Degree Requirements

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

Starting the MAAS Program

Getting Towards Graduation

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) Five Courses in Student's 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 two  "500-level Independent Study" (8 units) courses may be applied toward the nine-course minimum degree requirement stipulated above.  Only one of the 500-level course (4 units)  may be applied toward the minimum five graduate courses required for the M.A. degree.

Except for 500-series courses, University regulations indicate that a student in an interdepartmental degree program may not apply courses taken on an S/U grading basis toward the master's degree.

Concurrent  Degree Program: African Studies MA/Public Health MPH

The African Studies program and the School of Public Health offer a concurrent program whereby students can pursue the MA degree in African Studies and the MPH with a specialization in Community Health Sciences at the same time. The 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,  or call 310-825-5516.

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 elementary 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: Language Petition 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].
  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 chosen  from the African Studies program's Faculty list.  (a maximum of one member does not have to be included on the  list, however, has to be UCLA ladder faculty).
  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.

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.

Published: Tuesday, September 12, 2017