- Global Careers
Accra, Ghana, Photo: Sura Nualpradid
Nigerian voters, Photo Credit: Jenny Bussey Vaughan
Photo Credit: Efrem Fisher
The African Studies Program offers an extensive curriculum covering development, governance and security across the continent. We draw on leading theories of international politics, political economy and comparative analysis in approaching this dynamic region. The program offers excellent foundations in the history and politics of the region, with a consistent focus on current policy concerns and emerging issues in Africa. Courses address general themes as well as particular countries, regions and specialized topics.
With an incomparable location in Washington DC, our students engage with a global array of leading academics, policymakers, activists and development practitioners. Through opportunities for independent research, internships and study visits, students regularly travel to the region. Graduates pursue successful careers in the private sector, international development institutions, non-governmental organizations, government and the policy world. Please join us at our community page, Connect SAIS Africa, for updates,comentary, and news on students and alumni.
Students in the African Studies Program have many opportunities for travel, research and engagement with contemporary issues on the continent.
Our seminar series brings dozens of speakers to campus each year, focusing on a wide range of academic and policy topics. Recent seminars have covered the political foundations of ethnic violence, the challenges of institutional reform in Africa, politics in Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, and South Africa, conflict in Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the role of social media and democracy, and China-Africa relations. The program's annual conferences cover a range of themes from development, to democratization, to the role of religion in politics.
Most students benefit from assistance for travel to Africa, including internships, independent research and structured study trips. Research opportunities include extended programs in Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia, as well as self-designed initiatives in other countries.
African Studies students regularly receive internships in the United States and Africa. These encompass a range of organizations in government, nongovernmental institutions and the private sector. Students have had recent access to internships in Benin, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger Republic, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
On an occasional basis, the program offers study trips to students during intersession and summer periods. Recent trips have included South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal and China.
An independent study field program to Senegal, Ghana or Tunisia is an option between the first and second year. Students should develop a project proposal in the fall semester to be submitted by March of the spring semester. Proficiency in Arabic or French is required for Tunisia, proficiency in French for Senegal.
In the past few years, other study trips and research projects have included:
The African Studies Program sponsors a weekly seminar series and annual conferences covering a wide range of topics on Africa.
African Studies Program Learning Goals and Objectives
Entering Class 2016-2017
MA students must take the equivalent of 16 non-language courses (64 credits) in order to graduate. Those students who are approved for dual degree or advanced standing may only need to take 12 courses (48 credits) or 14 courses (56 credits) as approved by Academic Affairs.
Students concentrating in African Studies take at least 6 courses within this program, which may include one course outside African Studies on an African topic. Courses in the curriculum cross-listed with African Studies may be counted toward the concentration requirement. African Studies MA students must take a minimum of one of the following courses below and are highly encouraged to take two additional courses with the prefix of SA.780.XXX:
Students complete four courses within this program.
· Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent Microeconomics)
· International Trade Theory (prerequisite Microeconomics)
· International Monetary Theory (prerequisite Macroeconomics)
Eligible students who pass the waiver exams in these subjects or who pass Microeconomics in Pre-Term must replace those courses with alternate economics courses. Many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics and therefore use electives to meet these requirements. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets.
Students must receive a 2.67 average in the 4 required economics courses or they must retake a course(s) until a 2.67 average is obtained. If any of the 4 courses are achieved by passing a waiver exam or during Pre-Term, the student must substitute an economics elective course(s) in place of the waived course(s) in order to fulfill the economics requirement above. In this case, the school will use the highest economics program elective course grade(s) to compute this average if a student is replacing one or more of the 4 required courses of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory or International Monetary Theory.
Students complete one course from the list below.
· Statistical Methods for Business & Economics
· Econometrics (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
· Applied Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
· Macro Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
· Risk Analysis and Modeling
· Quantitative Global Economics (prerequisite International Monetary Theory)
Students may not double-count a Quantitative Reasoning requirement as one of the four required International Economics courses and vice-versa. Eligible students who pass the statistics waiver exam or pass the statistics course in Pre-Term are still required to take an alternate Quantitative Reasoning course from the list above.
All SAIS students must pass 2 core exams and/or courses in addition to their concentration requirements. African Studies concentrators must pass Comparative Politics as one of their core requirements prior to the start of their third semester. If the second core is not completed by the start of the final semester, a student must enroll in second core course.
