Program Activities
Connect SAIS Africa Blog
Events Calendar
Our Alumni
External Resources

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 [2], 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.

David Lederer conducting research on the cashew value chain in Ghana
Ridwan Sorunke in Nigeria with Dr. Davies-Okundaye
Nigerian entrepreneurs developing their tech skills with "The Abuja Digital Institute for Northern Nigerian Women"
SAIS African Studies Program hosting speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the 2017 "Political Economy of Gender and Women's Empowerment in Africa"
Students working at the "Abuja Digital Institute for Northern Nigerian Women"
Political Crisis in DRC: The Way Forward with M. Felix Tshisekedi, DRC Opposition Leader
Lecturer Dr. Chiedo Nwankwor and several African Studies students at Dr. Nwankwor's "The Point of Intersection: Hillary Clinton, Beyonce, & Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie"
Vice Admiral Michael T. Franken of AFRICOM visits SAIS.
African Studies student and Yayi Bayam, president of a small non-profit that provides skills training for young women in a religiously "conservative" community just outside of Dakar.
SAIS International Development-African Studies intersession trip to South Africa.
Nigerian elections: distribution of voting materials, photo: Jenny Bussey Vaughan
"The Political Economy of Gender and Women's Empowerment in Africa"
Show More


  • [3]
    Director of Africa and Middle East Programs
    Washington, D.C.
    Email [5]
  • [6]
    Bernard L. Schwartz Professor in International Political Economy, Director of China-Africa Research Initiative
    Washington, D.C.
    Email [8]
  • [9]
    Acting Director of African Studies Program and Senior Research Professor
    Washington, D.C.
    Email [11]
  • [12]
    Visiting Research Associate and Lecturer
    Washington, D.C.
    Email [14]

Program Activities


Program Highlights

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 [15] 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.


Internship Opportunities

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.


Travel Opportunities

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:

  • “African Migrants to Europe: The West African Coastal Link” (Senegal) 
  • “Authoritarian Development in Ethiopia and Rwanda”
  • “Beyond Local Content: Catalyzing Economic Development through Ghana’s Oil Sector”
  • “China’s Engagement in Africa: the Case of Cameroon”
  • ”Constitutional Development in a New State” (South Sudan) 
  • “Democracy and Traditional Rule in Ghana” 
  • “Developing Transport Linkages in SADC: Malawi and Zambia” 
  • “Displaced Persons and Land-Related Violence in Kenya”
  • “Education in Conflict-Stricken Areas: Challenges and Achievements of Education in Rwanda”
  • “The Evolving Character of Ghanaian Democracy” 
  • “IDPs and Conflict in Northern Nigeria”
  • “Managing Resource Wealth in a New Oil Producer” (Ghana)
  • “Media Programs and Governance: the Case of Sierra Leone” 
  • “Political Survival and Regime Change in Africa”
  • “Protest and Democratic Succession in Senegal”
  • “Regional Variation in Southern African States” 
  • “The Role of Kenya’s Civil Society in the Constitution Review Process”
  • “A Strategic Approach to Women’s Right in Senegal: Engaging Local Partners in Legal Reform”
  • “Success and Shortcomings of Kenya’s Counterterrorism Efforts”
  • “Understanding Accountability Across Post-Conflict Societies: The Cases of Nepal and Liberia”
  • “Violence and Resources in the Niger Delta of Nigeria” 
  • “Youth Movements and Political Crisis in Cote’ d’Ivoire”
  • “Youth Unemployment in South Africa: The plight of South Africa’s marginalized and under-skilled youth”

Events and Conferences

The African Studies Program sponsors a weekly seminar series and annual conferences [15] covering a wide range of topics on Africa.



AFRICAN STUDIES | MA Requirements (Entering Class 2018-2019)

Learning Goals and Objectives [16]

MA students must complete 64 credits and all degree requirements in order to graduate.

Students who are approved for a Dual Degree program or with Advanced Standing only need to complete 48 credits or 56 credits as determined by Academic Affairs, but still must fulfill all degree requirements.


African Studies Concentration

MA students concentrating in African Studies must complete 24 credits of applicable coursework and a program capstone. African Studies concentrators must complete at least one of:

  • SA.780.648 Political Economy of African Development
  • SA.780.724 Contemporary African Politics

African Studies concentrators are permitted to use one course outside of African Studies on a relevant African topic toward their concentration with program approval.


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.


International Economics Concentration

MA students must complete a concentration in International Economics (16 credits). The four required courses are:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics (pre-requisite or concurrent: Microeconomics)
  • International Trade Theory (pre-requisite: Microeconomics)
  • International Monetary Theory (pre-requisite: Macroeconomics)

If a student is waived [17] from a required course(s), the student must take a replacement International Economics course(s) to fulfill the concentration requirement.

