Interdepartmental Major in History and AAADS B.A.

If you are interested in learning about the history and experiences of people of African descent in the United States and throughout the world, a B.A. with an Interdepartmental Major in History and African American and African Diaspora Studies may be the right choice for you. The interdisciplinary approach in this combined major will provide you with a unique way of studying the history of the African diaspora.

Using the skills of an historian to retrieve and interpret the past, students in this major study the history, culture, social institutions, movements and identities of African diaspora communities. The combined program also gives you the opportunity to learn more about the unique fine arts and performing arts traditions of different communities within the African diaspora.

The departments of History and African American and African Diaspora Studies are located within the College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty in both the Department of History and African American and African Diaspora Studies represent a wide variety of interests and disciplines, allowing students to explore and customize their programs.


Getting started

Students typically begin by taking AAAD-A 150: Survey of the Culture of Black Americans, in their first or second semester at IU. It is strongly recommended that you take this course as soon as possible.

AAAD-A 150 is one of three required courses that count toward the African American and African Diaspora Studies portion of this major. The remaining two courses, as well as additional AAADS electives, are usually taken in later semesters. You will want to discuss upper level AAADS courses with your AAADS academic advisor and then decide where the courses best fit into your schedule. 

During your first or second semester of study you will also begin taking courses that count toward your history studies. You may begin your studies by taking a 100- or 200-level History course on a topic that interests you.  HIST-H270: What is History? will help you to orient yourself in the History Department and explore the methodology of History.

Students with numerous AP or other college-level credits in history may begin by taking upper-level U.S. History courses with subjects related to the African diaspora.

The Interdepartmental B.A. in History and AAADS also requires at least two courses in non-U.S. history. These courses may be completed sometime during the first four or five semesters of study.

To find out which History courses fit best with this program, you will want to meet with your History academic advisor.

Tracks and concentrations

Students pursuing this interdepartmental major will primarily focus on African American History courses and courses from the History, Culture and Social Issues track in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies.

The History, Culture, and Social Issues track focuses on broad subject areas such as African American history, cultural studies, politics, and legal issues. You can focus on specific topics, such as protest strategies within Civil Rights movements, or cultural identity perspectives involving race, class, and gender.

Upper level coursework

This interdisciplinary major allows you to customize your upper level courses based on your interests in history and AAADS.

All students are required to take at least 15 credit hours of 300-400 level History courses (with a "HIST" prefix) and 12 hours of 300-400 level AAADS courses for this major.

In addition to several required courses at the 300-level, students will also complete one 400-level senior History seminar.  This course focuses on research, writing, and developing your own projects as an advanced student.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

The History and AAADS Interdepartmental Major may be combined with many other areas of study. Students often add minors or certificates to their program.

Depending on your interests, many options are available, including African Studies, Criminal Justice, English, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, and foreign language study. Check your bulletin for more information about these minors. The Liberal Arts in Management Program (LAMP) and Political and Civic Engagement Program (PACE) are commonly selected certificates.

Professional schools on campus also offer opportunities to earn minors and certificates:

When planning your program, be sure to discuss your options with your academic advisor.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing the Interdepartmental Major in History and African American and African Diaspora Studies, you have the opportunity to work with Department of History and AAADS faculty who have expertise and experience in many fields. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

You can get involved in research as early as your freshman year. Many incoming freshmen apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker. 

All students are required to take HIST-J 400: Seminar in History. Course topics vary, but all J400 courses provide opportunities to discuss and analyze primary and secondary sources.  Students in HIST-J400 undertake a substantial project, demonstrating the development of skills in historical study and research methodology.

Students also have the opportunity to take an AAADS independent study course, allowing them to assist a faculty member with their current research or further their own research with the help of a faculty mentor. With the instructor’s permission, some students choose to undertake a teaching internship within the AAADS department. The AAADS academic advisor can help you explore your independent study options.


Students may also apply to the History Departmental Honors Program. If accepted, they have the opportunity to:

  • Complete an honors research seminar with other highly motivated honors students
  • Receive guidance for serious historical research from the Director of Honors
  • Explore the practice of history more deeply within a specialized area
  • Design, research and write a fully developed historical project, paper, or thesis
  • Work closely with a faculty research mentor who guides, critiques, and suggests resources
  • Develop the skills and understanding needed for future graduate work in fields such as history, law, public relations, and business

High achieving students may also be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

African American and African Diaspora Studies students are eligible for the rotating awards hosted through the AAADS department. Awards are often given to:

  • Candidates who make the Executive Dean’s List
  • A student nominated for an outstanding independent research project
  • Students who complete an outstanding AAAD-A 493 senior seminar project

Students may also submit essays for the Department of History Annual Essay contest.

Options for pursuing scholarships and awards also include:


Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

The Department of History offers the opportunity to earn academic credit for an internship, through the course HIST-X 473: Internship for History Majors.  You can apply for this course through the Walter Center for Career Achievement.  After finding and accepting an internship offer, students enrolled in HIST-X 473 will work with an IUB faculty supervisor.  Ask your academic advisor for more information if you would like to earn credit for an internship through HIST-X 473.

