American Indian Studies (Indigenous Rights and Social Justice), MS

Gain a deeper understanding of complex issues facing Indigenous communities and learn how to apply your expertise and advocate for social justice. The skills you learn in this program are applicable in a variety of careers.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: American Indian Studies (Indigenous Rights and Social Justice), MS

The MS in American Indian studies is a transdisciplinary program that provides students with an intellectual and practical understanding of the issues facing American Indian populations and helps students strengthen their ability to apply that knowledge. Students acquire problem-solving skills in a range of professional arenas, including governmental, private and nonprofit agencies.

The program focuses on languages, cultures, the arts, activism, histories, legal policies and education from an American Indian studies paradigm and perspective. Delivery is through in-person courses.

The Indigenous rights and social justice concentration explores the historical dimensions of colonization on American Indian political, economic and cultural institutions. Students analyze the legal, political and social implications of American Indian relationships with federal, state and local governments and investigate processes that American Indian nations and community members use to strategize and work toward social justice and Indigenous rights.

At a Glance: program details

Degree Requirements

Required Core (9 credit hours)
AIS 501 American Indian Studies Paradigms (3)
AIS 502 American Indian Studies Research Methods (3)
AIS 503 Contemporary Issues of American Indian Nations (3)

Concentration (9 credit hours)

Electives (6 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (6 credit hours)
AIS 580 Practicum (6) or
AIS 599 Thesis (6)

Additional Curriculum Information
Students may select a thesis or nonthesis option. Thesis students are involved in a major research project under the direction of their faculty advisors, culminating in a thesis. This is the option students should select if they have an interest in a research-oriented position within an organization or agency or wish to pursue a doctoral degree. Nonthesis students complete an applied project that identifies and addresses an applied problem or issue relevant to a partner agency or organization under the direction of their faculty advisors. This is the option students should select if they are interested in a leadership or managerial level position within an organization or agency.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited college or university of recognized standing in a related field such as history, justice studies, sociology, ethnic studies, anthropology, political science or education.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency. Students should visit the admission site for more information.

Career Opportunities

After leaving ASU, many graduates:

  • conduct academic research related to social justice and Indigenous rights
  • direct or manage Indigenous companies, organizations or nonprofits
  • facilitate Indigenous partnerships and projects
  • work within Native tribes to analyze social justice and Indigenous rights

Flexible Degree Options

Accelerated program options

This program allows students to obtain both a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.
It is offered as an accelerated bachelor's and master's degree with:

BS - American Indian Studies

Are you interested in topics in Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination and human rights? In this dynamic, comprehensive program, you explore the rich cultural knowledge and lived experiences of American Indians. You learn to address complex issues while reinvigorating and sustaining the well-being and intellectualism of Indigenous peoples worldwide.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students will be advised by their academic departments to apply.

Concurrent degree program

Students can choose to create their own concurrent degree combination to match their interests by working with their academic advisor during or after their first semester of study. Some concurrent combinations are not possible due to high levels of overlap in curriculum; students should speak with their academic advisor for more details.

This degree is also offered as a concurrent program with the following:

Social Work - Standard Program, MSW

Join one of the nation's top social work programs to gain advanced skills in working with individuals, families, groups and communities. Learn how to address complex challenges and promote social justice through practice, policy change and community engagement. Your MSW degree from this accredited program prepares you for professional licensure.

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Program Contact Information

If you have questions related to admission, please click here to request information and an admission specialist will reach out to you directly. For questions regarding faculty or courses, please use the contact information below.