African Studies (Dual Title PhDs)

The primary objective of the dual-title degree programs in African Studies is to expand teaching, research, and scholarship on Africa and African societies at Penn State. The programs are committed to preparing graduate students to become scholars who integrate the strengths of their respective disciplines with multidisciplinary training in the study of the African continent, in a number of allied disciplines, such as geography, history, political science, sociology, comparative literature, forestry, agricultural sciences, and international studies. The program uses the research projects and institutional networks of core and affiliate African Studies Graduate Faculty to provide research opportunities and linkages in Africa for doctoral students. It aims to produce PhD scholars, who have a comparative advantage for African Studies-related employment in academia, (non) governmental agencies, and international think-tanks.

Clemente Abrokwaa

Sinfree Makoni

Director of Graduate Studies

Phone: (814) 863-2431


Our dual-title PhD degrees are:

Comparative Literature

French and Francophone Studies


Political Science

Note:  Interested students working on Africa-related topics in other departments can pursue a PhD minor. Information on graduate minors can be found here

Admissions Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program.  After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the African Studies dual-title program.  Refer to the Admission Requirements of the African Studies Bulletin page.  Applicants interested in the dual-title degree program may make their interest in the program known clearly on their applications and include remarks in their statement of purpose that address the ways in which their research and professional goals in the primary department reflect an interest in African Studies-related research.

To be enrolled in the Dual-Title Doctoral Degree Program in African Studies, a student must have the approval of the major department and then submit a letter of application and transcript, which will be reviewed by and African Studies Admissions committee.  An applicant must have a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) to be considered for enrollment in the dual-title degree program.  Students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in African Studies prior to obtaining candidacy in secondary department.

Full Financial Support

All graduate students in good standing receive full financial support for five years. Students in our programs usually work as teaching assistants. The program also supports participation in academic conferences and provides funds for summer study and research.

How to Apply

The successful degree applicant is evaluated on several criteria, along with the particular focus of each department in the dual degree program. The following are the general criteria for the University. See each individual department for their particular requirements:

  1. Undergraduate grade-point average, with emphasis given to the grade-point average in the major
  2. Grade-point average in previous graduate work
  3. Graduate Record Examination scores
  4. At least three academic references
  5. An oral and written sample of skills

To apply go to graduate school application at