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Introducing the MA in Intercultural Studies

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  • Overview
    The Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies program (currently delivered in conjunction with Sioux Falls Seminary) is a comprehensive intercultural studies program that provides the tools and experience necessary for students to be able to competently interrogate classic and traditional Christianity in all of its forms and denominational traditions, structures, and articulations. Students will be able to engage in a critique of the impact of the gospel on Indigenous peoples from around the globe, using a well-formed theological anthropology, and a well-studied missiology. In so doing they will have introduced themselves and those around them to a deeper faith that extends beyond simply the salvation of the human soul. This graduate theological degree is designed and taught by Indigenous scholars and practitioners.
    54 Credit Hours Earns you an MA

    You will study with some of the finest Indigenous practitioners and scholars in the Global Indigenous context—men and women with earned experience to accompany the academics. To check out the faculty, visit

    A majority Indigenous faculty
    An Indigenous designed curriculum
    Course delivery with Indigenous methods
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    Courses include:

    Christian History in Context
    Ethics in Intercultural Context
    Cultures and System Change
    Theology and Practice of Androgogy
    Theology and Ethic of the Land

    This degree is a non-resident degree. Face-to-face time is during three weeks at the annual NAIITS symposium, NAIITS Symposium. The September and January study cohorts and one-to-one mentorship when possible round out the program.

    Preparation for Indigenous Leadership!

    Many people believe Indigenous peoples are a pivot point in the next expansion of ministry moving us closer to fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission. So does NAIITS! Programs like the MA in Intercultural Studies offered in partnership with Sioux Falls Seminary (SFS) are intended to position us fully in this new time.

    The NAIITS/Sioux Falls Seminary MA in Intercultural Studies is uniquely designed to equip you for a contribution to your community — whether you're on the Rez, the urban core—or somewhere in between!

    YOUR GOAL...

    Developing your skills as one of a growing cadre of Indigenous women and men you will work and study with the expanding NAIITS community of upcoming leaders!

    Together with you NAIITS wants to construct a body of theology and biblical teaching—one that resonates with the culture and traditions of Indigenous peoples around the globe.

  • Details

    The purpose of the NAIITS MAIS program (currently delivered in conjunction with Sioux Falls Seminary) is to provide a comprehensive intercultural studies program that provides the tools and experience necessary for students to be able to competently interrogate classic and traditional Christianity in all of its forms and denominational traditions, structures, and articulations. Students will be able to engage in a critique of the impact of the gospel on Indigenous peoples from around the globe, using a well-formed theological anthropology, and a well-studied missiology. In so doing they will have introduced themselves and those around them to a deeper faith that extends beyond simply the salvation of the human soul. This graduate theological degree is designed and taught by Indigenous scholars and practitioners


    North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS), in conjunction with the Sioux Falls Seminary (SFS) faculty, is dedicated to equipping men and women for meaningful engagement within cultural diversity, including global and local cultural contexts. The majority of instructors for the MAIS are Indigenous women and men. Our unique program provides teaching from alternative epistemologies and pedagogies (andragogies) that assist co-learners in the creation of informed paradigms beyond traditional western models.

    Program Objectives

    To enable students to:
    • Mature into God's fullness
    • Develop habits and authentic disciplines for thinking and living in Christ's presence
    • Gain a critical and constructive understanding of the anthropological, missiological, spiritual, biblical and theological foundations of the Faith.
    • Understand the mission of God in the world and their place in it
    • Understand themselves and relate more effectively to others created in God's image and called into diverse community and ministry
    • Function as leaders who are themselves being transformed, and are therefore healthy and effective instruments of transformation


    The degree is offered in an online cohort format or for certain courses, with permission from the Director of Intercultural Studies, in a local delivery format. The online cohort has hybrid courses that are a combination of face-to-face classroom experiences and online learning. Cohort students come to a Sioux Falls Seminary approved site (held each year in conjunction with the NAIITS Symposium) for two to three weeks of face-to-face intensives in the June Term.

    The Curriculum Philosophy

    NAIITS and SFS have pursued a relationship with one another as a means of supporting the education of Indigenous peoples in the area of theological education and development. After years of work and planning by Indigenous leaders experienced in theology and mission, NAIITS has produced an andragogical (adult-focused) methodology that allows NAIITS, together with Sioux Falls Seminary, to more effectively to serve Indigenous peoples admitted to the program.

    Six non-Indigenous students may be admitted to the MAIS in any academic year. So, if you desire an education filled with non-western constructs and pedagogies (andragogies), this program may be right for you. Entrance of students to the program is determined on a case-by case basis.

