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Application Process


The African American Studies Ph.D. Program seeks to recruit a cohort of four exceptional students each year from a pool of 40-60 applications. This is a highly competitive program and our admissions process includes careful considerations of all aspects of each application. 

The online application portal opens in September each year. All applications are due by 11:59 pm EST on December 15.

Application requirements include:

  • A 600-750 word statement of purpose
  • A 20-25 page writing sample
  • Selection of a specific cognate field: Gender & Sexuality, Social Justice & Social Movements, or Expressive Arts & Cultures
  • Selection of three core and affiliated graduate faculty in alignment with your intellectual interests
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • TOEFL scores, if applicable
  • $75 application fee; please check the application fee waivers page to see whether you are eligible for a fee waiver.
As applicants work on their application materials, they should consider the following: 

  • Applicants should make clear their match with at least three core and affiliated graduate faculty who can best facilitate their intellectual growth and work on their intended research project.
  • Each statement of purpose should detail previous research experience, planned research, and include a concrete statement of commitments to various kinds of communities.
  • We accept but do not require GRE scores. In this case, applications that do not include GRE scores are rated no differently than others. Even with GRE scores, we include the scores as part of a holistic review of application files. 
  • The writing sample should demonstrate the applicant's aptitude as a researcher and ability as a polished writer. The cognate field committee and the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) will read samples for evidence of the applicant's ability to conduct original and independent research or to mobilize disciplinary or interdisciplinary research methods.

The Evaluation of Candidates and the Recruitment Process

The deadline for all applications is December 15. After this point, faculty will evaluate and rank applications within each of the three cognate fields. Each cognate field will develop a ranked longlist of six to eight applicants and the faculty in each field will schedule and conduct 30-minute Zoom interviews for each longlisted candidate. After the interviews, each cognate field will submit a ranked list of their top four candidates to the GSC by the third week in January.

The GSC will meet within two business days after receiving the ranked lists in order to cull the masterlist of twelve ranked candidates down to a group of six to eight admits and another group of alternates. Admissions offers go out on the same evening of the GSC meeting. Finally, the Graduate Program Coordinator and the Director of Graduate Studies will invite all admitted applicants to campus for a two-day recruitment visit set for early- to mid-March.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes and we strongly encourage this. Applicants can find contact information for our core and affiliated graduate faculty throughout our website.

Admissions offers will be made by or before the last business day in January of each year. We will contact applicants on the waitlist on the very same day.

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer a distance learning or fully virtual option to matriculate in the African American Studies Ph.D. program. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may require courses at Emory to shift online for weeks or months at a time, a Ph.D. program of this nature requires students to be in residence for the in-house professional development training; the face-to-face networking opportunities during program or campus lecture series, symposia, and conferences; and the hands-on pedagogical training offered through the Laney Graduate School Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity (TATTO) program.

Students entering the AAS Ph.D. program with an M.A. or other previous graduate-level coursework may be allowed to waive required courses at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies—in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee. This is on a case-by-case basis and students petitioning to have previous coursework count toward program requirements will be asked to provide syllabi for previous courses as part of the request.

Our program has no terminal MA or MA-only option.

Yes, any student who has advanced to candidacy by passing their comprehensive exams and prospectus defense can seek an interim Master's degree. Please note that this is a student initiated process: https://gs.emory.edu/academics/completion/submit/masters-completion.html.

Please visit the Laney Graduate School application fee waivers page to check your eligibility for a fee waiver.

Any applicant interested in applying for a TOEFL fee waiver or fee reduction should consult the following:

One of the benefits of admission into our program is our large graduate faculty. With more than 50 core and affiliated faculty across a range of disciplines, our Ph.D. students will be trained by experts within and beyond the AAS Ph.D. program. In addition, we strongly encourage students to enroll in graduate offerings in other graduate programs at Emory in order to fulfill elective requirements. Students will find any number of graduate courses to take in Anthropology, Art History, Comparative Literature, English, History, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Sociology, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies--among other graduate programs.

All Ph.D. students are fully funded for five years with an annual stipend of at least $31,000, a tuition remission, and health insurance--pending satisfactory performance in the program. Though each student is guaranteed funding and support for five years, funding for a sixth year—if needed—will be possible. In addition, we require that all Ph.D. students apply for external funding beginning in Fall of Year Two. 

More funding opportunities are available through the Laney Graduate School. For more details, please visit their website at http://www.graduateschool.emory.edu/funding/index.html.

As is the practice in most fully funded Ph.D. programs, we expect students to be able to dedicate 40-hours a week to study, professional development, intellectual community building, and any teaching responsibilities. A full-time program requires full-time commitments. In addition, Laney Graduate School policy restricts the employment of graduate students who are receiving stipends. Permission to work any additional jobs, is required from both the AAS Director of Graduate Studies and Laney Graduate School.

The answer varies from student to student and depends on previous research experience(s), previous graduate-level coursework, and the nature of the dissertation project. Though we offer five-years of guaranteed funding (with the possibility of a sixth year), we expect that most Ph.D. students will complete the degree in about 6 years.