The Bachelor of Philosophy in International and Area Studies (BPhil in IAS) - African Studies Track

The Bachelor of Philosophy in International and Area Studies (BPhil in IAS) – African Studies track, is offered by the University Honors College (UHC) in cooperation with the Center for African Studies. It is an interdisciplinary degree requiring 30 credits of course work, three years of language study, and rigorous independent research. Students must submit a BPHIL application to the Honors College once their research question is formulated and have demonstrated a 3.5 GPA. Please visit the UHC website with full details of expectations of students and faculty.


Academic Requirements:


Students will take 8 Africa-related courses. Courses are updated each semester and can be found here

All BPHIL students must also take the following courses:

  • A 3-credit methodology course – typically within their major.
  • A 3-credit directed study course for thesis writing.


Language Study

Students pursuing a BPHIL- IAS African Studies track must reach a proficiency level of intermediate-high for an African language. This requires six semesters of a language to reach the required proficiency level. Information about specific language programs can be found at the Less Commonly Taught Languages Center website.


Study Abroad

tudents must participate a minimum 4 week in-country study-abroad/ internship program.  Students work with the CAS advisor to identify a global experience that will enhance or contextualize their BPHIL research. Students begin this process scanning Pitt’s Study Abroad 350 program offerings


Research Thesis

Students must complete a research thesis and publically defend their work.  As part of the process students identify a faculty member who will agree to mentor them through the research process and writing of their thesis. Along with the faculty mentor, three additional faculty  (2 from Pitt and 1 external) serve on the thesis committee.  All research must be approved by Pitt’s IRB office to ensure ethical research standards are met.  All pertinent information about the BPHIL including information about responsibility of faculty thesis advisor, IRB requirements and application is available on the Honor’s College website.

Digital Portfolio

Each student is required to create a succinct yet dynamic portfolio that illustrates their studies and interests pertaining to their African Studies concentration. The e-portfolio will demonstrate how students are informed about, as well as engaged with, African Studies through their various curricular and co-curricular experiences at Pitt.  Using a WordPress template, students learn how to build a website and personalize it using images, testimonies, and prose, which will facilitate the portrayal of the breadth and depth of themselves as individuals.  The e-portfolio is similar to an online resume and can be shared with employers and graduate schools. Students should get started building their digital portfolio soon after enrolling into the certificate or BPHIL program.