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Department of Native American Studies
Montana State University
Po Box 172340
Bozeman , MT 59717-2340
Tel: (406) 994-3881

Department Head
Walter C. Fleming, Ph.D.
Department Chair and Professor

Graduate Coordinator
Kristin T. Ruppel


    • Walter C. Fleming; American Indian cultural studies, American Indian history
    • Wayne J. Stein; higher education, Indian studies.

Assistant Professors

  • Lawrence W. Gross: economic development, agriculture, Native culture and humor
  • Matthew D. Herman: Native American literatures, local tribal histories, and indigenous political theory
  • Kristin T. Ruppel: Federal Indian law and policy, Indian land tenure, ethnoecology


  • Jim Burns: American Indian Student Advisor
  • Saralyn Sebern: Assistant Graduate Student Coordinator
  • Julie Satterwhite: Administrative Associate

Montana State University has an American Indian enrollment of approximately 315 students. There is an active American Indian Student Council (AIC) as well as chapters of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL). NAS houses the Native American Student Center and the MSU counselor for Native students who provides academic advising, counseling, and mentoring. The Student Center offers tutorial assistance, telephone and fax access, and a computer lab

Degree Offered

M.A. in Native American Studies

Native American Studies offers a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Native American Studies with an inter-disciplinary approach which makes the best possible use of university resources. The program allows each graduate student the opportunity to select a course of study that combines Native American Studies and a student's particular area of interest (e.g., history, business, literature, political science). The 31-credit program is designed so that each graduate student could complete the program within three to four semesters of concentrated work. Students will be expected to attend at least two full semesters on campus. The program's mission, purpose, and objective emphasis is to graduate, in a timely manner, knowledgeable professionals and academicians well grounded in Native American issues and scholarship.

The Master's program offers two plans: Plan A – Thesis Option or Plan B – Non-thesis Option.

Plan A requires course work, a written thesis, and an oral defense of the thesis. This option is preparation for doctoral work in Native American Studies or a related field of study.

Plan B requires course work, a professional paper, and a comprehensive oral examination. The non-thesis option is preparation for employment in tribal, state, or federal government, a small or large business, and/or a tribal college.


Candidates are not required to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test, but may do so if they feel it will strengthen their applications. The closing date for receipt of completed applications is February 1. For detailed College of Graduate Studies requirements, visit the Graduate Catalog online ( Successful applicants must have their applications accepted by the College of Graduate Studies (with departmental endorsement) before an individual is considered a graduate student at MSU.

A Bachelor's degree or equivalent from an accredited institution is required for admission to the Master's program in Native American Studies. The College of Graduate Studies recommends that prospective applicants send a letter of interest to the Native American Studies Department in order to ascertain the suitability of the program for the applicant.

 Each applicant must submit the following:

1. application to the MSU-Bozeman College of Graduate Studies and a non-refundable $50 application fee

2. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) optional for students who feel it may strengthen their application

3. TOEFL score of 550 for international students where English is not their first language

4. official transcripts from all institutions attended (students must have a minimum GPA of 3.00 for the last two years of undergraduate study)

5. two writing samples

6. a statement of purpose and goals which includes applicant's experience and knowledge of historical and contemporary American Indian issues, work background, and how the M.A. in NAS will help the applicant reach long range goals

7. three letters of recommendation, signed and sealed in envelopes (in addition to College of Graduate Studies recommendation forms)

8. a current curriculum vita

Limited slots are available, and admissions are competitive. Prospective students may also apply electronically at .

For students applying for teaching assistantships, the application deadline is March 1 for the following academic year. For international students, the deadline is May 15 for fall and October 1 for spring semester. For all other applicants, the deadline is July 1 for fall and November 1 for spring semester. Applicants must be formally accepted by the Division of Graduate Education with departmental endorsement from Native American Studies.

Degree Requirements

Thirty-one (31) credits minimum.

Plan A – Thesis Option: 10 credits (min.) thesis credits

½ of total credits must be at 500 level

Maximum of four (4) 570 credits

Plan B – Non-thesis: 15 credits (min.) at 500 level

Maximum of six (6) 570 credits

Pass/Fail – Maximum of 3 credits allowed (excluding thesis)

400, 470, 476, 489, 490, 588 589 credits – Not allowed on the program

500, 570, 576 credits – May not exceed 1/3 of total credits required for degree

575 credits – Maximum of six (6) credits (Plan B students only)

Non-Degree/Reserved credits – Maximum of six (6) to nine (9) credits allowed depending upon admissibility at the time the course(s) were taken. (See graduate catalog)

Course work may not be more than six (6) years old at time of graduation.

Transfer credits – May not exceed 1/3 of total credits on program.

Grade performance for courses on Program of Study – Grades below “C-“ must be repeated. “I” grades must be resolved before graduation.

3 credits (minimum) Registrar Registration required during term of comprehensive exams, defense of thesis, and graduation.

3 credits (minimum) Registrar Registration required for continuous enrollment. Continuous enrollment applies to all master’s students who have passed a comprehensive examination or students who have completed program content coursework (excludes thesis credits).

Required Content Courses

NAS 530 Federal Indian Law & Policy 3 credits
NAS 540 Theoretical Positions in Native American Studies 3 credits
NAS 541 A Critical Approach to Native American Studies Methodologies 3 credits

Financial Assistance

Graduate Teaching Assistantships, awarded on a completive basis, are available in NAS to formally admitted graduate students. Selected graduate students will teach a section of Introduction to Native American Studies and/or other NAS courses. See the Graduate Assistantship s sections for detailed information on appointment criteria.

Further Information

For further information regarding the program, contact Native American Studies at 406/994-3884 or e-mail Saralyn Sebern at In addition, you may refer questions to the Division of Graduate Education or find the graduate catalog and policies on-line at or Students are expected to be familiar with the degree requirements of both the department and the Division of Graduate Education. Also see (the university home page) or (the home page for Native American Studies).


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