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Academic Program

Students from the Black Art: Quilting as History and Culture, with their completed quilts.

Students from the class Black Art: Quilting as History and Culture, with their completed quilts.

Course Minor

All interdisciplinary minors in Black Studies are required to take BLST 015: Introduction to Black Studies, ordinarily during their first two years, and four additional courses listed in the catalog that earn Black Studies credit. Of these four additional courses, at least one of them must be outside of the departmental major, and no more than one course taken outside of Swarthmore may be counted toward the minor. To be accepted into the minor a GPA of 3.0 in Black Studies related courses is recommended. We strongly advise students to take at least one course in African or African diasporic history.

Honors Minor

Honors minors must meet all requirements of the course minor. Students participating in the Honors Program are invited to define a minor in the Black Studies Program.  Honors minors in Black Studies must complete a two-credit preparation for their honors portfolio to be submitted to external examiners. The following options apply:

  1. A two-credit honors thesis written under program supervision,
  2. A one credit thesis paired with a BLST course,
  3. A two-credit honors seminar that counts toward the BLST Program, or
  4. The pairing of two one-credit courses that count toward the BLST Program.

Requirements and Preparation for Honors Minors

The two-credit honors thesis must include work done for the interdisciplinary minor and should entail some unifying or integrative principle of coherence. The Black Studies Committee must approve the proposal for the 2-credit honors thesis, normally during the fall of the student's senior year.

Work in the Black Studies Program may be represented in the honors portfolio sent to the external examiner by the inclusion of an essay designed to enhance and/or integrate work done in two or more courses, a revised and enriched seminar paper or a term paper from a Black Studies Program course, a video or audio tape of a creative performance activity in dance or music, or other approved creative work.

Students interested in the Black Studies course or honors minor will need to complete an application form in addition to formally requesting the minor in the portal. 

Special Major

Students preferring more intensive work in Black Studies are welcome to design a special major by consulting with the program's coordinator, usually during sophomore year. The special major includes the requirements for the minor plus 5 additional credits, one of which usually includes a capstone experience to be decided upon in consultation with the program's coordinator. Complete this form or find one available from the Registrar's Office. Once completed and signed, file it with the program coordinator and the Registrar's Office.

Thesis / Culminating Exercise

Students may complete a one-credit course thesis (BLST 091) as part of the Black Studies minor or special major.  Permission will be granted only after consultation with the Black Studies coordinator and committee, normally either during the spring of the junior year or in September of the senior year. Students may also do a thesis/culminating exercise as part of another Black Studies course taken during their senior year, but this arrangement must be approved by the Black Studies program beforehand.   

Application Process Notes for the Major or the Minor

Students in any department may add an interdisciplinary minor in Black Studies to their departmental major by fulfilling the requirements stated above. Applications for admission to the Black Studies minor or major should be made in the spring semester of the sophomore year through MySwarthmore. 

Life After Swarthmore

Students with a background in Black Studies have pursued many different professions after graduation. Some have worked in research, or social service organizations, while others have gone directly to graduate school. Many eventually become teachers or professors. But many others work in broadcasting, arts, journalism, law (including international law), business, finance, politics, or in non-governmental organizations. All consider Black studies to have been an important part of their liberal arts education.