of study.

To receive the M.A. degree in African Studies, students must complete:

  1. Core Courses (15 units): students must complete the core African Studies M.A. course, AFRICAST 301, Dynamics of Change in Africa, in Autumn Quarter. Students elect two additional graduate courses taught by African Studies academic council members and drawn from a list of approved courses. Students must also complete AFRICAST 302, Research Workshop, in Spring Quarter, in which they present and discuss their research and research interests.
  2. Cognate Courses (10 units): a minimum of 10 units of graduate-level credit in two cognate courses from the following thematic clusters not chosen as the student's concentration field: culture and society; health, well-being, and the environment; and political economy and security.
  3. Concentration Field (12-15 units): students choose one area of specialization (culture and society; health, well-being, and the environment; or political economy and security), and a group of three related elective courses for graduate credit from the cognate course listings or elsewhere in the Stanford curriculum in consultation with the student's adviser and with the approval of the CAS director. With approval, introductory courses may be substituted in fields such as advanced undergraduate biology for those interested in epidemic diseases or public health. The academic adviser, in agreement with faculty in the chosen field, guarantees that each set of courses forms part of a coherent program.
  4. Language Requirement: students take one year of training in an African language, usually at least 3 units per quarter, resulting in intermediate-level proficiency as measured by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) or comparable language acquisition standards. Students who have advanced proficiency in an African language must fulfill this requirement by taking another European language spoken in Africa, such as French or Portuguese, by taking another African language to the intermediate-level, or by taking a year-long sequence in Arabic. Students with competency in one or more African languages and one or more other languages widely spoken in Africa, may substitute a program of methodological training including, for example, a sequence of courses in statistics or GIS survey techniques.
  5. Seminar Requirement: students enroll each quarter in AFRICAST 300, Contemporary Issues in African Studies, 1 unit, in which guest scholars present lectures on African themes and topics.
  6. Thesis Option: students may elect to write a master's thesis; they may register for up to 10 units of thesis research under the guidance of an Academic Council member. Thesis units may be counted toward the electives within the concentration field unit requirements.
  7. Grade Requirements: courses to be counted toward the degree, except for AFRICAST 300, must be taken for a letter grade and receive a grade of 'B' or higher.

In addition to AFRICAST courses, the following courses offered in other departments may be used to fulfill optional requirements. To meet requirements for the master's degree, students must take courses at the graduate level which are typically at least at the 200 level.

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