Interdepartmental Major in Sociology and African American and African Diaspora Studies

The Interdepartmental B.A. in African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADS) and Sociology provides you with transferrable skills in critical and analytical thinking as you learn about social issues from a cross-cultural perspective. Students study social forces that influence human behavior, developing the critical thinking skills needed to work with diverse populations.

Interdepartmental majors give you the opportunity to combine two majors of related interest. Advanced coursework enables you to develop a depth of knowledge about African American and African Diaspora social, historical, and cultural topics, as well as a background in the sociology of the American Black experience. You will also gain the methods and skills to explore this area yourself. 

The departments of African American and African Diaspora Studies and Sociology are part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Both departments also offer minors. African American and African Diaspora Studies offers a minor that allows students to focus on a single concentration area: Literature; Arts; or History, Culture, and Social Issues. The Sociology department offers three minors: Sociology; Sociology of Work and Business; and Social Science and Medicine. A Certificate in Social Research in Health and Medicine is also available from Sociology. Check your bulletin for more information about these minors and certificates.


Getting started

Your starting point in African American and African Diaspora Studies is to take AAAD-A 150 Survey of the Culture of Black Americans. This course introduces you to the culture of African Americans viewed from a broad interdisciplinary approach, employing resources from history, literature, folklore, religion, sociology, and political science.

In Sociology you can chose one of the introductory courses:

  • SOC-S 100 Introduction to Sociology
  • SOC-S 210 Economic Sociology
  • SOC-S 215 Social Change, or
  • SOC-S 230 Society and the Individual.

SOC-S 110 Understanding Social Data and SOC-S 217 Social Inequality, both of which are required for the interdepartmental major, are also good early courses.

Tracks and concentrations

The interdepartmental major in African American and African Diaspora Studies and Sociology does not offer tracks or concentrations. Instead, the flexibility of the major lets you design a program of study that supports your particular interests.

You do have the option of focusing on special areas in AAADS, such as historical, cultural, and social issues. In Sociology, you can take additional courses that focus on work, social work, counseling, mental illness, politics, government, law, criminal justice, deviant behavior, and social control.

Upper level coursework

As you advance in the interdepartmental major, you will need to take core courses in African American history (either AAAD-A 355 or A 356) and African American literature (either AAAD-A 379 or A 380). During your senior year, you will also take AAAD-A 493, a project-based seminar designed to synthesize the areas you have explored. In Sociology, the upper-level core course is SOC-S 335 Race and Ethnic Relations.

Much of the remainder of the upper-level coursework for the interdepartmental major is flexible to meet your interests and needs.

Students are encouraged to take a research class, either in AAAD-A 363 Research on Contemporary African American Problems I or SOC-S 370 Research Methods in Sociology.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

The AAADS and Sociology interdepartmental major represents about forty percent of your degree requirements. With the help of an academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with other majors, minors or certificates.

Students complement their studies in AAADS and Sociology with majors or minors in Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Economics, English, Gender Studies, History, Media, Political Science, Psychology, Spanish, among other options.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

While pursuing the interdepartmental major in African American and African Diaspora Studies and Sociology, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in many fields. Take advantage of office hours to talk to your instructors, discuss your performance in class, the content of readings and 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. 

As your interests develop, you might want to take a readings course, working under the guidance of AAADS faculty or Sociology faculty. Talk with your AAADS or Sociology advisor and your instructors about the possibility. There are a number of ways to enhance your major through work as a research assistant or a teaching assistant. If you are interested in becoming a research assistant, your first step is to review faculty research on the AAADS faculty website or Sociology faculty website. Make an appointment to talk with a member of the faculty whose work interests you.

Undergraduate teaching internships provide opportunities to participate in planning a course, teaching or leading classroom discussion, and mentoring peers. If you have successfully completed a course in which you would like a teaching internship, talk with the instructor about this possibility.

It is possible to earn credit for becoming a research assistant and or teaching assistant. Contact AAADS or Sociology advisor and AAADS faculty or Sociology faculty.


Students interested in doing an Honors Thesis should consult with the AAADS faculty or Sociology faculty or an advisor for these departments to discuss this option.

High-achieving students may 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

Students are eligible for rotating departmental awards hosted through the African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADS) department. Contact the advisor or faculty for details.

