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American Indian Studies (PHD) 
Program Description

In the fall of 1997, The University of Arizona was the first educational institution in the U.S. to offer a Ph.D. in American Indian Studies.  The Ph.D. in American Indian Studies is an interdisciplinary program designed to: prepare graduate students for academic careers; conduct advanced and applied scholarly research from a cross-cultural perspective; develop theoretical and innovative theories, methodologies, and research tools appropriate for and useful to sovereign tribes; and to educate students to assume leadership and policy-making roles in higher education, tribal communities, the state and nation.  The Ph.D. program is designed to be completed in 3-4 years (after completing the Master's degree).

AIS interdisciplinary graduate program offers opportunities for advanced study in the following concentrations: American Indian law and policy; American Indian societies and culture; American Indian literatures; American Indian education; and American Indian natural resource management.

Department/Academic Unit(s)

Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs -

The Graduate College sponsors several Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDPs) in addition to the many interdisciplinary possibilities available through regular graduate degree programs. GIDPs transcend departmental boundaries by facilitating cutting edge teaching and research at the nexus of traditional disciplines. The high value placed on interdisciplinary research and education is indicative of The University of Arizona's enthusiasm and commitment to fostering innovation and creativity among its faculty and students.


Graduate College/GIDP  
Campus where offered
Main Campus - Tucson  
Admissions Contact
John R Carbajal
Graduate Program Coordinator
John R Carbajal
Director of Graduate Studies
Melissa L Tatum
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Cindy T Nguyen
Tuition and Fees
Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information about tuition and fees. 
Please refer to the UA Registrar's's Office Special Course Fees for up-to-date information about special course fees. 

Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements

Checklist for Online Application Material

  • On-line application and fee.
  • A Personal Statement (3 to 5 pages) including your educational goals, professional plans, your interest in our Ph.D. program and your background in American Indian Studies or with American Indian communities.
  • A Current Resume or Curriculum Vitae.
  • One Writing Sample (between 15 and 20 pages double spaced) of original work that is academic, technical, professional or artistic in nature.
  • One Critical Essay (no more than 5 pages double spaced) which analyzes three American Indian Studies books or monographs of your choice.
  • Electronic copies of Official Transcripts from all institutions attended, undergraduate and graduate. On acceptance into the program students will need to submit original transcripts.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation from faculty or supervisors who can attest to your achievements and academic potential. Letters from faculty are preferred for applicants currently or recently working in academia.

A Master’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution is required for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy program in AIS.  The Master’s degree must be completed before the applicant begins in the AIS program, August for fall admissions.  All application materials must be received by January 15th for the following fall semester admissions. A minimum grade point average of 3.2 is required for admissions.  GRE scores are recommended, but not required.  At the discretion of the Admissions Committee, exceptionally qualified applicants who do not hold a Master’s degree may be considered for admission.  AIS accepts a limited number of new Ph.D. students each year.  Student selection is very competitive. The Admissions Committee will not consider incomplete application files.


Standardized Tests

Required test(s): none

Recommended tests: GRE

Minimum TOEFL: 550

Financial Aid

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (Limited number available.)
See American Indian Studies website at for more funding opportunities.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships are allocated each semester, prior to admission. Students are automatically considered for a GTA position their first year, with a short application process required for the subsequent years.

Admissions Deadlines

Domestic Applicants:

  • Fall: January 15

International Applicants:

  • Fall: January 15
International Conditional Admission
International applicants will not be considered for conditional admission by this program.
Other Information
The GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona is 4832

Completion Requirements

Degree Requirements

Minumum credits: 66
Core coursework: 48 Core Coursework Hours
18 Dissertation Hours
Language requirements: Must demonstrate proficiency in a second language upon completion of doctorate program. See Program Guidelines for options for demonstrating proficiency.


The equivalent of at least six semesters of full-time coursework (including dissertation units) is required for the Ph.D. Completion of a minimum of 66 units with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (comprised of 48 units of coursework and 18 units of dissertation credits) in American Indian Studies and related fields, and proficiency in one language other than English are compulsory. All Incompletes in any AIS doctoral core course must be converted to a grade prior to the comprehensive exam; students may have one Incomplete on the grade record (in an elective course) and proceed to the Comprehensive exam, as long as overall GPA and credit requirements are fulfilled.



Students have multiple concentration areas from which to choose coursework to meet the 48-unit minimum, for example: Education, Environment, Law & Policy, Literature, Society & Culture. The list of concentration areas may change over time. Students must work with their Faculty advisor and Faculty Comprehensive Exam Committee to create a Plan of Study according to the following guidelines:

1) A minimum of 12 units within the Theory and Research Methods area. Students may not petition out of the Theory & Methods concentration area course requirements; no substitutions are allowed for AIS 504A or AIS 697A.

2) A minimum of 15 units within one concentration area.

3) At least one 3-unit course must be completed in each of two other concentration areas; one of these courses must be a Law & Policy course (if #2 area is not Law & Policy).


There are three options available to configure the Ph.D. coursework: A) Single Concentration; B) Double Concentration; C) Single Concentration with Minor. See AIS Student Advising Worksheets, versions A, B, and C, for details.

Minor Requirements

12 Units; See Guidelines for Ph.D. Minor in American Indian Studies for more details.

There are three options available to configure the Ph.D. coursework: A) Single Concentration; B) Double Concentration; C) Single Concentration with Minor. See AIS Student Advising Worksheets, versions A, B, and C, for details.

Student Handbook  

Program StatisticsInformation about these numbers

Program-level Information
Application Acceptance Rate 100%
Med. Time-to-degree (years) 5.00
Department-level Information
Enrollment Percent Male 19%
Enrollment Percent Female 81%
Enrollment Percent International 7%
Enrollment Percent URM 52%

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Last revised 27 Jun 2014