female-presenting dancers at powwow


Montana State University's online graduate certificate in Native American Studies is the first program of its kind. From locations throughout the world, online students can share experiences, ideas and knowledge to create an exciting and interactive learning environment. 

The online certificate in Native American Studies can help prepare students for careers working with Native American populations and help lay the foundation for further graduate studies. Courses cover current and historical aspects of Native American art, law, culture and contemporary issues. Students will gain a deeper insight into the American Indians of Montana, the region and the nation.


  • Bachelor's degree (3.0 GPA)

Certificate Requirements

The 12 credit certificate consists of three (3) elective classes and a fourth required class, Federal Indian Law & Policy. Elective courses cover current and historical aspects of Native American art, law, culture and contemporary issues. 


The four (4) required courses are typically completed in 2-4 semesters. Program must be completed within 6 years from start of the term applied for.


* Current Course offerings vary from term to term. See current Schedule of Classes.

NASX 491: Activism and Indigeneity: A Comparative Study

NASX 515: Native Food Systems

NASX 524: Contemporary Issues in American Indian Studies

NASX 530: Federal Indian Law and Policy

NASX 550: Native America: Dispelling the Myths

NASX 553: Indigenous Literature and the West

NASX 570: Indigenous Planning

NASX 554: Indian Education for All: A Model for Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in Practice

Also accepted:

EDCI 540: American Indian Studies for Educators


Tuition and Fees

The graduate certificate program is not eligible for financial aid. 


How to Apply

Admission to the Graduate Certificate Program is by online application.

Required Application Materials:

  • A Personal Statement/Statement of Purpose (2-5 pages), introducing yourself and your interest in Native American Studies
  • A CV or Resume
  • Two writing samples, preferably of an academic nature, demonstrating graduate level research/writing
  • Official transcripts of all university/college degree(s) conferred
  • Montana State University Graduate School application (this includes a one-time $60 fee)


Please submit records of degrees conferred to:

Attn: Graduate Program Coordinator
Native American Studies
P.O. Box 172340 
2-179 Wilson Hall 
Montana State University; Bozeman, MT 59717

Application Deadline

We accept applications on a rolling basis. This means that your application will be reviewed upon submission. Upon admission, you may begin your studies the following term.

Contact the Department

Questions regarding the Graduate Certificate, or the NAS Masters Degree may be directed to either: 
Dr. Kristin Ruppel • 406.994.5261 • ktruppel@montana.edu, or;
Rachel Tang • 406.994.3881 • rachel.tang@montana.edu 


Nine (9) credits of the Graduate Certificate can be applied toward a Master's Degree in Native American Studies




After earning a Graduate Certificate in Native American Studies, you will have already completed all or most of your elective course requirements as well as NASX 530-Federal Indian Law & Policy, required for the Native American Studies Masters degree. 

The NAS Masters degree is a low residency program. That is, only three on-campus courses are required, one in fall semester, and two in the spring, as follows:

In the Fall, entering NAS Masters students take:

  • NASX 505-Proseminar in NAS (3 cr.)

In the Spring, continuing Masters students take:

  • NASX 540-Theoretical Positions in NAS (3 cr.)
  • NASX 541-Critical Research Methodologies in NAS (3 cr.)

After completing the three on-campus courses listed above, you would only need 10 (ten) NASX 590 credits for the Thesis Option; or 6 (six) NASX 575 credits and one elective for the Professional Paper Option, all of which can be completed away from campus as long as you stay in email/phone/Skype contact with your advisor and graduate committee.

NAS Graduate Certificate Students must enroll in the NAS MA program before the end of their 3rd class in order to get all 9 credits counted.

More information about the Master's program its degree requirements can be found on the program website. 

Schedule of Classes:

(subject to change)

Spring 2019

Rubric No. Course Credit Instructor Begin Date Location
NASX 515 Native Food Systems 3 Staff January 09, 2019 Online
NASX 530 Federal Indian Law and Policy 3 Staff January 09, 2019 Online
NASX 553 Indigenous Literature and the West 3 Staff January 09, 2019 Online


Summer 2019

Rubric No Course Credit Instructor Begin Date Location
NASX 551 Native North America: Art, Agency, Activism 3 Staff June 24, 2019 Online



Additional Resources

MSU Extended University: Online Classes 

MSU Online Guide for Distance Students

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning online courses.