Master's Program and Certificate

Banner image courtesy of Aaron Sutton and Ramon Trujillo for the Fort Collins Mural Project.

We explore sites and systems of power and privilege that impact the experiences of diverse communities in our entangled world.

Master of Arts in Ethnic Studies

Colorado State University’s Ethnic Studies Master of Arts equips students with transformative knowledge that makes them critical agents for change toward emancipatory processes. 

We are committed to nurturing students to become culturally aware, astute, civic-minded individuals who strive to strengthen the communities in which they reside. 

Students will have the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills by engaging oppression through interdisciplinary literature and mastering the fundamentals of ethnic studies. Classes are constructed to not only teach students about oppressive systems in society, but to use theoretical, empirical, and community-based research and pedagogy toward a grounded critical praxis. It is through this engagement that students learn to communicate with other professionals and apply their knowledge in the world. 

We train scholars, teachers, and practitioners who question knowledge systems and actively serve communities in pursuit of justice.

The graduate degree in Ethnic Studies draws on our core faculty strengths in a wide range of fields such as race, ethnicity, indigeneity, gender, sexuality, intersectionality, disability, trans politics, citizenship, migrations and borders, antisemitism, diaspora and transnationalism, decoloniality, representation, social movements and cultural politics. 

Through personal mentorship with faculty, students can expect to gain a professional skill set applicable to pursuing a PhD or entering the workforce. Our MA prepares graduates to apply their knowledge in: 

  • Advocacy 
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 
  • Community Organizing 
  • Community Engagement at the local and global levels 
  • K-12 Education 
  • Non-Profit Leadership
  • Policy 
  • Project Management 
  • Public Sector Work

Certificate in Gender, Power and Difference

The graduate-level certification in Gender, Power and Difference at Colorado State University is for students who, for professional and/or personal reasons, wish to supplement their graduate program of study. The program presumes a background in Women's Studies courses or their equivalent. Entering students should be able to demonstrate competency in the methodology and subject matter of an Introduction to Women's Studies course and one upper-division Women's Studies course. Students who wish to pursue certification in the Women's Studies Interdisciplinary Program at the graduate level must apply at the Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research. Completion of requirements in the Women's Studies Interdisciplinary Program will be noted on the student's permanent record, and the student will also receive a certificate.

Ethnic Studies MA Degree Requirements

Competion of 30 Semester Credits (Plan A)

Completion of 32 Semester Credits (Plan B)


Completion of all Required Courses


Completion of Oral Defense of Master's Theses or Professional Paper


Completion of Master's Theses or Non-Thesis Option

Thirty or thirty-two credits is the minimum required for an ethnic studies master’s degree. A minimum of 24 credits must be earned at CSU, 21 of which must be earned after admission to the Graduate School. At least 21 credits must be in 500 or higher level courses and at least 12 must be in regular courses. For Plan A, 3 thesis credits are required and a maximum of 6 credits allowed. For Plan B, 3 independent study or internship credits are required and a maximum of 6 credits allowed.

Students are expected to complete their degrees in 2 years (four to five semesters of course work).

Graduate Advisory Committee

Upon beginning the ethnic studies graduate program students are assigned to the Graduate Coordinator for advising. This assignment is temporary. Students construct a Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) that serves to guide the development of their work and that will provide the final evaluation for completion of the program.

To begin students first select a Chair for their GAC. The Chair serves as the main mentor in directing the development of student’s thesis or professional paper. Students should make this selection based upon similar research interests and workable relationship with the faculty member.

Deciding upon a research interest early on or prior to entrance will assist students in this decision. Students can look into Faculty research interests by viewing there biographies in the “People” link.

Next, students collaborate with their Chair to select two more faculty members to join the GAC. One position will be within the department and the other will be an outside faculty member. Similarly, these positions should be filled by faculty whose research is related to the student’s interest.

It is advisable for students to take courses from the faculty on their GAC. As each course will conclude with a research paper, students can easily incorporate various approaches into their research.

The selection of the GAC is required to be completed by the end of the second semester. To complete this process, students must file the proper forms with the Graduate School at Colorado State University. Forms and deadlines can be found on the Graduate School’s webpage.

Performance Standards

In addition to attending regular courses and seminars, graduate students are expected to contribute to their professional growth through interaction with the faculty, students, and the community. The criteria for being granted an M.A. are as follows:

  1. Completing the credit hour requirements
  2. The successful defense of the Master’s thesis or completion of the non-thesis option

The student is expected to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average. Students who fail to maintain the necessary grade average will be placed on probation or will be separated from the program. A maximum course load is 15 credit hours a semester; a 9 credit hour load is considered to be full-time for graduate courses. Finally, all graduate students are required to be continuously registered from first enrollment through graduation term (excluding summer). Please check the relevant Graduate School Bulletin for more information.

Satisfactory progress is defined more specifically by the satisfactory progress document. Students not meeting the standards defined on the document may be discounted from teaching assistantships.

Financial Assistance

Graduate Teaching Assistantship

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA) are limited in number and are primarily awarded to first-year incoming graduate students.  Traditionally, partial GTA (one semester) positions are awarded, however, a stellar applicant may be awarded a full GTA position (two semesters). On rare occasions, second-year students will be awarded a partial GTA if they have demonstrated excellence within their peer group, or have not received a prior GTA and are deemed as strong candidates based upon their scholastic success. Actual funding for Graduate Teaching Assistantships varies from year to year and depends upon the availability of funds.

Graduate students who have been awarded GTA positions are expected to maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA. If students have been awarded a full GTA position, and their GPA drops below a 3.5 during the first semester of the award, their GTA may be revoked pending a case review.

These positions pay a monthly stipend and cover resident or non-resident tuition for first-year GTA and resident tuition for second year GTA. It is assumed that first-year graduate students who are awarded a GTA position will establish Colorado residency by the beginning of their second year in the program.

Assistantships generally constitute a half-time workload which, is 20 hours per week. Teaching assistantships will be awarded by Graduate Students Committee.

Students considering applying for a GTA position should complete their application by March 1 and send it to the Ethnic Studies Department, Chair of the Graduate Student Committee.

Actual funding from year to year depends upon the availability of funds. These positions pay a monthly stipend and cover resident or non-resident tuition for first-year GTA and resident tuition for second year GTA.

Other Financial Opportunity

For those with experience we offer an opportunity to teach a stand-alone class when available.

Fellowships, Scholarships, Loans, and Grants

The University offers assistance in locating Financial Resources for new and continuing students. The opportunities include CSU funding, non-CSU funding, loans, student employment, and access to a national database of funding opportunities.