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Native Studies Degree, AA

Study the history and culture of Native American and Indigenous groups and become an informed advocate. With San Juan College's Associate of Arts (AA) degree in Native Studies, you can pursue a career working with Native peoples. We also offer a strong Native community to support your studies. 

Our Native Studies AA offers transfer pathways to many four-year universities so you can earn your bachelor's degree. Gain knowledge and skills and make a positive impact in the lives of Indigenous communities.

Why Learn About Native American and Indigenous Studies?

Gain a deeper understanding of the lives of Native American and Indigenous people groups. For centuries, Native people have been subjected to forced assimilation and discrimination, leading to great economic and social disparities. But with a Native Studies AA degree, you will have discovered Indigenous history and culture from their perspectives.

Learn to appreciate Native worldviews through studying their literature, art, and oral traditions. Discover the current issues affecting Indigenous communities, such as healthcare and sovereignty. Become an ally for Indigenous peoples through the Native Studies AA program.

If you are already a member of a tribe or nation, studying Native American and Indigenous studies can help you deepen your connection to your culture. A Native Studies AA degree also provides you with the knowledge and skills to become a leader and advocate for your community.

Why Earn a Native Studies Degree at San Juan College?

Emphasis on Diné Culture

SJC's Native Studies program recognizes the rich history and culture of the Diné (Navajo Nation). Its ancestral homelands encompass the region surrounding our campus. That's why our program courses emphasize Diné culture and ways of knowing. Deepen your understanding of Diné traditions, language, and customs by studying at SJC.

A Supportive Learning Community

SJC strives to create a nurturing environment for all students. Learn from our expert faculty, who foster academic and personal growth. You will also have opportunities to engage in high-impact practices such as:

And don't forget to visit our Native American Center (NAC), a student resource hub, to access school resources and join cultural trips. See how our community fosters your success.

Ready to Transfer

Prepare to transfer to a four-year institution with our Native Studies degree program. You can complete your associate degree in four semesters at SJC. Then after you transfer, you complete your bachelor's in two more years.

With a bachelor's degree, you will set yourself up for greater career success, as many employers require candidates to have a bachelor's degree. Speed up your professional growth by starting your transfer journey at SJC.

Affordable Pathway to a Bachelor's Degree

Because of SJC's low tuition rates, the Native Studies AA two-year degree is an excellent investment for you. Get the support you need to prepare for rigorous courses and move forward in your academic journey. You may also qualify to get your degree tuition-free through the NM Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships

What You Will Learn in Your Native Studies Courses

The Native Studies program focuses on understanding Indigenous people and their experiences. In your courses, learn from the perspective of Native people in the past and present. Study Indigenous culture and history through various academic fields, including anthropology, art, and sociology.

Your courses also cover important cultural markers and current issues, such as:

  • Cultural conflicts and preservation
  • Economic development
  • Environmental issues
  • Historic relations with non-Native societies
  • Language revitalization
  • Public policy
  • Tribal governments

This program requires students to take the following core courses:

  • Introduction to Native American Studies
  • Sociopolitical Concepts in Native America
  • Navajo Culture
  • Indigenous Peoples of North America

You can also choose electives from a range of classes, including but not limited to:

  • Contemporary Social Issues in Native American Societies
  • Introduction to Native American Literature
  • Navajo Language I & II
  • Navajo Rug Weaving
  • Navajo Philosophy

In addition, you will gain important versatile skills that help you in your courses and in your career. They include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Cultural humility
  • Information and digital literacy
  • Interpersonal and collaborative skills
  • Oral and written communication

Native Studies AA Curriculum

Transfer Options

Be prepared to earn a bachelor's degree at a four-year university with San Juan College. With the Native Studies AA, you may be able to enter with junior standing. If you wish to transfer, we strongly encourage you to meet with your academic advisor. They help coordinate your coursework at San Juan College with the requirements of the transfer institution.

SJC students with a Native Studies AA degree can transfer seamlessly into the following Native American Studies bachelor's degree programs:

  • Fort Lewis College
  • The University of New Mexico

Learn More About the Transfer Process

Five individuals pose and smile while wearing native-style dress

Who is Ms. Indigenous San Juan College?

San Juan College annually hosts the Ms. Indigenous SJC contest to celebrate Native culture. During her reign, Ms. Indigenous SJC represents SJC and shares her heritage with the community. Meet our past and current Ms. Indigenous SJC winners.

Careers and Outcomes for Native Studies Graduates

As a graduate of the Native Studies AA program at San Juan College, you'll have a strong foundation in understanding Indigenous cultures and issues. Most Native Studies graduates choose to continue their education at a four-year institution to earn a bachelor's degree.

Successful completion of the Native Studies AA and a bachelor's degree may lead to employment in a variety of different careers.

  • Business: Work in businesses that involve Indigenous communities, such as the gaming, tourism, and hospitality industries.
  • Education: Serve in schools or similar education centers in tribal, rural, or urban Native American communities.
  • Government and law: Find a position in government related to Indian Affairs or tribal law.
  • Public health or community outreach: Work with leaders of Native communities to promote health and raise awareness of local issues.
  • Social work: Assist members of Indigenous communities in accessing resources.

Please note education requirements may vary depending on the job. 

Graduate Spotlight

"Getting my degree in Native Studies is one of my greatest accomplished goals. The program enabled me to study in depth about Navajo grammar and sentence structure as well as history of local and global native indigenous tribes."

Christopher Francis | SJC Alum
Native Studies

Next Steps

To enroll in the Associate of Arts in Native Studies degree program, you must first apply to San Juan College. It's easy, and you can apply online at any time!

Apply Now

If you are already a student at San Juan College, talk to your advisor about our Native Studies AA program. You can also discuss your transfer options.

Find Your Advisor


Phone: (505) 566-3320

West Classroom Complex,
Room 1911

M-F 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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