Study African American Studies at the University of Montana

Earn your degree in African American studies at UM and become empowered to speak and act with knowledge, and pursue a career that helps bring about change for the better.

Today, more than ever, it’s important to understand the diverse experiences of African Americans, dating back from the African Diaspora to current events. When you earn your bachelor’s degree in African American studies at UM — the third oldest African American studies program in the country — you’ll gain a deep understanding of African American history and contemporary reality, and the skills to act as an effective change agent.

Our African American studies major offers exciting opportunities for hands-on service learning, internships and undergraduate research, helping you develop historical, analytical and research skills you can apply to diverse careers. You’ll also learn from engaged, creative and fascinating faculty, in classes that are small enough to provide one-on-one attention, and robust enough to take on contemporary events.


oldest African American studies program in the country


of graduates working in a field related to their program of study


Unique classes not found elsewhere in the country

Other degree options for African American Studies at UM

What can you do with a degree in African American studies?

Just as the demand for African American studies is growing, so are the opportunities for graduates of our program.

Many are passing their knowledge on as high school teachers, community organizers, nonprofit staff and football coaches. Others have pursued careers as racial justice advocates, social workers, lawyers and journalists. 

Students also have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in history, African American studies, sociology and many other disciplines.

African American Studies Jobs

  • Law
  • Education
  • Sports
  • Journalism
  • Social Work
  • Entertainment
  • Racial Justice Activist
  • Community Organizer

African American Studies Salary

The earning potential for African American studies graduates varies according to profession, however, the average salary nationwide is $79,281.

According to ZipRecruiter, African American studies salaries can range as high as $221,000 and as low as $17,500. This suggests that there is plenty of room for advancement in the African American studies career space.

Consider Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author behind much of the Black Panther film and a former student of African American studies at UM. Black Panther has earned $1.23 billion since its release. Join our African American studies program and let your degree pay off for you as well.

*Based on recent data from ZipRecruiter

He [Dr. Shearer] doesn’t just teach certain tenets or values, he represents those and follows those in every facet of his life.”

— Meshayla Cox, Program, Events, and Outreach Coordinator, Montana Racial Equity Project

Experiential learning as an African American Studies Major

Hands-on, real life experience is key to our African-American studies degree. Our program gives you many opportunities to apply your learning in the field, through community service engagement, internships and more. You’ll also get to participate in a capstone project that can be a service, research, internship or organizing experience that relates to the African American community. You get to define what interests you — it’s all about building skills and your own learning experience.

Internships and community service learning in the African American studies bachelor's degree program

To hone your skills, you’ll have many opportunities to work in the field, with organizations and within the community.

We’ve had African American studies majors participate in the Montana Human Rights Network and organize (and found) UM’s Black Solidarity Summit.

Other examples include the development of an oral history of Black and White UM football players, and the creation of stunning artwork that beautifully depicts African American culture. Learn more about experiential learning opportunities at the University of Montana.

Career Development in the African American Studies Program

Our program puts graduates in an enviable position when they hit the job market with competence in writing and research, and proven organizing skills. They also have the support of an exceptional faculty as they pursue their African American studies degree and well after.

Our faculty have won every major teaching award offered by the University of Montana and been recognized by the entire Montana University System for their interactive teaching methods. In fact, they developed the country’s only class focused specifically on the role of prayer during the civil rights movement.

Networking and professional development in the African American Studies Major

Students in our program regularly participate in the work of the Student Involvement Network, and annual events like the Black Solidarity Summit and UM’s Conference on Undergraduate Research. These opportunities prepare students for jobs that require strong organizational and communication skills, and demonstrated ability to get things done.

Clubs and student organizations for African American studies majors

Black Student Union (open to all students at UM)

Explore classes for African American studies majors

An African-American studies major provides a well-rounded education that includes course offerings from anthropology, economics, English, geography, history, music, political science and sociology. Plus the program offers such fascinating classes as “Black: From African to Hip-Hop,” “The Black Radical Tradition,” and “White Supremacy: History/Defeat,” and much more.

View all classes for the bachelor’s degree in African American studies.