American Indian Studies Major

  • AIS graduates (left to right) Keegan Stanley, Jovana Baisden, and Kerry Evans with AIS adviser Elissa Washuta
    AIS graduates (left to right) Keegan Stanley, Jovana Baisden, and Kerry Evans with AIS adviser Elissa Washuta (second from left)

The American Indian Studies Department advances and promotes knowledge integral to Native peoples through research, teaching, and community service. It is the largest and most comprehensive program of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. American Indian Studies approaches its teaching and research from a decolonized, community based, and global perspective. The AIS major is an open major: students with a cumulative UW GPA of at least 2.0 can declare the major at any time.

The American Indian Studies degree prepares students for a variety of careers, including community-based and university-based research; cultural resource management; education; writing; fundraising; tribal administration; academic advising and administration; museum curation; resource management; and many other careers. The degree also provides a foundation for graduate study in indigenous studies, law, museology, tribal administration, documentary filmmaking, education, history, and other areas of study. 

Declaring a Major

See Declaring a Major. Students may declare the American Indian Studies major after completing a 10 credits of AIS classes with a minimum of 2.0 University GPA. In order to declare the major, please email Kai Wise, adviser, at to schedule an appointment.

Bachelor of Arts Major in American Indian Studies

Suggested First and Second Year College Courses:

Completion of two courses from:

  • AIS 102 (5 credits) - Introduction to American Indian Studies
  • AIS 202 (5 credits) - Introduction to American Indian Contemporary and Social Issues
  • AIS 203 (5 credits) - Introduction to Indigenous Knowledges

Departmental Admission Requirements

Students in good academic standing may declare this major at any time. Students may declare the major at any time in the quarter. Transfer students must be enrolled at the UW before applying.

Major Requirements:

In order to graduate with the Bachelor of Arts in American Indian Studies, students must complete 55 credits as follows (in addition to the general education requirements of the university and college):

  1. Introductory courses (10 credits): AIS 102 Introduction to American Indian Studies, and AIS 103 The Indigenous Pacific Northwest
  2. Content courses (10 credits): Two courses selected from: 
    • AIS 170 American Indian Art and Aesthetics
    • AIS 202 Introduction to American Indian Contemporary and Social Issues
    • AIS 203 Introduction to Indigenous Knowledges
    • AIS 209 Unsettling of the Red Continent: History to 1815
    • AIS 210 Inconvenient Indians and the “American Problem”: History since 1815
  3. Concentrations (25 credits total, 5 credits minimum chosen from each concentration, additional courses available as listed in time schedule and with special approval by academic advisor):
    1. Governance Courses, sample courses:

      • AIS 270 Native Peoples of the Pacific Northwest
      • AIS 335 American Indians and the Law
      • AIS 480 Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence Movements in the US, Canada, and Mexico
    2. Environment and Health Courses, sample courses:
      • AIS 340 Indian Children and Families
      • AIS 451 Critical Conversations in AIS
    3. Culture and History Courses, sample courses:
      • AIS 377 Contemporary American Indian Literature
      • AIS 378 Contemporary American Indian Literature: A Northwest Focus
      • AIS 379 Powwow: Tradition and Innovation
  4. Electives (10 credits): two courses in AIS or approved courses taught by AIS Adjunct Faculty
  5. A minimum of 30 credits must be completed at the 300 level or above

A new AIS degree requirements worksheet (PDF) will be added soon to help in planning coursework for the major.