Awards are often given to:

  • A student nominated for an outstanding independent research project
  • Students who complete an outstanding AAAD-A 493 Senior seminar project

In addition, students are eligible for rotating departmental awards hosted through the Sociology department. Contact the advisor or faculty for details:

  • The Outstanding First Year or Second year or outstanding Junior Award
  • Ulysses Grant Weatherly Award for Best Undergraduate Paper

Options for pursuing scholarships and awards include:

Other scholarships offered by the College of Arts and Science might be right for you.


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.

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. 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 internships, as early as their freshman year. 

 It may be possible to earn academic credit for an internship sponsored by faculty by enrolling in AAAD-X 373 or SOC-X 373.

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 supports your academic interests. Popular options are Spanish, African languages, and Haitian Creole. Many people in the African diaspora speak Spanish and consider themselves Afro-Latino.

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 our increasingly interconnected world. AAADS and Sociology interdepartmental majors are encouraged to pursue language study and take advantage of the opportunity for cultural immersion in Africa, England, Ghana, Israel, Italy, or Central or South America.

The College of Arts + Sciences 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 conversation with Sociology or AAAD faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Participating in student groups while at college gives you a chance to make friends, take on leadership responsibilities and build connections between coursework and other activities.

The Neal Marshall Black Culture Center maintains lists of relevant student organizations, such as the Women of Color Leadership Institute, and programs on the IU campus.

Many students choose to live in the Atkins Living Learning Center or get involved with the African American Arts Institute, which is made up of the African American Dance Company, the African American Choral Ensemble, and the IU Soul Revue.

All students with an interest in Sociology are encouraged to join WOKE, IU Sociology Club. WOKE aims both to encourage dialogue between students who take Sociology classes and to advocate for social change and diversity.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of 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

The following are some of the many professional organizations relevant to AAADS and Sociology interdepartmental majors:

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 African American and African Diaspora Studies and Sociology provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferrable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Analytical Thinking: Analyze data using appropriate methods and paradigms of inquiry, including how race functions both globally and regionally
  • Cultural and Cross-Cultural Understanding: Understand how social forces influence human behavior and how variation in beliefs and behavior are influenced by social location
  • Ethical thinking: Identify diverse ethical and moral positions to critique and engage those positions
  • Critical Thinking: Evaluate the arguments of major theorists and compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of each
  • Communication and Leadership: Inform and interact, both orally and in writing, with experts and non-specialists concerning the social, economic, and political climate of situations surrounding the concepts of race and culture
  • Constructive civic engagement with the broader global African community
  • Data Interpretation: Learn statistical skills and interpret basic quantitative information and patterns
  • Research: Utilize a variety of research methods and designs for data collection and analysis

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 also 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, pay 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 College.

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 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. African American and African Diaspora Studies and Sociology 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

Many students find that an interdepartmental major or double major gives their education the depth and diversity needed to best prepare them for the workplace or graduate school. The Interdepartmental Major in AAADS and Sociology involves the study of group interactions and relationships among people, providing you with skills and knowledge that are vital to the private, public, and nonprofit sectors of the economy, including business and government organizations.

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

Graduates have become educators, attorneys, social workers, doctors, musicians, artists, librarians, lobbyists, filmmakers, nonprofit directors, human resource specialists, consultants, entrepreneurs, 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 AAADS faculty and Sociology faculty, your AAADS and Sociology academic advisors, the career coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates with this degree.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals. You may want to consider beginning your post-graduate career by exploring international internship or other short-term experiences through organizations such as these:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowships opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional school, you'll 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.

The interdepartmental major in African American and African Diaspora Studies and Sociology prepares you for entry into graduate programs in a variety of fields, including politics, education, research, non-profits management, business, and counselling.

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 this interdepartmental major have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, education, local, state, and federal government, nonprofit organizations, business, and entrepreneurship. Students have found positions with the Department of Child Services, Teach for America, The Project School, Indiana Prevention Resource Center, and the Center for Disease Control.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

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

 The IU College of Arts + 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 +Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.

Is it for you?

The interdepartmental major in African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADS) and Sociology attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Desire to explore and understand the social nature of the world
  • Curiosity about what shapes human behavior
  • Concern about social movements, historical events, and the African American experience
  • A wish to reflect on historical, contemporary, and cultural questions
  • Seek to work in political, legal, and civic engagement in connection with minority studies
  • Motivation to participate and engage in social movements and be a catalyst for change
  • Interest in real-time, cutting-edge research
  • A passion for performance in music and dance

Learn more

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

Department website
Advisor email address