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African Studies (research) (MA)

Career prospects

Create a world of opportunities with a master's degree from Leiden University.

What our graduates do

Having successfully completed the research master’s programme, you will be qualified to undertake PhD research or work at research institutes, work as a policy maker, journalist, or practitioner for Africa oriented organisations worldwide.

Some of the positions of our alumni include:

  • PhD researcher in Malawi at the University of Edinburgh, UK;
  • Team lead Gender research area, United Nations Women’s Programme, Harare, Zimbabwe;
  • PhD researcher in South Africa at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Your qualifications

The research master's programme in African Studies will qualify you to work to undertake PhD research or work at  institutes for applied research, or as a policy maker or consultant for Africa oriented organisations worldwide. It could also prepare you for  high-level positions in international business or diplomacy.

Sara de Wit

Graduated in African Studies (Research Master)

Sara de Wit

"Among the things that I cherish the most has been the possibility to share in the outstanding expertise and devotion of the lecturers. Their longstanding experience in the field of African Studies – with varying disciplinary backgrounds and a wide range of thematic interests – allowed us to dwell in enthusiasm and continued to spark my curiosity."

Contemporary issues

"Also the in-depth exchange with my classmates, a relatively small group of students coming from different parts of the globe, made it such a worthwhile journey. Of course, a two-year track can never exhaust all the constituents that the broad field of African Studies has to offer, but the immersion in historical research enabled me to put things into context and to shed critical light on contemporary issues. It was during this masters that I all the more realized how flawed, one-sided and biased the history is that we are being taught at high-school in The Netherlands. It dawned on me how important it is to keep retelling our history through the eyes of the people who have been left out of our history books for too long."

Independent research

"The training in ethnographic methods and the six months of fieldwork have been a good preparation for carrying out independent research during my PhD. The greatest merit of having followed this trajectory, in my view, is that it allows you to develop a particular sensitivity and ‘meta approach’ towards the knowledge that we generate – an invaluable lens to think critically and creatively. I feel that the overall programme is comprehensive enough to give you a good idea of the past and current research developments, while at the same time allowing for an in-depth engagement with a topic of one’s own preference. That being said, it's not something you can easily do ‘on the side’. Given the intensity of the programme, it's wiser to allow yourself to be engulfed by it and get carried away. As a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Oxford I look back at this research masters with joy and gratitude."

Miriam Ocadiz Arriaga


Miriam Ocadiz Arriaga

“After receiving a scholarship to undertake this two-year Master, I had the freedom to develop my own research interest guided by the outstanding support of my supervisor from the African Studies Centre Leiden. This can be described as an equally challenging as enjoyable process that culminated in a solid ground towards an academic career. As soon as I graduated, I was employed as a junior researcher at the ASCL, and within less than a year I got a fully-funded PhD position at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on engaged scholars and the social inclusion of refugees in South Africa.”

A Leiden University degree

Leiden University Master's graduates are sought-after employees at (inter)national organisations. Our graduates are known for their combination of robust academic training, in-depth and relevant knowledge, and critical, multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.

In which sector do students find jobs?

The graphs below are based on alumni data from the MA and Research MA African Studies 2016-2020.

  • 29 % Research
  • 29 % Government and semi-government
  • 14 % Culture, sport and recreation
  • 14 % Health and welfare
  • 14 % Teaching

How successful are they at finding jobs?

  • 57 % found a job within two months
  • 86 % found their first job at academic level

Career preparation

Find out how this programme exactly prepares you for your future career and check our career preparation activities.

The development of in-depth knowledge in the field, and the ability to think critically and analytically are key goals of this programme. The African Studies (Resarch) programme will introduce you to the concepts and academic approaches current in the interdisciplinary field of African Studies.

You will learn to use these concepts and approaches in researching and analysing source material. Your fieldwork and thesis  will give you the opportunity to apply these methods in your own research.

Do you consider to put your knowledge into practice during your studies? Determine whether an internship could be an option for you. Start orientating your possibilities by visiting an internship information session. This way you can receive information about the internship procedure and listen to tips of former interns.
Notice that you will search for an internship yourself to find a place of your interest. Do you need some help with this or the application process? Do not hesitate to contact the Career Service. When you have found an internship, inform us. Then, the internship coordinator advises you how to proceed and provides your internship plan with feedback so it can be submitted for approval to the board of examiners.

Our staff can help you identify both the career that is right for you, and the necessary steps to get you there. Our team at Humanities Career Service provide all Leiden University humanities students with professional advice and guidance on everything from internships and career planning to job applications. Humanities Career Service also organises regular workshops on topics such as effective interview skills and creating a successful CV.

The Humanities Career Service offers you various (online) workshops, webinars and info sessions. Check our overview of career activities

The Leiden University Career Zone is an online career portal that helps you to prepare for the job market. Here you can find information, tools and tips to help you gain more personal insight, learn about the job market, develop your application skills, plan your academic and professional career, find job vacancies and discover what the Career Service can do for you.

Join the Mentor Network to contact alumni with experience on the labour market and ask them for advice. More than 1200 alumni are happy to help you!

Jelle on finding an internship via Leiden University's Mentor Network

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