Academic Programs & Advising

The Black Studies Department offers several options for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students interested in Black Studies. We also offer courses in the School of Gender, Race, and Nations graduate certificate program.



Many students wonder what they can do with a Black Studies degree - the answer is, there is a lot!  The options are quite varied, whether as a stand-alone major, or a minor or certificate to complement other degrees.  By exploring themes across multiple disciplines, students with degrees in Black Studies are prepared for graduate study, for making constructive contributions to our increasingly multi-ethnic society, and careers in business, history, advocacy, politics, psychology, government, education, anthropology, publishing, the arts, research, and more.  Please visit the following resources for more in-depth information:


Undergraduate Degree Options

Black Studies Major

Courses in the Department of Black Studies cover three primary areas – Africa, the United States, and the Caribbean. Courses include a focus on history, anthropology, culture, social status, gender, education, film, music, and more. Students are encouraged to select among the wide range of courses offered that will help prepare them for future career goals and or academic pursuits.  Please see our major details page for more information.


Black Studies Minor

To earn a minor in black studies a student must complete 28 credits (12 credits of which must be taken in residence at PSU), to include the following: eight credits in lower division, 12 credits in upper division, and eight adviser-approved credits chose from courses within departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  Please see our minor details page for more information.


Black Studies Postbaccalaureate Certificate

A B.A. or B.S. is a prerequisite for a certificate in black studies. Completion of 36 credits is required for the certification in Black Studies. It is recommended that of these 36 credits, 24 credits be Department of Black Studies course offerings. Twenty-four credits must be upper-division courses within an area of specialization constructed with the consent of the advisor and approval from faculty.

All courses used to satisfy certificate requirements need not be in Black Studies, but can include appropriate courses in other departments as approved by an advisor. Students may focus on the African American, Caribbean, or African experiences. Courses taken under the undifferentiated grading option (pass/no pass) are not acceptable toward fulfilling certificate requirements.


Graduate Certificate in the School of Gender, Race, and Nations

In order to be admitted as a graduate student at PSU, visit the Graduate Admissions site.

For detailed information on how to apply, please see the Gender, Race, and Nations Graduate Certificate site.



The undergraduate advisor for the Black Studies Department is Dr. Derrais Carter, who can be reached in his office, PKM 247, by email at, or by phone at 503-725-9055.  The department chair, Dr. Shirley A. Jackson, is also available for assistance. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 503-725-9393. 

PSU's Advising and Career Services department offers information on what students have to look forward to when they major in a specific discipline.  Black Studies falls within the Academic Advising Pathway, "Society & Identity" and the current CLAS advisor for the department is Kim Utschig.  They can help you:

  • Understand your graduation requirements and create a degree plan 
  • Access appropriate financial tools and resources and direct you to financial support services
  • Confirm your major choice and/or help you identify a major that suits your skills, values, interests, and goals 
  • Explore careers (to be done before you reach 90 credits, or during the first term, if you are a transfer student)
  • Review your final graduation plan and apply for your degree


Interested in attending Portland State University and declaring a major, minor, or certificate in Black Studies? Start by going to one of these two links: