Program Requirements

Program Overview

The Linguistics Department at the University of Arizona offers a Master of Arts in Native American Linguistics and languages. The focus of this degree is Indigenous languages and communitites. Due to the rapid decline in the use of heritage languages, tribal communities are pressed for practical linguistics training to:

  • Maintain, restore, and document indigenous languages;
  • Provide skills and expertise for Native American linguists to develop teaching grammars and other materials;
  • Promote understanding of indigenous peoples' educational issues at every level of policy making;
  • Enhance and promote understanding of complex factors leading to language loss;
  • Locate talented students to advance to the Ph.D. level in linguistics or related disciplines.

Course Work

The Native American Linguistics and Languages Master of Arts (NAMA) program is designed to be completed in a year. During the first summer session the student completes coursework in the American Indian Language Development Institute (AIDLI) focusing on materials development and teaching methods and other relevant Native American language and linguistic topics. In the fall and spring semesters, the student enrolls in the core course of the program: Workshop on Descriptive Linguistics, LING 597A for 4 credits each semester. The Workshop courses consist of lectures and laboratory work on Indigenous languages, particularly the student’s heritage language. The Native American Languages and Linguistics MA consist of 26 units of coursework plus 6 units of thesis.

Sample Courses:

LING 527 -  Linguistics for Native American Communities
LING 597A -  Workshop in Descriptive Linguistics
LING 521 -  Language Revitalization, Maintenance and Documentation
LING 545A -  Structures of Non-Western Languages
LING 588 -  Linguistic Elicitation and Documentation
LING 599 - Independent Study*
AIS/LRC 678 -  Contemporary American Indian Education & Research
IRLS 674 -  Preservation of Digital Collections
IRLS 554 -  Diverse Cultures, Communities, and Libraries
LRC 795C -  Language Planning and Education

    * Independent Study units are scheduled with approval of an advisor and students may work with a faculty member whose expertise is in the student's language or related topic.


A thesis is required and is evaluated by the student's committee. The topic of the thesis must also be approved by the committee.