Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Education (M.Ed.)

Degree Program

College of Education

First Advisor

Nagnon Diarrassouba

Second Advisor

Donald Mitchell

Third Advisor

Jay Cooper


The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to provide understanding of the reason why African American students choose to enroll or do not enroll in Black Studies courses; and, (2) explore the relationship between racial identity development and Black Studies programs. Using a phenomenological approach, African American undergraduate students who have: (a) participated in a student organization that focuses on the advancement of Black people/African Americans, an organization that was founded with the purpose of creating an organization for Black Americans, or an organization that focuses on racial equality; or (b) be a Black Studies minor were interviewed. Findings suggest that students who choose Black Studies courses are a result of their desire to learn more about and reclaim their history. Those who did not take a Black Studies courses did not enroll because they were not interested in the topic or prioritized their required classes. Students who were Black Studies minors were more likely to feel a connection with the African diaspora while those who had not taken a Black Studies course were more likely to claim themselves as Black verses African American. Black Studies minors reported a better sense of self and reported a more positive development of their racial identity compared to many of the students who did not take a Black studies course.

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