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Emory University Is Now Offering African-American Studies for PhD Students

Emory University Is Now Offering African-American Studies for PhD Students

This is the first program at a private university in the South!

The school that offered the first undergraduate African-American studies program in 1971 is now rolling out a new African-American Studies doctoral program. This program has been in the works for half of a decade; thanks to Emory University's faculty Carol Anderson, Dianne Stewart, and Walter Rucker, it's officially here and aims to produce students who can translate their studies while in any field or walk of life. 

Historian and former chair of the department Carol Anderson stated, “What is so powerful about this PhD program is that it not only trains scholars but also trains people to work outside the academy so that they can bring that expertise to public policy positions, to cultural arts positions, to NGOs.” This program is the first in the Southeast and the first at a private university in the South. 


Students will be engaging in theoretical conversations and debates that are happening now, including topics like, “What does it mean to train for a PhD in African-American studies?” or “What does it mean to become a public scholar?” The affiliated faculty is coming from all types of backgrounds such as anthropology, art history, comparative literature, creative writing, educational studies, English, history, music, political science, and many other specializations. 

Professor of African-American Studies and History and chair of the faculty committee that shepherded the program, Walter Rucker, said, “We want to make sure we pour as much mentoring and advising as we can into each student. The program will include professional development workshops that are created and orchestrated by the program’s core faculty. We want to make sure that students have real engagement with alternative career pathways from the very beginning.”

Samuel Candler Dobbs, Professor of Religion and African-American Studies, and interim chair of the department Dianne Stewart stated one of the programs goals is “to translate our vision in such a way that would feature our program’s distinctiveness as well as its integral contributions to Emory’s Laney Graduate School and the wider landscape of African-American studies PhD programs across the nation.”

They’re currently accepting applications for the Fall 2023 semester. Students have the option of choosing one of three fields: gender and sexuality, social justice and social movements or expressive arts and cultures.

Interim dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences Carla Freeman stated, “I couldn’t be more excited or more proud that we are launching our African American studies PhD program. Our faculty have invested years of strategic planning, imagination and bold ambition to develop the curriculum and recruit top scholar-teachers working across the humanities and social sciences in this vibrant interdisciplinary field.”

Photo: Emory College