Many students find local history internship opportunities with these organizations:

Additional local internships may be available through the Boys and Girls Club and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you’ll find many resources for both domestic and international internships. 

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages.

You are encouraged to find a language that interests you and allows you to add depth to your studies. Students pursuing the Interdepartmental Major in History and AAADS often take advantage of various African languages offered on campus. The African Languages Program offers regularly scheduled courses in Akan/Twi, Bamana, Kiswahili, Wolof, Yoruba, and Zulu during the academic year.

Students who plan to pursue graduate study in history or African American and African Diaspora Studies may find it essential to be able to read and interpret documents in other languages. Talk to a professor in your area of interest about which languages would be required.

If you enjoy language study and plan to pursue a minor or perhaps a second major, consult your bulletin and contact the appropriate advisor for that language.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly interconnected world. Students pursuing the Interdepartmental major in History and AAADS often pursue language study and other coursework through the following exchange programs:

Adelaide-IU - Australia
Aix-en-Provence-IU -- France
Canterbury-IU -- England
Cape Town-CIEE -- South Africa
Christchurch-IES -- New Zealand
Dakar-CIEE -- Senegal
Legon-CIEE -- Ghana
Nagoya-IU -- Japan

The College of Arts and Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversations with your AAADS and History faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study

Student groups

Participating in students groups while at college gives you a chance to make friends, take on leadership responsibilities and build connections between coursework and other activities. Students completing the Interdepartmental Major in History and AAADS enjoy a variety of student groups.

The Neal Marshall Black Culture Center maintains an updated list of organizations on the IUB campus.

You may also want to participate in one of the three ensembles offered through the African American Arts Institute. While these ensembles are offered as IU courses, students in the ensembles travel and host workshops like many clubs do.

Many students choose to live in the Atkins Living Learning Center, one of the several Living Learning Centers on campus. Atkins emphasizes the celebration and study of African American History and culture. Students from all majors and backgrounds are invited to participate in the community at Atkins.

Students may also choose to be active in one of the many historically black, predominately black and multicultural fraternities and sororities on campus.

The History Undergraduate Student Association ("HUSA") organizes activities and events for all Indiana University students with an interest in History.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Students completing the Interdepartmental Major in History and AAADS may wish to join these organizations:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, and nonprofit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The Interdepartmental major in History and African American and African Diaspora Studies provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Analyze how race functions in the African American and African Diaspora, shaped by historical forces, ideas, and actions
  • Identify diverse ethical and moral positions and be able to critique and engage those positions
  • Know how construct civic engagement with the broader global Africana community
  • Effectively communicate the social, economic and political climate of situations surrounding concepts of race and culture
  • Evaluate how different perspectives influence the ways in which people have used history in the past and continue to use it today
  • Consider issues, conduct research, and resolve problems using a variety of research approaches
  • Learn how historical arguments work, and produce your own historical arguments based on evidence
  • Evaluate potential sources of information, to distinguish good sources from bad, to extract usable material, and to shape information into coherent knowledge
  • Present your ideas clearly in writing, adapting your writing to different formats
  • Communicate your ideas clearly in an oral form, taking into account the purpose of the presentation and the audience

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, remember to pay close attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. History and AAADS majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Social and Historical Studies provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!

The job market

The Interdepartmental major in History and African American and African Diaspora Studies prepares you for work in a wide variety of industries and work environments, making the outlook promising due to the range of options it allows.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: federal and state government, education, research and academia, health care, nonprofit organizations, performing arts, and business.

Graduates with degrees in History and African American and African Diaspora Studies have become fiscal and policy analysts, professors, management consultants, marketing directors, student affairs professionals, teachers, recruiters, attorneys, social workers, doctors, musicians, artists, lobbyists, film makers, nonprofit directors, entrepreneurs, librarians, human resources specialists, and much more.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with the History faculty, the AAADS faculty, your academic advisorscareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates with this degree.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:

Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as:

Using these and other resources, your career coach can help you craft a unique post-graduate short-term experience, whether in the United States or abroad.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A B.A. degree with the Interdepartmental Major in History and African American and African Diaspora Studies can prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as politics, history, public affairs, education, research, non-profit management, museum studies, business and consulting.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other professional programs.

Students who pursue graduate studies after earning the B.A. degree are prepared to pursue careers with top academic and research institutions, education, local, state, and federal government, nonprofit organizations, and business.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

Talk with your faculty, academic advisor, career coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.

Students with the Interdepartmental Major in History and African American and African Diaspora studies may remain connected with other students and alumni through the Department of History Facebook page and the AAADS department's alumni page.

The College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts and Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.

Is it for you?

The Interdepartmental B.A. in History and AAADS attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • A particular interest in peoples of the African diaspora and their communities
  • An interest in social movements, historical events, and the black American experience
  • Motivation to study works of African diasporic history, literature, art and music
  • Awareness of current social and political movements
  • An interest in political, legal and civic engagement in relation to minority studies
  • Confidence in their own writing, reasoning, and communication skills
  • Desire to develop their abilities in relation to historical research standards and scholarship
  • An inquisitive nature, capable of careful analysis and study
  • A willingness to develop comparative and creative thinking skills

Learn more

Contact the History or African American and African Diaspora Studies academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address