    Transfer Credit

    Transfer of up to 27 hours credit is allowed toward the MA in Intercultural Studies program from accredited graduate schools. Students must have earned a grade of B- or better for a course to be considered for transfer. In addition, only courses taken elsewhere within 10 years of the date of matriculation to the MA in Intercultural Studies program will be considered for transfer. Transferability of credits earned at this institution and transferred to another is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Consult the NAIITS Director of Admissions.

    Residence Requirements

    Formal campus residency is not required for this program. However, of the 54 hours required for the MA in Intercultural Studies program, a minimum of 27 hours must be taken while enrolled in the joint MAIS program. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree.

    Course Requirements

    The MA in Intercultural Studies program is generally three years in length with 54 semester hours of course work required as the minimum for graduation. Courses are offered in a two to three week intensive at approved sites in the summer with other coursework undertaken in blended teaching/learning styles. This program is a flexible cohort group experience with a hybrid education format of online and face-to-face learning.

    Graduation Requirements

    In order to graduate with the MA in Intercultural Studies degree, students must:
    • Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 54 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.
    • Be admitted to candidacy for the degree
    • Be recommended by the NAIITS/SFS faculty for graduation.
  • Course Framework

    Biblical, Theological and Historical Studies (27 credit hours)

    Hebrew Scripture Foundations
    A general introduction to the historical, sociological, and theological context in which the Hebrew Scriptures came into existence, this course will provide the student with an understanding of the major emphases of the texts. In addition, the student will be introduced to themes of community life and praxis in the Hebrew Scriptures that find parallels in historical Indigenous worldviews of creation and Creator. The course will use community understandings, models and paradigms as a basis for comparison.

    New Testament Foundations
    A general introduction to the historical, sociological, and theological context in which the New Testament Scriptures came into existence, this course will familiarize students with the content and structure, distinctive theology, and introductory matters of the New Testament. in addition, the student will be introduced to the nature of the early Christian community, its transitions and changes from a strictly Hebraic construct as found within the Jewish community, and projections made for its future development.

    History of Christianity I
    This course is designed as an introduction to the critical themes and the developments of the history of Christianity. From Christianity's West Asian origin in the Apostolic time to the days of Reformation and Christianity in the early Colonial history, students will identify key Christian women and men, movements and investigate historical and theological concepts. Instead of an Euro-centric view, which often represents Christianity as Western in various versions of the Christian stories, this course examines and offers the learners diverse perspectives. It guides the students to appreciate the contributions of the Indigenous peoples and to develop critical thinking skills in historical and theological issues.

    History of Christianity II: Indigenous History and Mission
    This course is an examination of the history of Christian mission among Indigenous peoples. The course examines the results of missionary efforts among Indigenous peoples through exposure to current Indigenous life and spiritual practices. The course also explores alternative models of mission that may be more effective than past mission efforts. Students will be exposed to the long history of mission among Indigenous peoples through readings, shared experiences and various media. The values associated with the Indigenous perspectives of harmony will be explored as a basis for a mission model along with an understanding of Indigenous theologies of the land.

    Christian History in Context
    This course covers the development of Christianity up through the present giving special attention to the underserved and under-represented in most dominant cultural historical accounts in order to give a more balanced approach to the subject. The course covers topics in a somewhat historical progression such as the development of denominations and trends in theological thought, significant church leaders, and the place of the church in contemporary culture. In this course areas such as political events and social concerns are considered relevant, including the shaping of our theologies and the formation of our myths and meta-narratives. Students will be encouraged to reflect in detail on their individual contexts.

    Theology I: Indigenous Perspectives
    This course is a theological reflection focused on the concept of community. It will examine the Christian doctrines of creation, fall, and redemption, identifying God’s community-creating purpose in the world. Other issues examined include evil and the fall in their spiritual and cosmic dimensions, ecology and the cultural mandate. The course will include understandings of the nature and origins of community as portrayed within Indigenous cosmologies and spiritual perspectives.

    Colonization and Decolonization
    This course focuses on contemporary theories regarding colonization and decolonization emerging out of Indigenous studies, critical ethnic studies, and post colonialism studies. Attention is paid to the relationship between race, colonialism, and gender. Students will explore how these theories intersect with Christian theologies and spiritual practice. This course will consider the critiques made by Indigenous and postcolonial scholars of the methodological approaches used in the humanities and social sciences for their complicity in colonialism. It will examine various attempts to “decolonize” methodology and to construct Indigenous and postcolonial methodological approaches to society and community. Students will work to develop their own philosophical and methodological approaches to decolonization.

