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MIRS: African Studies Specialization

The African studies specialization of the Masters in International and Regional Studies (MIRS) is designed for students seeking to gain advanced, interdisciplinary knowledge in the field of African studies. The specialization offers courses in African languages, literature, arts, history, politics, law, and economics but also public health, environmental studies, and development from across the university's many schools and colleges. The comprehensive but flexible curriculum of the specialization provides a solid foundation for those students wishing to volunteer or work on the African continent, to serve in government, or to pursue a doctoral degree.

Anchored in the African Studies Center (ASC) and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS), the MIRS African studies specialization draws upon their strategic guidance and coordination for Africa-related research and programming on campus, and on the continent. DAAS offers a diverse curriculum of enriching and rigorous courses taught by award-winning faculty. The DAAS faculty produce innovative scholarship and instruction on the history, societies, and creativity of the peoples of Africa and its diaspora. DAAS is also the home of the South African Initiatives Office (SAIO). Through SAIO, DAAS has supported research and travel for scores of U-M Africanist graduate students in a wide range of departments and schools. 

Curriculum (36 credits)

MIRS students will complete a total of 36 credits, distributed over at least two academic disciplines, at the 400-level or above. 27 of these credits are determined by the specialization. The remaining 9 credits are required for all MIRS students. MIRS requirements include two core courses and a graduate colloquium. In addition, MIRS students will have access to a graduate professional development workshop.

AAS 892 “Capstone Research Course: African Studies”

Winter 2021 – Prof. Kelly Askew

This seminar fulfills the capstone requirement for the DAAS Graduate Certificate in African Studies, and for the Master’s in International and Regional Studies (MIRS) African Studies specialization. Students work on independent research projects that can form the basis of a master's thesis, dissertation chapter, analysis of a practicum experience, or publishable article with a focus in African Studies. Weekly readings will center on theoretical and methodological issues deemed relevant to the projects pursued by seminar participants. We will collectively devise the reading list after the initial seminar session.

MIRS Requirements (9 credits)

Core Courses

  • Research Design Seminar: Students will sharpen critical thinking, analytical skills, research design, and writing strategies. (3 credits)
  • Capstone: To complete the program, students will dedicate effort to their capstone, either in research, coursework, or work experience related to their subplan. Select one of the below options: (4 credits)
    • Master’s Thesis: research project supervised by a faculty member
    • Additional Research Seminars: completion of graduate seminars with a substantial independent research component
    • Practicum: internship or work experience related to the subplan combined with a related academic component

Graduate Colloquium

Students will participate in two semesters of engaged discussions covering topics of global significance, including programs (guest lectures and relevant events) and participation in moderated online and in-person discussions. (2 credits)

African Studies Specialization Requirements (27 credits)

In addition to the general MIRS requirements, the African studies specialization has the following requirements:

  • AAS 600: Pro-Seminar on Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Africa (3 credits). Preferably taken during the first year.
  • Intermediate level proficiency in a language, other than English, that is relevant to the study of Africa. This requirement can be fulfilled with proficiency in an African language or another language spoken on the continent. The language requirement can be met by:
    • coursework (up to 9 of the total 36 credits in the MIRS degree), or
    • proficiency as demonstrated through a method mutually agreed upon between the student and the ASC MIRS representative (e.g., proficiency test).
  • AAS 892: A capstone research seminar that requires a public presentation of a chapter from the student's master's thesis, or a detailed study based on the student's practicum, or a long research paper. This seminar will also meet the MIRS capstone requirement. 
  • At least one AAS course (offered by DAAS) at the 500 level or above. 
  • The remaining credits are filled by courses primarily at the 400 level or above. These should be selected in consultation with the student's advisor or the DAAS representative to MIRS from all the Africa related offerings at U-M to ensure a well-balanced program of courses that meets the student’s interests and professional goals.

For more information, contact