Africana Philosophy Recommendations

This report for academic year 2013-14 divides graduate programs into the three categories indicated below.

Two considerations have moved us to create a new set of recommendations in Africana philosophy. First, we hope to clarify the work of the race/ethnicity list, which can now focus on the prospects for studying the philosophy of race and ethnicity more narrowly conceived, instead of blurring this focus with questions of support for (what one might think of as) critical geographies and critical anthropologies like Africana, Asian-American, Indigenous, and Latin American philosophy. Second, clarifying the boundaries between race theory and Africana philosophy makes it easier for aspiring Africana philosophers to find in our recommendations the information they need. That is: they won’t have to wonder if a department fares well in our survey because it has people doing analytic racial metaphysics or because it has people who study Maria Stewart and CLR James.

 We created the recommendations by asking the members of our advisory board for this area to list the Anglophone philosophy departments that they would recommend to a student for graduate study in Africana Philosophy. Some departments appeared on all the lists, and now appear below as strongly recommended schools. Others appeared on the vast majority of lists but not on all, and now appear below as recommended schools. The rest appeared on fewer than a majority of lists, but were accepted by the board as worthy of mention because they had one or some of the following features: i) individual faculty experts representing the field in a tolerant but not actively supportive environment; ii) complementary strengths in units that could be expected to supplement the work of the philosophy department, or iii) recent changes in encouraging directions – newly hired or tenured faculty, for example.

There are of course many questions about what counts as Africana Philosophy, and whether this label obscures more than it reveals. Many of our advisory board members have published germinal reflections on this very topic. In deference to the most obvious complication involved with this title, we have parenthetically indicated whether specific schools particularly excel in some geographic subfield of Africana Philosophy – African, Afro-Caribbean, and African-American. (This is not an exhaustive list, not least because it does not include categories like ‘Afro-European’ or ‘Diasporic’. We’ve chosen categories that reflect quick and dirty but standard ways of dividing the field, and that will surely undergo revision in future versions of the Guide.)

We make no claims here about the social climate that students of African descent are likely to find at the named schools. We are interested here in identifying the North American philosophy departments that can provide the kind of intellectual support, professional mentorship, and scholarly guidance that a student of Africana philosophy would need in order to have a successful graduate career. As always, we strongly urge students to research these departments on their own, using our recommendations here as an initial guide.


For information about the basis of these recommendations, please go to our FAQ and Methodology pages. The recommendations below are in no ranked order; they are listed alphabetically. Please keep in mind that these lists have been produced by surveying experts in this sub-field of philosophy. The Pluralist Guide advises students to use these lists as a prima facie guideline for further research. Faculty retire and change departments, and the particular area that one  philosopher is working within (that is, in feminist philosophy, continental philosophy, critical race philosophy and so on) may not connect with a given student’s interests.  We encourage you to use these lists alongside the APA Grad Guide here as well as your own research into departments. Department chairs will often provide names of current students who can be consulted for more information, and though the students that chairs direct you toward may be a select set, putting all of these sources of information alongside each other can significantly inform your decision about where to apply.


Very Strongly Recommended Strongly Recommended Noteworthy
  • U. of Connecticut (all fields)
  • U. of Memphis (African-American)
  • Northwestern (African-American, Afro-Caribbean)
  • Penn State (African-American)
  • Harvard (African-American)
  • UNC Chapel Hill (African-American, Afro-Caribbean)
  • Michigan State (African-American)
  • Rutgers-NB (African-American)
  • Vanderbilt (All fields)


  • Boston College (African-American)
  • Brown (all fields*)
  • Columbia (African-American, African*)
  • CUNY (African-American)
  • Dalhousie (all fields)
  • Duquesne (African-American)
  • U. of Oregon (African-American)
  • Texas A&M (African-American)


*strength by virtue of affiliated faculty from other departments