African American Studies

African American studies is a study of the racial, cultural, and ethnic perspectives and experiences of people of African heritage. The program helps students understand national and global views of African-Americans and Africans in order to determine how such views have affected perceptions of self, family and community.


Major in African American Studies

Students who major in African American studies at Saint Louis University develop new ways of conceptualizing issues related to race and culture. If you pursue this major, you will learn about the cultures and histories of people of African heritage, both in the United States and throughout the world.

Students in SLU's African American Studies program become knowledgeable about the African diaspora and are prepared to seek careers or professional programs where they can utilize knowledge in the design and implementation of programs for, and on behalf of, African Americans.

The African American studies interdisciplinary program complements many other majors offered at SLU, including degrees in communication, marketing, political science, psychology and social work. Our students also have unique academic opportunities — such as internships and field service projects in African American communities — to challenge themselves outside the classroom.


Students completing SLU's African American studies major take five courses to help them develop an understanding of the African diaspora, as well as its impact on contemporary African-American communities.

A total of 30 hours are required for completing SLU’s major in African American studies. Students are able to declare the major after passing either “AAM 2000: Introduction to African American Studies” or “AAM 2010: Contemporary Black America.”

  • AAM 2000: Introduction to African American Studies
  • AAM 2010: Contemporary Black America
  • AAM 4970: Research Methods  
  • AAM 4960: Capstone
Internships and Careers

Students who major in African American studies at SLU will be prepared to work in careers that design policy for, and on behalf of, African Americans, and to implement such programs. Career fields for SLU graduates with an African American studies degree include:

  • Advertising agent
  • Business manager
  • Community planner
  • Community relations
  • Copy editor  
  • Creative writer
  • Educator/professor
  • Health administrator
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Linguist
  • Psychologist
  • Sociologist
  • Policy analyst
  • Museum curator

SLU’s African American studies faculty members hold appointments in African American studies and joint appointments in various fields such as art history, history and political science.

  • Karla Scott, Ph.D., director
  • Olubukola Gbadegesin, Ph.D.
  • Chryl Laird, Ph.D.   
  • Jonathan C. Smith, Ph.D.    
  • Katrina Thompson, Ph.D.

Minor in African American Studies

SLU’s minor in African American studies introduces students to the African diaspora, as well as the impact, interrelationships and dynamics in contemporary African American communities.

Student Organization

Society of African American Studies

The Society of African American Studies serves as an advocacy group for the promotion of the discipline of African American studies. The organization expands the knowledge of the students in the program and gives the University community an opportunity to participate in dialogue and discussions that are relevant to the people of the African diaspora.

The Society of African American Studies also sponsors and coordinates Sankofa, an annual Afrocentric graduate recognition ceremony at SLU.