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Navajo Tech first to offer doctoral program

The school held an event to celebrate the new program in April. (NTU/Facebook)

Navajo Technical University (NTU) has established a doctorate degree in philosophy in Diné culture and language sustainability, beginning in the fall 2023 semester. The degree is a first among the three-dozen U.S.-based tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) – as an accredited Ph.D. program has never been offered.

Diné is the Navajo word meaning “the people” and is commonly what tribal members call themselves. The Navajo Nation is the country’s largest – it occupies portions of northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah – and it is the most populous, with 340,000 tribal members.

NTU officials said the goal of the program is to bolster language preservation and produce scholars who can help tackle issues specific to the Navajo Nation. Officials also hope the program will serve as a model for other TCUs that want to increase their levels of educational attainment and provide culturally specific curriculum to help tribal members.

A March news release by the school, located in Crownpoint, New Mexico, said accreditation for the program has been five years in the making.

“The establishment of the doctorate program … is a monumental achievement for Navajo Technical University, the Navajo Nation, and [TCUs] throughout the country,” NTU president Elmer J. Guy said in the release. “It reflects NTU’s dedication and commitment to reaching new levels of providing the best education for our people, and scholars who want to attain prominent degrees near home and at our institution.”

NTU president Elmer J. Guy. (NTU/Facebook)

The program will succeed a master’s degree program in Diné studies, language and leadership that currently has a steady cohort of students, officials said. Five students will be accepted into the inaugural doctorate program. Officials said those in the program would have access to NTU colleagues, Diné elders, Indigenous scholars, community members, and other experts in North America.

“Since the inception of the master’s degree … in 2013, our institution has been reaching new heights in all areas, especially in our technology and vocational programs,” Guy said in the release. “At NTU, we are prepared to meet technological demands with the needs of culture and language sustainability – the Ph.D. program demonstrates our sincerity to advance those prerequisites.”

NTU has about 1,700 students and currently offers more than 30 degree and certificate programs in science, technology, engineering, business and liberal arts. For more, go to

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at