Tribal Colleges:
Educating The
Mind and Spirit

Tribal colleges not only offer a wide array of college courses, but infuse Native culture into those courses. In fact, tribal colleges offer courses in American Indian languages and cultures. For many American Indians, tribal colleges are a way of honoring the past while preparing for the future.

There are 33 accredited tribal colleges in 12 states and others in Canada. Most are located on or near Indian reservations, communities, or pueblos.

Here are a few more key facts about tribal colleges. Some tribal colleges offer two-year certificate programs or associate's degrees. However, an increasing number of tribal colleges offer four-year degrees and even advanced degrees.


Tribal Colleges: Educating the Mind and Spirit

Here are a few reasons to keep tribal colleges on your list of schools to explore:

  • All tribal colleges have an "open" admissions policy. This means that if you have a high school diploma or are working to earn one, you can enroll in tribal college.
  • Tribal colleges not only train students for jobs, they work to help create jobs on reservations and pueblos where poverty is rampant.
  • Tribal colleges offer community services, including alcohol and drug abuse counseling, preparation for high school GED exams, and child care.
  • The cost to attend tribal colleges is kept to a minimum. The average tuition cost is approximately $2,500.
  • Approximately 56 percent of tribal college graduates from two year schools go on to a four-year institution, a far greater number than the transfer rate of community colleges in general.
  • The "traditional" tribal college student is nontraditional. In tribal college classrooms, an 18-year-old high school graduate may sit next to tribal elders who never finished high school. Parents go to college with their adult children. The average age of a tribal college student is 30, and women outnumber men.
  • Nearly 1/3 of the faculty at tribal colleges are Native people.
  • Tribal colleges understand the unique needs of Indian students and the hurdles they face. Tribal college staff members are ready to offer the guidance necessary to help students finish their education.
Click here to find out if there's a tribal college near you.

Researching Colleges Form

College A School Name_________________________________
What to ask a school for: Response
School's accreditation and licensing documentation
Job placement rate
Admissions policies (grade point required, college placement scores, etc.)
Costs (tuition, fees, room and board)
Scholarship, grant, and loan programs
Copy of campus security report
School's refund policy in case you withdraw early
Information about programs to support American Indian and other minority students
Permission to sit in on classes and meet with professors
The name of a student (or two) you could ask questions of or who could show you around campus


Researching Colleges Form

College A Visit:

Are class sizes small or large? Did the students talk to the professors, or listen only and take notes? How was the atmosphere in the classroom?

Were the students friendly and willing to answer my questions? Did I see other American Indian students? Was I comfortable in this environment?

Does the school seem to embrace different culture? Does the school have a student association for American Indian students? Will my American Indian heritage be valued on campus?



Researching Colleges Form

College B School Name_________________________________
What to ask a school for: Response
School's accreditation and licensing documentation
Job placement rate
Admissions policies (grade point required, college placement scores, etc.)
Costs (tuition, fees, room and board)
Scholarship, grant, and loan programs
Copy of campus security report
School's refund policy in case you withdraw early
Information about programs to support American Indian and other minority students
Permission to sit in on classes and meet with professors
The name of a student (or two) you could ask questions of or who could show you around campus


Researching Colleges Form

College B Visit:

Are class sizes small or large? Did the students talk to the professors, or listen only and take notes? How was the atmosphere in the classroom?

Were the students friendly and willing to answer my questions? Did I see other American Indian students? Was I comfortable in this environment?

Does the school seem to embrace different culture? Does the school have a student association for American Indian students? Will my American Indian heritage be valued on campus?