Native American Student Experience at GCU

Committed to Serving Native American College Students and Communities

Established in 1949, Grand Canyon University (GCU) maintained a relationship with many of the federally recognized tribes, especially among the 22 Native American tribes in Arizona. We are committed to actively understanding and addressing the potential challenges Native American college students may experience in college and how we can provide a culturally responsive education with ample support wherever necessary.

We demonstrate our commitment to equity by employing delivery modes, teaching methodologies and learning support services that are effective and responsive to the diverse and evolving needs of our student body. GCU has a dedicated team of university counselors, as well as student services counselors, specific to serving our Native American students. Additionally, we have a Native American affairs liaison who works with higher education offices to demonstrate our commitment to serving Native American college students and their communities.

Whether you are a high school student, working professional or Native American leader, GCU offers degree programs and student experiences that can meet your needs and honor your traditions and values.

I’m very proud of what I’ve done and how far I’ve come. We all have a purpose in life of what we want to do and how we want to give back. If you want to do something, you do it yourself.

Stacy Etisitty Master's in Public Administration, Class of 2022
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Native American History at GCU

Native American students have an established history with GCU, including more than 2,388 alumni as of December 2021 and 148 current traditional students with a Native American affiliation in Fall 2022.1 With Arizona representing one of the highest percentages of Native Americans across the nation, making up 5.3% of the state's population, which is the third-highest percentage of any state, following Alaska and New Mexico,2 it is convenient to have the option to complete your program online, on campus or through our evening classes.

Life as a Native American College Student at GCU

As a Native American student, you will have access to a variety of resources and support services to help you navigate the academic and cultural aspects of university life. These resources may include academic support programs that are responsive to cultural sensitivities, mentorship opportunities with Native American faculty and staff, and access to cultural events and activities on and off-campus. Native American students at GCU can connect with a supportive community of peers and mentors who share their cultural background and are committed to promoting their academic and personal success.

Join Student Clubs and Organizations to Grow Your Network

Joining student clubs and organizations is one way for you to grow your network and gain valuable skills and experiences as a college student. As a Native American college student, you may also enjoy connecting with other students who share your cultural background and interests. By joining these clubs and organizations, Native American students can build relationships with peers and mentors, participate in cultural and social events, and develop leadership and teamwork skills. These experiences can help you academically and professionally while also having the potential to enrich your personal life.

Utilize Resources and Support for Native American Students

GCU is proud to offer resources for Native American students, such as academic support and counseling, cultural events, workshops and activities, tutoring at the Student Success Center and so much more. These resources can help you navigate the academic and social challenges of college while also having a supportive community of peers and mentors who understand your unique experiences. By utilizing these resources and support services, Native American students can position themselves to thrive academically and personally while staying connected to their Native American culture.

Attend or Participate in GCU’s Multicultural Events

GCU hosts a variety of multicultural events throughout the year, including festivals, traditional arts and crafts demonstrations and guest lectures by Native American scholars and leaders that celebrate the diversity of the campus community. These events provide an opportunity for you to learn about different cultures, perspectives and traditions, as well as to connect with peers and community members who share your interests. Attending multicultural events can be an opportunity to share your own culture and traditions with others, while also learning about the experiences of other cultures. These events can help to foster greater understanding and appreciation among all students, while also promoting a sense of community and inclusion on campus.

Becoming a Student at GCU

Becoming a student at GCU can offer access to a diverse range of programs and resources to support your academic and personal growth. Whether you're pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree, GCU strives to provide a supportive and engaging learning environment to help you achieve your goals.

When you contact a Native American university counselor, be prepared to indicate your program of interest and which Native American tribe you are affiliated with. Remain in contact with your higher education office through the enrollment process so you are aware of scholarship and funding deadlines.



FAQs for Aspiring Native American College Students

If you are an aspiring Native American student looking to pursue higher education, you may have many questions regarding the application process, financial aid, campus life and cultural representation. In this section, we aim to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that Native American college students may have when considering their options for higher education.

Graduation rates for Native American students can vary depending on a variety of factors, including academic preparedness, financial resources and cultural support. GCU is committed to improving graduation rates for all students, including Native American students, by providing academic and financial support programs, cultural resources and mentorship opportunities.

Proving Native American heritage for college admissions typically involves providing documentation that verifies your ancestry. The type of documentation required may vary depending on the college or university you will be attending, but some common forms of proof include the following:

  • Tribal enrollment card or certificate of degree of Indian blood (CDIB)
  • Census records
  • Birth, marriage or death certificates
  • Letters of verification

The process of proving Native American heritage can be complex and may require significant research and documentation. If you are unsure how to proceed, you may want to consult with your local Native American Tribe for verification.

GCU offers a range of scholarships and grant opportunities for students from all backgrounds, including academic and athletic scholarships, grants and need-based aid. GCU is committed to promoting equal opportunities for all students to access financial support for your education, regardless of your background or socioeconomic status. We recognize that financial barriers can often prevent some students from pursuing higher education and are dedicated to providing resources and support to help you achieve your academic goals.

GCU has several initiatives in place to engage Native American students on campus. From our partnerships with Native American Tribes across the USA (EAP’s), tribal colleges, multicultural events and festivities to our Native American students, GCU utilizes a number of initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to supporting you and your well-being as a Native American student.

Native American college students will receive a variety of services that support you academically through scholarships and grants, cultural events and celebrations that honor Native American culture, tutoring services, study groups and services that can help combat mental health concerns.

Female Native American student at GCU's Culture Fest event on campus

1 Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

2 United States Census Bureau (2022, July 1). Quick Facts Arizona; Alaska; New Mexico. Retrieved April 14, 2023.

Fill out the form on this page and ask to speak to a Native American university counselor to discuss your preference to attend our main campus, evening or online classes for your program of interest.