Black Studies at PSU

Portland State University is one of the very few institutions of higher education in the Pacific Northwest that offers a degree in Black Studies.  Founded in 1970, Black Studies is a unique and important program with courses that cover Africa, the United States, the Caribbean, South America, and Europe. 

The Department of Black Studies provides comprehensive learning programs aimed at understanding the lived experiences of African/Black people historically, presently and into the future. Black Studies seeks to critically engage students with one of the most pressing issues of our times - that is, the significance of African/Black life in shaping politics, culture, the economy, and society. Lastly, a defining aspect of Black Studies is its inherent connection with people, communities, and organizations outside of the academy.

We offer an undergraduate major and minor, as well as a postbaccalaureate certificate. We also offer courses in the School of Gender, Race, and Nations graduate certificate program.

Black Studies students develop valuable workplace skills, including research, analysis, writing, critical thinking, oral presentation, and problem-solving. Specifically, students will develop competency in defining equity in relation to race, gender, sexuality and other expressions of identity, demonstrating authentic forms of collaboration, providing new leadership perspectives and addressing "real world" problems.

By exploring themes across multiple programs, students with degrees 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. Our program enhances students' abilities in current job markets that serve multicultural and multiethnic populations, and also gives students a competitive advantage in obtaining careers in industries and communities that interact with African, African American, and Caribbean cultures.

We offer a foundation in the following areas:

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