Aboriginal Students

The University of Alberta is home to a diverse and welcoming community of over 1,000 Aboriginal students from across North America, 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.

The University of Alberta is located on traditional territory, and we acknowledge and thank the diverse Aboriginal peoples whose footsteps have marked these lands for centuries, such as Cree, Saulteaux, Blackfoot, Métis, Dene, and Nakota Sioux. Today, the U of A is a gathering place for peoples from around the world.

Aboriginal Programming Options

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

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 full-time university program for Aboriginal students who may not meet the direct-entry requirements.

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 listing of all our program and degree options, visit Programs and Requirements.

Student Services and Support

Aboriginal Student Services Centre (ASSC)

The Aboriginal Student Services Centre, located in the Students’ Union Building, offers access, service, and support for all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students on campus. ASSC services include Bridges Orientation for Aboriginal students who are new to the U of A, the annual TAWOW Welcoming Event, round dances, tutoring and advising, a computer lab, social space, and a smudge room. For a complete listing of the programs and services offered by the ASSC, please visit the ASSC website.

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.

Augustana Campus Supports

By providing various services and culturally sensitive supports, Augustana’s Aboriginal Students Office assists students on their educational journey. As well, the Aboriginal Student Mentor Program aims to connect new First Nations, Métis and Inuit students with senior Aboriginal students at Augustana.

Declaring Your 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!

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."

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."

Get Involved

There are several Aboriginal student groups and clubs on campus, including:

  • Aboriginal Student Council
  • Native Studies Students’ Association
  • Arts Aboriginal Council

Find more groups and clubs on BearsDen »

Apply to be an Aboriginal UAlberta Ambassador

Aboriginal UAlberta Ambassadors are passionate about the University of Alberta community and keen to share this with others by representing our institution in a variety of ways. They provide specific leadership for these experiences when Aboriginal individuals or groups visit North Campus, including:

  • Leading campus tours through the Campus Visit Program 
  • Providing service triage and welcoming guests to Student Connect
  • Represent the U of A at various events, both on and off campus

Applications open in March each year. Learn more »

Aboriginal Knowledge and Initiatives

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

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.

Convocation Honouring Ceremonies

Upon graduating, our Aboriginal students can be honoured by an Elder at convocation on stage, 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

Financial Support

Find out how you can offset the cost of your degree with scholarships, awards, and numerous other funding opportunities for Aboriginal students.

Student financial support services are provided by Student Connect, the Office of the Registrar's student service centre. Services include information, advising and assistance with undergraduate scholarships and awards, financial aid, student loans, bursaries, and emergency student loans, and so much more! Learn more about financial support »

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 »

Tuition Deposit Exemption

If you are going to be funded by your Band or other third party, you may qualify for an extension to pay the $500 deposit, which is required to accept your admission offer. Please contact Financial Services to coordinate payment of your tuition deposit.

Scholarships, Awards, and Bursaries

The U of A administers over $22 million in undergraduate awards each year, including many awards for Aboriginal students.

Aboriginal Student Services Centre: The ASSC offers various awards for Aboriginal students, ranging up to $19,650.

Métis Education Foundation: The MEF offers various awards for Métis students, ranging up to $100,000.

Faculty and external awards: Various faculties and departments at the U of A offer scholarships to Aboriginal students. There are also many awards available to Aboriginal students offered by outside organizations. A complete list of Aboriginal awards are listed on the ASSC website.

Be sure to explore all your scholarship options on the undergraduate awards website.


Get quick answers to your questions, 24 hours a day! Simply visit Ask Student Connect, type in your question, and click "Ask." You can also check out related questions and view the Top 10 Questions that other users have asked Student Connect. If you have additional questions, please email us at aboriginal@ualberta.ca or call 780.492.6540.