Learning Abroad in American Studies

Learning Abroad in American Indian Studies

American Indian Studies is dedicated to advancing an awareness and understanding of the histories, cultures, arts, languages, literatures, philosophies, religions, economies, politics, and legal status of the native peoples of the US and Canada, but also draws on the experiences of indigenous peoples from other parts of the world. Learning abroad can help compare, contrast, and make connections between indigenous peoples in a global setting.

Study Abroad Process

This is the basic process you'll complete in order to study abroad. The order in which you do things is somewhat flexible.

Academic Planning

Review the following suggestions from the Department of American Indian Studies before beginning your study abroad research.

Align study abroad with your personal, academic, and professional goals

Choose your study abroad experience wisely

Work on your American Indian Studies major or minor

Consider timing and length

Seek cultural immersion

Pay special attention to program type

Format and teaching approach are every bit as important as location and length. Consider your learning style, your educational and personal goals, and department advice.

Field Study programs

Learn through doing. Programs built around internships, service-learning, field research, interview projects, etc., may work especially well for experiential learners.

University Study programs

Become a temporary foreign student at a host university. Seek locations offering indigenous studies methodologies, theoretical perspectives, or courses different from ours.

Study Abroad Centers

Take classroom courses tailor-made for non-native students. Many such centers also offer opportunities to engage in field study and/or to take courses as a local university.

Fulfill Liberal Education requirements

Once You Have Selected a Program

While You Are Abroad

After You Return

College/Department Scholarships for UofM Students


Africa and the Middle East


University of Ghana (available through CIEE Ghana-Legon: Arts & Sciences)

  • Program type: University Study
  • Comprehensive university offering many courses that provide comparative insights into Native American issues. CIEE supplements university courses with internship and research options.
  • Sample courses: Appropriate Technology for Rural Development; Traditional Popular Festivals; Foragers & Farmers in West Africa’s Prehistory; African Traditional Ethics; African Philosophy.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior study of an African language is required. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.


MSID—International Development in Kenya

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion; great for comparative perspective on indigenous issues.
  • Past internship placements include women’s empowerment, literacy, ethnographic research, public health/nutrition, environmental issues, urban education, community development, others.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Swahili is required. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year; consider year option to maximize cultural immersion and gain deeper research experience.


MSID—International Development in Senegal

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion; great for comparative perspective on indigenous issues.
  • Past internship placements include social work agencies, youth projects, women’s groups, orphanages, health clinics, community centers, schools, environmental projects, many others.
  • Instruction is in French. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year; consider year option to maximize cultural immersion and gain deeper research experience.

South Africa

CIEE South Africa service-learning

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Academic program combining classroom work on the University of Cape Town campus with community service and research in marginalized townships on the outskirts of the city.
  • South Africa is a fascinating place to reflect on the relationship among race, language, class, and political and economic power. Comparison can teach much about role and meaning of race in U.S.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior study of African languages required. Fall or spring semester.



IES Chile

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center
  • Area studies and language program that also offers options to take regular Chilean university courses and/or to do an internship or a service-learning placement.
  • IES offerings include Native Cultures; Social & Political Role of the Arts in Chile & Latin America; The Radical Tradition in Latin America; and Human Rights in Latin America.
  • Instruction is in Spanish; 4 prior semesters of Spanish are required. Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.


MSID—International Development in Ecuador

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion. Ecuador is a hemisphere-wide center of indigenous activism.
  • Past internship placements include rural women’s empowerment, literacy, public health/nutrition, sustainable agriculture, community environmental conservation, fishing or handicraft cooperatives.
  • Instruction is in Spanish. Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year; consider year option to maximize cultural immersion and gain deeper research experience.


Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (available through IFSA Peru or CIEE Peru—Lima Liberal Arts)

  • Program type: University Study (and Study Abroad Center)
  • Founded in 1917 and located on a 90-acre campus in Lima, PUCP is Peru’s oldest private university. Both CIEE and IFSA supplement university courses with 2 required center courses.
  • For descriptions of lots of relevant courses, check out Anthropology, Archeology, History, and Sociology in the online course catalog, then look under Sumillas.
  • Instruction is in Spanish; five prior semesters of Spanish required for both IFSA and CIEE. Fall or spring semester, calendar or academic year.

United States

The University of Minnesota’s membership in the National Student Exchange (NSE) gives students access to nearly forty other US universities that offer American Indian studies programs. The department considers the following to be some of the strongest in the nation.

