NAVAJO NATION (KRQE) – A university in the Navajo Nation has added a Ph.D. program. It’s dedicated to the study of its tribal culture.

Navajo Technical University (Navajo Tech) has received accreditation from the higher learning commission for a “Doctor of Philosophy in Diné Culture and Language Sustainability.”

Courses will begin in the fall, and 20 students have applied. While other schools have doctoral programs for indigenous studies, this will be the first specifically focused on the country’s largest reservation.

While the Navajo Nation has lost speakers of its traditional language with each generation, they hope this program will help keep it alive.

“The younger generations are migrating away from traditional Navajo communities due to lack of opportunities for language immersion and instruction. That’s why this Ph.D. program is so important. it sustains the Navajo language,” said Navajo Tech University Administrator Wafa Hozien.

Of the 32 accredited tribal colleges and universities in the U.S., Navajo Tech officials said they will be the first to have a Ph.D. program.