Applied Indigenous Studies, Bachelor of Arts

Department of Applied Indigenous Studies

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This degree in Applied Indigenous Studies explores issues of concern to indigenous peoples both in the Americas and around the globe. The curriculum grounds students in tribal histories and cultures, governmental policies, sustainable economic development, indigenous entrepreneurship, and contemporary conditions on native lands and reservations.

The Applied Indigenous Studies department also offers four minors to expand students understanding of Indigenous issues: Applied Indigenous Studies, Native American Studies, Indigenous Health Studies and Tribal Public Administration.

This plan will not be available to new students after Summer 2021

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 42 units of major requirements
  • At least 16 units of language requirements
  • At least 18 units of minor requirements

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 114
Emphasis, Minor, or Certificate Required Required
Foreign Language Required
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Required
University Honors Program Optional
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link Not Available
Student Learning Outcomes

The mission of Applied Indigenous Studies is to provide students with the knowledge and tools to contribute to the sustainability of indigenous communities in the 21st century. Using a curriculum to community approach, students in AIS are prepared to move from learning to action, applying Native ways of knowing for the benefit of indigenous communities within the US and abroad. 
Student Learning Outcomes

  • Tribal policy, politics, and administration
    • AIS graduates will be able to effectively serve as administrators of key government service departments and programs within tribal governments, such as planning departments, environmental, education, and related social service departments.
    • Tribal governments are distinct from federal, state and county governments, requiring knowledge and skills beyond those taught in topic specific areas such as education, environmental science, or planning. The focus area in tribal policy, politics and administration provides students with the necessary knowledge and tools in federal Indian policy and intergovernmental relations to operate effectively within a tribal government.
    • Students will be prepared to serve as policy analysts for elected tribal officials, or Indigenous non-governmental organizations at the local, regional, or national level. 
    • Students will also be able to assert and implement the administration of treaty rights and rights of Indigenous peoples under international laws and norms, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Indigenous environmental and health sciences
    • AIS graduates will be able to apply the distinct laws, policies, regulations and executive orders applying to tribal nations and on American Indian and Indigenous lands and jurisdictional areas.
    • Graduates will be able to effectively work with federal and international agencies necessary for their department’s particular jurisdictional and subject area, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Indian Health Service, or equivalent counterparts in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries with Indigenous populations.
    • AIS graduates will also demonstrate the ability to effectively engage Indigenous communities in crafting solutions to challenges that combine the best practices in specific subject fields with traditional knowledge, yielding strategies and solutions that are culturally appropriate and effective.
  • Cultural resource management, indigenous knowledge, and expressive culture
    • AIS graduates will be able to apply laws, policies, regulations and executive orders unique to American Indian tribal nations in the United States as well as international legal standards applicable to Indigenous peoples worldwide to manage and protect culturally significant sites and resources. 
    • AIS graduates will also be able to engage traditional knowledge keepers in processes of developing and implementing laws and policies unique to a specific tribe or Indigenous community that are appropriate to that particular community and ensure cultural continuity and sustainability, such as protection of and access to natural resources.
    • Students will also develop an appreciation and understanding of the rich variety of Indigenous expression rooted in cultural lifeways, including music, film, dance, art, literature, language, and spiritual practices.
  • Sustainable economic development and indigenous entrepreneurship
    • AIS graduates will be able to develop and implement economic development strategies that are culturally appropriate and feasible for Indigenous individuals, communities, and nations using the three distinct models of Indigenous entrepreneurship: general tribal and Indigenous government entrepreneurship strategies, Indigenous community-based and owned entrepreneurial enterprises, and programs designed to support individual Indigenous entrepreneurs.
    • Students will be able to assess and implement economic development opportunities that are ecologically sustainable in specific communities and economically beneficial – such as renewable energy projects, Indigenous cultural and ecotourism enterprises, sustainable agriculture and sustainable manufacturing. 
    • AIS graduates will be able to analyze the potential benefit of combining enterprises in these critical areas, and to design strategic economic plans that utilize the synergy among those enterprises as regional economic drivers.


Major Requirements
Minor Requirements
  • You must complete a minor of at least 18 units from those described in this catalog. In consultation with your advisor, you should select a minor that is appropriate for your career aspirations and educational needs. Your minor advisor will advise you about this part of your academic plan.

Foreign Language Requirement
  • You must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English that is equivalent to four terms of university coursework in the same language. You may satisfy this requirement by taking language courses or by testing out of all or part of it by taking CLEP exams. 

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

  • Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Program 

    This program is available as an Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan. Accelerated Programs provide the opportunity for outstanding undergraduates working on their bachelor’s degree to simultaneously begin work on a master’s degree, which may allow them to complete both degrees in an accelerated manner by applying 6 units toward both degrees. Students must apply to the accelerated program and the master’s program by the application deadline, and meet all requirements as listed on the Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Programs to be considered for admission. Admission to programs is competitive and qualified applicants may be denied because of limits on the number of students admitted each year. Be sure to speak with your advisor regarding your interest in Accelerated Programs.