- Navajo Technical University, in New Mexico, said it has become the first tribal institution to offer an accredited doctoral degree in the U.S.
- The public land-grant university announced earlier this month it will start a doctoral program on the culture and language of the Navajo people. The institution is calling it a degree in Diné, a Navajo word meaning “the people.”
- Navajo Tech has already started accepting students for the program’s inaugural cohort for fall 2023.
Only a small band of institutions, more than 30 of them, are recognized as tribal institutions by the U.S. Department of Education.
Tribal colleges are integral to their communities, and as the federal government has noted, they are often the only postsecondary institution in some of the poorest rural areas of the U.S.
They offer all levels of degrees, but only a handful of institutions maintain master’s degree programs.
Navajo Tech will offer the highest degree possible at a tribal institution, which its president, Elmer Guy, said in a statement “is a monumental achievement for Navajo Technical University, the Navajo Nation, and Tribal Colleges and Universities throughout the country.”
“It reflects NTU’s dedication and commitment to reaching new levels of providing the best education for our people and scholars who want to attain prominent degrees near home and at our institution,” Guy said.
Doctoral students will become familiarized with practices to promote and preserve Diné culture, the university said.