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Linguistics (MA) - Native American Linguistics and Languages  
Program Description

The NAMA degree program is oriented towards community language activists who wish to train in the kinds of skills and experience needed to work on maintaining, revitalizing, and documenting their native languages. Students interested in NAMA can either be speakers or second language learners of their language, or ones who have studied a particular Native American language and have close contact with that language community. The specialized nature of this degree focuses on indigenous languages and meeting the needs of Native American communities: due to the rapid decline in the use of heritage languages tribal communities have pressed for practical linguistic training to:

  • revitalize, maintain, and document indigenous languages;
  • provide skills and expertise for Native American linguists to develop teaching grammars and other educational materials;
  • promote understanding of indigenous peoples' educational issues at every level of policy making;
  • enhance and promote understanding of complex factors leading to language choice, language shift and language loss, and;
  • work with archival media (such as audio legacy audio recordings and historical documents) to enrich the language record and to produce viable teaching materials

We are also open to other community-oriented objectives and projects. Additionally, NAMA students are encouraged to participate in the life of the Linguistics Department and other university departments (Anthropology, American Indian Studies). There are many opportunities to enrich their experiences and professional network through interacting with other students, professors and researchers who have similar goals and interests – there is a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw upon.

Students complete the degree in one academic year plus one summer doing coursework at the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI). The NAMA program also often serves a stepping stone for those students who wish to advance to the Ph.D. level in linguistics or related disciplines.

Department/Academic Unit(s)

Linguistics -

The Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona offers undergraduate and graduate programs in linguistics and human language technology. Our faculty has research specializations in phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, computational linguistics, psycholinguistics, language acquisition, represented by diverse interests in a variety of languages. We also offer unique programs in Native American linguistics. The department trains students for careers in teaching, research, and industry, and is equipped with a variety of laboratory facilities.

College of Social & Behavioral Sciences  
Campus where offered
Main Campus - Tucson  
Admissions Contact
Stephanie Ann Amado
Graduate Program Coordinator
Stephanie Ann Amado
Director of Graduate Studies
Adam P Ussishkin
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Abraham Edward Cooper
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

What kind of background should I have as an applicant?

There are two major requirements in order to be admitted to the NAMA program:

  1. An undergraduate degree: this can be in any field of study, and should be awarded by the start date of the NAMA program.
  2. Previous experience or studies in their own native language as a second language or being a native speaker of a native language. The majority of NAMA applicants are non-traditional students who come from diverse educational backgrounds and life experiences. As such, there is no ideal age limit: many students who wish to undertake our program have already had careers in other areas. We encourage older students to apply.

GPA Requirement

Prospective applicants must have a 3.0 or higher GPA in order to qualify for admission.

Statement of Intent

Applicants must submit a concise statement of intent demonstrating their academic goals, career goals, and why a graduate degree in linguistics would help him/her pursue these goals.

Writing Sample

Applicants must provide a writing sample to demonstrate their level and proficiency of writing.

Standardized Tests

The GRE is recommended, but not required to the MA in Native American Languages and Linguistics Program.

English Proficiency

English proficiency is one of the requirements for admission for all applicants whose native language is not English. Applicants must submit a minimum TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 550 on the paper-based test (PB), 79 on the internet-based test (iBT), or a IELTS (International English Language Testing System) composite score of 7 (no subject area below a score of 6). International students seeking graduate teaching assistantships must attain the minimum TOEFL or IELTS score listed above, and in addition must attain a score of 26 or higher on the speak portion of the TOEFL IBT.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation from letter writers who know the student’s work, specifically assessing student’s ability to carry out graduate work in linguistics. Applicants are encouraged to submit letters of recommendation from professors who are familiar with the applicant's recent academic work.

Standardized Tests

Required test(s):
Required GRE Subject tests:

Recommended tests:
Recommended GRE Subject tests:

Minimum GRE Verbal:
Minimum GRE Quantitative:
Minumum GRE Written:
Minimum GMAT:
Minimum MAT:
Minimum TOEFL:
Minimum IELTS:

Financial Aid
Arizona Residents:
The Master's of Art in Human Language Technology is considered a Workforce-Ready Master's Program. The UA Graduate College, with the assistance of the Marshall Foundation and the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Education, and Social and Behavioral Sciences, has created the Arizona Works Tuition Scholarship in order to incentivize Arizonans to enroll in UA Master’s programs in these colleges that meet the workforce needs of the State. For more information and to apply, please visit:
Non-Arizona Residents:
The NAMA program is a part of the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which allows master's students who are residents of the WICHE member states to enroll in the NAMA program and pay resident tuition. The WICHE states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. To be considered for the WRGP resident tuition rate, apply directly to the department or graduate studies department of the institution where you want to enroll, and identify yourself as WICHE WRGP applicant. WGRP students must fulfill all the usual requirements of the department and institution concerned, and meet all admission deadlines. Contact information for each participating program is listed in our WRGP online directory.
Admissions Deadlines

All Applicants:

  • Summer: December 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

What do studies include?

The NAMA program is designed to be completed in as little as 15 months, and begins as a summer admit program: during the first summer session the student completes coursework in the AILDI. Here they focus on language materials development, working with language archives, teaching methods, and other relevant Native American language and linguistics topics.

In the fall and spring semesters, the student enrolls in the core course of the program, Workshop on Descriptive Linguistics, LING 597A for 4 credits each semester. The Workshop courses consist of lectures and laboratory work on indigenous languages, particularly the student's heritage language, and provides the opportunity to interact with other students in both the NAMA program, but also Anthropology and American Indian Studies. 

The Native American Linguistics and Language's Master's consists of a minimum of 26 units and a 6 unit thesis. For other required course and electives, please see the Graduate Student Handbook page 27. Potential topics for the thesis include:

  • brief grammar sketches/descriptions,
  • language planning projects for their community,
  • short surveys on different topics on the language,
  • language teaching methods and materials
  • studies of legacy or historical materials (documents, recordings, etc.)
Minor Requirements
The Academic Unit has not provided this information. 
Student Handbook  
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Last revised 19 Apr 2019