Black Church Studies

Black Church Studies (BCS) at Yale Divinity School (YDS) supports inquiry into and engagement with the practices of African American churches and other Christian communities throughout the African Diaspora. To promote and cultivate such inquiry and engagement, BCS at YDS offers opportunities for critical reflection and practice among emerging and existing leaders in the Black Church and in the broader community.   

BCS at YDS offers a Certificate in Black Church Studies for YDS students who wish to respond to the evolving needs of the Black Church and marginalized communities and who intend to serve in historically Black congregations, and/or are inspired by the rich and ecumenical traditions of the Black Church. 

Director: Rev. Joanne Browne Jennings

Certificate Requirements

Students, in consultation with their Academic Advisor and the Director of BCS at YDS, are required to complete a range of course work, including at least twelve (12) credit hours of African American religious inquiry. Three (3) of those credit hours must include a course that explores an aspect of the history of the Black Church. In addition, students must attend at least one (1) colloquium per semester and complete a supervised ministry in a BCS- designated site. Students pursuing the M.A.R. degree have the option of doing a project tied to their research interest and vocational goals in relation to Black Church Studies instead of a supervised ministry placement. Students are also required to participate in at least one (1) retreat that supports personal renewal and creative reflection on the socio-economic and spiritual needs of the African American community.

Fall 2022 Courses

  • REL 527 The Hebrew Bible, Race and Racism
  • REL 566 Grief and Emotions: Ancient Philosophy and Theology, Modern Conversations 
  • REL 600 Introduction to Theology
  • REL 631 Christian Ethics Seminar
  • REL 780 American Religion and the Modern Civil Rights Movement 1954-1968 (this course satisfies the Black Church history requirement)
  • REL 807 Introduction to Pastoral Theology and Care
  • REL 815 Radical Pedagogy
  • REL 824 Ministry and the Disinherited (this course satisfies the Black Church history requirement)
  • REL 849 Gospel, Rap and Social Justice: Prison and the Arts
  • REL 861 The Musicality of Black Preaching (this course satisfies the Black Church history requirement)

In addition, students may request to do an independent study on a relevant theme, and may inquire about Courses offerings through the AFAM Department of Yale College.  

For further information contact:


Academic Affairs

(203) 432-6340
(203) 432-7475

Office of Supervised Ministries

(203) 436-5703
(203) 432-5356