Graduate Certificate in Black Studies:

The Black Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City offers a graduate certificate in Black Studies. The certificate permits students to augment their graduate and professional work with specialized training in Black Studies.

Black Studies is a liberal arts specialty that typically draws from multiple fields of inquiry. The graduate certificate in Black Studies advances students' awareness of the multidisciplinary and trans-disciplinary character of the field, key theoretical issues that form the parameters of this specialty, and important tools for producing knowledge in Black Studies. The graduate certificate familiarizes students with the expansive character of existing knowledge in Black Studies and shows how this knowledge can be used to understand the human experience generally.

The graduate certificate offers a coherent and focused course of study for any graduate student. The certificate also prepares students to seek advanced degrees with an emphasis is Black Studies if they choose to do so. Applicants seeking to enroll in the graduate certificate may do so as a free-standing option or within a UMKC degree program.

Admission Criteria:

To be admitted to the graduate certificate program in Black Studies, students must be admitted as a graduate student to the University of Missouri-Kansas City and have an overall grade-point average of 3.25. They must have had an acceptable introductory course in the field of Black Studies (which may come from programs or departments of Black Studies, African American Studies, African Studies, Pan African Studies, and the like) from an accredited college or university.

If a student has not had an introductory course in the field, he or she must pass BLKS 201, with a grade of C or better.

Applicants whose undergraduate GPA is less than 3.25 may be considered for admission upon petition to the Graduate Admission Committee for the Black Studies Program.

Prospective students applying for admission must:

  1. Complete the online UMKC Graduate Application.
  2. Submit official transcripts from an accredited institution showing the awarding of an undergraduate degree. Transcripts are considered official if they are received in a sealed envelope from the institution or sent electronically to the UMKC Office of Admissions (
  3. Provide an Academic Writing Sample.
  4. Provide three letters of recommendation to the Black Studies Graduate Admission Committee at the Black Studies Program, 5305 Holmes Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64110

The priority deadline to apply for Fall Semester is March 1. The final deadline to apply for Fall semester is August 1. The deadline to apply for Spring semester is November 1.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating from this program will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the historical development of African American studies as an academic field.
  • Be able to review and evaluate the work of key scholars in the field of African American studies.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply foundational ideas in African American studies in the interpretation of historical, political and social phenomena.

Program Requirements:

To earn the graduate certificate in Black Studies students must complete 18 hours of graduate course work in Black Studies, which does not include BLKS 201 . At least 12 hours must be at or above the 5500-level. Students must maintain a 3.0 grade-point average while enrolled. The requirements for the certificate must be completed within two (2) years. Students should seek advising from the Black Studies Program graduate advisor prior to beginning a Plan of Study and to make sure they have met the requirements for the certificate.

The 18 hours of course work must include the three core courses:

BLKS 5502Conceptual and Theoretical Foundations in African American Studies (must be taken during the first year)3
BLKS 5503Writing for African American Studies (must be taken during the first year)3
BLKS 5504Research Seminar (must be taken during the final year)3

Beyond the three required core courses, students must complete 6 hours of electives in Black Studies, which includes any graduate level course with a Black Studies prefix (BLKS). One elective should be taken in the Humanities Focus and the second in the Social Science Focus.

Examples of elective graduate courses in Black Studies are:

BLKS 5510African American Art History: Part II, 1960-Present Day (Humanities Focus)3
BLKS 5520Critical Health Issues in Black Communities (Social Science Focus)3
BLKS 5521The Black Family & Male-Female Relationships (Social Science Focus)3
BLKS 5525African American Business Development (Social Science Focus)3
BLKS 5530African American Migrations in Literature (Humanities Focus)3
BLKS 5534From Field Shout to Hip Hop: African American Poetic Traditions (Humanities Focus)3
BLKS 5535Stages toward Freedom: African American Dramatic Traditions (Humanities Focus)3
BLKS 5537The Civil Rights Movement in African American Literature (Humanities Focus)3
BLKS 5538Women's Literature in Africa and the African Diaspora (Humanities Focus)3
BLKS 5539Slave Narratives: Race, Gender and Writing Freedom (Humanities Focus)3
BLKS 5549Symbols and Codes from the Diaspora: African American Visual Arts Survey (Humanities Focus)3
BLKS 5551African American Art History: Part I, 1600-1960 (Humanities Focus)3

Electives may also be Special Topics courses (BLKS 5580).

Examples of Special Topics (BLKS 5580) courses with a Humanities Focus are:

  • African American Experience in Literature (1773-1960)
  • Contemporary African American Literature
  • Film Adaptations in African American Literary Text
  • Introduction to Caribbean Literature and Film

Examples of Special Topics (BLKS 5580) courses with a Social Science Focus are:

  • From Vaudeville to Rhythm and Blues
  • Hip-Hop's Influence on African Americans and American Society
  • Kansas City and the Black Experience
  • Race, Class and Justice
  • Racial and Ethnic Relations

Students are strongly encouraged to take the remaining 3 hours as an approved community engagement project/research under Directed Study (BLKS 5590) or Internship (BLKS 5596).  Because faculty consent is required in order to enroll in the Directed Study or Internship options, students should begin building an academic relationship with the Black Studies faculty member whose academic background can best guide them.