Students who pass the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term [18] will have this concentration reduced to 12 credits, but still must complete the remaining required International Economics courses (or a replacement course(s) if waiver exam(s) passed).

International Economics GPA Requirement
Students must achieve an International Economics concentration GPA of at least 2.67.

In the standard case, the concentration GPA is the average of the grades in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory.  If a student completed the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term, the concentration GPA is calculated based on the grades in the remaining required International Economics courses. If one or more of the required courses is waived, the highest grade(s) from any eligible replacement International Economics course(s) is used.

Students who do not meet the minimum International Economics concentration GPA must re-take required courses (or take additional replacement courses if any required course(s) are waived) until the minimum is achieved. The highest grade from any attempt at a required course is used in this calculation.


Quantitative Reasoning Requirement

MA students must fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning Requirement (4 credits). Eligible courses include:

  • Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
  • Econometrics (pre-requisite: Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
  • Applied Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Macro Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Risk Analysis and Modeling
  • Quantitative Global Economics (pre-requisite: International Monetary Theory)
  • Credit Markets & Credit Risk (pre-requisite: Corporate Finance)

Students may not double-count the same course toward the Quantitative Reasoning requirement and as a replacement International Economics concentration course and vice-versa.

If a student is waived [19] from a Quantitative Reasoning course, the student must take a different course from the list above to fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Students who pass the non-credit Statistical Methods for Business & Economics course in Pre-Term [18] will have fulfilled the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.


Core Requirements

MA students must fulfill two Core requirements. Students may fulfill a Core requirement by passing a for-credit Core course or by passing a non-credit Core exam.

For students concentrating in African Studies, one of the Core requirements must be:

  • Comparative Politics
The second Core requirement may be one of:
  • American Foreign Policy Since WWII
  • Evolution of the International System
  • Theories of International Relations

Students may not take a Core exam in the semester in which they plan to graduate. If Core requirements are not completed before the start of a student’s final semester, the student no longer has the option of completing the exam and must enroll in the Core course(s) for credit.


Language Proficiency

MA students must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in a non-native language taught at SAIS. Students enroll in non-credit language courses to prepare for the proficiency exam.

African Studies concentrators are required to demonstrate proficiency in French, Portuguese, or Arabic. Please consult the program for permission to use Swahili (not taught at Johns Hopkins SAIS). Native speakers of French, Portuguese, or Arabic must demonstrate proficiency in any other language taught at SAIS, which can include English.

All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school, even if not using English for proficiency, and may be required to take additional English language coursework.


Electives, Minors, and Specializations

Beyond the requirements, MA students may have room in their degree for electives, a minor, and/or a specialization(s).

Students may pursue an optional minor in any policy/regional area [20] other than General International Relations.

Students may pursue an optional specialization(s) in five areas International Economics [21] or Emerging Markets [22].


Program Requirements by Academic Year

Entering Class 2017-2018 [23]
Entering Class 2016-2017 [24]
Entering Class 2015-2016 [25]
Entering Class 2014-2015 [26]
Entering Class 2013-2014 [27]
Entering Class 2012-2013 [28]
Entering Class 2011-2010 [29]
Entering Class 2010-2011 [30]
Entering Class 2009-2010 [31]


African Studies Minor Requirements:

  • 3 African Studies courses (12 credits) including:
    • SA.780.648 Political Economy of African Development or SA.780.724 Contemporary African Politics or SA.780.727 Politics of Foreign Aid in Africa
    • 2 additional African Studies (or cross-listed) courses (8 credits)

General Minor Requirements:

  • MA students may pursue an optional minor in a policy or regional program. A student cannot pursue a minor in General IR or International Economics, but can pursue a Specialization in International Economics [32]
  • A student can have only one minor and can declare a minor at any time prior to graduation.
  • Students do not receive bidding priority for a minor.
  • All minors require three courses. Some minors require a specific course(s) and/or language proficiency.
  • A student may use a maximum of one applicable cross-listed course (4 credits) toward both a minor AND concentration requirements. In the IR or Asia concentrations, the cross-listed course must be from the primary concentration area and not from the 2 additional required courses in the other IR or Asia areas.

Connect SAIS Africa Blog

Please join us at our community page, Connect SAIS Africa [33], for updates,comentary, and news on students and alumni.



The African Studies Program sponsors a weekly seminar series and annual conferences covering a wide range of topics on Africa.

To join our African Studies listserv please e-mail saisafrica@jhu.edu [36].

For a detailed listing of our annual conferences connect to our conference page [15].

