Princeton’s Certificate Program in African Studies provides opportunities to all Princeton Class of 2024 students, regardless of major, to learn about the continent.

The program offers classes in Africa’s political, economic, and social history; built environments and urban geographies; ecology, genetic diversity, and epidemiological concerns. The program also offers classes in Africa’s vibrant art scenes, past and present, where literature, music, and art have come to define a new post-colonial African cosmopolitanism. Certificate students can also learn Swahili and Twi in preparation for either a PIIRS global seminar or summer internship in Africa.


To obtain the certificate of proficiency, students must complete the normal requirements in their major department as well as the following requirements of the program:

  • Four AFS cross-listed courses. Students can substitute a cross-listed course with another course with prior approval from the director of the Program in African Studies.  Students who study abroad must submit courses for certificate credit to the program manager for director approval.  A one year-long sequence in Swahili or Twi can satisfy two of these course requirements.
  • Independent work is fulfilled with a senior thesis or junior paper on Africa.
  • One capstone semester-long seminar in a student’s junior or senior year. The seminar will focus on independent research, methods, and will incorporate the AFS lecture series as part of the curriculum.

Students are encouraged to study in Africa and the program offers language and literature courses in Kiswahili and sponsors and endorses a variety of field study programs. The program casts a wide net, enabling students majoring in any department to design a course of study that satisfies their interests in Africa. Students who study at the University of Cape Town or elsewhere must submit courses for certificate credit to the program manager for director approval. With prior permission from the director eight weeks work in Africa on a project or on an IIP can equal a course cognate.

Certificate Courses

The undergraduate courses of interest to certificate students are offered by an array of departments. Some courses, not listed on the AFS website, may also qualify for the certificate. Please contact the Faculty Director with any questions.

Course descriptions are available in the current Undergraduate Announcement, which can be found online at the Office of the Dean of the College.

Undergraduate Funding for Senior Thesis Research and Thesis Prize

The Program in African Studies provides funds for senior thesis research and travel, including summer travel grants for rising seniors and fall break travel grants for seniors and to students who are enrolled in the program and pursuing a certificate. Certificate students whose thesis research requires fieldwork, data collection, archival research and/or language training in Africa, as well as students in the sciences, social sciences, engineering and the humanities are encouraged to apply for funding. The Program in African Studies is able to fund students up to $2,000 each on a competitive basis. Funding from the Program in African Studies may be used only to offset allowable expenses for proposed air and ground travel (coach class only), room, and board; no equipment may be purchased with funds, and no other expenditures can be covered under these grants. Applications are accepted in the fall and in the spring.

The Program awards an annual Senior Thesis Prize for exemplary research on Africa. Students who received an A+, or A are encouraged to apply. The first place winner will receive $1000. Certificate students may nominate themselves by submitting their senior thesis adviser’s written evaluation of their work or a letter of recommendation from their adviser along with an PDF of the senior thesis.


Fiona Romaine 
Manager, Program in African Studies
Call 609-258-9400