    Theology II: Theology and Ethic of the Land
    During this course students will be immersed in the wider creation in a retreat context with reading prior to and following the retreat. The experience of the beauty and hope of God as immanent within creation will be considered through Indigenous understandings of the land, and the relationship between science and faith. Students will engage current issues such as
    agriculture, conservation, land use and consumption of natural resources, gaining an understanding of the dual expressions of Indigenous and Hebrew constructs of shalom through which God blesses creation.

    Indigenous Practice of Andragogy
    Andragogy is the study of methods, epistemologies, philosophies and contextual understandings of education that pertain to and enhance an adult-focused learning environment. This course will introduce the student to andragogical method as a theological framework and a contextual teaching practice, exploring the theological, philosophical, and pragmatic underpinnings of teaching. The course will also introduce the student to a variety of strategies to advance their development as a teacher.

    Intercultural Studies Core (18 credit hours)

    Cultures and Systems Change
    The experience of Christianity has been culturally devastating for Indigenous peoples. Through exploring the process of decolonization and indigenization, this course will examine how Indigenous people live a biblically-informed Christian faith in the context of Indigenous cultures. Jesus, as a change master in a complex cultural system, is the model for guiding effective and lasting change. This course utilizes perspectives and tools for interpreting and guiding a cultural system towards deep change. Insights from various disciplines, such as anthropology, social psychology, and organizational science, will stimulate the exegesis of culture in fresh ways.

    Cultural Anthropology
    Trajectories in the study of anthropology have been helpful and hurtful, particularly to Indigenous people globally. In this course, participants will explore a variety of historical anthropological theories. The course will explore anthropology as a discipline and invite other worldviews to contribute to the shaping of anthropological theory and practice for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

    Ethics in Intercultural Context (Directed Study)
    This course is an intercultural, contextual introduction to central issues in Christian ethics, with attention to the way in which moral reflection interacts with philosophy and culture. The course explores biblical-theological foundations for ethics, the role of scripture and Jesus’ example in ethical formulation, and deals with major contemporary topics including gender, sexuality, marriage, euthanasia, war, bioethics, wealth and poverty.

    Indigenous Symposium Seminars
    In order to foster deeper relationship, more effective academic engagement, and an overall greater involvement within the NAIITS community, students are required to attend two symposia as they progress through their studies. They will be required to participate in the concurrent seminar, and complete required assignments.

    Field Placement
    The purpose of field placement is to provide the student with the opportunity to practice and integrate knowledge and skills, including the development of a personal ministry/work philosophy and identity in the field of their interest. Students are helped to integrate classroom and textbook learning with real life practice activities. Placements are in community or institutional settings where you have a direct involvement with individuals, communities and families, related to your ministry focus, as well as addressing social justice issues through community development practices.

    World Religions
    Jesus followers must be willing to interact and engage with an inquiring mind, in a knowledgeable way and in a Christ-like manner with peoples of other faiths. This course provides an overview of the major World Religions including the place of Christianity in the religious arena. It offers a foundation for understanding the classification of religions as well as the chronological development, adaptation, geographical distribution, worldviews, and cultural impact of world faiths. A summary of major religious innovators/figures, central doctrines/teachings, sacred myths and texts – including potential emerging world religions – will lead into a discussion concerning appropriate Christian responses to the world’s religions and their adherents. Indigenous values such as respecting others and story-telling are central to the approach utilized in this course.

    Skill Development (9 credit hours)

    Indigenous Research and Writing
    This course covers all aspects of research and writing at an academic level. The student develops their voice as an academic writer by learning how to identify and use rhetorical strategies in writing. The course will also explore the specific needs or concerns of Indigenous writing and research methods including protocol. Other topics covered are: proper citation and bibliography formatting, grammar, crafting solid thesis statements, building a line of reasoning and other organizational strategies of formal research papers, finding and interacting with quality primary sources and how to synthesize and interact with secondary sources in an academic essay. 

    Indigenous Spirituality and Formation
    Indigenous understandings of the nature of the spiritual and of spirituality differ in many respects from those commonly held within Western traditions of Christian faith. The focus of the course, therefore, is to introduce the student to the ways in which Indigenous people participate as followers of Jesus in a manner that is authentic to their own cultural understandings, seeking to encourage spiritual growth and development from within such an Indigenous framework. This course will also discuss the appropriation of what has been perceived to be Indigenous spirituality by non-Indigenous people as well as a brief focus on what can be effectively learned from Indigenous understandings of the spiritual.

    Missional Ecclesiology (Directed Study)
    How do we describe what church is? Are there forms and structures that are requisite for a “church” to be properly constituted? These and other questions related to church in a missional context will be explored from an Indigenous vantage point giving consideration to the nature of the church, the purpose of the church, and leadership forms and methods for ministry. Questions of praxis will frame our discussion of ecclesial forms, as they might be required in order for mission to be effective in intercultural contexts.

