Indigenous Studies Master of Arts Program

The mission of the multidisciplinary Indigenous Studies Program is to educate students and promote scholarship about the complexity and diversity of Indigenous peoples' cultures and histories, and to provide students with the knowledge to understand and assess the U.S. tribes' unique relationships to the U.S. government. Indigenous Studies encourages appreciation of the contributions of Indigenous peoples to the global society, provides students with an understanding of the difficulties confronting tribal nations and offers foundational knowledge to assist them in finding innovative solutions to solve those problems.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Indigenous Studies Admission Requirements

The Indigenous Studies Program accepts students on a rolling admissions basis. Students may apply to Graduate Studies to be admitted for either the fall or spring semesters.
Priority consideration will be given to applications received by February 1 for the Fall semester and by October 1 for the Spring semester.

Applicants should upload the supporting application documents listed below to the online application. There is no need to send copies of application materials directly to the Indigenous Studies program. If you are interested in pursuing a joint M.A./J.D. with the KU School of Law, you will need to apply to both schools.
Application Materials:

  • GRE verbal and analytical writing scores
  • English proficiency scores, if student's native language is not English.
  • Official transcript(s) from undergraduate or graduate institution(s) you have attended. Please send electronic transcripts to Graduate Admissions (gapc@ku.edu).
  • Writing sample of at least 10 pages; may upload on page 8 of the application.
  • 2-page personal statement explaining how a Master's degree in Indigenous Studies will benefit you and why you will successfully complete the degree; may upload on page 9 of the application.
  • Three letters of recommendation; on page 5 of the application, you will be asked to provide the name and email addresses of your three references.  Once you submit the application, the recommender will receive an email with instructions on how to complete the form.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae listing history of employment, relevant professional experience, scholarships, fellowships and awards, etc.


Contact: 
Indigenous Studies
Lippincott Hall, Room 6
1410 Jayhawk Boulevard
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045
Phone: (785) 864-2660
E-mail:  indigenous@ku.edu

M.A. Degree Requirements

Students pursuing the M.A. in Indigenous Studies must successfully complete a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours: a 21-hour core curriculum plus 9 hours taken according to either Plan A or Plan B.

Core Curriculum

ISP 800 Indigenous Issues in the United States. A 3-hour graduate-level course taught by the director of the ISP with guest presentations by faculty who study indigenous peoples from various disciplinary perspectives.

18 hours of approved coursework with content relevant to the field of Indigenous studies approved by the student's graduate committee.  Courses are offered by Indigenous Studies, as well as certain departments such as Anthropology, Environmental Studies, English, History, Political Science, Religion, and Geography.  A list of approved courses can be found here.

Plan A: Non-Thesis Option

  • 9 hours of electives.  Electives should be selected in consultation with an advisor and complement your research, body of graduate work, and future career goals.
  • An M.A. examination: an oral examination in which the candidate defends his or her portfolio, which will be composed of the student's entire body of work completed in courses counted for the degree.

Plan B: Thesis Option

  • 6 hours of electives.  Electives should be selected in consultation with an advisor and complement your research, body of graduate work, and future career goals.
  • 3 hours of thesis on an approved subject with an oral defense.

Joint Degree with KU Law

The University of Kansas offers a joint degree program in Law and Indigenous Studies. As part of this unique program, students may graduate with both the J.D. and an M.A. in Indigenous Studies in three to four years, making it an ideal choice for students interested in tribal law. Students must apply separately to the Law School and the Indigenous Studies graduate program.

The program "aspires to facilitate the protection and strengthening of Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination, and self-sufficiency" in Indigenous nations throughout the Americas.

The University of Kansas was the third institution of higher learning in the United States to offer a joint degree program relating to Indigenous peoples.