Master of Professional Studies in Indigenous Governance

Indigenous Governance Program Master in Professional Studies_JIT 2019

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree has been designed with working professionals in mind, combining brief but intensive on-campus classes with a diverse menu of online courses and externship credits that can be earned in a student’s home community. The 30-credit hybrid in-person and online MPS degree can be completed within one year. By combining the immersive in-person January in Tucson experience with a robust online class curriculum, the MPS gives students flexibility to create their own specialized courses of study.

January in Tucson Core Curriculum

The MPS degree’s core curriculum consists of a series of 1-credit January in Tucson courses, covering topics from Native nation building, comparative Indigenous governance, intergovernmental relations, indigenous peoples’ human rights, and community development. Students also have the option of completing concentrations of online courses in tribal justice, Native economic development, and natural resources, or customizing their plan of study with in-person and online courses to meet their needs.

The core curriculum of the MPS consists of January in Tucson classes; an intensive education session which brings together distinguished faculty in the field of Indigenous governance and gives them the opportunity to teach and hold discussions with Indigenous leaders, practitioners, and community members from around the world. The JIT curriculum not only conveys important information backed by research, but allow space for a crucial dialogue to occur between Indigenous peoples from all over the world. This conversation provides new perspectives to familiar challenges, and helps to make JIT a truly unique educational experience. 

  • Culminating Experience (2-8 credits)*

  • Capstone Project (Clinic, Law 696C) (1-6 credits)

  • Thesis (Law 910) (1-5 credits)

*The Culminating Experience requirement provides students with an opportunity to apply and integrate the skills and knowledge gained in their MPS studies to a real-world issue facing Indigenous peoples and their communities. Students have three options for completing the Culminating Experience credit: 

  • A student may opt to pursue a capstone project via a home-community externship (paid or unpaid by employer-partner) in order to gain practical, professional experience and put the skills and knowledge gained in the MPS program to work for Indigenous peoples.

  • A student may opt to pursue a thesis, which will allow the student to study an issue related to Indigenous governance in-depth in hopes of delivering a well-researched academic work product that can be used as a spring board for future research.

  • Students may also opt to pursue a combination of both options as approved by their Culminating Experience advisor.

Regardless of the option selected, Culminating Experiences must meet the 2-8 credit requirement.

Optional Degree Tracks

Students pursuing the MPS in Indigenous Governance may choose one of three subject areas, or tracks, to complete the requirements for the MPS degree. The tracks (Tribal Justice, Native Economic Development, and Natural Resources) provide students with a focused curriculum in their chosen subject area. 


The Tribal Justice track provides students with an in-depth introduction to Indigenous tribal justice systems, practice, and policy. The curriculum is designed to offer students practical case studies on the best practices of Indigenous justice systems, and to explore alternative dispute resolution processes that have been implemented in Indigenous communities in the U.S. and around the world. 12 Credits Total


Native American Family and Domestic Relations Law: LAW 469/569 Available Online Spring 2021

Native American Law & Policy: LAW 450/550A (3 credits) 

Tribal Courts Practice and Procedure: LAW 467/567 (3 credits)

Tribal Criminal Law and Procedure: LAW 468/568 


Comparative Legal Systems & Their Role in Nation Building: LAW 631M (1 credit)

Constitutions of Indigenous Nations: LAW 631L (1 credit) 

Environmental Law: LAW 454/554 (3-4 credits) 

Introduction to Human Rights Law: LAW 540 (3 credits) 

Introduction to Legal Systems: LAW 585 (2 credits) 

Tribal Business Law: LAW 631T (1 credit) 

Most courses are available online.  


Students in the Native Economic Development track will explore the challenges surrounding economic development that Indigenous peoples and their respective communities face in the 21st Century. The track covers a broad range of issues including Indigenous sovereignty, strategic thinking, social welfare, ethics, and the challenge of balancing revenue and employment needs with cultural and environmental concerns. 12 Credits Total


Acquisition and Financing of Mineral Projects: MNE 697G (1 credit)

Corporate Organization and Governance in Mining: MNE 697B (1 credit) 

Governance, Risk Management and Compliance: Law 614B (3 credits)

Intellectual Property Law: LAW 555R (3 units) 

International Trade Law and Policy: LAW 553A (3 credits) 

Introduction to International Commercial Transactions: LAW 544B (3 credits) 

Native American Natural Resources: LAW 643D (3 credits)

Valuation of Mineral Assets and Projects: MNE 697F (2 credits) 

Most courses are available online.  


The Natural Resources track will highlight the conflicts that can result when governmental entities compete for control over resources, and the strategic issues that result when Native nations plan for sustainability across generations. The course selections provide opportunities for students to gain a thorough understanding of the role that Indigenous peoples play in natural resource allocation and management, and addresses questions related to the ownership of natural resources given the reality of changing governmental policies on natural resource development. 12 Credits Total


Environmental Law: LAW 669 (3-4 credits)

Native American Natural Resources: LAW 643D (3 credits)


Comparative Mining Law: LAW 640 (3 credits)

The Emerging Framework for Development of Mineral Resources: MNE 697P (3 credits)

Global Mining Tax - Law, Policy and Disclosure/Sustainability: LAW 640H (2 credits)

Indigenous Food Sovereignty: LAW 631R (1 credit)

Indigenous Peoples and the Environment (1 credit)

International Environmental Law: LAW 696I (2-3 credits)

International Mining Health Law and Practice: LAW 640E (3 credits)

Introduction to International Mining Industry: LAW 640G (1 credit)

Managing Public Lands under NEPA: LAW 698Q (2 credits)

Public Land Law Supplement: LAW 640B (1 credit)

Public Lands and Mining Law: LAW 640A (3 credits)

Most courses are available online

Customization Opportunities

The University of Arizona is a globally-recognized leader in research that advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships. This reputation combined with the University’s commitment to inclusive excellence has led to the development of a number of nationally and internationally-recognized academic programs that focus on Indigenous issues. The MPS degree program provides students with broad access to these academic opportunities from all across the University of Arizona campus. Upon approval from a student’s program advisor, courses from other academic units may count toward electives within MPS degree tracks (described above), or toward electives required to earn the degree generally (described below).

Non-exhaustive examples of campus partners hosting courses related to Indigenous governance include:


In addition to the core requirements and tracks, students have the option to explore special topics related to Indigenous governance from a wide array of electives that draw from the course offerings of the Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Program, other tracks within the MPS, or courses offered by UArizona partners. The credits can be earned on campus or online. 4-10 Credits Total


  • If you require a student visa: October 31, 2021
  • If you do NOT require a student visa: November 30, 2021


“We bring in faculty, people who have a variety of experience and depth, and in this nation-building revolution that has been going on, many of the lessons that they share are stories from Indian Country.”

Jaime Pinkham (Nez Perce), Executive Director, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish CommissioN