African Studies Certificate

Since the founding of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in 1887, Penn has been actively involved in research on Africa and its place in human history. This interest was formalized in 1942 with the initiation of an African Studies program devoted mainly to the languages of Africa. The program was revitalized in the 1980s with a new curriculum and full schedule of lectures, events and educational programs run by Africanists from throughout the world who highlighted all aspects of Africa, its people and its languages.

The African Studies Center now brings together a multi-disciplinary group of researchers and scholars whose work focuses on every region of the continent. They enable students to pursue Africanist training through such disciplines as anthropology, sociology, history, linguistics, political science, demography, folklore, literature (English and French), history and sociology of science, music and religious studies.

The vitality of this intellectual community has prompted interest among scholars around the United States and across the world to pursue graduate degrees in African Studies at Penn.

The African Studies certificate, as part of the MLA Program, is designed to meet the academic interests of:

  • those wishing to supplement preparation in a particular discipline with multidisciplinary, graduate-level training in African Studies
  • recent college graduates who wish to work in fields in which knowledge of Africa is significant
  • educators who wish to add African subjects to their classroom teaching
  • those working in professions who have interests in international careers in business, health, development, human rights and other policy fields


  • Two courses in an African language
  • An MLA Proseminar
  • Two Africa-focused courses
  • Three elective courses from the MLA curriculum
  • The African Studies Seminar, AFST 710 (in which students will complete a Capstone Project)

Application Procedure

Students wishing to pursue a certificate in African Studies Certificate through the Master of Liberal Arts Program should complete an MLA Application.

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