African Literature and Languages

Find out more about the field of African literature and languages. See what kind of job you can get after studying these topics. Learn about degree options and how they can prepare you for employment, and get the career outlook for common jobs.

Are African Literature and Languages for Me?

Career Overview

African literature is oral and written. It includes writings of the African diaspora, or those created by writers of African birth or heritage living in other lands. In a degree program, you may learn about pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial literature, traditional African views of art and the relationship between words and truth.

Career Options

As a graduate of an African language and literature program, you may work as a teacher, writer or translator, or pursue opportunities in international relations and business. While a master's degree would allow you to teach at a community college, completion of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program might qualify you for a position at the university level.

Salary Potential

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2013, college professors who specialized in area, ethnic and cultural studies enjoyed a mean annual wage of $77,550. Foreign language and literature teachers averaged $66,300 during the same time.

As of 2013, writers and authors had mean annual incomes of $69,250. Translators and interpreters averaged $47,920 per year (

How Can I Work in African Literature and Languages?

Undergraduate Programs

An undergraduate degree in African literature and languages will require several semesters of coursework in African language, as well as an introduction to African linguistics. Potential studies in African language might include Afrikaans, Amharic, Igbo and Sudanese Arabic, as well as Swahili, Tigrinya, Twi, Wolof, Yoruba and Zulu. The study of French, German, Spanish or Portuguese may also be required. Other courses may include topics in African civilization, history and contemporary issues. Studying abroad on the African continent is highly recommended.

Graduate Programs

If you wish to pursue a career in international business, law or government, you might consider a Master of Arts in African Studies, which typically requires two years to complete. In addition to independent research, courses in anthropology, political science, sociology and history may be required.

If you are interested in working in academia, you'll most likely need a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in African Studies. Fluency in multiple African languages may be a prerequisite, as well as proficiency in French and German. Once you choose your area of specialization, you'll be assigned to a faculty member who will guide you through the dissertation research and defense process.

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