Native Studies Ph.D. Program

 

Peter Cindy

The Department of Native Studies Ph.D. program is based on the interdisciplinary approaches to research and scholarship that have been developed by Native Studies over the years in its curriculum overall. These include an emphasis on Indigenous scholarship (particularly the scholarship of Indigenous academics), Indigenous epistemologies, a strong ethical commitment to Indigenous rural and urban communities, and a high regard for peer review processes. 

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS:
The Application Deadline is January 15 for a September Admission. Applications to the Ph.D. program are processed through the Faculty of Graduate Studies and are reviewed by the Graduate Committee in the Department of Native Studies, using the criteria that follow, in addition to the standard criteria required by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. These criteria are minimal and do not guarantee admission to the program. Recommendations regarding acceptance or rejection, and any conditions of admission, are forwarded to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Final approval rests with the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

ELIGIBILITY:
To be eligible for admission to the Ph.D. Program, students must have:
-    a high academic standing in previous university work, including a minimum grade point average of 3.50 in the last 60 credit hours of course work;
-    a Master's degree in Native Studies or a Master's degree in a related discipline as determined by the Native Studies Graduate Committee;
-    an area of research interest which may be supported by a Native Studies faculty member; students must be accepted by an advisor prior to submitting an application to enter the program;
-    a clear sense of the scope and relevance of their research project as articulated in a written proposal submitted with their application (approx.1500 words);
Once a student has been admitted, s/he should contact (preferably in person) the Department for advice on the selection of courses and other matters related to graduate study in Native Studies.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION:
All doctoral students will be required to complete 12 credit hours of course work at the 7000 level, beyond the course work they may have completed for a Master's degree (or its equivalent) plus 6 credit hours in an Aboriginal language if this requirement has not already been satisfied (see below). A minimum of 50% of the required 12 credit hours must be completed within the Native Studies department. Additional course work may be selected from courses approved by the Native Studies Graduate Committee. In addition, students must fulfill a residence requirement of at least one academic year devoted to full-time study at the University of Manitoba.

COURSEWORK:
All doctoral students will be required to complete 12 credit hours of course work at the 7000 level of which 3 credit hours are mandatory. This course is:
NATV 7230 Methodology and Research Issues in Native Studies: A review of research methods, such as oral histories, and research issues, such as ethics and intellectual property rights, within the context of Native Studies.

Of the 12 credit hours required to meet degree requirements, 9 credit hours are elective. The Department of Native Studies has several other courses to choose from and students should also be aware that graduate level courses from other departments are acceptable as their electives upon approval by the student's Advisor.

Students who have not completed at least 6 credit hours of undergraduate study in an Aboriginal language or who do not demonstrate advanced knowledge of an Aboriginal language through passing a translation examination, will be required to take 6 undergraduate credit hours of study in an Aboriginal language appropriate to the topic of their dissertation.  The language requirement is in addition to a minimum 12 credit hours of study at the graduate level.  Language courses will be taken as auxiliary courses and will not count toward the grade point average.

THE CANDIDACY PROCESS:
After coursework and achieving the language requirement, students are must proceed to the candidacy process. There are five steps to the University of Manitoba Department of Native Studies (UMNATV) PhD Candidacy Process and this procedure is independent from a student’s Thesis Proposal Exercise. The Candidacy Exam will take place within 12-24 months of registering in the program, after all course work has been completed, and will have an oral and written component. The student's advisor will be responsible for the administrative arrangements necessary for the written and oral elements of the Candidacy Exam.

Each student must successfully complete each step for Candidacy to be achieved and any student who fails the candidacy examination twice will be required to withdraw from the UMNATV program and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Here are the five steps to the Candidacy Process:

I.    Development of the Primary Readings List: Students are required to read the following Primary Readings List, which contains seventy (70) texts spanning and encompassing a breadth of scholarship in the field of Native Studies (focusing on Indigenous Theory, Method, Cultural Diversity, History, Law, Economy, Politics, Governance, Literature and Arts). This list was designed by faculty of UMNATV and members of the Native Studies Graduate Committee and is re-developed once every two years. Advisors must ensure that students achieve a competency within each text including the work’s major thesis, findings and conclusions, and how the work relates and operates within the intellectual and cultural discipline of Native Studies. Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor and advisory committee regularly to ensure that competency is reached for each text. 

II.    Development of the Area-Specific Readings List: Alongside completion of Step One, the advisor, advisory committee, and student must establish an additional, specific list of thirty (30) texts representing a field of expertise in the student’s interest and advisor’s subject area. These must be submitted for approval to the Native Studies Graduate Committee prior to the student beginning these readings. This list may gesture students towards their future research project but must engage and encourage students to explore new literatures, ideas, and perspectives in their selected research area. Advisors must ensure that students achieve a competency within each text including the work’s major thesis, findings and conclusions, and how the work relates and operates within the intellectual and cultural discipline of Native Studies. Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor and advisory committee regularly to ensure that competency is reached for each text. 

