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JD/MA in Indigenous Studies

This program allows students to obtain a J.D. and an M.A. in Indigenous Studies in four years. It is of special interest to students who intend to become leaders and policymakers in indigenous communities worldwide. Admission to both the School of Law and the Master’s Program in Indigenous Studies is required. The program objectives are:

  1. to facilitate interdisciplinary studies;
  2. to support the interest of students who wish to pursue study in both fields; and
  3. to provide an educational opportunity that trains candidates for leadership and policymaking roles in indigenous communities worldwide, in higher education, and in state, national and international institutions and organizations.

If you are a prospective law student, contact the KU Law Office of Admissions, 785-864-4378, admitlaw@ku.edu; or Professor Joseph Brewer, Indigenous Studies, 785-864-5271, joseph.brewer@ku.edu.

If you are a current KU student, contact Assistant Dean Leah Terranova, law school, 785-864-4357, leaht@ku.edu; or Professor Joseph Brewer, Indigenous Studies, 785-864-5271, joseph.brewer@ku.edu.

Admissions Requirements

Candidates for the joint program will need to meet the separate admission requirements of the law school and the master’s program in Indigenous Studies. Admission into one school will create no presumption favoring admission into the other. To be admitted into the joint program, an applicant must be separately admitted to both programs and then must request to proceed in the joint program. The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the required entrance examination for the Law School application, and the GRE is the required entrance examination for the Indigenous Studies application.

Per American Bar Association policy, credit for the J.D. degree shall only be given for course work taken after the student has matriculated in the law school. The law school shall not grant credit toward the J.D. degree for work taken in a pre-admission program. For this reason, students should start the law program first.

Students may apply to both degree programs simultaneously, but they are not required to do so. Students who are admitted into law first should seek admission into the master's program as soon as possible and must be admitted into that program no later than the end of the spring semester of their second year of law study, but earlier application is recommended. Students who are admitted to the master's program first should seek admission into the law school as soon as possible and must be admitted into the law school no later than the end of their second semester of graduate study.

Degree Requirements

The law school requires all J.D. candidates to earn 90 credit hours to complete the degree. For students enrolled in the J.D./M.A. program, the law school will accept 9 credit hours earned from approved courses in the master's program in Indigenous Studies toward the J.D. requirements. Students in the joint degree program should note that while the School of Law requires a 2.0 grade point average in J.D. course work to remain in good standing and graduate, the Graduate School requires a 3.0 grade point average for all courses counting toward the M.A. in the Indigenous Studies portion of the degree.

The master's program in ISP requires all candidates to earn 30 graduate credit hours. The master's program will accept for credit toward the M.A. degree 12 credit hours earned from approved courses in the law school. Required Indigenous Studies core courses include:

  • ISP 800 Indigenous Issues in the United States (3)
  • One 3-hour graduate-level course in the history of indigenous peoples of North America (e.g. HIST 801 Graduate Colloquium in Indigenous Peoples of North America)
  • One 3-hour graduate-level course with 50 percent or more content in Indigenous Peoples that has been approved by the Executive Committee, offered by certain departments such as English, History, and Humanities & Western Civilization (e.g. SOC 873 International Political Economy)

In addition to the 9 hours of core courses, students are to complete 12 hours in their area of specialization. Students have the option to write a thesis or present a portfolio as the capstone to their degree. Students choosing the portfolio option will be required to take 9 elective hours, while students who select the thesis are required to take 6 elective hours and 3 hours of thesis.

Students may use 6 law hours toward satisfying their Indigenous Studies specialization requirement and apply the balance of the 12 law hours for which they may receive master's credit (see below) toward their master's electives.

Sequencing of Courses

Students who have been admitted to both programs and intend to pursue the joint degree program must complete the first 29 credits of required courses in the J.D. program. After the completion of these 29 hours, course enrollment in either program or both concurrently is permitted.

Law Courses that Will Count Toward the Master's Degree
Students may apply a maximum of 12 hours of law electives toward their master's degree from the following courses:
Course Credit hours
LAW 987 Sovereignty, Self-Determination, and the Indigenous Nations (ISP 883) 3
LAW 914 Federal Indian Law (ISP 824) 3
LAW 879 Comparative Law (ISP 876) 3
LAW 975 Public Lands and Natural Resources (ISP 877) 3
LAW 995 Water Law 3
LAW 967 Native American Natural Resources (ISP 882) 3
LAW 974 Public International Law 3
LAW ___ Special Topics in American Indian Law (courses taught on occasion, such as Indian Gaming) 3
LAW 998 Tribal Judicial Support Clinic 2-3
Master's Courses That Will Count Toward the J.D.
Students may apply 9 credit hours of master’s work toward their J.D. degree from the following courses:
ANTH 562 Mexamerica (LAA 302 / LAA 602)
ANTH 603 Shamanism Past and Present
ANTH 775 Seminar Cultural Anthropology: Indigenous Development Latin America (LAA 602)
GEOG 570 Geography of American Indians
GEOG 571 Topics: Indigenous Cartographies
HIST 890 Colloquium American History 1492-1800
ISP 601/801 Indigenous Peoples of the World
ISP 614 Decolonizing Narratives
ISP 800 Indigenous Issues in the United States
ISP 804 Seminar: Issues in the Study of Native American Religious Traditions (REL 775 / AMS 998)
POLS 684 International Law: State & Individual (GIST 750 / GIST 501)
UBPL 773 Environmental Planning Implementation

J.D. Requirements

All candidates for the J.D. must complete the following required courses:

First Year
Course Credit hours
Law 804 Civil Procedure 4
Law 806 Intro. to Constitutional Law 4
Law 809 Contracts 4
Law 814 Criminal Law 4
Law 820 Lawyering Skills I 2
Law 821 Lawyering Skills II 3
Law 826 Property 4
Law 831 Torts I 4
Upper Class
3 courses from among the following:
Law 892 Business Organizations 4
Law 881 Conflict of Laws 3
Law 878 Criminal Procedure 3
Law 909 Family Law 3
Law 845 Jurisdiction 3
Law 837 Contracts II/ UCC Sales 3
Law 873 Commercial Law: Secured Transactions 3
Law 996 Trusts and Estates 4
Law 908 Evidence 3
Law 972 Professional Responsibility 2

In addition to all J.D./M.A. program course requirements, students must satisfy the Upper-Level Writing Intensive requirements and the Experiential course requirements in the School of Law. Please refer to the current School of Law catalog for details.

Typical Program Format

  Law ISP Total
First Year 29 0 29
Second Year 25 6 31
Third Year 22 6 28
Summer Sessions 5 6 11
Total Credit Earned 81 18 99
Law Credit Allowed for M.A. - 12 12
ISP Credit Allowed for J.D. 9 - 9
Total Credit Required 90 30 120

Students must conclude their joint degree program enrolled in courses offered in the law school. In all cases, students must receive their joint degrees concurrently.

Academic Calendar
Contact KU Law Admissions

Steven Freedman, Assistant Dean
Bryanna Hanschu, Director of Recruiting

103 Green Hall