    Indigenous Leadership Development
    This seminar course will introduce students to concepts of leadership, organizational change theory, and skills required to lead organizations and communities in the context of changing demographics. The emerging practice of diversity as central to leadership theory and practice, the holistic nature of diversity, social justice within a diverse society, and the role these have in contributing to effective and appropriate leadership will be explored to gain an informed understanding. Reflection on multicultural, and intercultural perspectives and partnerships, specifically, those between Indigenous Peoples and Western culture is a focal aspect of this course. Leaders require knowledge, skill and attributes that support inclusion and promote unity.

  • Scholarship Applications
    Scholarship Application

    While not guaranteed, NAIITS attempts to offer a tuition-directed scholarship for the MA program(s), which is made available through the generosity of faculty and friends. If you believe you might qualify for the scholarship, you are encouraged to apply according to the following guidelines.

    $100 per credit hour taken per award period deemed eligible to a maximum lifetime
    award of $5000.

    Requirements for Consideration

    1. North American based scholarship awards are directed primarily toward Native North American, then other Indigenous peoples – in that order. Non-Indigenous students may apply and be considered, but will not be guaranteed.

    2. Scholarships will be awarded solely at the discretion of NAIITS faculty and/or administration, which may make other awards as deemed appropriate.

    3. Students must be enrolled or accepted into one of the NAIITS degree programs.

    4. Students must be enrolled full time in two consecutive semesters for the year in which the scholarship is being awarded. Full-time status for degree programs is considered reached at 6 hours per semester.

    5. Students must reapply for scholarships each year. NOTE: Subsequent withdrawal from courses to below the above level, or failure to complete courses in the semester for which the award is given will disqualify the applicant from reapplying for one full year.

    6. Applications must be received by March 1st to be considered for the April 30th awards and by July 1st to be considered for the August 30th awards respectively.

    7. Students who are applying for other student aid in their country of residence must complete and file required documents personally – they will not be filed by NAIITS.

    NOTE: Successful applicants are not prevented from applying for scholarships from other sources of funding.

    Download the Scholarship Application form here
  • Apply Now

    We are excited about your interest in studying in the NAIITS/Sioux Falls program. Please contact the NAIITS Admissions Office ( if you have any questions or concerns.
    The applicant must furnish the following:

    1. Completed and signed application form
    2. $50 nonrefundable application fee
    3. Résumé or Curriculum Vitae
    4. Applicant’s admission statement
    5. Three references – one pastoral, one academic or professional, and one personal (must use forms included in application packet)
    6. One official transcript from each college or university attended – sealed from the issuing institution
    Application Essay Questions:

    Please answer each of the following questions on a separate sheet of paper and attach to this application. Please use complete sentences:
    1. In 300-500 words, relate your spiritual pilgrimage, assessing strengths and weaknesses.Describe your journey as a follower of Jesus.
    • If Jesus is not part of your journey, please explain other spiritual commitments that may affect your ability to study in this program.
    • Indicate how your relationship with Jesus affects your personal conduct and lifestyle.In 300-500 words, briefly describe your present vocation of ministry, highlighting your key ministry-related (a) problems, (b) areas of interest, (c) and long-term goals.
    2. In 200-300 words, describe why you are pursuing an advanced degree and what you hope to gain.
    3. Describe briefly any business, professional or other significant vocational experience that might help us in assessing your application.

    The following three reference forms are to be sent directly to the Admissions Office (reference forms are attached).

    1. A pastoral/ character reference completed by your pastor or leader from your church or religious organisation who can assess your personal qualities and suitability for seminary studies.
    2. An academic or employer reference completed by a professor familiar with your academic performance. If you have been out of school for sometime, your employer may submit this reference.
    3. A personal or tribal authority reference form that describes your relationships with the people and authorities within your community.

    Your application, fee, and all supporting materials must be submitted online and/or mailed to the NAIITS Office.

    PO Box 1169
    Montague, PE C0A 1R0, Canada.

    Questions? Email at

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NAIITS - An Indigenous Learning Community
NAIITS An Indigenous Learning Community (formerly the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies) is one of two members of Indigenous Pathways (IP), a nonsectarian, non-profit organization dedicated to working together with the Indigenous community NAIITS’ focus within IP is the development and articulation of Indigenous perspectives in theology and practice. We encourage Indigenous learning styles and world views in our instruction as we facilitate the development of a body of work addressing biblical, theological, and ethical issues from Indigenous perspectives. NAIITS currently has five program partnerships offering graduate, and post-graduate degree or award programs.
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