Discover Native American Studies at the University of Montana

As a Native American studies major at UM, you’ll examine the contemporary and past experiences and life ways of the Indigenous nations of North America from their perspective — and gain a better understanding of human similarities and differences.

You’ll be taught by faculty with diverse backgrounds in anthropology, history, literature and Native American studies — with specific topics of interest that include issues of tribal sovereignty, language revitalization, global Indigenous studies, poetry and literature, Native Americans and film, American Indian education, sporting traditions and urbanization.

You’ll also enjoy unique experiences such as the yearly Kyiyo Pow Wow, hands-on beading classes and internships that connect you with museums and nonprofits. When you complete your bachelor’s degree, you’ll be well-versed and well-prepared for careers working with Native American tribes, government agencies, nonprofits and more.


in scholarships awarded by Native American studies each year

Pow Wow

UM’s Kyiyo is one of the oldest student-run pow wows in the United States


student scholarships awarded for the 2022-23 academic year

Other Native American studies degree options at UM

Video: Native Griz

Zachariah Rides at the Door is passionate about Native culture and Native languages, two areas he is focusing on as a double-major in Native American Studies and Anthropology.

What can you do with a Native American studies degree?

A bachelor’s in Native American studies provides a solid foundation for careers working within tribal, federal, state governance and policy in Indian Country. In addition, it provides a comprehensive education that will serve you in a variety of professions, including education, health care fields, arts and media, law and graduate studies.

We also prepare students for graduate work in Native American studies, anthropology, education, history, law, literature, political science, philosophy, forestry, natural resource management, policy and other fields related to Native American cultures and contemporary life.

Native American Studies jobs

Job opportunities for Native American studies graduates can be found within the government and/or Native American tribal community, and include:

  • Tribal school teacher
  • Policy analyst
  • Data analyst
  • Collections manager
  • Multicultural advisor
  • Academic advisor
  • Legislative assistant
  • Community service managers
  • Native American affairs advocate
  • Tribal legal assistant
  • Attorney
  • Museum curators
  • Nonprofit work

Experiential learning in the Native American studies degree

There’s no better way to learn the life and ways of Native American tribes than through hands-on education. Experiential learning plays an important part in the Native American studies degree program — from robust internships for pay or credit, to event planning and beading classes.

Internships for Native American studies majors

Earn credits through internships as a Native American studies major. Many of our students engage in paid or volunteer work for museums and nonprofits. In recent years, students have also taken advantage of our internship option to work with other university units, such as the Mansfield Library, to increase their job skills while earning academic credit.

We also offer unique course opportunities — including a two-semester sequence in Blackfoot language, a course in Native American documentary film, an event-planning course in which students plan and produce the highly anticipated Kyiyo Pow Wow at UM each spring, and a Native Sports and Games course that combines classroom learning with outdoor athletic competition.

Sovereignty and contemporary issues courses also prepare students for careers serving the needs of tribal communities in Montana and elsewhere.

Career development in the Native American studies major

Our students appreciate the high-quality, intellectually stimulating education we provide, as well as the personal guidance they receive from their professors and the department staff. When they graduate, they feel ready to pursue their goals with confidence.  

Five core faculty members teach the majority of our courses, without relying on teaching assistants or separate graders, which adds a personal touch to our major that many university departments lack.

Scholarships for Native American majors

To help Native and non-Native Native American students reach their educational goals, UM offers scholarships each year in various University of Montana -Missoula and Missoula College majors, including Native American studies.

Native American studies oversees the awarding of $150,000 per year in scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students, both incoming and continuing students. In 2022-23 we awarded 45 scholarships to students.  

Learn more about scholarship opportunities for Native American studies majors.

Native American studies requirements

The curriculum for the Native American studies major provides a firm grounding in Native American studies that includes exposure to all of the sub-disciplines in which we specialize.

Our courses are designed to introduce students to key content areas and help them improve their general reading, writing, research and analytical skills. Courses in the major include Tribal Sovereignty, Oral/Written Traditions of Native Americans, Beliefs and Philosophy, Native Americans and Cinema and a host of other offerings.

View all classes for the bachelor’s degree in Native American studies.