University of Arizona, Tucson (available through NSE)

  • American Indian Studies Program (AISP) seeks to develop a wider scope of understanding of America's indigenous peoples, their languages, cultures, traditions, and sovereignty.
  • Specialties of 27 graduate faculty (20 are American Indian) include verbal and non-verbal folklore, lives of non-literate women, American Indian literature, racial issues in American politics, federal Indian law and policy, anthropology, history, American Indian health issues, American Indian education (including bilingual education in Native American communities), Navajo, Hopi and Tohono O'odham languages, Native American families, contemporary indigenous art.

Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff (available through NSE)

  • NAU’s Native American student enrollment of about 1,300, one of the largest among four-year universities in the United States, represents at least forty tribes.
  • Mission of Applied Indigenous Studies is to prepare students to assume leadership roles in indigenous communities and institutions for the 21st Century.
  • Besides delving into tribal histories and cultures, federal policies, and contemporary reservation conditions, curriculum equips students with tools and experience for contributing to communities.
  • NAU also boasts strong partnerships and collaborative programs with over 70 Native American tribes throughout the Southwest and beyond.

University of Hawaii, Manoa (available through NSE)

  • Mission of Hawaiian Studies Program is "to achieve and maintain excellence in the pursuit of knowledge concerning the Native people of Hawai'i, their origin, history, culture, language, literature, religion, arts and sciences; their interactions with their oceanic environment and other peoples; and to reveal, disseminate and apply this knowledge for the betterment of all peoples."
  • Kamakaküokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies represents university’s first substantial commitment to the coordinated study and preservation of Hawaiian culture, history, politics, and language.
  • Through student services, instruction, research, and community outreach the Center dedicates itself to serving the Native people of Hawai'i from Ni'ihau to Hawai'i Island.
  • Center's areas of inquiry include traditional culture, resource management, indigenous land and water rights and self-determination.

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (available through NSE)

  • Currently some 1,500 Native students attend the UNM main campus.
  • Native American Studies at UNM is an interdisciplinary unit that seeks to inform students and the public about the strong cultural heritage of Native American peoples in New Mexico and the U.S.
  • Goals of Native American Studies are to explore and transmit respect for the sovereignty of Native Nations, preserve cultural traditions, and support Native communities’ self-determination.

University of Washington, Seattle (available through NSE)

  • Washington State has 34 Indian tribes, a growing indigenous population, and a number of inter-tribal organizations, many with close ties to groups in neighboring states and provinces.
  • UW’s program offers a range of course work dealing with American Indian history, ethnology, law, religious belief, Indian-white relations, Navajo language, Salish language, documentary film making, and folklore, with a special emphasis on Western US and Northwest Coast tribal groups.

Study of indigenous languages through other NSE member institutions:
Besides the above institutions, you can use NSE to study an American Indian language elsewhere:

  • Arapaho, Cherokee, Cheyenne Choctaw, Kiowa, or Muskogee: University of Oklahoma
  • Hawaiian: University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • Lakota: South Dakota State University
  • Navajo: University of New Mexico, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, University of Washington
  • Northern Arapaho or Eastern Shoshone: University of Wyoming
  • Ojibwe: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, University of Wisconsin-Superior
  • Oneida: University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
  • Shoshone: Idaho State University
  • Fall semester, spring semester, academic year, or (at some institutions) summer

Asia and Oceania


University Study in Australia: James Cook University

  • Program type: University Study
  • Two campuses, in Townsville and Cairns, both near the Great Barrier Reef on the tropical Queensland coast. Approximately one fourth of the student body is indigenous.
  • Large multidisciplinary School of Indigenous Australian Studies provides some of Australia’s best opportunities to study the history, culture, and challenges faced by the aboriginal population.
  • Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.


IFSA China—Xi’an

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center
  • Program name is Globalization Then and Now: Xi’an & the Silk Road. Includes two-week Silk Road field trip into Central Asia. Interesting for impact of globalization on formerly nomadic peoples.
  • Includes Chinese language study, The Silk Road Yesterday & Today, and choice of one other course in Chinese history, art history, or contemporary society and culture.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Chinese is required. Fall semester, spring semester, or summer.

New Zealand

University Study in New Zealand: University of Otago

  • Program type: University Study
  • Otago (enrollment 20,000) is located in the “college town” of Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island, a particularly attractive location for students interested in outdoor activities.
  • Otago has one of the strongest Maori Studies programs in New Zealand, as well as a number of course offerings on peoples of the Pacific
  • Instruction is in English. Fall or spring semester, academic or calendar year.

