Undergraduate Program Black Studies

PSU Black Studies professor teaches a class

Black Studies Bachelor's Degree, Minor and Certificate Overview

Portland State University's Black Studies major is an innovative program that incorporates courses from many departments and focuses on the historical and contemporary issues of people of African, African American, Afro-Latin@ and Caribbean descent. Students with a major in Black Studies will gain competency in project development, analysis, research, communication, cultural sensitivity, and interpersonal and community relations.

The minor in Black Studies at PSU offers students opportunities to build a unique program of study drawing from courses on the African diaspora. Students who opt for the minor find that it complements their major, particularly those majoring in social science, liberal studies, sociology, psychology, and history. Students majoring in child, youth and family studies and criminology and criminal justice may also find the minor degree useful for their future academic or career goals.

If you are seeking a second bachelor’s degree or pursuing a graduate program, but are not yet enrolled in one, you may complete a post-baccalaureate certificate in Black Studies. If you are not yet admitted to a graduate program you may take courses at the graduate or undergraduate level. If you are interested in the postbaccalaureate certificate in the Black Studies program, contact the department for assistance with course selection.

We offer a foundation in the following areas:

  • Dynamics and intersections of race, class, and gender
  • Historical events, narratives, and their impacts
  • Cultural experiences, identities, and traditions
  • Research methods
  • Representations in literature, art, film, and media
  • Socio-political ideologies, and forms of resistance and social justice

Black Studies’ distinguished faculty consists of a diverse group of scholars from various disciplines whose fields of specialization cover African, Caribbean and African American issues, as well as the broader African diaspora, such as Europe. Courses in Black Studies include historical and contemporary perspectives drawing upon scholarly research, films, community-based learning, and guest speakers. The recently revised course offerings also provide students the ability to work on a final research project under the advisement of a department faculty member, engage in individualized internship opportunities, and participate in faculty-led study abroad programs.

Degree Details

  • BA
    Bachelor of Arts
    Delivery Method
    On campus
    Total Credits
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  • BS
    Bachelor of Science
    Delivery Method
    On campus
    Total Credits
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  • m
    Delivery Method
    On campus
    Total Credits
    Start Term
  • C
    Certificate Program
    Delivery Method
    On campus
    Total Credits
    Start Term

Learn more about PSU’s academic program delivery methods.

Black Studies Bachelor's Degree, Minor or Certificate: Why PSU?

Portland State University is the only institution of higher education in the Pacific Northwest that offers a degree in Black Studies. It is a unique degree with courses that cover Africa, African America, and the Caribbean (and includes South America and Europe).

Black Studies seeks to expose students from all cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds to academic information that goes beyond what is found in traditional college curricula.

The department offers a Black Bag Speaker Series that has been ongoing since 2006 and brings in a variety of speakers to inform and enlighten students and the community-at-large.

At PSU, students have the opportunity to study the politics, culture, and history of Africans in Africa, the United States Caribbean, and Europe and engage deeply in student groups dedicated to celebrating these populations.

  • Association of African Students (AAS) at PSU: A student group formed in the mid-seventies by African students. Since its formation, AAS has worked to bring Africans living in the diaspora together with the larger PSU community.
  • Black Student Union PSU (BSU): The BSU serves as a social, intellectual, and political community for students of the African diaspora through education, organizing, and action.
  • Pan-African Commons: A community space that reclaims African, Black American, Caribbean, Central/South American, and black identities across the world. Programming and identity development aims to preserve ancestry and indigenous solidarity among Afro-descent cultures.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree, Minor, or Certificate in Black Studies?

By exploring themes across multiple programs, students with a bachelor’s degree in Black Studies are prepared for graduate study and for work in careers in government, community service, education, non-profit agencies, museums, business, communications, and law enforcement and for making constructive contributions to our increasingly multi-ethnic society.

Students in Black Studies are encouraged to become members of professional associations like the National Council of Black Studies and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, that provide opportunities to meet with faculty and students, present at conferences, and learn about research, scholarship and funding opportunities.

Featured Courses

  • BST 202 Intro to Black Studies
  • BST 396 Research Methods in Black Studies
  • BST 411 Seminar in African American History
  • BST 450 Seminar in African/Caribbean Studies
  • BST 353U African Women in Film
  • BST 221 Intro to African American Literature
  • BST 342U Black Feminism/Womanism
  • BST 325U Race & Ethnicity in Latin America
  • BST 206 Caribbean Studies
  • BST 207 Race, Class, and Gender
  • BST 203 African American History I
  • BST 204 African American History II


  • BST 261 The African American Economic Experience
  • BST 514 Racism
  • BST 345U Black Popular Music: Contextualizing the Black Experience
  • BST 316 Issues in African American Education
  • BST 335U The Multi-Racial Experience
  • BST 357U Caribbean Spirituality and Resistance
  • BST 319U Traditional Cultures of Africa


Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).