PhD in Indigenous Studies

The Faculty of Native Studies distinctively combines Aboriginal 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 PhD in Indigenous 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

The Faculty of Native Studies' minimum admission requirements for the PhD in Indigenous Studies program are normally:

(1) A master's degree with a cumulative average of a minimum of 3.3 GPA (on a four point letter grading scale) in the last *60 credits.

(2) A statement detailing:

(a) research interest(s),

(b) background, commitment and scholarly preparedness for advanced, independent research in Indigenous Studies and related fields; and

(c) include an outline of discussion with your preferred supervisor and, if possible, potential committee members in the Faculty of Native Studies.

A research supervisor is required in order to be admitted to this Department. Visit for faculty information. Please note you must have previously corresponded with these faculty member(s) and have made a tentative supervisory arrangement.

(4) An example of academic work appropriate to the application.

(5) Three letters of reference (preferably academic)

(6) A current resume or curriculum vitae

(7) Where applicable, all applicants must meet the minimum English Language Requirement set by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

(8) 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.

All information, with the exception of Reference Letters, will need to be uploaded to the application. With regards to the reference letters, the applicant will need to input the referee name and contact information whereby an email will be sent to the referee to upload their reference letter.

Application Deadline

Applications now closed for Fall 2020. Applications for Fall 2021 will begin July 2, 2020.

The Faculty of Native Studies has two deadlines for MA and PhD applications.

To be considered for funding, all application materials must be received by January 15.

If spots remain open after this initial deadline, we will accept applications until July 1.

PLEASE NOTE: The Faculty of Native Studies has a highly competitive admissions process for our graduate programs, every year there are more applicants than we can admit. We cannot guarantee that there will be space left in either the MA or PhD program following our January 15 deadline. We strongly advise all prospective graduate students to have all admissions materials submitted for January 15.

PLEASE NOTE: Official documents may be required upon receiving a 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 Requirements

In the first semester of Year 1, students are required to take ★9 credits, normally consisting of Advanced Theoretical Perspectives in Indigenous Studies (NS 620), Professional Seminar, (NS 655), and Advanced Indigenous Methodologies (NS 690).

During the second semester of Year 1, students will prepare for and undertake two comprehensive examinations and submit a dissertation proposal. An oral candidacy examination will be held based upon these written components. All students should be full doctoral candidates by the end of Year 1.

Over the next two years, they will conduct research, engage in scholarly activities, and write a dissertation. The dissertation will be defended at an oral examination. Proficiency in a language other than English (including an Aboriginal language) is recommended in accordance with the thesis topic.


The residency requirement is two academic years of full time attendance at the University of Alberta (where an academic year is defined as the eight-month period from September through April).

Length of Program

This is an intensive and comprehensive degree program. Full-time PhD students will normally be expected to complete the program in three years.

Financial Assistance

Graduate students in the Faculty are eligible to compete for the general graduate awards and bursaries listed at 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 assistant-ships may be available to qualified students. For further information contact the Faculty of Native Studies.


NS 620 Advanced Theoretical Perspectives in Indigenous Studies

★3 (fi 6) (either term, 0-3s-0). This course engages students with theoretical

concepts seminal to the discipline of Indigenous Studies. Students will gain a

thorough understanding of the Indigenous Studies theoretical field and will

be able to specifically identify theory relevant to their explicit research

project. Through Indigenous theory, students will be able to identify ethical

issues in relation to research with Indigenous communities.

NS 655 Professional Seminar

★3 (fi 6) (either term, 0-3s-0). This professional development course helps

develop the intellectual independence transferable to employment both

within and outside the academy, including the creativity to solve complex

situations through the exercise of responsibility and autonomy. From an

Indigenous Studies perspective, this course introduces students to career

development and professional issues within the academy, and the public and

private sectors. Students will work on developing their research and writing

skills to a level that will satisfy peer review and merit publication. Students

will work on orally communicating complex ideas cogently, clearly and

effectively. Students will work on the technical skills required within the

PhD process. Topics include: the history of Indigenous Studies as a

discipline; external funding agencies; preparing and reviewing grant

proposals; preparing and reviewing manuscripts for publication; oral

presentations; writing for different audiences; and preparing for

comprehensive exams.

NS 690 Advanced Indigenous Methodologies

★3 (fi 6) (either term, 0-3s-0). This course gives students a thorough

conceptual understanding of the key methodological principles and research

concepts seminal to the discipline of Indigenous Studies. Students will gain

proficiency in Indigenous methodologies and the skills to comprehend,

design, and implement method relevant to their specific research area,

including the use of existing Indigenous methods and the creation of new

methods to answer complex research problems. Students will be able to

articulate methodological strategies to produce meaningful research 'with' as

opposed to 'on' Indigenous communities. Students will begin to develop the

skills to carry out advanced research within academic, community and/or

applied settings.

THES 909: Thesis Research

★0 (fi 18) (either term, unassigned). Represents research activity equivalent

to ★9 for registration status and fee assessment purposes.