· American Foreign Policy Since World War II
· Comparative National Systems
· Evolution of the International Systems
· Theories of International Relations
African Studies MA candidates a required to demonstrate proficiency in French, Portuguese or Arabic, through a course sequence and/or proficiency exam. Please consult the program for permission to use Swahili (not taught at SAIS). All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school. Native speakers of French, Portuguese or Arabic must pass proficiency in a second language which can include English.
African Studies concentrators in the second year produce a program paper of publishable quality, which may be the product of a regular course or supervised independent research. The paper is due by April 15th of a student’s second year. For those whose final semester is fall, consult the Program Director for a due date.
African Studies Minor Requirements: (as of AY 16/17)
General Minor Requirements:
To add or change a minor, please click HERE.
This course critically examining China's rapidly growing economic, political and social ties with African countries. What drives these ties? How do they reflect China's "Going Global" thrust? What impact is Chinese engagement having on development prospects in other countries? What is myth, and what is reality? How is this engagement changing? Comparisons with Chinese engagement in Asia and the Americas. All students will write an original research paper.
This course examines politics and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa since the late colonial period. We are especially concerned with the political foundations of economic policy and performance, and the relationships between governance, institutions and economic change. The class begins with a general overview of political economy and the central debates surrounding Africa’s development challenges. We will cover the historical formation of African economies from colonial rule and the legacy of policy experimentation in the early post-colonial era.
Africa’s Great Lakes region has become synonymous with conflict. Over the last five decades, this region has seen genocides, ethnic violence, land disputes, civil war, cross-border conflict and a multi-national war. Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been affected by one or many of these destabilizing factors. The course introduces students to the main issues affecting peace, stability and development in the Great Lakes. We will focus on the intersection of theory and policy.
The African Studies Program sponsors a weekly seminar series and annual conferences covering a wide range of topics on Africa.
For a detailed listing of our annual conferences connect to our conference page.
2011-2012 Academic Year Events
2009-2010 Academic Year Events
2008-2009 Academic Year Events
2007-2008 Academic Year Events
2006-2007 Academic Year Events
Bosshard, Peter. 2008. China's Environmental Footprint in Africa
Burke, Christopher; Corkin, Lucy & Davies, Martyn. 2008.
China's Role in the Development of Africa's Infrastructure.
Kaplinsky, Raphael; McCormick, Dorothy & Morris, Mike. 2008.
The Impact of China on Sub-Sahara Africa
Obiorah, Ndubisi. 2008. Rise and Rights in China-Africa Relations
Tull, Denis. 2008.
China in Africa: European Perceptions and Responses to the Chinese Challenge
Articles by Associated Scholars
Broadman, Harry. 2010 Africa's Investment Prospects Are Actually Brighter: Can the 'North' Exploit Africa's First Mover Advantager?
Broadman, Harry. 2010 More Resilient Than Meets The Eye: Africa and the Global Economic Crisis
Recent Student Publications
Rwanda and Ethiopia: Developmental Autoritarianism and the New Politics of African Strong Men
The Islamic State, Boko Haram, and the Evolution of International Jihad
Beyond Local Content: Catalyzing Job Creation in Ghana's Oil Sector
Sarah Lawson and Marina Tolchinsky
Sudanese Elites: How the Riverain Groups Achieved Political Dominance and their Impact on the Sudanese State, Jennifer Pekkinen (April 1, 2009)
The Baobab Tree Lives On: Paul Biya and the Logic of Political Survival, Ngwa Anye Kenneth (April 2009)
Democratic Consolidation in Africa's Two Publics by Christine Arriola
The Fate of Darfur: Race, Ideology and Conquest by Molly Miller
Allah N'est Pas Obidge: An artist's rendition of the phenomenon of child soldiers in Liberia and Sierra Leone by Lisa Overbey
A Dream Deferred? COSATU and the ANC in Power by John-Paul Ferguson
Rural Transition: Agricultural Development and Tenure Rights A case study in the Senegal River Valley by Jeffrey White
SAIS Studies on Senegal
African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI): The Case of Senegal
by Bjorn Dressel
The Reintegration of the Casamance Region into Senegalese Society
by Audra Dykman
The Benefits of Exile: The Case of FLAM
Lance Kinne, (also published in the Journal of Modern African Studies 39, 4, 2001).
Selected Publications by Current and Previous Faculty
Growing Apart: Oil, Politics, and Economic Change in Indonesia and Nigeria
Peter M. Lewis. University of Michigan Press (2007).
