Black Studies

What is Black Studies?
The Department of Black Studies came about as a result of the students’ need for a more relevant curriculum, one dealing with the African Diaspora, and for more meaningful opportunities for faculty, staff and students. The department caters to its undergraduate majors as well as the larger academic community by serving more than 4,000 students per year fulfi lling general education requirements.

Black Studies is a distinctly innovative discipline that focuses on people of African descent whether they live in Africa, in the Caribbean, or in North or South America. Along with similar departments in the University of California and in other universities, it consists of intellectual and cross-cultural enterprises, incorporating historical reconstructions and formulating hitherto unexplored and unexamined methodological, theoretical, and analytical forms in the social sciences. Interdisciplinary in nature, it includes professors trained in comparative literature, film studies, ethnomusicology, gender studies, history, linguistics, political science, and other traditional disciplines. Besides exploring new areas of contact between these disciplines, it prepares students for life in an increasingly multi-ethnic and global society, for graduate study, and for professional careers in community service, education, government, law and private industry.

The Department of Black Studies seeks to increase the general awareness and understanding of the Black experience through an examination of its historical and contemporary manifestations in various societies. The department brings together scholars who are concerned with Black America, the African Diaspora, and Africa. It utilizes a cross-cultural approach, incorporating the active participation of faculty, students, and the wide community. The faculty of Professors and lecturers ground their students in history, literature, cinema, religion, the arts, and the social sciences, with particular concentrations in the achievement of moral ideals such as democracy and equality, cultural theory, and the social, aesthetic, and political ideas emerging from historical and contemporary societies.

Among the affiliated faculty are members of Art Studio, English, Political Science, and Sociology Departments and the Women's Studies Program. The department's resources and partnerships include the Center for Black Studies, the Ethnic Studies Library, the Multicultural Center, and various student groups.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Black Studies?
Black Studies is an interdisciplinary major. If you like to read novels, learn about history, understand politics, and watch films, then you’d like the disciplinary diversity of Black Studies. You will learn how to think, write, and speak critically which is essential upon graduation.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?
Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the Undergraduate Department Advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • Women and Politics of the Body
  • The Education of Black Children
  • Queer Black Studies
  • Race and Public Policy
  • Music of the African Diaspora
  • From Plantations to Prisons
  • Black Arts Expression
  • Black Marxism
  • Black Popular Music in America
  • Major Works of African
  • Literatures

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.

General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?
Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be. The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. Black Studies majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields. Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study options include:

  • Artist
  • Attorney
  • Counselor
  • Criminologist
  • Community Liaison Officer
  • Employment Counselor
  • Human Rights Advocate
  • Market Researcher
  • Physician
  • Police Officer
  • Social Service Worker
  • Sports Manager
  • Teacher
  • Urban Planner
  • Writer
  • Advertising Agent
  • Anthropologist
  • Biographer
  • College Professor
  • Community Planner
  • Creative Writer
  • Employment Counselor
  • Ethnologist
  • Foreign Aff airs Officer
  • Genealogist
  • Geographer
  • Health Administrator
  • Historian
  • Human Service Worker
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Legislative Aide
  • Linguist
  • Museum Worker
  • Psychologist
  • Research Associate
  • Resource Preservationist
  • Sociologist
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.
See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn

Graduate and Professional Schools

Black Studies Graduate Programs
Graduate programs in Black Studies in the U. S., provided by the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS).
This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Experience Search Strategies

Black Collegian
Black Collegian is a career site for students of color.

Provides job listings and a career center with job & resume postings for African Americans.

Designed to help corporate recruiters find qualified minority applicants, and to help minority professionals find positions that best suit their needs, aptitudes and interests.

These sites are packed with information about planning your career

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.


Professional Associations

African Studies Association
Its mission is to bring together people with a scholarly and professional interest in Africa.

National Association for Ethnic Studies
Its basic purpose is the promotion of activities and scholarship in the field of ethnic studies.

Los Angeles Chapter of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
The branch continues to support the programs and policies of the NAACP with aggressive action at the local level resolving around issues concerning education.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
The real story of the nation's most significant civil rights organization lies in the hearts and minds of the people who would not stand still while the rights of some of America's darker citizens were denied.

National Urban League
The mission of the Urban League movement is to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.

Black Culinarian Alliance
The mission is to create exposure and provide educational and professional opportunities for culinary and hospitality professionals of color.

Association of African American Sales Professionals
Serves to meet the needs of professional and developmental needs of African-American sales and sales management professionals.

Blacks in Government (BIG)
Enable all present and future Black employees in Local, State, and Federal governments to have the ability to maximize their career opportunities and provide a mechanism for inclusion, growth and advocacy.

UCSB Resources

UCSB Library Black Studies Subject Homepage

Black Studies Departmental Web Page

Career Resource Room

UCSB Educational Opportunity Program
African American Cultural Services: serve as a centralized location for all individuals interested in learning more about the African American community at UCSB.

UCSB General Catalog

UCSB Office of Student Life

UCSB Minors