First Nations Studies (MA Program)

Margaret Anderson, Professor Emerita
Antonia Mills, Professor Emerita

Gary Wilson, Professor and Chair
Fyre Jean Graveline, Professor
Margo Greenwood,  Professor
Ross Hoffman, Associate Professor
Blanca Schorcht, Associate Professor
Agnieszka (Agnes) Pawlowska-Mainville, Assistant Professor
Rheanna Robinson, Assistant Professor
Judith Thompson, Assistant Professor
Tina Fraser, Adjunct Professor
Earl Henderson, Adjunct Professor
Travis Holyk, Adjunct Professor
Deanna Nyce, Adjunct Professor
Tannis Reynolds, Lecturer
Titilope Kunkel, Senior Lab Instructor

Why complete a Master’s degree in First Nations Studies?


The UNBC MA program in First Nations Studies establishes the points of view of First Nations people and communities as the starting point for description and analysis, and contextualizes issues from this perspective. Courses orient students to question underlying assumptions of everyday study. A special emphasis is placed on creating opportunities for students to learn from and about the First Nations of the north. This cohort-based program includes courses taught in First Nations communities, internships, and community-based research projects. Each student's program culminates in completion of either a thesis or major project.

In addition to the high priority given to the First Nations of northern British Columbia, offerings include topics relevant to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada and indigenous peoples of the world. The areas of study within the program are: First Nations Issues and Approaches, emphasizing the development of theory and method for the understanding of contemporary issues; Northern Nations, which facilitates with the development of skills, knowledge, and experience in the study of the languages and cultures of northern British Columbia; and Aboriginal Health and Healing. Relationships with faculty in other graduate programs at UNBC enrich the options for interdisciplinary work in areas such as Health Sciences, Education, Political Science, Gender Studies, English, History, Environmental Studies, and Geography.

How does the First Nations Studies MA cohort program work?

The First Nations Studies MA Program admits students for the September Semester only. Admission occurs on a two-year cycle. The classroom segment of the FNST Masters program is delivered to a cohort of students, face-to-face, in a block format over a two-year period. The program intends to offer three-day sessions spanning one weekend once a month at the Prince George Campus, from September to April. In-person attendance is mandatory as are the required on-line meeting in between these classroom times It is our belief that this cohort system help us support our MA students better, keeps them on track, and promotes a closer collaboration between our students and our faculty. Finally, this cohort program allows students with jobs and families to also complete an MA as well.

How and when do I apply?

Students must apply through the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.  For additional information about graduate admissions or to download application materials, please go to the Graduate Programs website at

Application deadlines are found in the UNBC calendar under "Semester Dates" or online at:, also under "Semester Dates." Refer to the "Application for Admission Deadline Dates."

The next cohort in-take commencement date is September 2018 and students must apply via UNBC Graduate Office by December 15, 2017.

What are the degree requirements?

In the first year or so, students will develop their research ideas by doing course work and developing a research proposal.  The second year and a half are dedicated to completing a thesis or project. The required courses are as follows:

FNST 600 Foundations of First Nations Studies: Theory and Practice ,
FNST 602 The Practice of Research,
FNST 605 State of the Discipline
FNST 650 Special Topics
FNST 795 Research Seminar 1
FNST 795 Research Seminar 2
FNST 799 – Thesis or FNST 797 - Project

The 30 credit hours that make up the MA in First Nations Studies are normally completed within 36 months of entry into the program.

All the students in the cohort take the same required courses, focusing their individual course work and their research on their own particular area of interest. The FNST 650 Special Topics courses are developed relative to the research interests of the students within the cohort, the expertise of the faculty, and the parameters of the discipline. Students have the option to take other elective courses in addition to what the program requires. 

What if I do not have a BA in First Nations/Indigenous studies?

All students are welcome into our program. No matter what field of study you are coming from, our Master’s program is cross-disciplinary and can offer a transformative educational path, Nevertheless, students are expected to demonstrate a general knowledge of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. At a minimum, this knowledge must be comparable in scope and depth to the material covered in FNST 100-3 The Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. Students lacking such knowledge on entering the program are required to make up the deficiency through suitable course work, normally during their first semester. Such course work does not count toward the course requirements for the program.

Is there a language requirement?

There are no language requirements. However, students should be aware that command of one or more languages other than English may be necessary in order to pursue particular types of research.

What about funding?​

Our Master’s program is full-time and hence, there are numerous funding opportunities for our  students.  There are bursaries, scholarships and awards that are available from UNBC, but also from other institutions and through other opportunities.  Band or community funding may be available for First Nations and Metis students.  Some key opportunities to note are:

1. UNBC Graduate Awards (Master's & PhD) - March 1st
Requires an online awards application*.

2. UNBC General Awards (open to both undergraduates and Master's/PhD) - March 1st
Requires an online awards application*.

3. UNBC Graduate Entrance Scholarships/Graduate Entrance Research Awards - December 15th for September & May start  /  May 1st for January start
Requires a paper application.

4. UNBC Award Forms:

5. For the complete list of awards, scholarships and bursaries available to our students, please visit the UNBC guide here:

Other funding opportunities include:
Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
Government of Canada Aboriginal Bursaries Research Tool:
Irving K. Barber award for Aboriginal Students:
Windspeaker Aboriginal Scholarship Guide:
Indigenous Education/Indspire Awards:

We also encourage students to sign up for our FNST List Serv to receive notifications on funding, conferences, grants and teaching (TA) or research (RA) opportunities.

How can I be kept in the loop?

We strongly encourage students to sign up for our First Nations Studies Newsletter list. The UNBC First Nations Studies Newsletter is designed to provide a venue for those interested in Indigenous issues. This is a one-way broadcast from the UNBC First Nations Studies Department to registered members highlighting “Events, News, & Job Opportunities” at UNBC, in the Community/ies, and Elsewhere with no more than five e-mails per week.

To have your news/event/opportunity passed through our newsletter list, please send us your announcement with an appropriate title in the e-mail. Please note that for the purpose of our mandate and respect of other people’s time, we will be screening the amount/types of e-mails we send out.