Native American Studies Graduate Programs

Nov 21, 2017

There are a number of different graduate programs in the field of Native American studies from which to choose. This article examines factors like educational background, career goals, and how long you want to spend in school.

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Individuals who are interested in the study and history of Native Americans may want to consider enrolling in a graduate program in this field. While not commonly offered at all universities or colleges, these programs are not too hard to find and provide students with an in-depth understanding of Native American history, culture, and the issues that this community faces today.

Graduate Degree Programs in Native American Studies

At the graduate level, it is possible to pursue a graduate certificate, master's degree, or doctoral degree in Native American studies. These programs sometimes allow students to pursue some sort of specialization within the field of Native American studies and often culminate in a thesis or dissertation. Below, we will discuss some courses that are commonly found in these types of programs.

Basic Concepts and Theories of Native American Studies

Many graduate programs in Native American studies will include a course that covers foundational concepts in the field. Students will look at how Native American studies has developed as a discipline over the years and the defining characteristics of this field. The course will likely cover common theories as well as methods by which scholars have used to develop these theories.

History of Native Americans & Colonialism

Another very common course in one of these programs is a class that covers Native American history, with a focus on Native American life before colonists came to the continent as well as the shift that took place once Native Americans came into contact with colonists. The course will likely cover the impact that colonialism had on Native Americans while also focusing on more general concepts of racism and oppression. Students in this course will also study how Native American past has affected contemporary Native American culture.

Native American Law and Policy

These programs also typically include a course that focus on Native American law and policy. These courses could pay special attention to the federal laws that outline the federal government's relationship and treatment of Native American tribes and how these laws affect Native American life. Other courses may focus on law at the tribal level in order to gain a better understanding of how tribes settle disputes and conflicts.

Native American Art

Students may also have the opportunity to take courses that focus on the artwork that is unique to many Native American tribes. A course in this topic may focus on the different styles of artwork that were commonly used by Native Americans as well as their reasons for creating art and the meaning of any symbolism that is present in the art. Students may explore topics like Native American identity through artwork and learn how to critique artwork properly.

Contemporary Issues in Native American Society

In a course that focuses on contemporary issues in Native American society, students will study the present-day problems that various Native American groups are facing. The course may focus on the current relationship between tribes and the U.S. government, different types of social issues that are common among some tribes, and the various types of solutions and programs that are being developed to combat these problems.

General Admission Requirements for Graduate Degree Programs in Native American Studies

Admission in to a graduate program in Native American studies may vary by program, as a doctoral program may have stricter admission standards than a certificate program. However, any graduate program in this field will require that students have obtained a bachelor's degree by the time they begin their program. Some programs may specify that the degree be a field like Native American studies or something that is closely related. In addition, students will need to submit their undergraduate transcripts, a completed application form, letters of recommendation, resume, and a personal statement.

Students who are interested in graduate programs in Native American studies have a number of options to choose from, including certificate, master's, and doctoral programs, all of which will provide them with advanced study in this field.

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