M.A./J.D. Joint Degree in American Indian Studies
UCLA's J.D./M.A. American Indian Studies joint degree program is designed to produce law graduates who have a rich understanding of tribal cultures that will deepen their legal knowledge, facilitate their practice in the field of Indian law, and enhance their service to Indian nations. Students who undertake the joint degree program can expect to receive both degrees in four years, rather than the five years that would be required to pursue each degree separately. The J.D. portion of the program includes a concentration of upper-division offerings, including externships, focused on Indian law. The M.A. portion of the program entails a concentration in history and law, but spans the full range of Native American experience.
The expansion of Indian gaming, contests over adoption of Indian children, widening of tribal court jurisdiction, and controversies between tribes and states over water rights, hunting and fishing, and waste disposal are only a few of the reasons why Indian law practice has expanded over the past decade, both in private and government legal departments. For lawyers to appreciate what is at stake in these cases for Indian people, they need an education in aspects of tribal cultures--language, literature, social structure, arts, religion--that are not taught as part of the law school curriculum. Furthermore, for lawyers to provide effective representation to Native American clients and Indian nations, they must have some capacity to bridge the cultural canyons that often separate tribal members from others. Because of the wide diversity of Native American cultures, even members of a particular tribe can benefit from a broader introduction to the worldviews, values, languages, and practices of Native North America.
The training provided by UCLA's joint degree program in Law and American Indian Studies will enhance the capacity of lawyers to communicate effectively with their clients, making them better interviewers and counselors. It will also make them better advocates, leaders, and administrators within tribal governments and with outside agencies. Tribal legal departments, Indian legal services offices, state and federal government agencies, federal and state legislative committees concerned with Indian matters, and private law firms are some of the places where graduates of this joint program can put their rich understanding to good use. In spring 1999, Professor Carole Goldberg began the Tribal Legal Development Clinic, which focuses exclusively on tribal legislation and constitutions.
UCLA's Commitment to Indian Law and Indian Studies
Although UCLA is a relatively young university with an even younger law school, it has established a tradition of supporting teaching and research in Indian Law and Indian Studies. The first modern casebook on the subject of Federal Indian Law was developed by a UCLA Law School faculty member in the early 1970s, and UCLA has long offered courses and seminars in Indian Law and Tribal Legal Systems. UCLA Law School graduates have enjoyed successful careers teaching Indian Law, practicing with the Native American Rights Fund and other nonprofit organizations, working for tribal courts, serving on the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and representing tribes in private practice or as in-house counsel, among others.
In the early 1980s, UCLA created one of the first interdisciplinary Master's Degree programs in American Indian Studies. Faculty have been hired who specialize in Indian literature, sacred geography and architecture, theater, linguistics and linguistic anthropology, macro sociology, history, ethnomusicology, public health, and medical sociology, as well as Indian law.
UCLA also funds the American Indian Studies Center, an organized research unit that serves as a focal point for many campus activities related to Indian Law and Indian Studies. For over twenty-five years, UCLA's American Indian Studies Center has conducted research in Indian Studies, published a journal and books in the field, operated a library with special tribal and other collections in Indian Studies, organized lecture series with distinguished visitors, and provided training and other services for members of the Indian community. For students in particular, the Center offers research opportunities, scholarship assistance, space for student organizations, study facilities, and support for student events such as powwows.
