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Graduate Programs in Cherokee Studies

WCU's Graduate Programs in Cherokee Studies offers a number of opportunities to students interested in furthering their education, expanding their intercultural skills and enhancing their culturally-oriented professional knowledge. Our partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians gives students a unique chance to study with the region's largest Native American population.

Program Overview

Location: Cullowhee - Main Campus


Degree: Master of Arts or Certificate

Work or Study-Cooperatives Available

App Deadline: Jan. 1, Aug. 1

Access to Extensive Research Facilities

Virtual Open House

Tuesday, August 6, 2024: 5-6:30 p.m.

Join us at one of our upcoming virtual Graduate School Open House events on Zoom! You'll have the opportunity to learn more about Western Carolina University,  understand the Graduate School application process, and meet key program representatives.

Register Today

Cherokee Studies Graduate Programs

The Master of Arts Degree in American History, Cherokee Studies Track, requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of approved course-work, including 18 hours in American history courses (including HIST 545, 631, and 632); 6 to 9 hours in Cherokee Studies concentration selected from: ANTH 561, ANTH 573, ASI 594, ENGL 564, or other courses approved by the graduate adviser. The program may be completed with or without a thesis.  

For more information, contact Andrew Denson at or Alex Macaulay at

Whether aiming for a new career or considering a return or enrichment of your current professional life, the intercultural skills you can gain with a Graduate Certificate in Cherokee Studies are in demand locally and globally in nearly all professional fields and businesses.    

Students can enroll in any graduate program at WCU and earn a Cherokee Studies Certificate by taking 15 hours of approved coursework.  

Completion of the certificate requires a total of 15 semester hours of approved graduate level courses. Students are advised to take ASI 634 in their first semester of enrollment.  Students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in all CSIGC coursework.  

Current Permanent courses 

  • ASI 594 Topics in Cherokee Studies 

  • *ASI 634  Methods, Theories, and Critiques in Cherokee Studies 

  • *ASI 697  Cherokee Studies Research Seminar 

  • ANTH 531  North American Prehistory 

  • ANTH 540 Archaeological Field Techniques

  • ANTH 541 Archaeological Problems and Analyses 

  • ANTH 561 Indians of North America 

  • ANTH 573 Contemporary Cherokee Culture and Society 

  • ENGL  564 Native American Literature 

  • HIST  545 Cherokee History 

  • NAS 574 Issues in Indian Health 

  • NAS 570 Cherokee Culture and History

Other topics and relevant courses are offered on a regular basis and can apply to the certificate with the approval of the Director of Cherokee Studies.

The Culturally-Based Native Health Program is a collaborative initiative among Western Carolina University, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Wake Forest University. Our mission is to provide a culturally oriented approach to training for health professionals serving Native peoples, grounded in a tribal community, and integrated into the core of the University. This is a new national model, involving native communities from the ground up to improve health care delivery for indigenous people and for all who want a more effective health system.

Learn More

The CBNHP is an interdisciplinary certificate program requiring 12 credit hours. It is not intended to be transitional to a master’s degree. All courses are offered online. Two required courses are:

NAS 474/574 Issues in Indian Health (3): a Historical and cultural context of disease in the Americas from 1500 AD to present, with focus on the health of Indigenous Peoples of the Southeast. PREQ: Junior or senior standing for 474; graduate standing for 574.

NAS 470/570 Cherokee Culture and History (3): Course will provide a general introduction to Cherokee culture and history with an emphasis on relationship to health and policy. PREQ: Junior or senior standing for 470; graduate standing for 570.

For more information, contact Dr. Lisa Lefler at Health and Human Services Building, Room 116, email; or phone 828-227-2164.

Enhance Your Experience

Student work or study cooperatives are available to graduate students through Western's Cherokee Center and external organizations within the Native American community. For more information, email Center Director Sky Sampson at 

Research Facilities

Graduate students and scholars have access to extensive research facilities. Hunter Library's holding includes nearly 500,000 books, one million units of microforms, and 3,000 periodicals, including newspapers and magazines. It has one of the largest map collections in the state. The library's Special Collections holding houses a rich variety of materials on regional, Appalachian, and Cherokee history. 

The university is located near several other depositories and has access to research facilities on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. Books may easily be borrowed from the libraries of UNC-Asheville and Appalachian State University.

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