III.    Candidacy Exams: Upon completion of the reading lists, students will indicate to their advisor that they are ready to write their candidacy exams. Once this process begins, students cannot have any contact or direction with their advisor or members of their advisory committee in any fashion (either written or oral). Under supervision of the UMNATV Graduate Student Office, students will independently complete a total of three examination questions:
i.    one core question, developed on an annual basis by the Native Studies Graduate Committee
ii.    one question, developed by their advisory committee that primarily utilizes the Primary Readings List (but may use other sources where appropriate), and
iii.    one question, developed by their advisory committee primarily utilizing the Area Specific Reading List (but may use other sources where appropriate). 
Each question will be handed out independently at the beginning of the week. Students will have five working days to answer each question as a “take home exam” (i.e. 15 working days total) with each final answer being 25 pages or less. The process must be completed in its entirety within five weeks and breaks between questions are permitted.

IV.    Grading of the Candidacy Exams: Once submitted to the UMNATV Graduate Student Office, the written part of the exam will be graded on a pass/fail basis by the student’s advisory committee. All written questions must be passed unanimously by all committee members before a student can move on to the oral phase. Students must be provided feedback on their performance and access to the reasons for a pass/fail grade. In the event of a failure of any question, a student has two opportunities to pass the written. A single ‘fail’ of any component by any single committee member will constitute a failed grade for the whole exam.

V.    The Oral Candidacy Exam: Coordinated by the UMNATV Graduate Student Office, an oral exam will be scheduled within one month of the successful completion of the final written question and will be conducted by the advisory committee and chaired by the advisor. A student shall have one opportunity to pass the oral exam and any single ‘fail’ of any component by any single committee member will constitute a failed grade for the whole exam. The oral examination will entail:
i.    Introduction by the Chair;
ii.    explanation of procedures by the Chair;
iii.    questions by the advisory committee members pertaining to the written answers and oral responses of the student;
iv.    an in-camera determination by the advisory committee of pass/fail of the student's Candidacy Exam on a unanimous basis; and
v.    completion of relevant Faculty of Graduate Studies forms and submission to the Dean of Graduate Studies.
On successful completion of this examination, the student will be considered a candidate for the Ph.D. degree.

PRIMARY READINGS LIST (updated as of July 2016)

THESIS:
Upon completion of coursework, students will develop and deliver a thesis project of approximately five-six chapters and 150-250 pages in length (although some circumstances may vary). This thesis will be overseen by a thesis supervisor and two committee members, one of whom is internal to the department and the other which is usually external. A thesis is a formal comprehensive, written dissertation describing original research on a chosen subject. This work may include, but not be restricted to:
-    Investigation aimed at a discovery and/or interpretation of facts;
-    Challenge and/or possible revisions of accepted theories or laws; and
-    The ordering and synthesizing of existing findings to support a conclusion which could open up new research directions.
An essential feature of PhD study is the candidate’s demonstration of competence to complete a research project and present the findings. The thesis must constitute a distinct contribution to knowledge in the major field of study and the material must be of sufficient merit to be, in the judgment of the examiners, acceptable for publication.

The approval from a University of Manitoba Research Ethics Board (REB) may be required prior to the student proceeding with the information gathering procedures for the thesis or practicum. The original letter of the approval from the REB should be kept by the student. A copy of the original should be submitted to FGS at the completion of the thesis/practicum. For further information on ethics refer, please click HERE.

Upon completion of the thesis, students are to submit their thesis to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and have a formal defence of this thesis with the committee. The decision of the committee must be unanimous for students to complete the program.

A typical trajectory of a student’s progress therefore for the Ph.D. is as follows:
1.    Student is accepted into program
2.    Student makes funding plan for graduate work
3.    Student chooses and/or is appointed an advisor
4.    Complete Advisor/Student Guidelines
5.    Student completes Coursework
6.    Student completes second language requirement
7.    Student completes Candidacy process
8.    Student and Supervisor select Thesis Supervisory committee
9.    Development of thesis proposal
10.    Proposal defence and approval
11.    If necessary, obtain letters of approval as needed from U of M Research Ethics Board (and other committees from outside agencies if access approval is required)
12.    Conduct research
13.    Completion of thesis
14.    Review by advisor/advisory committee to ensure preparedness for examination
15.    Submission of thesis to FGS who distributes to internal examining committee
16.    Submission of potential external examiners to FGS
17.    Upon approval of thesis by the external, the date  is set for the Oral Examination
18.    Oral examination and public defence of thesis
19.    Further revisions (if applicable)
20.    Revisions approved by Advisor/examining committee
21.    Submission of final thesis/practicum to FGS

For more information, please click on "Native Studies" on the Faculty of Graduate Studies supplemental regulations page.