Native American Studies Degree Program Summaries
Explore degree program summaries on Native American studies. Learn about various topics of study as well as popular careers students might pursue. Review continuing education details along with employment outlook and salary projections for professors and historians.
Interdisciplinary programs in Native American studies are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Graduates may find employment with a tribal community in such areas as social service, government and education. Associate's degree programs last two years and typically offer general education courses in addition to core Native American studies topics. Students expand their knowledge of native languages as well as literature and art.
Those who study at the bachelor's degree level complete an undergraduate research project or an internship experience. Graduates of the associate's program might transfer their credits to this 4-year undergraduate degree program. In addition to advanced coursework, master's degree programs could include areas of concentration. Students at this level must often complete thesis-related research.
Associate Degree in Native American Studies
An associate degree in Native American studies can prepare graduates to work with indigenous populations. Programs are designed to provide students with an understanding cultural changes that have occurred throughout history, as well as social, political and economic issues that affect modern tribal communities.
Most associate degree programs require general education in math, English, and computers, in addition to degree-specific courses in the humanities and social sciences. Some programs provide the opportunity for students to learn how to speak Lakota (Sioux) or Ojibwemowin (Ojibwe) languages. Core Native American studies courses may also include interdisciplinary topics such as:
- American History
- Art and art history
- Indigenous culture
- Contemporary tribal issues
Popular Career Options
Graduates with an associate degree in Native American studies may find entry-level employment in various industries. Possible jobs include:
- Social workers
- Assistant museum curators
Continuing Education Information
Graduates with associate degrees who want to pursue higher-level positions may consider earning a 4-year degree. Bachelor's degree programs in Native American studies may build on previous training or introduce a broader range of subjects.
Bachelor's Degree in Native American Studies
A 4-year bachelor's degree in Native American studies may consist of classroom instruction, an undergraduate research project and an internship. Internships may be completed locally at tribal schools and museums, or nationally through such organizations as the National Congress of American Indians, the Seneca Gaming Corporation or the Smithsonian Institution.
Typically, students aren't required to hold an associate degree in Native American studies in order to obtain a bachelor's degree in the subject. However, credits from an associate degree program may be transferred.
Bachelor's degree programs might include a range of Native American studies courses, such as:
- Tribal government
- Cultural preservation techniques
Popular Career Options
Career opportunities for individuals with a bachelor's degree in Native American studies exist in the areas of government, education and law. Such positions include:
- Community service managers
- Native American affairs advocates
- Tribal school teachers
- Museum program coordinators
- Tribal legal assistants
Continuing Education Information
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in Native American studies who are interested in becoming postsecondary teachers or historians may consider graduate school. A master's degree in Native American studies could lead to a career teaching at a community college.
Master's Degree in Native American Studies
Master's degree programs in Native American studies usually involve completion of an original research project or thesis. Students may choose an area of concentration, such as art history, education, folklore, law, linguistics, sociology or anthropology.
Some schools may require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in Native American studies or a related discipline, such as anthropology or history. Other prerequisites might include letters of recommendation and writing samples.
Graduate degree programs offer advanced cross-disciplinary courses, including:
- Federal policies
- Tribal economic development
- Prehistoric art
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
After graduation, individuals with a master's degree in Native American studies may find employment at 2-year colleges or museums. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 19% increase in jobs for college professors and other postsecondary teachers between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). The BLS also forecast seven percent (slower than the average for all occupations) job growth for museum technicians during the same period.
The BLS reported that the May 2013 mean wage for ethnic studies professors was $77,550, while historians earned $60,010. As of May 2013, the BLS also listed the mean salaries of $44,330 for museum technicians.
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