African American Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study—this does not mean a simple mixing or borrowing of traditional disciplines but rather that we operate OUTSIDE or BEYOND fields like History, Psychology, or Literature. Courses in the major consider the United States, Africa, and the global dispersal of persons of African descent including the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe. We offer a liberal arts education that develops skills in critical thinking, research methods, theory building, analysis, and written and oral expression. The African American Studies major is excellent preparation for careers in public service, including health care, social work, and education; government; the arts; and media. Many of our students have successfully pursued advanced training in law, medicine, dentistry, library science, and other professional fields. Our majors also go on to graduate programs in disciplines such as History and Sociology, or in interdisciplinary programs including African American Studies, Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, and American Studies.

Our Students

student holding flowers and award

“Why did I choose this field? Well, why not? I desire for my community to know more about themselves and their history… My goal in life is to make a difference in peoples’ lives. Whether I plant a seed, water it, or watch it grow, I want to be impactful. Wow, I should’ve changed my major a long time ago.”

Learn more about Jon-Tel’s story.

Jon-Tel Carter  |  AAST Major and Recipient of 2018 Grace Holt Honorable Mention
student posing for photo

“I decided to pursue the minor in African American Studies because today seems to be a watershed point in African American history, and knowing and understanding how those who came before us processed and respond to moments like these will help us deal with them.”

Hear more about Canisha’s experience.

Canisha Russ  |  AAST Minor and Promise Prize Scholar

Our Faculty

Helen Jun profile picture

“I think the current political moment has made it more important than ever that students feel connected to each other and to the department. At a commuter campus, it can be tough for students to feel anchored at UIC, however, I’m hoping that we can mobilize the urgency that many students are feeling to create new opportunities for connection and engagement.”

View Professor Jun’s profile.

Helen Jun  |  Associate Professor of English and AAST; Associate Head of AAST