Master's Degree

The M.A. program in Native American Studies emphasizes the Hemispheric Study of the Americas. Graduate students may narrow their focus area in their thesis work. Throughout the process, students should coordinate their plan of study and chart their progress with their Major Professor.

The M.A. Program in NAS requires approximately two years. The length of the program, however, is based on the student’s progress in mastering subject matter. Ordinarily, the M.A. thesis or project or comprehensive exam should be completed by the second year.

There are two possible plans for completion of the Master’s Degree; Plan I (Thesis or Project), or Plan II (Examination). By the end of the second quarter of their first year, students should begin consulting with their Major Professor to determine which is the best option for the completion of the M.A. Degree.

Successful completion of a Master's Degree requires knowledge of the following subject areas listed below. Students may have fulfilled this requirement prior to admission. Otherwise, relevant coursework will have to be taken at Davis.

  • Native American history (North, Central or South America)
  • Native American religion and philosophy
  • Native American government, politics and society
  • Native American history (North, Central or South America)
  • Native American religion and philosophy
  • Native American government, politics and society
  • Native American/ Indigenous art (visual sovereignty)
  • Native American performance
  • Native American literature
  • Native American women
  • Native American language or linguistics

COURSE REQUIREMENTS
Plan I (Thesis) 
requires 30 units of graduate and upper division courses (the 100 and 200 series) and a thesis (or a project in lieu of a thesis).  At least 16 of the 30 units must be graduate courses in NAS. Students may take up to 8 units of course work in the 100 series. These must not duplicate courses taken for the B.A.  The choice of courses must be made in consultation with the Major Professor.

Core Courses required for Plan I (Thesis) (16 Units)
1
. NAS 200 (4): Basic Concepts in NAS
2. NAS 220 (4): Colonialism, Racism, and Self-Determination
3. NAS 280 (4): Ethnohistorical Theory and Method
4. One other NAS 200-level course, including but not limited to

  • NAS 202 (4): Advanced Topics in NAS
  • NAS 212 (4): Indigenous Community Development for Autonomy
  • NAS 207 (4) Leadership Skills and Strategies in California Language
  • Documentation & Revitalization
  • NAS 213 (4) Native Criminality and Deviance
  • NAS 217 (4) Public Law 83-280: Colonial Termination
  • NAS 224 (4) Performance in the Americas
  • NAS 233 (4) Visual Sovereignty
  • NAS 237 (4) Native American Art Collections and Museums
  • NAS 240 (4) Native American Public Health: Topics and Issues
  • NAS 250 (4). Indigenous Critique of Classic Maya Ethnographies
  • NAS 280 (4) Ethnohistorical Theory and Method

Plan II (Examination) requires 36 units of graduate and upper division courses, of which at least 20 units must be graduate courses in NAS. Of the remaining 16 units, up to 4 units may be 299 or 298 courses, and up to 8 units may be from the 100 series; the rest should be 200 level courses. The choice of courses must be made in consultation with the Major Professor. Faculty may require graduate students enrolled in upper division undergraduate courses to complete additional work. A comprehensive examination of three hours is required.

Core Courses required for Plan II (Examination) (20 Units)
1.
 NAS 200 (4): Basic Concepts in NAS
2. NAS 212 (4): Indigenous Community Development for Autonomy
3. NAS 220 (4): Colonialism, Racism, and Self-Determination
4. NAS 280 (4): Ethnohistorical Theory & Method
5. Please choose one from the following list, including but not limited to:

  • NAS 202 (4): Advanced Topics in NAS
  • NAS 207 (4) Leadership Skills and Strategies in California Language
  • Documentation & Revitalization
  • NAS 213 (4) Native Criminality and Deviance
  • NAS 217 (4) Public Law 83-280: Colonial Termination
  • NAS 224 (4) Performance in the Americas
  • NAS 233 (4) Visual Sovereignty
  • NAS 237 (4) Native American Art Collections and Museums
  • NAS 240 (4) Native American Public Health: Topics and Issues
  • NAS 250 (4). Indigenous Critique of Classic Maya Ethnographies
  • NAS 280 (4). Ethnohistorical Theory & Method

Of the remaining 16 units, at least 12 should be letter graded. Students may choose among:

  • Up to two NAS 100-level series courses
  • Any other additional 200-level courses in NAS
  • One graduate course from a discipline related to the student’s research: Anthropology, English, Comparative Literature, Human and Community Development, International Agricultural Development, Art History, Geography, History, Law, or other relevant programs
  • Up to four units of 298/299 (independent study). To reiterate, these are graded on a S/U basis and, therefore, do not count as letter-graded courses. Students may take more independent studies with the approval of the Major Professor, but only four units (the equivalent of one graduate course) can count towards the degree  

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: NATIVE LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT FOR THE M.A. DEGREE 
Students seeking the M.A. degree are required to demonstrate basic competence in a Native American/indigenous language. With the approval of their Major Professor and the Graduate Adviser, students demonstrate knowledge of a Native American language by one of the following:
     1. Complete 4 units of coursework or independent study, in which the student examines some aspect of a Native American/ indigenous language relevant to his/her   research.
     2. Participate in a language internship program in which at least one quarter is spent off-campus doing language study in an indigenous community, or taking classes in an indigenous language through a tribe, or a college or university.
     3. A student who comes to the program with a high degree of proficiency in a Native American/ indigenous language may compose a 500-word text in the language (either in writing or by audio recording) without the help of a dictionary. This option is normally reserved for people who are native speakers of the language or who have other relevant background, such as advanced coursework or extensive experience living in communities where the language is spoken. A native speaker or a qualified linguist may act as a consultant for purposes of judging language competence. In the event of failure, a student may repeat an examination after one month. In the event of two successive failures the student may be required to enroll in a language course designated by the Graduate Advisor.

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