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Author Dorothy West wrote, “To know how much there is to know is the beginning of learning to live.”

As an MSU Denver Africana Studies major, you will come to learn “how much there is to know” about the global African experience — and in the process, come to understand more about the world and how you want to contribute to it.

By combining the study of history, literature and the social sciences with a focus on Black communities worldwide, MSU Denver’s Africana Studies program will illuminate the profound influences people of African descent have had on civilization. As part of your in-depth exploration of Africana Studies, you will complete a capstone research course/seminar, receive opportunities for internships, travel study and relevant campus leadership experiences.

The MSU Denver Africana Studies program is one of only two in Colorado. Designed to prepare you to be a citizen of a multicultural, connected world, your Africana Studies major will help equip you with the intellectual skills and professional foundation to pursue graduate studies or start a career. You can also incorporate your Africana Studies major into Elementary Education or Secondary Teacher Licensure.

Learn about Urban League of Metropolitan Denver scholarships for Africana Studies students.

Program Options

As an MSU Denver Africana Studies student, you can choose from the following programs:

B.A. in Africana Studies

Minor in Africana Studies

Benefits of Earning Your Degree at MSU Denver

An MSU Denver education emphasizes experiential learning as well as academics. As an Africana Studies major you can take advantage of the following:

The Gullah Experience: This travel-study course offers you the opportunity to experience the Gullah culture in South Carolina’s Sea Islands.

Sankofa Lecture Series: Hosted every fall by the Africana Studies Department, the Sankofa Lecture Series explores the global Africana world and how it is connected and influenced by the past and present. Selected scholars and activists from the African continent and the African Diaspora examine the Sankofian philosophy of returning to the past so as to understand the present.

Ethiopia Study Abroad Program: Study abroad in Africa. MSU Denver has a partnership with Aksum University in Ethiopia and is working on developing additional study abroad programs in Dominican Republic, Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Internships: Complete an internship in the Denver community. Africana Studies students have interned at SCOPE International and local community organizations such as the African Community Centre in Denver.

Annual Black World Conference: Hosted by the Africana Studies Department, the conference brings scholars, authors, luminaries and community members together to shed light on issues of concern to Black communities worldwide.

Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship: The Noel Professorship brings noted artists and scholars to MSU Denver to teach, perform and/or lecture on campus and in the Denver community. Past Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professors include author Iyanla Vanzant, pianist Billy Taylor and Harvard Professor Cornel West.

Student activities: Participate in student organizations like the African Student Union, Black Student Alliance, the Ngaathaje Development Project and Support Africa Empowerment Foundation International (SAFI).

Career Opportunities for Our Graduates

four images of students on campus, dancing, painting and enjoying themselves

MSU Denver Africana Studies program graduates can pursue a range of careers such as:

  • Artist
  • Attorney
  • Community organizer
  • Education administrator
  • Health services administrator
  • Human rights worker
  • Journalist
  • K-12 teacher
  • Librarian
  • Museum curator
  • Nurse
  • Nutritionist
  • Peace Corps worker
  • Physician
  • Politician
  • Social worker
  • Business owner

Hear from our students:

“My experience as an Africana Studies major has both met and exceeded my expectations. I have been privileged to study alongside fellow students who are in pursuit of both academic excellence and solutions to some of the world’s most vexing problems. I have been privileged to study under instructors who are not only professional, but who have challenged me to grow academically, personally and even spiritually.”

Leigh Kirkeeide, MSU Denver '16


MSU Denver offers one of only two Africana Studies degree programs in Colorado.


Douglas Mpondi_Africana StudiesDouglas Mpondi

Associate Professor and Chair Douglas Mpondi teaches African politics and history, research methods and contemporary African cultures. His main areas of research include identity politics and cultural struggles in Zimbabwe, sports and politics in Africa, citizenship and migration, social media and cultural change in Zimbabwe, globalization and educational reforms, women and development in Africa. His publications focus on the legacy of colonialism in Africa, national culture and educational reforms in Zimbabwe, migration in Southern Africa, globalization and higher education, nation-building and citizenship in Zimbabwe, culture and the environment.

Jacqueline McLeod_Africana StudiesJacqueline McLeod

Professor Jacqueline McLeod holds both a law degree and Ph.D. She is the co-editor of “Crossing Boundaries: Comparative History of Blacks in Diaspora” and the author of “Daughter of the Empire State: The Life of Judge Jane Bolin,” the nation’s first African American female judge.



Ella Maria Ray_Africana StudiesElla Maria Ray

Associate Professor Ella Maria Ray holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Johns Hopkins University. She is a cultural anthropologist and ceramicist who is committed to the field of Africana Studies.  Her work explores the relationship between Africana women’s literature and art as visual and textual analysis. Nationally, her work has been accepted into two peer-juried exhibitions: “Historical Antecedents” sponsored by The Myers Gallery at Muddy’s Studio in Santa Ana, Calif. and “A Show of Heads” at the Northwest Cultural Council in Palatine, Ill.

Get to know more MSU Denver Africana Studies faculty.

Alumni at Work

Graduates from MSU Denver’s Africana Studies program have gone on to work at places such as:

  • Denver Public Schools
  • Union Institute and University
  • Teach for America
  • Community College of Denver
  • Impact Hub Oakland
  • Baker & Hostetler
  • State of Colorado Department of Public Safety
  • Grocery Getter Organic
  • Comcast
  • AARP

 Africana Studies alumni have been accepted for graduate study at the following schools:

  • Syracuse University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • University of Denver
  • Clark University
  • Portland State University
  • Union Institute and University

Sample Classes

students writing in class

The MSU Denver Africana Studies program offers an array of courses that examine the experience of African and people of African descent all over the world. Here are some courses you will take as an Africana Studies student:

  • Introduction to Africana Studies
  • Survey of African History
  • The African Diaspora
  • African American History
  • Social Movements and the Black Experience
  • The Black Family
  • Interdisciplinary Research Methods in Social Issues
  • African Politics and Government
  • The Gullah Experience
  • Research Seminar in Africana Studies

Facilities and Resources

MSU Denver offers a diverse and engaged community of faculty, staff and students and is located minutes from Denver’s central business district and not far from the Colorado Capitol, the Black American West Museum, the Stiles African American Heritage Center and the city’s traditionally African-American neighborhood, Five Points.

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