This consolidated certificate program in Hip-hop Studies for matriculated graduate students is designed to expose students to the richness, complexity and vitality of Hip-hop—as theory and practice.

Hip-hop, which arose in youth communities of color in the 1970s amid political abandonment and economic devastation, has become the most important cultural movement of the last-half century. Practiced in nearly every corner of the globe, it is now one of the most important through-lines in human culture. To understand Hip-hop is to understand the world in which we live. Inclusive excellence is the bedrock of Hip-hop; membership in its community is not defined by subscription to a particular place or race but rather to its unique ethos, which privileges virtuosic innovation as much as historic and self knowledge.  

Hip-hop is fundamentally an interdisciplinary form. It does not live in one field alone. Rather, it is a dialogue that occurs across dance, music, visual and verbal arts, as well as history and theory. While the Graduate Certificate in Hip-Hop Studies is housed in the Department of Theatre & Dance, courses are available in other departments, such as History, Sociology, English and Ethnic Studies. Organized in this way, with offerings from several campus departments, the consolidated certificate program is the best way to give students a sense of the richness, complexity and vitality of Hip-hop.

Importantly, the certificate’s community-based practicum ensures the students in the program will know Hip-hop as a lived culture, not merely an object to be consumed inside the halls of academia. This active learning component will integrate students into the local Boulder/Denver communities that are shaping the future of Hip-hop’s forms. It ensures students will know themselves as ethnographers, as well as theorists, and know Hip-hop as an ever-evolving, potent and urgent tool of self-expression.

The certificate in Hip-hop Studies is designed to be an enriching, interdisciplinary supplement to other areas of study. It provides a broad base, which can serve as an entry point to more focused study and practice. While offering rich and rewarding experiences, the graduate certificate is not a professional endorsement from Rennie Harris or Larry Southall of the student’s skills. Rather, it develops students’ appreciation and respect for one of the most important American cultural forms to have emerged in the last half-century.



All currently matriculated graduate students at CU Boulder are eligible for admission to the certificate program. Students must submit a Statement of Interest which will be reviewed and approved by the Hip-hop Studies Directors, Rennie Harris and Larry Southall.

Program Requirements

To obtain this certificate, students will be required to complete eleven graduate-level credit hours:

  • Two movement-based courses (4 credits)
  • One community-based practicum (1 credit)
  • Two elective courses that develop the critical thinking skills required for understanding Hip-hop's impact and socio-historical development (6 credits)

This broad menu of options, which upholds both theoretical engagement and embodied practice with equal importance, will equip students with the skills necessary to engage with Hip-hop as praxis.

Courses will be offered on a regular basis in the departments of Theatre & Dance, Ethnic Studies and English. Additionally, other departments may offer courses that are relevant to the certificate. Students may petition to have these and other Special Topics courses approved by their Hip-hop Studies advisor.

In order to earn the certificate, students must earn a grade of B in each course and meet the graduate school’s overall GPA requirement.

Movement Courses 14
Choose from:
Graduate Technique (Hip-hop section)
Dance Repertory (Hip-hop section)
Graduate Hip-Hop Technique 1
Graduate Hip-Hop Technique 2
Community-Based Practicum
DNCE 5339Hip-hop Practicum1
Lecture Courses 16
Choose from:
Survey of Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory (Certain sub-topics)
Hip-Hop Dance History
Performance and Community Engagement
Special Topics in Africana Studies
Multicultural/Postcolonial Studies (Certain sub-topics)
Race and Citizenship in U.S. History and Culture
Decolonial/Postcolonial Theory
Critical Race Theory: Soc Scnc Explrtn/Intrvntn into Crit Race St
Total Credit Hours11