Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies

Five College NAIS Certificate Program

Interested in pursuing the certificate? Submit the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies Certificate Student Interest Form online.

The Five College Certificate in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) is available to students at Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Please note that the certificate cannot be completed online.

The Five College Certificate in Native American and Indigenous Studies provides students with the opportunity to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the development, growth and interactions of the indigenous peoples and nations of the Western Hemisphere. The program emphasizes the many long histories of Native American Indians as well as their contemporary lives and situations. A holistic and comparative interdisciplinary approach underlies the certificate program's requirements, enabling students to become familiar with the diversity of indigenous lifeways, including cultural forms, institutions, political economies and modes of self-expression. In addition to this broader perspective, the program places some emphasis on the Native peoples of the Northeast so that Five College students can become acquainted with the history, culture and presence of indigenous peoples in this region.

If you're planning to work with indigenous people anywhere in the Western Hemisphere as a teacher or social worker, or in business or public administration, the Certificate Program is a good idea for you. The NAIS Certificate also gives you the right background for graduate study or research on Indigenous cultures.


No application is necessary prior to beginning the certificate, but a student's program must be approved by the program advisor from her or his campus. At least seven courses are required for completion of the Five College Certificate in Native American Indian Studies: a foundation course plus six additional courses, with no more than three of the seven courses from a single discipline. Requirements are as follows:

  1. One foundation course: Offered at various levels, foundation courses provide an opportunity to hear Native perspectives and are taught from a philosophical perspective that reflects Native Studies theories, pedagogies and methodologies. Consult with your NAIS advisor to identify the appropriate foundations course.
  2. Six additional courses: Students must complete at least six additional courses, selected in consultation with your campus advisor.
  3. Grades: Students must receive a grade of B or higher in all seven courses to receive a Certificate.

When you complete your courses, please fill out the Application for Certificate and submit it by April 15 to Nate Therien, Five Colleges, Inc., 97 Spring Street, Amherst, MA 01002-2324, (413) 542-4000.

NOTE: This information describes the certificate offered through the Five College consortium. UMass Amherst also offers a certificate of Native American Indian Studies (requirements differ slightly). Students enrolled at UMass Amherst may choose to pursue one or both certificates.