AIS Graduate Certificate in Native Nation Building

The American Indian Studies Program (AIS), with assistance from Public Administration, College of Public Health, and advisors from Arizona's Native Communities, is offering an academic Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Native Nation Building.

To obtain the certificate, students must complete a 12-unit program of study including core and elective courses. The program is designed to provide graduate level professional development to individuals who are either currently working with or plan to work with American Indian communities and organizations. 

Students can complete the certificate in conjunction with a graduate or professional degree or as a stand-alone certificate. 

Admission Requirements

A bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution is required for admission to the Certificate Program in Native Nation Building. The application procedure is a two-fold process with consideration by the department and by the UA Graduate College.

  • All non-AIS students must meet requirements of the graduate college and pay the graduate college application fee
  • Current AIS students, contact the Graduate Program Coordinator for direction

How to Apply

To apply, review the Graduate College’s requirements and sign into UA GradApp

All application material must be received on-line by October 15th or April 15th for admission to the following semester. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Required Application Materials

  • Online application and fee (if you are not already a graduate student in the University of Arizona AIS program)
  • Personal statement (3-5 pages) about your interest in the certificate program
  • Two Letters of Recommendation from faculty or supervisors who can attest to your achievements and academic potential
  • Electronic copies of Official Transcripts from all institutions attended (undergraduate and graduate). 
  • A minimum 3.0 Grade Point Average based on a 4.0 scale is required for admission


Core Courses

This course will explore critical nation-building issues confronting Indigenous peoples in North America, with a primary focus on Native peoples in the United States. The course will examine multi-dimensional settings that confront Native societies and their social, cultural, political, educational, and economic leaders. The issues to be analyzed include: economic development, politics, culture and identity; and leadership and institution-building. Issues, concepts, and theories examined in the course will provide a basis for examining current Indigenous institutions of self-government; assessing policies of federal, First Nation/tribal, and state/provincial governments; analyzing how to enhance the foundational capacities for effective governance and for strategic attacks on education, economic, and community development problems of Native nations; and augmenting leadership skills, knowledge, and abilities for nation-building.

This field-based research course focuses on some of the major issues Indigenous nations face as they seek to assert rights of self-determination in the 21st Century.  It provides in-depth, hands-on exposure to Indigenous development issues, including: sovereignty, economic development, constitutional reform, leadership, health and social welfare, land and water rights, culture and language, religious freedom, and education.  In particular, the course emphasizes problem definition, fieldwork relationships, and designing and completing a research project.

Elective Courses

Students must complete one 3-unit course from below.

Indigenous and aboriginal peoples in the Americas developed distinctive economic systems prior to contact with Europe. As the world economic system developed, indigenous peoples attempted to preserve their ways of life as best they could, with some success.  This course examines the ontological, epistemological and moral principles of indigenous economic theory with application to contemporary problems.

This course is a survey of basic issues and concepts in natural resource management and the environment in Native communities using integrated case studies that survey all the major varieties of environmental issues in Indian Country in the 21st century. A central theme will be developing tribally-specific solutions to rebuilding the resiliency of degraded ecosystems.

The aim of this course is to provide students with a grounding in collaborative governance: the underlying theories that support it; how it is practiced in various policy arenas; and the recent findings from research to improve its use.

Thematic Courses

Students must complete one 3-unit course:

  • MAS / AIS / LAS 535 (3), Mexican Traditional Medicine
  • AIS 503 (3), Globalization and Indigenous People
  • AIS 504A (3), Dynamics of Indian Societies
  • AIS 516 (3), Contemporary Indian America
  • AIS 531A (3), Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • AIS 552A (3), Mixed Media Stories: Stories in Text and Film
  • AIS 696C (3), Societies and Culture
  • CPH 535 (3), Multicultural Health Benefits
  • CPH 577 (3), Sociocultural and Behavioral Aspects of Public Health
  • LRC 640 (3), Multicultural Education and Social Justice
  • LRC 642 (3), Oral Traditions Across Societies

  • CPH 596C (1), Current Issues in Indian Health Policy
  • CPH 597B (1), Maternal and Child Health in the Rural Southwest

  • AIS 575 (3), Contemporary Federal Indian Policy
  • AIS / LAW / POL 584 (3), Development of Federal Indian Law
  • AIS 585 (3), American Indian Gaming
  • AIS 596H (3), American Indian Law and Policy
  • CPH 506 (3), Economic Foundations for Health Sciences
  • CPH 507 (3), Health Care Economics and Policy
  • CPH 517 (3), Public Policy Analysis
  • CPH 568 (3), American Indian Health Policy
  • PA 581 (3), Environmental Policy

  • PA 507 (3), Conflict Management in the Public Sector
  • PA 582 (3), Managing to Collaborate on Environmental and Natural Resource Conflicts
  • PA 626 (3), Collaborative Skill Building


Concurrent enrollment in a degree program and the certificate program is allowed but not required. Admission to a degree program at UA is allowed with up to 12 credits from the certificate program being transferable into an MA or PhD degree program. Up to six hours of transfer credit will be accepted if it is equivalent to program course requirements and not over two years old.  Time to completion shall not exceed four (4) years.  The clock begins with the date of the earliest coursework used for the certificate.

Students wishing to transfer from the certificate program to a graduate degree program will need to meet all requirements for admissions to the UA graduate college and the desired degree program.

Minimum GPA required: Students must earn a letter grade of A or B in the curriculum and maintain a 3.0 GPA.  No Pass/Fail grades are permitted.

Contact Us

American Indian Studies Main Office
(520) 621-7108 Monday – Friday 8AM to 5PM
Call to schedule appointments or request more information