Curriculum for the Joint Degree
- Year One: Students will take the full, basic first-year law school program
- Years Two to Four: Over this three-year period, students will take:
- the course in Indian Law
- a seminar in Indian Law
- three core courses in the M.A. program:
- Advanced Historiography: American Indian Peoples
- Cultural Worldviews of Native America
- Contemporary Issues of the American Indian
- a linguistics or language course in an American Indian language
- three elective courses outside of Law in Indian Studies (e.g., American Indian Literature; Repatriation; Native American Music)
- two elective Law courses related to Indian Law (e.g., Environmental Law, Federal Courts, Water Law), or a semester-long externship in Indian Law with a nonprofit organization, government agency, or tribal court
- an independent research paper submitted as the M.A. thesis
Carole Goldberg, Professor of Law, directs the joint degree program in Law and American Indian Studies, and teaches the course and seminar in Indian law. She is co-author and co-editor of both the 1982 and 2005 edition of Felix Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law, as well as author of Planting Tail Feathers: Tribal Survival and Public Law 280 (1996) and numerous articles on the subject of Federal Indian Law and Tribal Law. She also serves as a Justice of the Hualapai Court of Appeals, and teaches the Tribal Appellate Court Clinic, which provides law clerk services to the Hualapai Tribe. Angela Riley (Citizen Potawatomi) teaches classes in Indian law and cultural resource protection. James Kawahara (Winnebago), Adjunct Professor of Law, teaches the Tribal Legal Development Clinic. Faculty outside the Law School include:
- Tara Browner ETHNOMUSICOLOGY (Choctaw)
- Jessica Cattelino ANTHROPOLOGY
- Duane Champagne SOCIOLOGY (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)
- Hanay Giegomah THEATER (Kiowa)
- Mishuana Goeman WOMEN'S STUDIES (Seneca)
- Felicia Hodge NURSING (Wailaki)
- Paul Kroskrity ANTHROPOLOGY
- Peter Nabokov WORLD ARTS AND CULTURES
- Nancy Rifle DENTISTRY (Sioux)
- David Shorter WORLD ARTS AND CULTURES
The UCLA Law School faculty is known for high teaching standards and path-breaking scholarship. Over the past 20 years, 16 members of the faculty have received the University's prestigious and highly competitive Distinguished Teaching Award. UCLA faculty were pioneers in the development of clinical law teaching, and offer a variety of sophisticated courses, such as the Environmental Law Clinic, that help students develop hands-on lawyering skills.
Native American Law Students Association (NALSA)
The UCLA chapter of NALSA provides a gathering place for Native and non-Native students who want to promote the study of Indian Law, to secure academic support, to arrange lectures on Indian Law by prominent speakers, to organize relevant conferences, and to mount student events such as powwows. NALSA typically helps students arrange to attend the annual Federal Bar Association Indian Law Conference or other outside educational programs.
American Indian Graduate Students Association (AIGSA)
As an official campus-based student organization, AIGSA seeks to enhance the academic environment and experiences of American Indian and other interested and involved graduate students. Cultural and social interaction and learning among students are fostered through lectures and presentations involving UCLA and other college and university faculty, students, and community members. AIGSA also facilitates interdepartmental communication and camaraderie among all UCLA graduate students interested in American Indian Studies.
UCLA and Los Angeles
UCLA is regarded worldwide as an academic success story, having swiftly distinguished itself as the only campus among the nation's top ten research universities that was established in the twentieth century. Its outstanding libraries, health-care facilities, and world-class performing arts as well as volunteer outreach efforts by students, faculty, staff, and alumni make it a leader in service to the entire Southern California region.
Cradled in rolling green hills about five miles from the Pacific Ocean, UCLA is bordered on the north by the protected wilderness of the Santa Monica Mountains and at its southern gate by Westwood Village. The Los Angeles area is home to the Gabrieleno/Tongva Tribe and the Chumash, among others, and boasts one of the nation's largest urban Indian groups. In addition, California has over 100 federally recognized Indian tribes, and the second largest Indian population in the United States. UCLA's American Indian Studies Center regularly sponsors conferences and special events that bring together the academic and Indian communities. The Center is also deeply involved in community-based research, outreach, and education. Students routinely participate in such projects.
Joint degree program applicants must be admitted both to the School of Law and to the Master's Degree Program in American Indian Studies. Although normal admission standards will be applied in both instances, students applying for the joint degree program will receive separate consideration. Applicants to the School of Law must undertake the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) no later than December of the year preceding proposed admission, and must subscribe to the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS). In addition, applicants to the Law School should include in their personal statement (or submit in a separate statement) a discussion of the reasons why they want to enroll in the joint degree program and their objectives in pursuing the joint degrees. While the M.A. program in American Indian Studies does not require GRE scores, many fellowship programs such as California State Graduate Fellowships do require that GRE scores be submitted.
As a public institution, UCLA charges fees and non-resident tuition that are relatively low. The Law School does charge a professional school fee, however; and it will apply to three of the four years of the joint degree program. Both the Law School and the American Indian Studies Program make financial aid available in the form of loans and grants to students who qualify on the basis of need or merit.
FOR APPLICATIONS, write to
UCLA School of Law
71 Dodd Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1445
UCLA Interdepartmental Program
American Indian Studies
3220 Campbell Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1548