Skip Navigation

MA Program Guidelines

Degree guidelines and helpful links for the Masters Program in African Studies at UCLA

General Information

Starting the MAAS Program

Getting Towards Graduation

General Information

Contact and Program Information

The Master of Arts Program in African Studies is supervised by an interdepartmental faculty committee appointed by the Dean of the Graduate Division. The current Chair of this committee and the Faculty Advisor is Allen Roberts of the World Arts and Cultures Department.

Questions regarding the MA in African Studies should be directed to (office: 10373 Bunche; 310-206-6571.)

The names and positions of other Program staff and faculty may be found in the current Directory of Africanist Faculty and Students published by the JSC African Studies Center.

The MAAS Program address is:

 African Studies Program
UCLA International Institute IDPs
Office of Academic Advising
10373 Bunche Hall, Mail Code 148703
Box 951487
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1487

Registration and Enrollment; Course Load; Transcripts

Students are advised to remain aware of all campus deadlines applicable to registration and enrollment (which appear in the CALENDAR section of the UCLA Schedule of Classes). Failure to meet stipulated deadlines can result, at minimum, in the levying of late fees or other fines.

All graduate students are required to be either registered and enrolled or on official leave of absence every academic term until their degree is awarded (Summer sessions excluded).

Students are advised to enroll in at least 12 units per quarter unless approval by the Faculty Advisor stipulates otherwise. An exception to this policy exists only for graduate students, near their time to degree, who may be eligible to pay a filing fee. Students should monitor their academic progress online via  and always check their records for accuracy. Any discrepancy should be immediately brought to the attention of the relevant faculty member.

Registration and Enrollment Procedure

All students can access their UCLA Billing Statement online through my.ucla which will alert them to all payment amounts due for each quarter (such as registration fees, fines, outstanding debts, financial awards, and refunds).

ENROLLMENT for all courses may be done online through my.ucla  before the stipulated deadlines. Some courses (such as most graduate level seminars) may require that the student submit a Permission to Enroll number (or "PTE") from the appropriate instructor before enrolling in a course. More detailed information about this procedure is also available through various Campus publications and from the Coordinator of Student Affairs.

Course Schedule

An MAAS Program PROJECTED COURSE LIST for each academic quarter will be distributed to every MAAS student prior to the beginning of each academic term. Each quarterly list will indicate courses that may be applied to MAAS degree requirements. The Faculty Advisor must check and approve all courses. Approval for enrollment in courses not appearing on this list must be obtained from the Program Chair/Faculty Advisor.

Course lists are always subject to change without prior notice and information (such as Course ID#s, class times & locations, and instructors) should always be verified by consulting the quarterly UCLA on line Schedule of Classes.

Starting the MAAS Program

Area of Concentration; Course/Degree Requirements

Besides satisfying a language requirement, a minimum of nine courses (36 units) are required for the Master's Degree (of which at least five must be graduate level, i.e., 200+ courses only).

These nine courses must be distributed as follows:

(1) African Studies 201A "Africa and Disciplines

(2) Area of Concentration

Comprised of a minimum of five courses of which at least three must be at the graduate level (200+). The other two courses may be either graduate level or upper division undergraduate courses (100+). In general, all major courses are from the same department (e.g., History or Political Science). There are some exceptions, i.e. Sociology and Anthropology may be taken as a combined major or Development Studies, involving courses from a variety of departments, may be considered a major. Other combined majors or changes in major must be approved by the Faculty Advisor. The Faculty Advisor must be kept informed of any alterations in the student's chosen area of concentration.

(3) Additional Courses

A minimum of three other courses outside the major area is required, of which two must be at the graduate level.

(4) Optional independent study; 500-level courses

All 500-level courses must be approved by the course instructor. No more than one "500-level Independent Study" Course may be applied toward the nine-course minimum degree requirement stipulated above. Additional 500-level courses are allowed by consent of the Faculty Advisor but cannot be applied toward course/degree requirements. [* Course IDs for enrolling in 500-level courses are obtained from the respective department's Main Office or from the instructor.]

Concurrent  Degree Programs

Those students enrolled in these Programs are subject to different and additional minimum course requirements. Concurrent students should consult with Program Advisors for scheduling and other details. For information on the Concurrent Program with Public Health, search the site, consult, or call 310-825-5516.


An "Incomplete" (appearing on the student transcript as an "I" rather than letter grade) indicates either that the student has not satisfied the minimum requirements for a given course or, alternatively (and rarely), indicates that the instructor (through prior agreement with the student) has allowed a temporary grade assignment of "Incomplete" to stand for one quarter and be immediately changed into a letter grade the following quarter (this typically occurs only with courses spanning more than a single quarter).  

Incomplete grades can become very serious!!! If the student fails to satisfy the required coursework by the end of the following quarter, their Incomplete Grade will revert to a Failing Grade of "F" (not easy, if at all possible, to later remove from the student's transcript).

In order to petition for any grade change or to remove an Incomplete grade, a form signed by the Chair/Faculty Advisor must be submitted to Graduate Division with a processing fee, supporting documentation, and an explanatory letter from the course instructor.

