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Curriculum & Course Info

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OU NAS offers a Bachelor of Arts, a minor, and a Master of Arts in Native American Studies. Our curriculum uses distinctly Indigenous perspectives to place the sovereignty of Native nations and the cultures of Native peoples at the center of academic study.

In addition to core courses in Indigenous theory and research methods, the Native American Studies curriculum currently supports intensive study in three interrelated areas of emphasis that are synthetic and interdisciplinary in nature: Tribal Governance and Policy; Indigenous Media and Arts; and Language, History, and Cultural Knowledges. Coursework is, at the same time, focused and flexible. Students are encouraged to combine areas of emphasis according to their own scholarly and professional goals.

Our first degree was awarded in 1996. Since then, 325 students have graduated with either a BA, minor or MA in Native American Studies. Many of our undergraduate students pursue a second major or minor in fields such as Anthropology, Political Science, History, Psychology, Health & Exercise Science, and more.

The cutting edge NAS curriculum makes NAS graduates uniquely competitive for future jobs and graduate programs. NAS alumni have distinguished themselves in a wide range of careers some of which include: tribal government, law, health policy, filmmaking and media, historic preservation, language revitalization, and education.

NAS Core Curriculum - Indigenous Theories & Methods

Service to tribal people in their communities and nations is the foundation of Native American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Students majoring in the field will take all of the core classes, and students minoring will take several of them. For those who want to work with and for Indigenous peoples, these courses provide an indispensable theoretical and practical structure for applied service. Coursework is built upon concepts fundamental to critical Indigenous theory, such as political and cultural sovereignty, peoplehood, relationality, self-determination, and decolonization as each has developed among many Native peoples across many historical, political, and geographical contexts; then, through their internship and capstone work, NAS students will translate their academic preparation into real-world application through work with tribal communities and governments.

NAS Areas of Emphasis

This emphasis shapes connections among several branches of Native American Studies that focus on the development of an understanding of Native epistemologies or knowledge systems. Heritage languages encode many of these systems, and their development is a crucial and growing endeavor for many tribes across the nation. This course of study trains students for advanced graduate study as well as for work in key areas such as language, historic preservation, cultural preservation and revitalization, museums and archives, public history, and social justice/advocacy. With the broad approaches to several facets of Indigenous cultures available in this focus area, this emphasis cultivates a deeper understanding of Native ways of knowing, and doing that can inform any scholarly discipline or vocational pursuit.

The political systems that tribal nations must navigate in the exercise of governmental and cultural sovereignty are unique, both domestically and internationally, and require specialized preparation, which this curricular focus provides. Creative and critical thinking skills relating to the practical work of improving the material well being of tribal communities are at the heart of this concentration, as are a focus on the foundation and skills for structuring political systems and programs in a manner that is consistent with a tribal community’s particular values and traditions. These courses prepare students to work in several areas related to policy matters, including tribal and federal government service, non-governmental advocacy, tribal economic development, and more. And this emphasis also provides students with an excellent gateway, if desired, for law school, public administration, business, health, and education.

Indigenous people have increasingly taken control of how they are represented in the arts, film, literature, and media in general. This emphasis will equip students to assess critically how such representations can practically work for better or worse towards Indigenous peoples’ own goals. Students may elect to center their work in media and arts criticism, to pursue training in producing their own media and creative works, or to craft a combination of those approaches. Student who pursue this path will be well equipped for advanced graduate study. In addition, the skills acquired in this area of study translate to jobs in cultural preservation and revitalization, cultural tourism, publishing, education, fine arts, media production, film, museums, public relations, journalism, or advertising.

Course Info

Visit the OU General Catalog for a full list of our permanent courses. We also regularly offer special topics courses (NAS 4970/5970) that do not show up in the catalog. 

The first digit of the course number defines the course level. The second digit defines the NAS Area of Emphasis. The fourth digit defines the number of credit hours (course numbers ending in zero are variable credit).

First DigitCourse Level
1000-2999Lower-level course
3000-4999Upper-level course
5000-5999Primarily for post-baccalaureate students
Second DigitArea of Emphasis
0Core Course
1-2Language, History & Cultural Knowledge
3-4Tribal Governance & Policy
5-6Indigenous Media
9Special Topics