HECUA New Zealand Culture and the Environment: A Shared Future

  • The program examines how social and environmental factors impact and shape political and ecological aspects of identity and culture and how New Zealand populations are envisioning and developing a shared future in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Field seminars focus on environmental management, biodiversity protection, Maori culture, national public policy, and urban planning.
  • Potential internship opportunities (not an exhaustive list) in the fields of wildlife and habitat conservation, climate change, food, environmental law, sustainability, transportation advocacy, community-based television, water quality, Permaculture and Transition Towns initiatives, local democracy, youth development, and urban agriculture.


MSID—International Development in Thailand

  • Based in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Academic program built around grassroots development internships. Homestays and research further enrich cultural immersion; great for comparative perspective on indigenous issues.
  • Contribute through an internship or research project with a nonprofit organization
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Thai required

Vietnam (and Cambodia)

SFS Vietnam/Cambodia—Environmental Ethics & Conservation

  • Highly experiential program exploring the natural, human, and political economy of Vietnam and upstream areas of the Mekong River Delta in Cambodia.
  • Examines issues of sustainable development, pressures on natural resource exploitation, and ecotourism in Vietnam and Cambodia—all with interesting parallels to Native American areas.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior study of Chinese or of local minority languages is required. Fall or spring semester.
  • Pre req: One semester of college-level ecology or biology



Study Abroad in Denmark

  • Program type: Study Abroad Center
  • Copenhagen-based DIS, one of Europe’s largest and academically strongest study abroad programs, offers a wide variety of courses on Denmark, Scandinavia, and Europe.
  • Many courses stimulate reflection on American Indian experience, Holocaust & Genocide; Impact of Epidemic Disease upon European History; Environmental History of Europe; many others.
  • Instruction is in English; no prior Danish is required. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or summer.


Study Abroad in Montpellier

  • Program type: University Study and Study Abroad Center (two tracks)
  • UofM program that permits a mix of special language and culture courses with regular Université Paul Valéry courses in a proportion suitable to each student’s language proficiency.
  • With its large population and its location just across the Mediterranean from North Africa, Montellier is a great place to gain insights into the role and status of minorities in France. Internships offered.
  • Instruction is in French; one year French prerequisite for center track, two for university study track. Fall or spring semester, academic year, or a summer intensive language program.

United Kingdom—England

University Study in the UK: Queen Mary University of London

  • Program type: University Study
  • QM’s academic departments, library, students’ union, and administrative buildings are all on one campus in the multicultural East End, making it unique among the traditional London colleges.
  • Most remarkable about Queen Mary is the extraordinary diversity of both the campus and the surrounding East End community, providing powerful insights into multicultural London.
  • Academic year (summer also available through IFSA United Kingdom).

University of East Anglia (available through IFSA United Kingdom)

  • Program type: University Study
  • UEA, whose location in the city of Norwich offers easy access to the continent, has arguably the best American Studies program in the UK.
  • A substantial number of courses focus on ethnic minorities, civil rights, and inter-group relations in the US, including offerings in Native American history.
  • Fall semester, spring semester, or academic year.

United Kingdom—Northern Ireland

HECUA Democracy & Social Change in Northern Ireland

  • Program type: Field Study
  • Highly experiential program that examines historical, political, economic, and religious roots of conflict in Northern Ireland and progress being made toward reconciliation.
  • Half-time, 8-credit internship complements classroom and field study and provides in-depth experience with an organization addressing issues relating to justice, equality and conflict.
  • Instruction is in English. Spring semester.

Additional Options to Consider

Intensive Language Programs

  • Begin your language study or work toward completing requirements for a language minor.
  • Work on your CLA language requirement or on a language minor while immersed in the language
  • Complete two, three, or even four semesters of language in a semester or a summer.

Global Seminars

  • 3-week, 3-credit programs at the 3000-level led by University of Minnesota faculty and staff over Winter Break or May Session.
  • Fulfill Liberal Education requirements, or earn major/minor credit.
  • Explore an exciting location and topic! Check out this year's offerings!

Freshman Seminars

  • Freshman Seminars Abroad combine on-campus instruction during spring semester with a study abroad component during spring break.
  • Seminars are 3 credits at the 19xx level and most fulfill a liberal education requirement.
  • Seminars are designed specifically for first year students as an introduction to study abroad.

Non-Credit Opportunities

  • Non-credit opportunities can be a great option for students who do not need academic credit but want to gain skills and experience abroad related to their field of study.

Student Experiences

Visit the Learning Abroad Center's Student Experiences web page for details on other students' experiences studying abroad.