Past Events
2017-2018 Academic Year Events [37]
2016-2017 Academic Year Events [38]
2015-2016 Academic Year Events [39]
2014-2015 Academic Year Events [40]
2013-2014 Academic Year Events [41]
2012-2013 Academic Year Events
2011-2012 Academic Year Events [42]
2009-2010 Academic Year Events [43]
2008-2009 Academic Year Events [44]
2007-2008 Academic Year Events [45]
2006-2007 Academic Year Events [46]

Our Alumni


Alumni of the African Studies Program can be found across the African continent and around the world, in government, private, academic, and non-governmental sectors. Among the professional opportunities for our graduates:

o African Capacity Building Foundation, Harare, Zimbabwe
o African Development Bank, Tunis
o African Risk Capacity (ARC), Johannesburg
o African Union
o Albright Stonebridge Group
o AT Kearney
o British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Kinshasa, Congo
o The Brookings Institution
o Catholic Relief Services
o Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC
o Chevron
o Control Risks Group LLC
o Corporate Council on Africa, Washington, DC
o Department for International Development (DFID), UK
o Economic Development Institute, World Bank
o The Enough Project
o The Eurasia Group
o Foreign Ministry of Tanzania
o Foreign & Commonwealth Office, UK
o Freeport McMoRan
o Frontier Strategy Group
o General Electric
o Harvard School of Public Health
o IHS/PFC Energy
o Institute for Security Studies, Johannesburg
o International Business Initiatives
o International Finance Corporation
o International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
o International Republican Institute, Washington, DC
o Jeune Afrique
o JP Morgan
o Lagos State Government
o Louis Berger
o Mitchell Madison Group, New York
o McKinsey & Company
o National Assembly of Nigeria
o National Democratic Institute, Washington, DC
o National Endowment for Democracy
o Roland Berger
o South African Reserve Bank
o United Nations Development Program
o United Nations Peacekeeping Operations
o USAID, Washington, DC
o US Congress
o US Department of Commerce
o US Department of Justice
o US Department of State
o US Department of the Treasury
o US Trade Representative
o World Economic Forum
o The Whitaker Group
o The World Bank



External Resources


News and General Information

Africa South of the Sahara (Stanford University) [73]
Comprehensive list of Africa-related links

AllAfrica.com [74]
Compilation of news sources from across the continent

BBC News/Africa [75]

Inter Press Service - Africa [76]

Thomson Reuters Foundation [77]

United Nations, Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) [78]
News and analysis on areas of conflict


Research and Data

ACLED (Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project) [79]

African Power and Politics [80]

Afrobarometer Home Page [81]

Survey research site, extensive analysis of politics and reform

Center for Global Development [82]
Research and policy analysis, special focus on aid and reform

Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity (CRISE) [83]
Oxford University 

Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University [84]
A leading source for economic research in the region

Council on Foreign Relations [85]

Effective States and Inclusive Development [86]
Consortium based at University of Manchester

Innovations for Successful Societies [87]
Princeton University

International Food Policy Research Institute [88]

University of Cape Town-Centre for Social Science Research [89]
Inequality, poverty, HIV/AIDS and public attitudes

University of Sussex- Institute of Development Studies. (Brighton, U.K.) [90]

United States Institute of Peace [91]

The World Bank [92]
Data, economic policy analysis, perspectives on governance

Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) [93]
University of Gothenburg and Kellogg Institute


African Studies Centers and Organizations

African Politics Conference Group [94]

African Studies Association Home Page [95]

The central African studies organization in the U.S.

African Studies Center, Leiden, Netherlands [96]

Institute for African Development (IAD), Cornell University [97]

Michigan State University, African Studies Center [98]

Northwestern University Program of African Studies [99]

Nordiska Afrikainstitutet/Nordic Africa Institute [100]

Royal African Society [101]
Leading institute on African affairs in the UK

University of California, Berkeley, Center for African Studies [102]

UCLA, African Studies [103]

University of Florida, African Studies Program [104]

University of Wisconsin, African Studies Program [105]

WomenAlsoKnowStuff : African Politics [106]
List of scholars and areas of specialization



Policy and Advocacy

Africa Center, Atlantic Council [107]

Africa Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies [108] 

Africare [109] 

The Enough Project, the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity [110]

Ghana Center for Democratic Development [111] 

Global Financial Integrity [112] 

Global Voices Online [113]

Human Rights Watch - Africa [114]

Institute for Policy Studies [115]

International Crisis Group [116]
Authoritative analysis and advocacy on conflict

Mo Ibrahim Foundation [117] 

Natural Resources Governance Institute [118]

Network of African Democracy Research Institutes [119]

ONE Campaign [120]

OXFAM [121]
Focus on sustainable development

The South African Civil Society Information Service [122] 

Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative [123] 

Transparency International [124]


African Studies Resources by Region and Country

Central Africa [125]

Southern Africa [126]

East Africa/ Horn of Africa [127]

Indian Ocean [128]

West Africa [129]

Contact Us

Paul Lubeck
Acting Director of the African Studies Program
plubeck1@jhu.edu [11]
Bernstein-Offit 715

Allison Janos
Academic Program Coordinator
ajanos2@jhu.edu [130]
Bernstein-Offit 716

Address & Phone

African Studies
Bernstein-Offit Building
1717 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC