Drum Room at American Indian Hall

The Master of Arts degree in Native American Studies provides scholars with the pedagogical foundation to pursue doctoral studies or to substantially contribute to their professional field. Montana State University - Bozeman is one of a small handful of universities in the United States to offer a M.A. in Native American Studies that is housed within a dedicated Department of Native American Studies and located in a university community with a large, active Native population. This vibrant synergy presents students with a rare opportunity to interact with full-time Native American Studies facultyon a daily basis and the opportunity to become involved in the Native American community here at MSU.

Interdisciplinary Research

MSU is geographically located at the heart of Montana's seven tribal colleges. This proximity to the seven reservations in Montana, home to twelve tribes, is unique, and presents an unparalleled opportunity to develop an original graduate research project in collaboration with the sovereign Indigenous nations of Montana. Research interests of the MSU Native American Studies faculty encompass wide-ranging interdisciplinary topics in the field of Native American Studies, including:

  • History
  • Theory and Methodology
  • Native food systems
  • Federal Indian law and policy
  • Contemporary issues
  • Gender Studies
  • Native American Literature, Cinema, and Art
  • Native Humanities
  • Tribal Government and Higher Education
  • Geography and Native sciences
  • Anthropology
  • Land resources and environmental studies

The MSU-NAS Community

The MSU student body includes more than 800 Native students and a very active American Indian Council, providing a lively and inclusive environment. NAS graduate students participate with the NAS Department and the American Indian Council to host events such as Indigenous Peoples' Day, internationally renowned guest speakers, the annual MSU AIC Powwow, and conferences on topics ranging from tribal histories to Native literature and environmental issues. 

Degree Requirements

This degree cannot be completed online. The NAS M.A. program is unique in offering a rich, on-campus experience with an emphasis on community engagement. While some elective classes may be completed online, the core courses for this degree require on-campus/in-person attendance in Bozeman. The two-year curriculum consists of a minimum of 30 - 31 credits, which includes four (4) required courses, elective credits, and culminates with the completion of either a Thesis* or a Professional Paper**. 

Required Courses:

  • NASX 505, Proseminar in Native American Studies (3 credits, on-campus attendance required; offered each Fall), and
  • NASX 530, Federal Indian Law and Policy (3 credits, available on-campus in Fall semesters and online in Spring semesters), and
  • NASX 540, Theoretical Positions in Native American Studies (3 credits, on-campus attendance required; offered each Spring), and
  • NASX 541, Critical Approach to Methodologies in Native American Studies (3 credits, on-campus attendance required; offered each Spring)


  • *Thesis option: 9 elective credits + 10 Thesis credits (31 credits total)


  • **Professional Paper option: 12 elective credits + 6 Professional Paper credits (30 credits total)
  • Elective Credits: In addition to the courses listed above, students must also take 400-level and 500-level courses in Native American Studies and in related disciplines, after consultation with their advisor. For current course offerings, please consult the current graduate course catalog and Graduate Program Courses

Mastery of Subject Matter

Mastery of the major field will be determined by 1) a record of excellence in all courses taken as part of the graduate program; 2) a defended Prospectus of research (a research proposal must be submitted and defended to the students' committee after the student has completed 2/3 of their coursework; this is required before a student can register for Thesis or Professional Paper credtis); 3) a completed Professional Paper, or a completed Thesis with a public oral defense.

How to Apply

Admission to the MA Program is by online application: M.A. applications may be submitted online

Incomplete applications cannot be considered. 

Required Application Materials:

  • Baccalaureate degree in Native American Studies or related field
  • 3.0 Grade Point Average
  • Official transcripts of all university/college degree(s) conferred
  • Online application to the Graduate School for the Master of Arts in Native American Studies - this includes a one-time application fee of $70.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A Statement of Interests and Goals outlining the student's particular background and interests in NAS, work and experience related to NAS or Indian communities, as well as goals and objectives in obtaining a Master's degree in Native American Studies
  • Two short academic writing samples that demonstrate your abilities to produce graduate level research & writing with citations
  • Resume or CV
  • International Applicants will be required to submit a variety of additional documentation including English proficiency scores (at or above) the following: TOEFL [80] IELTS [6.5], or PTE [54]. Please see the International application process for further information. 

Application Deadlines

Term Applying for
Application Submission Deadline

August 15

December 15
April 15

*International degree and non-degree seeking applications are due June 15 for Fall Semesters and November 1 for Spring Semesters.


Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid

The M.A. in NAS degree is eligible for federal financial aid (FAFSA). Native American students may also qualify for additional scholarship opportunities. Referto Native American Resources by the Office of Financial Aid for qualifying details. Additionally, the tuition and fees chart for Graduate school is accessible online for the 2024/2025 school year.


Can the MA be completed completely online?

Graduate Teaching Assistantships

A limited number of Graduate Teaching Assistantship positions are available. These appointments typically include a monthly stipend and a tuition waiver. M.A. applicants are encouraged to indicate interest in a GTA appointment in their application to the Graduate School by August 15. 

Generally, GTA positions are appointed each Fall semester and renewed the following Spring semester. Graduate students wishing to be considered for a GTA appointment are required to submit an application to the NAS Department by March 1. Contact the department for more information about GTA positions.  


Professional Master's Fellowship

For recruiting efforts, MSU's Graduate School supports a Professional Master’s Fellowship program for students who do not intend to complete a thesis and are not receiving other funding (including GTA or GRA appointments). For the Native American Studies Department, one student per year may be eligible to receive this fellowship which comes with a tuition waiver for six (6) credits. Similar to an undergraduate admission scholarship, this fellowship is designed to incentivize top students into choosing Montana State University and may be awarded upon admission to the NAS MA program.

Please note: Students cannot apply for this award. Rather, the Department may nominate a particularly strong student to receive a professional masters fellowship as part of their recruitment package. If awarded, the tuition waiver is to be applied during the first two semesters after the student matriculates.


Schedule of Classes

Spring 2024

Course CRN Title Credits Instructor Dates Location
NASX 515 32666 Native Food Systems 3 Dr. Jennifer Santry 1/17 - 5/9 *Online Only
NASX 530 31413 Federal Law and Indian Policy 3 Kristie Russette 1/17 - 5/9

*Online Only

NASX 540 34755 Theoretical Positions in NAS 3 Dr. Matthew Herman 1/17 - 5/9

AIH 241

NASX 541 34756 Critical Approach to NAS Methods 3 Dr. Kristin Ruppel 1/17 - 5/9

AIH 241

NASX 553 31780 Indigenous Lit and the West 3 Dr. Daniel Hanson 1/17 - 5/9

*Online Only

NASX 571 33200 Native Grantsmanship 3 Dr. Tonya Robinson 1/17 - 5/9

*Online Only







Summer 2024

Course CRN Title Credits Instructor Dates Location
NASX 524 11282 Contemporary Issues in American Indian Studies 3 Erika Ross     06/24 - 08/02            *Online Only        
NASX 552 11412 Indigenous Nations of Montana 3 Dr. Matthew Herman                  05/13 - 06/21 *Online Only
NASX 554      11412 Indian Education for All 3 Dr. Laurie Walker 06/24 - 08/02 *Online Only   






Fall 2024

Course CRN Title Credits Instructor Dates Location
NASX 505 24170 Proseminar in Native American Studies 3 Dr. Anita Moore-Nall     8/21 - 12/12    AIH 112
NASX 530 23596 Federal Law and Indian Policy 3 Dr. Laurie Walker 8/21 - 12/12 AIH 112
NASX 550    22411 Native America: Dispelling the Myth 3 Dr. Tonya Robinson    8/21 - 12/12 *Online Only   
NASX 570 23125 Indigenous Planning 3 Dr. Jennifer Santry 8/21 - 12/12 *Online Only
NASX 520 25708 Feminism & Gender Theories in NAS 3 Dr. Laurie Walker 8/21 - 12/12 *Online Only






Important Links from the Graduate School:


Contact the Department

Please contact Kristin Ruppel [email protected]  with questions about our graduate programs, or contact the Department of Native American Studies at:

Graduate Program Coordinator

239 American Indian Hall
P.O. Box 172340, Bozeman, MT 59717

(406) 994-3881

[email protected]