AIS Graduate Certificate in Renewable Natural Resources

The American Indian Studies Program (AIS), with assistance from the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), is offering an academic Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in the administration and management of American Indian natural resources. To obtain the Certificate, students must complete a 12-unit program of study that includes core and thematic courses. The program is designed for students to begin in the fall and complete in one to two academic years. Students will be able to complete the Certificate in conjunction with a graduate or professional degree program or as a stand-alone certificate.

The goal of the Certificate is to train graduate students and related professionals to be conversant with the problems of managing natural resources on American Indian reservations and off-reservation areas. We have outstanding resource management programs that are highly specialized at the University of Arizona, but we lack basic training for graduate or professional degree-seeking students who aim to work in the management and administration of Tribal natural resources.

Graduate certificates are organized sets of courses that are designed to give students a level of systematic expertise in a field.

A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution is required for admission to the AIS Graduate Certificate in Renewable Natural Resources.  Students with earned majors in departments other than AIS and Renewable Natural Resources may apply.  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.  There is no longer an application fee for current UA Graduate students.  Current AIS students, contact the Graduate Program Coordinator for direction.

To apply, log on to: All application materials must be received on-line by October 15th or April 15th for admission to the following semester for the certificate program in AIS.  Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Checklist for Online Application Material

  1. On line application and fee (if you are not already a graduate student in the University of Arizona AIS program)
  1. Personal statement (1-3 pages) about your interest in the certificate program
  2. 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 (reference

The core curriculum consists of at least six credit hours chosen from the following list. Additional courses selected from the core list may be used to satisfy thematic course requirements. The core curriculum is designed to offer students an opportunity to obtain a strong background in American Indian natural resources and management. Students will select two courses from the following core offerings:

AIS 541a (also ANTH 541a, ARL 541a, RAM 541a, RNR 541a, SWES 541a, WFSC 541a, WSM 541a)
– Natural Resource Management in Native Communities (3 units) Spring.

This course surveys of basic issues and concepts in natural resource management and environment in Native communities. A central theme focuses on developing tribally-specific solutions to rebuilding the resiliency of degraded ecosystems. We consider theoretical orientations and case-specific material in: sovereignty, reserved rights, and Native claims; Native knowledge systems and western science; co-management and restoration; water, fish, wildlife, agriculture, rangeland management, energy, mining, nuclear waste, and global climate change.

AIS 526a – Principles of Indigenous Economics (3 units) Fall.
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.

AIS 531a – Traditional Ecological Knowledge (3 units) Spring.
An introduction to the growing literature on traditional ecological knowledge and its relationships to the ecological and social sciences.

AIS 595a – Globalization, Natural Resources and Indigenous Peoples (3 units) Fall.
The major challenges and opportunities facing the world today and particularly in Indigenous communities have come about as the result of historical situations in place, as well as increasingly from the modern situation of globalization and the concomitant relentless search for natural resources to fuel this economic system. This course introduces the economic terms and situations of globalization and natural resources and then critically examines how globalization and natural resource management impact Indigenous world populations and by extension, all life on earth. The class is useful for students in American Indian Studies, Natural Resource Management, Economics, History, and Political Science, and may be of interest for students in Public Policy Management, Business Administration, or other areas of study.

LAW 643 – Native American Natural Resources (3 units) Fall.
This course examines several themes: conflicts over which government has sovereign control over which resources; the role that tribal governments play in natural resource allocation and management; questions relating to ownership of natural resources; the changing federal policies relating to natural resources allocation; the role of federal courts, Congress, and Executive branches in relation to the trust responsibilities to protect tribal lands and resources; environmental protection, including EPA policy in relation to Indian Reservations; and natural resource development and management.

RNR 580 – Natural Resources Policy and Law (3 units) Spring.
The purpose of this course is to instruct students regarding: 1) the role of public policy and law in the management of renewable natural resources; 2) U.S. natural resource policy and the political process, 3) selected important federal natural resource and environmental laws; 4) the emerging role of collaborative planning in natural resources management; 5) trends and future directions in U.S. natural resources policy and law; 6) the role of public policy in the career of the natural resource professional. The course emphasizes public policy and law as they apply to natural resources on U.S. federal land. However, the principles would apply to state government policy as well.

Thematic courses consist of six credit hours chosen from the following list. Thematic courses are designed to offer students an opportunity to focus on thematic coursework in areas of Sustainability and Cultures; Natural Resource Management; Law and Policy; and Business Administration. Thus, students are required to select two courses from the following thematic offerings and could do so within a theme or across themes. Each area will provide the flexibility and range in producing and approving appropriate plans of study. The role of the advisor is to assist the student in choosing the appropriate classes in meeting the diverse needs of two groups: (1) degree-seeking certificate students and (2) professional-seeking certificate students.



Upon completion of the Certification program, students will:

  • Understand current natural resource and environmental issues affecting American Indian nations, and understand current issues affecting the administration and management of natural resources on tribal lands.
  • Understand federal environmental and natural resource policies impacting American Indian tribal nations.
  • Understand the relationship between American Indian peoples in the United States with federal, state, and local governments and agencies and the impact of those relationships upon contemporary issues affecting natural resources management.
  • Understand basic Federal Indian law and policies in regards to the management of American Indian land and natural resources.
  • Understand American Indian natural resources in the United States, especially the development and management of those resources for Native nations.

Completion of certificate requirements at the graduate level The certificate program is designed to be a post-baccalaureate experience. Transfer Course Work Students may transfer, from another accredited academic institution, up to three units of related graduate course work to be applied to the Certificate. Transfer credit must be approved by the Executive Committee. Relationship between Certification and Graduate Degrees Students in the Certificate Program who wish to apply to a graduate degree program must follow the Graduate College and program admissions policies.

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.


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

Graduate Program Coordinator
American Indian Studies
(520) 621-7108

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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences