Master of Tribal Administration & Governance

Apply online for the Fall 2024 Cohort! Application deadline: August 1 (no exceptions).  (Each cohort capacity is limited to 15 students.  Please note that many scholarship deadlines occur on or before May 1.)

Entirely online course delivery including five weekends each semester provides interaction with experts in each area of the curriculum including faculty, staff, special guests, and students.

The Master of Tribal Administration and Governance (MTAG) is an applied professional development degree designed to develop the knowledge and skills needed to work as an administrator in a tribal government. Students in the program may already serve as tribal administrators, council members or tribal leaders. Students who currently work or aspire to work professionally in tribal governments or management positions will benefit from this program, which emphasizes both the acquisition of academic knowledge and the application of practical skills. The curriculum is based on the roles that tribal administrators, leaders and professionals play in formal and informal situations that support tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Traditional language and culture is an important thread throughout the program. Program delivery is designed to accommodate working professionals and support existing commitments to families and home communities.

MTAG Program Requirements

Accepting applications for Fall 2024, apply online today!

UMD Campus-Wide Graduate Learner Goal Categories:

  1. knowledge and scholarly formation
  2. research and methodological skills relevant to field
  3. communication skills
  4. leadership and collaborative skills
  5. global context formation of the field and intercultural competencies

MTAG Graduate Learner Goals:
Category 1: Through coursework and directed research projects, MTAG students will acquire and develop the necessary applicable knowledge for effective tribal administration and governance.
Category 2: Through coursework and directed research projects, MTAG students will develop the necessary research and methodological skills for effective tribal administration and governance.
Category 3: Through coursework and directed research projects, MTAG students will develop the necessary communication skills for effective tribal administration and governance.
Category 4: Through coursework and directed research projects, MTAG students will develop the necessary leadership and collaborative skills for effective tribal administration and governance.
Category 5: Through coursework and directed research projects, MTAG students will develop the necessary globally contextualized intercultural competencies for effective tribal administration and governance.

MTAG Desired Student Learning Outcomes
Graduates of UMD’s master’s program in Tribal Administration and Governance will:

  • explain and analyze the legal, cultural, and political contours of tribal sovereignty.
  • formulate and apply effective approaches to strategic, operational, human resource, project, and fiscal management in tribal governance contexts.
  • demonstrate effective applied research and methodological skills regarding tribal sovereignty, governance management, and leadership
  • demonstrate effective communication skills regarding tribal sovereignty, governance management, and leadership
  • identify, analyze, and apply the leadership qualities required of tribal administrators.
  • demonstrate the globally contextualized intercultural competencies inherently necessary for effective tribal administration and governance


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Graduate Student Handbook

The information in the Graduate Student Handbook is subject to change without notice. Contact the MTAG program for information about possible changes.

The handbook is not intended to substitute for the information carried by the University of Minnesota Duluth catalog, The University of Minnesota Graduate School Catalog, the University of Minnesota Graduate Assistant Employment Office, or the information available through the Graduate School's web sites, but rather should be viewed as a supplement to those sources.

Program Development Information

Karen Diver, chair of the Fond du Lac Band of Minnesota Chippewa and a UMD alumna, was instrumental in the development of MTAG. “Karen crystallized what others were saying,” Johnson said. “Tribal leaders wanted the master’s degree to train future tribal managers to be able to identify the mission, budget, and personnel needed for any project a tribe may encounter. The current curriculum emanated from those requirements.”

Many approved of UMD’s approach. Chief Executive Marge Anderson of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe said, "UMD developed this program by asking tribal governments what was needed.” Barb Brodeen, executive director for the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, agreed, “The Bois Forte Band is pleased that the degree program reflects our ideas and wishes.”

Assisting the tribes and students was an important goal. “We know talented young people who would like to work in tribal government,” said Billie Mason, commissioner of education of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. “This new degree program will provide the training and development students need to effectively serve their people and build a career.”

Smith noted that the elected leaders of tribal governments frequently come from the ranks of the tribal administrators. “UMD may be training some of the next generation of tribal leaders under this program.”

Johnson also noted that the collaboration between UMD and tribal governments "will continue in the days and years ahead as the needs of Indian country change."

Most importantly, Johnson believes that an increasing focus on American Indian Studies is vital. "UMD was one of the first institutions of higher learning in the country to recognize that American Indian studies was a unique discipline," Johnson said. "Since 1972, UMD has taught generations of students the importance of the history, language and culture of Native Americans. Now, we are taking another bold step."

Prospective Students

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree - Anyone who has or will obtain a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution in the U.S. or a comparable degree from an officially recognized college or university outside the U.S. may apply for admission.
  • GPA - Preferred minimum undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or higher for admission.
  • Letters of Recommendation - Two letters of recommendation from current or former professors who can assess your potential for graduate work. Other recommenders, such as employers, are also acceptable.
  • Personal Statement - The personal statement should give the committee a better picture of who you are and is an opportunity to share your personal qualities. You should describe what has prepared you and motivates you toward this degree as well as how you plan to apply the degree to your career. It can include a summary of your journey to graduate school, any obstacles you have encountered, and how you have overcome challenges. It should be 500 words or less. Be sure to proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. 

Under exceptional circumstances, students may be admitted to MTAG/MTRES without a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution. Applicants will make the case for such special admission in their personal statement. In addition, the admissions committee will consider the applicant’s job history and/or professional experience, any certifications or diplomas earned, and letters of recommendation. Note that at a minimum, applicants must have at least 10 years of significant, relevant experience working with tribal governments or tribal communities. The admissions committee will review all materials and make a recommendation to the Department of American Indian Studies. If approved by both entities, the Department will then request a policy exception from the UMD Graduate School Office, who will make the final decision. 

Degree Requirements
Each cohort will complete the same sequence of courses totaling 36 credits.

Application Process
Your application will not be considered for review until all of the required materials are successfully uploaded to the application for admission.