Master in Indigenous Studies


Program Description

Indigenous peoples share experiences across the globe. At the same time, Indigenous peoples are extremely diverse. Are you interested in studying relationships between Indigenous peoples and majority populations from local and global perspectives? The master’s program in Indigenous Studies offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of indigenous issues, intending to equip the students with academic and practical skills, critical thinking, and knowledge to fill an important role in an increasingly globalized world. The program actively recruits students with indigenous and non-indigenous backgrounds creating an exciting cross-cultural teaching and learning environment.

Program description

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Credits (ECTS): 120
  • Admission requirements: Bachelor's degree
  • Degree Name: Master's of Philosophy in Indigenous Studies
  • Application code:
    • Norwegian and Nordic applicants: 5058
    • International applicants: 2031

The Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, and the Faculty of Law, in cooperation with the Centre for Sami Studies, offer a two-year full-time master's program in Indigenous Studies (MIS). The program is multidisciplinary within social sciences, humanities, and law, and based on research conducted at UiT The Arctic University of Norway regarding the Sami and other Indigenous peoples. The thematic focus of the master's program is the emergence of the international indigenous movement, the historical experiences, and the contemporary context that Indigenous peoples experience across the globe.

During the two years of studies, students take courses totaling 120 ECTS. Seven mandatory courses are designed to give a broad base, from which the individual student may choose a relevant topic for the master's thesis. The thesis work is supervised by faculty members from the cooperating units at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, and topics are chosen in cooperation with the appointed advisors. It is customary to conduct data collection for the master's thesis at the end of the second semester.

Learning outcomes

Students who have successfully completed the MIS program, are expected to have achieved the following learning outcomes:


Advanced knowledge of:

  • Indigenous issues, including similarities and differences based on the different cultural contexts.
  • the concepts of Indigenous peoples as used in areas of research and politics on global and local levels, and the scholarly and political debate on these issues.
  • different scholarly theories and methods in the field of Indigenous Studies, including the challenges posed by indigenous methodology.
  • the history of the global Indigenous movement and the current situation of the Sami and other Indigenous peoples.
  • the existing state of knowledge related to Indigenous research ethics and the responsibility of the researcher.


Capacity to:

  • critically analyze the situation of Indigenous peoples based on the interdisciplinary approach to Indigenous studies.
  • deal with challenges that culturally diverse societies and their institutions are facing.
  • analyze existing and relevant theories from the humanities and social sciences and use these theories independently.
  • find and use relevant research methods to produce the data for an independently designed project.
  • carry out an independent, limited research project under supervision.
  • compare the situation of indigenous peoples in different historical and contemporary contexts.
  • make oral presentations at seminars and other official settings.

General competence

Ability to:

  • analyze relevant academic problems in the field of academic Indigenous research.
  • analyze professional and research ethical challenges related to Indigenous issues.
  • apply knowledge and skills on Indigenous issues in order to carry out advanced assignments and projects in similar areas.
  • use the terminology of Indigenous studies and communicate extensively on their academic work both to specialists and to the general public.
  • combine different scholarly approaches to produce new knowledge.
  • contribute to new thinking and innovation processes regarding Indigenous peoples and minorities.

Job prospectives

The Master's program in Indigenous Studies introduces students to Indigenous Studies as a distinctly multidisciplinary field. The objectives of the program include:

  • Introducing students to the history and development of the global Indigenous movement.
  • Familiarizing students with different disciplinary perspectives on human and indigenous rights, colonialism, decolonization, culture and ethnicity, marginalization, political recognition and empowerment, governance, resource management, and environmental change.
  • Equipping students with skills and knowledge to critically analyze relations between local, regional, national, and global levels, including the role of pan-national organizations such as the UN and ILO.
  • Teaching students about interaction and unequal power relations between actors.

Possible prospects

Our graduates thrive in work fields that require an understanding of global and local Indigenous issues, international experiences as well as analytical thinking, communication, and project implementation skills. The Master’s program prepares students for exciting careers in multiple academic, public, and business environments. Job opportunities include:

  • Research positions: conducting academic applied research into Indigenous issues.
  • Policy: preparing and coordinating policy, advising, and planning (UN, etc.).
  • Implementation positions: serving as project manager or coordinator in local NGOs and other areas of the private sector.
  • Communication and media positions related to Indigenous issues.

