Updated December 6, 2022

By BVS Staff January 2017 Welcome to our ranking of the 20 best small colleges for African American studies majors on a budget. Methodology Each of these top schools offers at least one comprehensive program for students seeking a bachelor's degree in African studies (including but not limited to African American studies, Black studies, and ...

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By BVS Staff
July 2020

Welcome to our ranking of the 20 best small colleges for African American studies majors on a budget.


Each of these top schools offers at least one comprehensive program for students seeking a bachelor's degree in African studies (including but not limited to African American studies, Black studies, and Africana studies). In addition, they each maintain an overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 50%. Of course, to be a best value, these top-ranked schools also has to demonstrate a genuine commitment to affordable education - which means meeting our net price requirements. All of the programs on this ranking have estimated annual costs (as reported on College Navigator) of less than $27,000 a year. But which of these is the most affordable small college for an African studies degree? Scroll down to #1 to find out!

#1 Berea College Berea, KY
#2 Amherst College Amherst, MA
#3 Colby College Waterville, ME
#4 North Park University Chicago, IL
#5 Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
#6 Colgate University Hamilton, NY
#7 Hamilton College Clinton, NY
#8 Wellesley College Wellesley, MA
#9 Wesleyan University Middletown, CT
#10 Augustana College Rock Island, IL

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  1. Berea College

    Berea, KY



    Berea College is perhaps best known for its Tuition Promise Scholarship, which guarantees that all students receive 100% tuition assistance (that is, pay no money for classes) for all four years of their undergraduate education. But Berea offers much more than a free education (as if that's not enough!). In fact, Berea's African and African American Studies program is among the school's most academically rigorous. By combining the study of black history, literature, music, politics, economics, and more into a single program, this top college for an African Studies degree equips majors for a wide range of promising career opportunities after graduation.

  2. Amherst College

    Amherst, MA



    Established in the early 1970s, Amherst College's Black Studies Program has long been a bastion for cross-cultural and radical inquiry. From their very first introductory course in the major, students learn to debate the ontology of the "Black Experience" itself. This task often leads to discussions about what, if any, similarities exist between the experiences of African Americans, Caribbean inhabitants/West Indians, and South Africans, among other groups. Black Studies majors at Amherst quickly acclimate to this level of discourse, as the coursework frequently challenges them with tough questions about culture, race, and heritage. Since these questions are so trenchant - and often evoke personal responses - many students in this top African American studies program investigate further by producing a senior thesis.

  3. Colby College

    Waterville, ME



    At Colby College, students don't just read about the African experience; they actually go out and experience it. Since most undergrads at Colby are from the United States, the school encourages members of its affordable African American Studies program (as well as non-majoring African Americans) to study abroad in order to broaden their perspective. To that end, Colby supports overseas travel to Ghana, South Africa, many of the other 54 countries that make up the African continent. On campus, members of the African-American Studies Department also work closely with faculty to develop programming for Black History Month, celebrating their heritage throughout the entire school.

  4. North Park University

    Chicago, IL



    Like many other schools on this list, North Park University is an affordable small college with an African studies program that is interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and compassionate. While that alone would surely make North Park attractive to many students, it's the annual Sankofa trip that makes this program especially unique. Officially, Sankofa is a West African word meaning "looking backward to move forward." At North Park, the department uses it to describe a cross-country bus trip that can students take to confront relics of racial injustice (e.g., plantations, churches, schools) that still have impact on communities today.

  5. Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie, NY



    As Vassar's "longest-running multidisciplinary program," it's surely safe to say that this college's Africana Studies Department is one of the oldest in the country. Since 1969, the department has relied on the experience of black scholars in nearly every academic field across campus to create an intellectual environment that is conducive to the safe and rigorous study of black identity and cultural heritage. Today, this top college for an African Studies degree is also well known for hosting important black speakers (such as New York Times bestselling author, Andrea Pinkney) at public events on campus.

  6. Colgate University

    Hamilton, NY



    Colgate University's Africana and Latin American Studies Department offers more options for personalization than most of the schools on this African studies college degree ranking. Perhaps most significantly, undergrads in this department can choose from four area-specific concentrations, including African, African American, and Caribbean Studies. These three options allow majors to study their own heritage or an area of personal interest, while the fourth option lets students craft their own focus based on their own experiences or cultural preferences. But regardless of which concentration they select, Colgate provides all majors in the department with a comprehensive liberal curriculum that spans the humanities, social sciences, and arts.

  7. Hamilton College

    Clinton, NY



    Interdisciplinary and transcontinental, Hamilton College's Africana Studies Department is an intellectually eclectic environment for voracious learners. The major program spans five broad geographical areas that transcend national boundaries: Africa, the Caribbean, the US, Latin America, and Europe. Since each of these regions has played a pivotal role in the cultural development of the African diaspora, Hamilton's curriculum is able to weave their histories together to help students appreciate world history from the black perspective. Members of this affordable African American studies program also investigate the cultural contributions of black artists and writers through music, painting, literature, and performance.

  8. Wellesley College

    Wellesley, MA



    Once known as "Black Studies," Wellesley's Africana Studies Department was founded in 1972 to celebrate and study the works of those of African descent. Since then, it has grown to accommodate a wide variety of social, political, and theoretical methodologies that include Negritude, Garveyism, pan-Africanism, and Post-Colonialism. That might sound like a lot of "isms", but it is precisely this diverse chamber of opinions and experiences that make this one of the most attractive departments for cultural studies students at Wellesley. Another feature that makes Wellesley one of the best colleges for an African studies degree is its independent Swahili Department.

  9. Wesleyan University

    Middletown, CT



    Where Augustana's Africana Studies program is devoted to exploring blackness around the globe, Wesleyan University situates the critical conversation surrounding race in the Western world. Wesleyan's top African American studies program explores "issues of race and identity" through examinations of the music, art, literature, philosophy, and political writings of black Westerners like W.E.B. DuBois, James Baldwin, and Miles Davis. The curriculum sets these historical conceptions of color and power structures against contemporary writings and the lived experiences of the very students in the classroom to provide an illuminating and introspective educational environment.

  10. Augustana College

    Rock Island, IL



    Augustana College's Africana Studies program provides undergraduates with a comprehensive survey of the culture, politics, and experiences of peoples of African descent. From African Americans to the Caribbean and, of course, the nations of Africa itself, Augustana's curriculum chronicles black lives in nations across the globe. Students encounter these experiences through an array of critical lenses, from anthropology and cultural theory to economics and legal analysis. Due to the diverse topics and methodologies of this affordable African American studies program, it can serve as a great primer for graduate school as well as a variety of careers.

Want to find out exactly how much it will cost for you to attend one of these affordable African American studies programs? Check out the U.S. Department of Education's Net Price Calculator Center.

See also: 10 Best Value Small Colleges for a Middle Eastern Studies Degree 2016-2017


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