Master of Arts in Native Studies

The Faculty of Native Studies distinctively combines Indigenous community knowledge and concerns with the scholarly standards and methods of a research-intensive university to offer multidisciplinary education in a rigorous, respectful academic environment attentive to local, national, and international concerns.

In this scholarly and methodological context, the MA in Native Studies emphasizes research strengths in the faculty:

  1. Critical Indigenous Theory,
  2. Indigenous Governance,
  3. Indigenous Peoples and Place (with emphasis on the Prairies);
  4. Indigenous Sexualities, Genders, and Feminisms.

Application Requirements

  1. A four-year undergraduate degree with a cumulative average of a minimum of 3.0 GPA (on a four-point letter grading scale) in the last ★ 60 of the program with normally at least ★ 12 undergraduate courses in Native Studies or courses with significant Indigenous content. This is a competitive process - a 3.0 GPA is necessary but may not be sufficient.
  2. A two page statement of your proposed area of research normally includes an outline of discussions with your preferred supervisor and, if possible, potential committee members in the Faculty of Native Studies. Also include details of financial support you have or plan to apply for.
  3. An example of academic work appropriate to the application.
  4. Three letters of reference (preferably academic) with the Letter of Reference to Support Application for Graduate Admission Form.
  5. A current resume or curriculum vitae.
  6. Where applicable, all applicants must meet the minimum English Language Proficiency set by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.
  7. Up-to-date Official Transcripts of all post secondaries attended (see Application Documents for Academic Documents).
    NOTE: Transcripts' "date-of-issue" must be within one year.

The MA in Native Studies is a program of advanced study. As such, students are expected to have an established background in Indigenous studies when applying. This is best demonstrated by fulfilling the requirements for the BA  in Native Studies. An equivalent background may also be demonstrated based on the successful completion of several Indigenous studies courses on the applicant’s transcripts. Applicants who do not meet these requirements may be asked to complete Indigenous studies courses or other courses with similar content before re-applying. These courses should be related to the intended research topic.

Application Deadlines

Completed MA and PhD applications to the Faculty of Native Studies are due January 15. 

To be considered for a transfer from another University of Alberta graduate program, all application materials must be received by January 15.

A completed application includes all required post-secondary transcripts and all three academic reference letters. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all the reference letters are received by the January 15 deadline. Incomplete applications as of January 15, including those without all reference letters, will not be considered for admission.

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Official documents (transcripts, degree certificates, etc.) may be required upon receiving the conditional offer of admission letter. Documents must be sent directly from the post-secondary institution to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research office.

Please read the Application Documents for Academic Documents.

Program Structure

Students are required to take *18 in graduate courses/seminars and the equivalent of *18 for the thesis, for a total of *36. The *18 in course work must include:

  1. A minimum of *12 in Native Studies courses, of which *9 must normally be NS 520, 550, and one graduate-level methodology course;
  2. A maximum of *6 from outside the Faculty of Native Studies (with consent of the Faculty). Proficiency in a language other than English (including an Indigenous language) is recommended in accordance with the thesis topic. Students must also complete and successfully defend a thesis.

Length of Program

Full-time MA students will normally be expected to complete the program in two years. Part-time students may be considered for admission.

Financial Assistance

Graduate students in the Faculty are eligible to compete for the general graduate awards and bursaries listed in scholarships and are encouraged to do so.

All applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for Tri-Council Funding when applying to Faculty of Native Studies graduate programs.

Financial assistance in the form of graduate assistantships may be available to qualified students. For further information contact the Faculty of Native Studies.

Graduate Courses in Native Studies

  • NS 503 Directed Readings in Native Studies
  • NS 504 Directed Advanced Readings in Native Studies
  • NS 520 Theoretical Perspectives in Native Studies (This seminar introduces students to the history of and various theoretical concepts deemed important to the discipline of Native Studies.)
  • NS 550 Practicum in Native Studies (Students must complete 30 hours of work experience in an Aboriginal organization or community chosen in coordination with the Practicum Coordinator and the student's thesis advisor. Attendance at a weekly seminar is required as well. The time for the seminar is set at the beginning of the semester in conjunction with student schedules.
  • NS 590 Community-Based Research (This seminar explores issues in the area of community-based research using case studies and teaches some relevant field research skills using hands-on exercises. Methodological concerns focus on the political, cultural, ethical, and practical aspects of conducting community-based research in conjunction with Native groups and communities.)
  • NS 592 Archival and Historical Research Methods
  • Students will gain an in-depth understanding of archival research, along with exposure to the use of computers to capture, compile, analyze and present archival information.
  • NS 593 Social Survey Design and Analysis for Aboriginal Communities (Students will learn research design and data collection strategies useful for small-scale quantitative research in Aboriginal communities. Survey research techniques, questionnaire construction and analysis will be emphasized.)
  • NS 599 Selected Research Topics in Native Studies

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