Getting In: Mediators' Entry into the Settlement of African Conflicts
Mohammed O. Maundi, I. William Zartman, Kwaku Nuamah, Gilbert M. Khadiagala. (United States Institute of Peace, 2006).
The Impact of Colonial Bargaining on Intergroup Relations in Africa
Gilbert M. Khadiagala and Donald S. Rothchild, editors. (Special Issue of International Negotiation, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2005).
Politics and Society in Conrtemporary Africa
Naomi Chazan, Peter M. Lewis, Robert Mortimer, Donald Rothchild and Stephen Stedman (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1999).
The Program's annual conferences have resulted in publication in the SAIS African Studies Library Series (published by Lynne Rienner Publishers) including:
Coping with Crisis in African States, Peter M. Lewis and John W. Harbeson, editors (2016).
African Foreign Policies: Power and Process, Gilbert M. Khadiagala and Terrence Lyons, editors (2001).
Traditional Cures for Modern Conflicts: African Conflict “Medicine,” I. William Zartman, editor (2000).
Democracy in Africa: The Hard Road Ahead, Marina Ottaway, editor (1997).
Collapsed States: The Disintegration and Restoration of Legitimate Authority, I William Zartman, editor (1995).
South Africa: The Political Economy of Transformation, Stephen J. Stedman, editor (1994).
Botswana: The Political Economy of Democratic Development, Stephen J. Stedman, editor (1993).
Ghana: The Political Economy of Recovery, Donald Rothchild, editor (1991).
Tunisia: The Political Economy of Reform, I. William Zartman, editor (1991).
Europe and Africa: The New Phase, I. William Zartman, editor(1993).
Other titles in the series (published by Praeger-Greenwood Press) include:
The Political Economy of Ethiopia, Marina Ottaway and Negussay Ayele, editors (1990).
The Political Economy of Senegal Under Structural Adjustment, Christopher Delgado and Sidi Jammeh, editors (1990).
The Political Economy of Morocco, I. William Zartman, editor (1987).
The Military in African Politics, John Harbeson, editor (1987).
The Political Economy of Kenya, Michael G. Schatzberg, editor (1987).
The Political Economy of Cameroon, Michael G. Schatzberg and I. William Zartman, editors (1986).
The OAU After Twenty Years, Zartman and El-Ayouty, editors (1986).
The Political Economy of Zimbabwe, Michael G. Schatzberg, editor (1984).
The Political Economy of Ivory Coast, I. William Zartman and Christopher Delgado, editors (1984).
The Political Economy of Nigeria, Michael G. Schatzberg, editor (1983).
Africa South of the Sahara (Stanford University)
Comprehensive list of Africa-related links
Compilation of news sources from across the continent
Inter Press Service - Africa
Thomson Reuters Foundation
United Nations, Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
News and analysis on areas of conflict
ACLED (Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project)
African Power and Politics
Afrobarometer Home Page
Survey research site, extensive analysis of politics and reform
Center for Global Development
Research and policy analysis, special focus on aid and reform
Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity (CRISE)
Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University
A leading source for economic research in the region
Council on Foreign Relations
Effective States and Inclusive Development
Consortium based at University of Manchester
Innovations for Successful Societies
International Food Policy Research Institute
University of Cape Town-Centre for Social Science Research
Inequality, poverty, HIV/AIDS and public attitudes
University of Sussex- Institute of Development Studies. (Brighton, U.K.)
United States Institute of Peace
The World Bank
Data, economic policy analysis, perspectives on governance
Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem)
University of Gothenburg and Kellogg Institute
African Politics Conference Group
African Studies Association Home Page
The central African studies organization in the U.S.
African Studies Center, Leiden, Netherlands
Institute for African Development (IAD), Cornell University
Michigan State University, African Studies Center
Northwestern University Program of African Studies
Nordiska Afrikainstitutet/Nordic Africa Institute
Royal African Society
Leading institute on African affairs in the UK
University of California, Berkeley, Center for African Studies
UCLA, African Studies
University of Florida, African Studies Program
University of Wisconsin, African Studies Program
WomenAlsoKnowStuff : African Politics
List of scholars and areas of specialization
Africa Center, Atlantic Council
Africa Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
The Enough Project, the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity
Ghana Center for Democratic Development
Global Financial Integrity
Global Voices Online
Human Rights Watch - Africa
Institute for Policy Studies
International Crisis Group
Authoritative analysis and advocacy on conflict
Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Natural Resources Governance Institute
Network of African Democracy Research Institutes
Focus on sustainable development
The South African Civil Society Information Service
Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative