Welcome, Aboriginal Students!

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students in Canada

The University of Alberta is home to a diverse and welcoming community of over 1,000 Aboriginal students from across the country, while the city of Edmonton is home to the second-largest Aboriginal population of any city in Canada. We celebrate our Aboriginal heritage, including the ancestral lands on which our university is located today, and we are proud to be the only university in Canada with a Faculty of Native Studies.

At the U of A, we use the term "Aboriginal" when referring to students who descend from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures in Canada (as defined in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982). Learn more >>

We recognize and celebrate the distinct cultures of our Aboriginal community:

  • First Nations: Alberta is home to 45 First Nations communities across the province.
  • Métis: Alberta is also the only province with Métis settlements as distinct from First Nations.
  • Inuit: As one of the northern-most universities in Canada, we welcome Inuit and Northern students from all over the country. Recently, we became the first university to award a Bachelor of Science degree to a student from “North of 60.”

Welcome to Our Community

Student Groups

There are several Aboriginal student groups and clubs on campus, including the Aboriginal Student Council and the Native Studies Students’ Association. Find more groups and clubs on BearsDen.

Aboriginal Peoples Network

The Aboriginal Peoples Network is an online resource that shares information about Aboriginal initiatives at the University of Alberta. It contains a comprehensive listing of links to Aboriginal groups, organizations and initiatives on campus, along with related news and events.


Aboriginal Student Services and Support

Aboriginal Student Services Centre (ASSC)

Located on North Campus, the Aboriginal Student Services Centre (ASSC) provides service, access, and support for all. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students on campus. For a more complete listing of the programs and services offered by the ASSC, please visit aboriginalservices.ualberta.ca.

Transition Year Program (TYP)

The Transition Year Program offered by ASSC is designed to provide post-secondary opportunities for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students at the University of Alberta. TYP is a University access program for Aboriginal students who may not be prepared to enter a faculty through the regular admissions route. For more information, please refer to the "How to Apply" section below.

Bridges Orientation

All first-year Aboriginal students are invited to participate in our Bridges Orientation Program as they begin their academic journey here at the U of A. Held prior to the first day of classes each fall, Bridges Orientation is aimed at Aboriginal students who are new to the U of A.

Round Dance

The Round Dance was a healing ceremony that became a social dance that is traditionally held in the winter season. From the first tuning of the hand drums by way of fire, to the meeting of old friends and making of new ones, the Round Dance is for everyone – children, friends, families, youth, and Elders – and all Aboriginal students are invited to attend! Check the ASSC website to find out when and where next year's Round Dance will be held.

Convocation Honouring Ceremonies

Upon graduating, our Aboriginal students can be honoured by an Elder on stage at convocation, in recognition of their academic achievements. Elders and students alike are invited to wear their traditional regalia to these ceremonies

Gathering Place (Coming Soon!)

Plans are in place to construct a Gathering Place at the heart of North Campus. This future two-story, 22,000-square-foot facility is designed to be a showcase of Aboriginal culture and a place for sharing and inclusiveness. Other features and amenities will include:

  • Elders' traditional rooftop garden and courtyard
  • Great hall to be used for events, ceremonies, feasts, round dances, political functions, and social gatherings
  • Sacred fire housed in a specialized fireplace
  • Administrative and Elder offices, student service centres, and classrooms

Acknowledging Our Elders

An Elder is a highly regarded individual who is considered exceptionally wise in the ways of their culture and the teachings of the Great Spirit. The community looks to them for guidance and sound judgment. An Elder is committed to helping people, lives a healthy lifestyle and is a positive role model for Aboriginal people. We would like to acknowledge Elder Marge Friedel for the knowledge she graciously shared and for her contributions to the Aboriginal community at the University. It is with sadness that we acknowledge Marge’s passing on September 6, 2011, but her legacy lives on.

Other ASSC services include:

  • Tutoring and advising
  • Computer lab and social space
  • Smudge and meditation room
  • TAWOW welcoming
  • Round dances
  • Stew and bannock days
  • Elder visits

Student Success Centre

The Student Success Centre offers a number of programs and services such as studying and exam workshops, writing resources, learning consultations, the Math and Applied Sciences Centre, and more.

Specialized Support and Disability Services

Specialized Support and Disability Services (SSDS) offers services and support for students challenged by disabilities, and also coordinates the efforts of University departments and off-campus agencies in meeting students’ needs to help equalize educational opportunities for all.


Native Studies and Other Aboriginal Programs

The University of Alberta offers more than 200 undergraduate programs, including several with an Aboriginal focus.

Faculty of Native Studies

Native Studies is an exciting and emerging area of study that seeks to understand the experiences of Aboriginal people past, present, and future. Welcoming both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, Native Studies combines the insights of many traditional university disciplines, such as anthropology, history, law, and sociology, with Aboriginal community knowledge and perspectives.

Other Aboriginal Programs and Services

Listed below are some of the unique degrees, services, and supports designed specifically for Aboriginal students. For a more complete llisting of all our program and degree options, visit Programs and Requirements.


Aboriginal Knowledge and Initiatives

The University of Alberta values and invests in Aboriginal knowledge and education. Some of our current initiatives include:

Indigenous Artist-in-Residence

Jordan Bennett was the University of Alberta’s first-ever Indigenous Artist-in-Residence, with an art studio on campus during the 2012-2013 academic year. The Indigenous Artist in Residence position is a pilot project supported by the Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic), to create an enriching cross-cultural experience for the University of Alberta.

Jordan is a Mi’kmaq from Newfoundland, a sculptor, painter, photographer, video artist, DJ, and community activist. He has exhibited, played, and explored across Canada, the USA, and Europe. For more information about Jordan and his work, visit www.jordanbennett.ca.


How to Declare Aboriginal Ancestry

Do you identify as an Aboriginal person, or have Aboriginal ancestry?* All First Nations, Métis, and Inuit applicants are encouraged to declare their status when applying to the university. Show your pride and take advantage of all the opportunities we have to offer!

By declaring your Aboriginal ancestry you'll have access to:

  • Enhanced services for Aboriginal students
  • Aboriginal scholarships, bursaries, and awards
  • Information about Aboriginal on-campus housing
  • Convocation Honoring Ceremony

How to declare Aboriginal ancestry:

You can declare your ancestry when completing your application. You can also do so after you have applied by completing the Aboriginal Self Identification Form.

The University of Alberta and the Aboriginal Student Services Centre stand committed to protecting the privacy of each student. The personal information you provide will only be disclosed for purposes intended above.

*An Aboriginal person is identified in accordance to the Canadian Constitutional Act of 1982, Part II, Section 35(2), as "an Indian (including Status, non-Status, Treaty and non-Treaty), Métis, or Inuit person of Canada."


How to Apply

The University of Alberta offers several admission options for Aboriginal students:

1. High School (Direct Entry)

Applicants require five Grade 12-level courses including English Language Arts 30-1 and four other subjects from the Humanities, Sciences, and/or Fine Arts. A minimum average of 70% is also required, though this varies by faculty, and each faculty requires different subjects

Search for Programs and Requirements »

2. Nonmatriculated Applicants (Mature Students)

To qualify for admission as a "mature" or "nonmatriculted student, you must be 21 years of age or older as of September 1 in the year you wish to attend and not have completed any previous post-secondary schooling. Nonmatriculated students must have completed specific courses for the faculty they are applying to and have an overall average of 70% or higher. There are limited spaces available in each faculty, and admission is not guaranteed.

Learn more about Nonmatriculated Applicants »

3. Transition Year Program (TYP)

The Transition Year Program, offered through the Aboriginal Student Services Centre at our North Campus in Edmonton, is designed to provide post-secondary opportunities for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students at the University of Alberta. TYP is a University access program for Aboriginal students who may not be prepared to enter a faculty through the regular admissions route. This is not an upgrading program, but a full-time University of Alberta program in the Faculty of Open Studies.

This program provides students with the opportunity to experience their first year at the University of Alberta with other Aboriginal students from across Canada. With tutorial supports, academic advising and study skill services, students who successfully complete TYP are prepared to enter into one of nine UAlberta faculties.

Learn more about the Transition Year Program »

4. Transfer, Advanced Placement, or International Baccalaureate

Transfer credit may be granted to successful applicants who have completed university level course(s) at recognized universities or colleges. Credit may also be granted to applicants who have successfully completed International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) courses.


Third-Party Funding and Financial Aid

Your education is an investment in your future and one that will only increase in value over time. So budget wisely, plan ahead, and find out how you can offset the cost of your degree with the many scholarships and funding opportunities available to Aboriginal students at the University of Alberta.

Third-Party Funding

There are different funding options available to Inuit and Northern students, First Nation students, and Métis students.

Learn more about third-party funding »

Scholarships and Awards

The University of Alberta administers more than $25 million in undergraduate scholarships and awards each year. In addition there are more than 20 faculty-administered scholarships that Aboriginal students are eligible for, as well as numerous externally funded awards

Learn more about scholarships and awards »

Student Loans

Student loans are administered jointly by the provincial and federal governments. The Student Financial Aid Information Centre (SFAIC) can provide advice and assistance with applying for student loans.

Learn more on the SFAIC website »


Housing Options

Our nine residences are home to more than 4,000 students in a variety of campus accommodations. In addition, the University of Alberta along with the Aboriginal Student Services Centre, also offers campus-housing options for Aboriginal students on North Campus.

Single Student Housing

Family Housing

Learn more about UAlberta residences »


Aboriginal Student Discovery Day

The University of Alberta hosts the Aboriginal Student Discovery Day (ASDD), an annual, one-day event on North Campus, for prospective Aboriginal students to learn about programs and requirements, take a campus tour, and hear from current UAlberta students.

Learn more about Aboriginal Student Discovery Day »


Contact Us

Email: aboriginal@ualberta.ca

Phone: 780-492-6540

Download the Aboriginal Handbook (PDF)