Courtesy University of Tulsa
The University of Tulsa’s Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law spring graduating Class of 2015.

Indian Law Program at University of Tulsa Not Just for Attorneys


The Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law program at the University of Tulsa College of Law started in the fall of 2011 with 10 students. The two-year program graduated its first class of four in the spring of 2013. This year, the program graduates seven students.

With the current student enrollment, more than 30 tribes are represented in the program, and even a couple of First Nations students, the MJIL program is useful for several career paths. “As the program director, I’m really fascinated by what the student’s intentions are with the degree,” said Shonday Harmon, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and MJIL program director. “It’s really interesting too, our student body comes from all walks of life.”

Students range from traditional age students, just finishing bachelor’s degrees, to professional adults like attorneys and judges going back to school to study Indian law.

She said the program gets students who are already employed with their tribal communities, and the program can make them more promotable from within.

Harmon also told ICMTN about Dr. Fred Knowles, Chair of the Native American Studies program at Valdosta State University. “He was already teaching at a different university, he picked up our degree to help him with his current Native American Studies program,” Harmon said. “He now teaches Indigenous Rights with us.”

Harmon said that some students pair the MJIL program with a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies so they can go on to teach.

The online program consists of 30 credit hours with seven required courses and a capstone master project. Other classes include Introduction to the Federal Legal and Administrative System, Principles of Federal Indian Law, Tribal Government, Introduction to Legal Writing, Research Methods in Indian Law.

“Having the flexibility to work with an online program is something that is really valuable to me,” said Lauren Truitt, a staff attorney and now 2015 MJIL graduate, in a video. I wouldn’t have been able to pursue a degree like this had it not been online. Classes are tailored to people who don’t necessarily come from a law background.”

For more information about the MJIL program visit

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