Foreign Language Requirement

In addition to minimum course requirements,  MAAS students are required to satisfy the African Area Studies Foreign Language Requirement before graduation by achieving elemetary proficiency in an African Language.   European languages spoken in Africa  may be substituted by petition to the chair. The Program Language Requirement may be satisfied in any one of the following two ways:

  1. Language Courses
    take three courses (12 units) in a single  African Language, Afrikaans, Arabic or Berber with an average of `B' or better (please note that language courses are not applied to the nine-course requirement). Approved Summer Language or Intensive Language courses may also be substituted. 
  2. Language Examination
    Demonstrate elementary proficiency in an examination with the African Languages Coordinator.

Getting towards graduation

Advancement to Candidacy; Forms

All graduate students must formally advance to candidacy prior to graduation.

Formal application should be filed no later than the second week of the quarter in which the degree is to be awarded.

All required forms may be obtained from the Coordinator of Student Affairs' office or from Graduate Division (1255 Murphy Hall). Besides the Petition to Advance to Candidacy, additional forms to be obtained and submitted during or near this time include: The "BLUE PETITION" (Language Requirement) and Examination Committee or Thesis Committee Nomination Form.

Additional forms for:

Plan 1: Comprehensive Exam

Plan 2: Thesis

Faculty Committees

The following instructions apply to both EXAM and THESIS options.

It is the student's choice and responsibility to decide whether they wish to satisfy their final degree requirement by writing a Master's Thesis or by taking a Program-administered Comprehensive Examination. It is likewise up to the student to select which faculty will serve on their committee but:

  1. Thesis and Exam Committees must be formally appointed via formal petition signed by all Committee Members and the MAAS Program Chair. [forms available from the Coordinator of Student Affairs]. An MA thesis prospectus must be submitted and approved by the Committee Chair at least two quarters prior to advancing to candidacy.
  2. The Committee Chair must be a faculty member from whom you have taken a graduate level course.
  3. At least two of the three faculty members (including the Chair) must be from the "Active Faculty List" (a maximum of one member may be a visiting professor or lecturer).
  4. at least two of the faculty (including the Chair) must be from the student's area of concentration.

These above stipulations apply to both Exam and Thesis Committee appointments but important procedural variations also appear below. Any exceptions to these stipulations must be pre-approved by the Program Chair.


1. Comprehensive Examination Plan (form)

Formal petitioning for the Exam option must be approved no later than the end of the second week of the student's final quarter of enrollment.

If you choose the Comprehensive Examination Plan you will be required to take a one-day written examination in your major area of concentration. It will be your responsibility to make arrangements for the examination details (e.g., approaching faculty members for inclusion on your Exam Committee, the obtainment of Committee member signatures, the scheduling of an exam date, etc.) but all decisions must be formally approved by the Program Chair.

If the student fails to pass this Exam, a later Exam must be rescheduled. Failure to pass the re-Exam can result in termination from the Program.

Students are advised to monitor the progress of these procedures by remaining in touch with members of their Committee and the Coordinator of Student Affairs. Failure to submit completed forms by Program deadlines, failure to reserve an examination date at least two weeks in advance, or failure to ensure that all Exam questions have been received by the Coordinator of Student Affairs at least five days prior to the examination may result in the Exam's postponement to the following academic quarter. (Any exceptions to the above must be pre-approved through the Program Chair/Faculty Advisor)

2.Thesis Plan (form)

Eligibility of faculty appointments to Exam Committees likewise applies to the nomination of Thesis Committees (see above).

It is the student's responsibility to formally appoint their Faculty Thesis Committee but all nominations must be approved in consultation with the MAAS Program Chair/Faculty Advisor. However, in addition to MAAS Program approval, your Thesis Committee must also be approved by Graduate Division and a formal petition (signed by all faculty Committee members and by the Program Chair/Faculty Advisor) must be obtained from the Coordinator of Student Affairs, completed, and submitted to Graduate Division (1255 Murphy) on or before stipulated deadlines. The Thesis must reflect the student's major discipline or emphasis and evaluation for its final approval will be at the discretion of your Faculty Thesis Committee. Consult the quarterly UCLA Schedule of Classes for all filing dates and deadlines.

Leave of Absence/Withdrawal

Students may formally petition to take a temporary LEAVE OF ABSENCE for not more than a total of two years (six quarters) during their graduate tenure (application may only be made for up to one year at a time.)

Any extensions must be formally approved via petition. Forms must be submitted for approval no later than the end of the second week of the quarter when you intend to make leave. The student's GPA must be a "B" average or better at the time.

Students must be on formal Leave of Absence during each quarter they are not fully registered and enrolled prior to graduation. Failure to be registered or on Leave of Absence prior to graduation will result in automatic dismissal from UCLA and MAAS Program!

Students wishing to officially WITHDRAW from the MAAS Program are advised to notify Graduate Division via formal petition. Failure to do so can result in the seizure of the student's Transcripts and Official Records and/or legal action by the University. (formal petitions for taking official Leave of Absence (and extensions) or withdrawing from the Program may be obtained from the Coordinator of Student Affairs)

Disqualification from the Program

Any recommendation of a student's disqualification from the African Area Studies Program will be made by the MAAS Program Chair and approved through Graduate Division. Disqualification may be recommended (though not necessarily automatic) for any of the following reasons:

  1. Failure of the student to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 throughout their time to degree.
  2. Failing to pass the Comprehensive Re-examination upon the second attempt.
  3. Insufficient progress toward the degree.
  4. Serious infractions of academic standards (such as plagiarism.)

Please note: disqualifications are extremely rare but not unknown.

Interdepartmental Degree Programs