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Graduate Certificate in American Indian and Indigenous Studies

AIS Adjunct Professor Sven Haakanson with some of his tools at the Burke Museum
AIS Adjunct Associate Professor Sven Haakanson at the Burke Museum

The graduate certificate is a unique program that enables graduate and professional students from across the University of Washington (including the Tacoma and Bothell campuses) to join a rich community of scholars, acquire skills, and acquire the necessary context to do rigorous work in American Indian and Indigenous Studies. 

The certificate will cover:

  1. Scope and history of American Indian and Indigenous Studies
  2. Indigenous intellectual theory and knowledge
  3. Competence in American Indian and Indigenous and community-based methods in a specific field
  4. Completion of a research-based presentation

Through classes in the Department of American Indian Studies, graduate students will develop knowledge in historical and contemporary approaches to the advanced study of Indigenous intellectual history, theory, and research methodologies. In particular, students in the program will have a space on campus to strategize around emergent AIIS topics and methodologies, particularly that of community engagement.

Graduate Certificate Requirements (16-18 credits)

AIS 575 - Indigenous Theory Course (5 credits): This course offers broad training in Indigenous intellectual history and the relationships between theory and practice. Students will be prepared to do research that is aware of the genealogy of the ideas that anchor the field and how these ideas link with various American Indian and Indigenous communities’ social, cultural, and political efforts.

AIS 576 - Indigenous Methodologies Course (5 credits): This course focuses on building strong research relationships with communities and prepares students through discussions around ethics, key criteria, protocols, and different possible methodologies based on the needs of the research community. This foundational training in AIIS methodologies, including best practices and approaches, will prepare graduates for both future academic work and non-academic positions with tribes or communities. This class will teach students how to develop research questions prompted by communities and maintain strong relationships with these communities throughout and after the research period. 

One Elective (3-5 credits): The 3-5 credit elective at the 400 or 500 level may be selected from a list of classes taught by GCAIIS-affiliated faculty. Students may enroll in these elective credits in any quarter. You can find a list of pre-approved elective courses here.

Capstone project AIS 590 (3 credits): Once students have completed their Certificate coursework they are eligible to enroll in this 3-credit independent study course (AIS 590) during any Spring Quarter. Working with one faculty mentor from American Indian Studies, including AIS adjuncts, students must complete a 7-10 page research-based paper. This research paper should be written specifically for and be presented at the annual symposium hosted in collaboration with the Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies each Spring. Additionally, it should highlight how your research is engaging the field of American Indian and Indigenous Studies. Students are encouraged to think with their mentors and advisors about when the best time to complete their capstone might be, balancing their primary department’s obligations and requirements. 

In order to register for the capstone credits please email Kai Wise ( and indicate which AIS faculty member will serve as your capstone mentor. Kai will then register you for the 3-credit independent study course, AIS 590. This should be done prior to the start of Spring quarter, ideally when registration begins during Winter quarter, to give your faculty member and you time to plan.

Students will additionally need to register for the Indigenous Studies Symposium by submitting their abstract proposal through the online registration form. The form will ask you to indicate whether you are presenting to fulfill your GCAIIS capstone requirement. You can find the registration form here


For admission to the graduate certificate, please fill out the application online and contact American Indian Studies Adviser Kai Wise ( for any questions or additional information.

Students are encouraged to enroll in the graduate certificate prior to taking certificate coursework, but may be admitted on a rolling basis. Students must formally apply for admission to the graduate certificate before enrolling in the program capstone.

Students will be expected to maintain a 3.0 or above in all certificate coursework in order to be awarded the certificate. All grades will be awarded by the relevant course instructor(s) and based on the standards outlined in the syllabus.

Faculty - is your course a GCAIIS elective?

Courses are approved by curriculum committee. If you are interested in your course being a GCAIIS elective option, please send a copy of the syllabus to