Did Maya Angelou Go To College

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She has had a massive influence on literature and culture, so it’s only natural to question whether Angelou went to college or not. The answer is both yes and no.

Angelou has said in several interviews that she never directly attended college. When she was 16, Angelou did register for college classes, but she eventually withdrew and never received an undergraduate degree. While she never received a formal degree, Angelou has been posthumously awarded honorary degrees from a number of institutions. Among these was a Doctor of Humane Letters from Cleveland State University, Docteur Honoris Causa from the Sorbonne, and a four honorary degrees from Yale University.

Angelou was also a prolific writer and lecturer and was highly sought after by several colleges and universities. Influenced by this, she started a lifetime of enrichment classes, typically in universities that didn’t award her credits. The aim of these classes was to fill in the blanks in her self-education.

She also enrolled in the University of Ghana in 1959 and studied with Ghanaians in African studies, literature, and philosophy. While there, she attended a seminar at the British-run University College of Nairobi in Kenya. In 1960, Angelou became the first black female cable car conductor in San Francisco, and not long after she went on to direct the city’s first African-American dance company.

Furthermore, Angelou studied many languages, including Yoruba and Fanti, as well as Latin, ancient Greek, French and more. She also did research at the British Museum in the early 1960s, and in the late 1960’s, Angelou taught a course on black literature at her alma mater, George Washington High School in San Francisco.

In conclusion, while Maya Angelou may not have attended college in the traditional sense, she was certainly learning, teaching and experiencing higher education in her own unique way. Her influence on our culture is proof that an education does not have to come from within a university.

Continuing Education

In addition to her advancements in primarily alternative higher education, Maya Angelou explored ways to continue learning in various ways throughout her long career. By attending workshops, seminars, and lectures all over the world, Angelou sought to gain insight from some of the leading intellectuals of her time.

Before leaving the United States, Angelou had already become a published author. After her time in Ghana and other African countries, she returned to America in 1961 and began a lifelong quest of learning in academic settings. During this same period, Angelou was continuously enrolled in workshops, seminars, and lectures at universities and other outlets around the world.

At the University of Southern California, Angelou was a Fellow at the School of Social Work, where she was the only caregiver in the entire institute. Later, she would study linguistics at Columbia University, theater at California State University, and Sociology at the Wake Forest Institute of Medicine.

Angelou later toured the United Kingdom lecturing on African American history and literature, and teaching a seminar at the Cambridge Poetry Festival. The same year, Angelou taught classes at Wellesley College in writing, Thomas Israel Institute in London, Howard University in Washington, D.C., and at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Although her college stints may not have been conventional, Angelou’s educational voyage was far from over. She dedicated most of her career to continuing education, and she even wrote several textbooks on the African American experience in France. Additionally, Angelou used her conferences and teachings to emphasize the importance of cross-cultural understanding and actively promoted the virtues of a global consciousness. Thus, we are able to see that her experiences as a teacher, student and intellectual were invaluable in her personal development and achievements.


Throughout her adult life, Maya Angelou worked to spread knowledge and understanding across the world. In addition to lecturing and teaching at various universities, she also made a number of efforts to educate the public. Her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was a landmark in Black American Literature, and is still being read by both adults and young people.

She spoke at bookstores, workshops, schools and other venues across the country in order to reach her audience. As a result, Angelou was able to convey important messages about African American history, racism and other social issues that still affect our society today.

Angelou also wrote an extraordinarily influential autobiography, which captured her thoughts on race and culture, her own self-determinations and the way in which she experienced life in the United States. Not only did this autobiography help readers better understand Angelou’s life; it also helped them gain fresh perspectives on the African American experience as a whole.

Angelou was also a mentor and advocate for African-American literature. She used her work to celebrate and promote the accomplishments of young Black authors, women in academia, and the marginalized in general. Her close ties with high profile educators and activists meant that her student’s work often gained greater attention and celebrated her ability to resonate with readers.

In all, Maya Angelou’s career and philosophy was defined by her ideals and determination to spread knowledge. She believed that education was a powerful way to combat ignorance, poverty, and discrimination and strived to educate the world through her words and deeds. Angelou’s influence is evident in the various universities, literary institutions, and multicultural organizations that still honor her contributions.


Maya Angelou’s life and work continues to serve as an inspiration for many different walks of life. Her unwavering commitment to learning, activism and literature has left a powerful legacy and has empowered countless women, of color, and all marginalized people worldwide.

Angelou’s inspiring works have become essential readings in high school classrooms and universities alike. Her words have resonated with people, encouraging them to live their own truth and pursue their dreams, no matter the odds, and her legacy continues to live on in both her readers and in her followers.

In addition, Angelou’s writings have become mainstream works of reference. From television shows referencing her quotes to social media dedications, Angelou has had an undeniable influence on contemporary literature and culture. Her words are often eagerly sought-out to uplift, inspire and educate the public, while her life teaches us still the importance of standing up for oneself and others.

There’s no doubt that Maya Angelou holds an important role in today’s literary canon, and her stories of resilience and perseverance continue to inspire us all. Her consistent dedication towards education, even in the face of adversity and tragedy, serves as a reminder of our own potential, and her courage to persist in the exploration of knowledge re-affirms the power of learning and personal development.


Maya Angelou’s legacy is vast and her influence reaches far beyond her involvement in formal higher education. Despite the lack of a college degree, Angelou was without doubt a force of knowledge, and in that sense she was more than adequately educated.

Her impact on African-American culture, social politics, and literature is evident in her influence on countless authors, poets and activists around the world. Angelou is also lauded for her accomplishments in lecture circuit, where she brought new light to various ethnic and cultural issues.

In that sense, Angelou has become more than just a polarizing figure in American culture. She has become an inspiration and catalyst for change, showing potential seekers of knowledge that college degrees are not a prerequisite to success. Her example has become the loving paradigm of individual determination and the power of true self-education.

Angelou’s continued influence has led to a resurgence of interest in individual exploration and knowledge. Her work has encouraged many to boldly seek their own avenues of learning, whether through traditional institutions of higher education or through more creative outlets. It is no wonder that her life remains a leading example to many who are on their own paths of self-discovery and education.


In conclusion, Maya Angelou certainly went to college in her own unique way. She learned from multiple sources, from lectures and seminars to researches in libraries and travel. She’s also used her own work in to encourage others to seek out knowledge in whatever way they can. With her boundless intelligence and unwavering commitment to education and learning, Angelou has become one of the most influential and widely celebrated women in the world.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

Leave a Comment