Academic Careers

The Master's program provides an excellent foundation for pursuing a Ph.D. in relevant fields, such as Political Science and Governance, Anthropology, Environment and Development Studies, Language, Cultural and Religious Studies, and Education, to name just a few. Many of our graduates were successful in attaining competitive Ph.D. positions and research fellowships.

Professional Careers

As a graduate of the Master in Indigenous Studies, you would gain general conceptual, critical, and evaluative skills that are required in many senior jobs in the government and public sectors, civil society organizations, project management, and education institutions. The skills to analyze public policy, plans, and development projects make our graduates highly qualified candidates for working both in the public and private sectors at all levels, providing institutions and organizations with the knowledge, critical thinking, and advice in a wide range of processes.

The international nature of the program connects our students in a global network that helps them develop a global outlook and competence to make high-level critical comparisons of Indigenous realities on the ground. As a graduate of the Master in Indigenous Studies, your in-depth analyses of Indigenous people's own experiences locally, nationally, and internationally could be of critical importance for Indigenous and marginalized communities worldwide. This expertise makes you qualified for work both with international and local stakeholders, contributing to frame, voice, and disseminate their interests and concerns, and co-design suitable courses of action.

Program structure

Term 10 credits 10 credits 10 credits 10 credits
Semester I - Autumn
IND-3025 Introduction to Indigenous Studies
HIS-3005 History of Indigenous Peoples - Indigenous people, ethnic minorities and the multi-cultural society in the North
HIF-3620 Indigenous Revitalization - Languages, Literature, and Arts
HIF-3620 Indigenous Revitalization - Languages, Literature, and Arts
Semester II - Spring
IND-3026 Methodology and Methods in Indigenous Studies
SOA-3006 Indigenous Culture, Resource Management, and Human Rights
STV-3020 Indigenous Peoples - Politics, Institutions, and Tools
JUR-3624 The rights of indigenous peoples
Semester III - Autumn
IND-3904 Master's Thesis in Indigenous Studies
IND-3904 Master's Thesis in Indigenous Studies IND-3904 Master's Thesis in Indigenous Studies IND-3904 Master's Thesis in Indigenous Studies
Semester IV - Spring
IND-3904 Master's Thesis in Indigenous Studies
IND-3904 Master's Thesis in Indigenous Studies IND-3904 Master's Thesis in Indigenous Studies IND-3904 Master's Thesis in Indigenous Studies

Teaching and assessment

The organization of teaching will depend on the character and the content of each course. The type of examination is specified in each module. More information about teaching and examination can be found in the description of each individual course.

Seminars in methodology and thesis writing run parallel to the other courses throughout the studies. The course in methodology ties together the different courses and disciplinary approaches. This constitutes the basis both for the development of the students' individual research design and for the integration of Indigenous perspectives in research.

Every student will be assigned a thesis supervisor in the first year of the study. Supervision is given through seminars and individual tutorials.

Access to further studies

Upon successful completion of the degree program, students may be qualified for admission to a Ph.D. program in a number of academic areas at universities in Norway, Scandinavia, and internationally.


Students have the possibility to carry out their fieldwork/data gathering abroad with basic financial support from the Centre for Sami Studies. This may be combined with an exchange for a minimum of three months of studies at a partner university.

The Master's program in Indigenous Studies has bilateral exchange agreements with universities abroad where the students may take modules that will subsequently be approved as part of the degree. We recommend our students to use these agreements. In this degree program, we recommend an exchange in the second or third semester. There are certain reservations concerning what modules the exchange university has to offer. UiT has several open agreements that can be used by students in Indigenous Studies. Check student mobility at UiT. Information about exchange programs will be given by contacting the Centre for Sami Studies.

Recommended partner institutions are:

  • University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • University of Montana, USA
  • Dilla University, Ethiopia
Last updated Jan 2021

About the School

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is a medium-sized research university that contributes to knowledge-based development at the regional, national, and international levels.

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is a medium-sized research university that contributes to knowledge-based development at the regional, national, and international levels. Read less
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