Program in African Studies

Undergraduate Programs

Enrich your understanding of Africa by pursuing an undergraduate certificate, delving into language study or even studying abroad.  

Undergraduate Certificate

Princeton’s Certificate Program in African Studies provides opportunities to all Princeton 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.

Learn more about the certificate requirements. 

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.

Language Study

Swahili, Twi, Wolof, and Yoruba are the four African languages offered at Princeton. Completion of all four terms of a sequence will satisfy the University language requirement.

Learn more about the language requirements.

Study Abroad

Is there a better opportunity to learn about Africa than to visit? The Program in African Studies and PIIRS offer students several opportunities to study abroad in both East and West Africa. 

African Studies Seminar

This six-week course will explore the political, cultural, linguistic and economic experience of Tanzania since its colonization. Class instruction and all coursework will be in English at the Institute of Kiswahili Studies, University of Dar es Salaam Monday through Friday for six weeks. There will be local field trips to historic sites, museums and government offices within Dar es Salaam and weekend trips to Zanzibar and Ngorongoro National Park. Students will live at a local hotel along with students from the Program in Dar es Salaam before transferring to home-stays with Tanzanian host-families. Funding is available. 

 Learn more about the Seminar.

Program in Dar es Salaam

Every summer, a group of students travel to Tanzania to participate in the Program in Dar es Salaam, led by language lecturer Mahiri Mwita. The program is based at the Institute of Kiswahili Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam and offers students an intensive experience that combines in-class Swahili language study with immersion in the daily life and culture of the Swahili-speakers in the city of Dar es Salaam. 

It is an intensive eight-week course in intermediate level Swahili language instruction. Students who successfully complete the program will receive credit for Intermediate Swahili I (SWA 105T) and Intermediate Swahili II (SWA 107T). The two courses and the final course grades will appear on your Princeton University transcript. In addition to in-class language instruction in Swahili, students have the opportunity to use their free time to volunteer in the local community through activities in local schools, youth programs, and non-governmental community services. Funding is available. 

The 2020 seminar is canceled

PIIRS Global Seminars 

Almost every summer, PIIRS offers an opportunity to travel to Africa through its PIIRS Global Seminars program, which are six-week study abroad trips in which students learn about a topic specific to the country in which they are living. Past Global Seminars have traveled to Accra, Ghana, and to Windhoek, Namibia, where students immerse themeselves in the history and culture of the country while participating in introductory language instruction. Excursions to nearby towns and parks are always part of the itinerary. Learn more about Global Seminars

Questions about the program?

Contact Timothy Waldron, program manager, or call 609-258-9400.