Indigenous Student Access Program (ISAP)

The University of Calgary offers an Indigenous Students Access Program for eligible Indigenous students, including First Nations (Status and Non-status), Métis and Inuit. This program offers first-year university classes coupled with enhanced academic and cultural supports.


The Indigenous Student Access Program (ISAP) is a one-year program that provides an alternate access route for Indigenous students applying from high school or adult learners looking to complete a post-secondary degree program. This admission pathway is available to Indigenous students who may not meet the admission requirements of their desired faculty program or are seeking additional support during a transition year.

The program offers enhanced academic and cultural support and is designed to give students the academic foundations they need, as well as assist in the selection of relevant courses to prepare them to apply to a specific degree program.

Contact Info

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must meet the general admission requirements for Open Studies (see section A.14.2 Admission Requirements) and complete a supplementary application form which will be reviewed by the ISAP admission committee. The application deadline is July 1. Students will be admitted to ISAP only in the Fall term due to the cohort nature of the program.

Students will be required to meet or talk by phone with the ISAP advisor to discuss their educational background, their academic goals, post-secondary funding, course options, and available support services.

Who is it for?

ISAP is designed for Indigenous students moving from high school, upgrading or university and college entrance programs (UCEP) to post-secondary degree programs. It is also for returning post-secondary students who may have taken a break in their studies.

The program provides students a foundation of first-year university classes and supports, as well as assisting students in the selection of post-secondary courses relevant to their target degree programs. Once students complete a minimum of one and a maximum of four semesters in this program, they can apply to a post-secondary degree program. Courses taken in ISAP, will apply toward credit in their degree programs.

Interested students should contact the ISAP Coordinator at for more information on admission to the program. The ISAP Coordinator assists Indigenous students succeed in their post-secondary studies and is available to speak with prospective students and/or their family members or support network.

Program Requirements

Fall Term

  • Core Course 1: Indigenous Studies 201 – Introduction to Indigenous Studies
  • Core Course 2: English 251 – Literature and Society
  • Weekly sessions at Writing Symbols Lodge
  • Midterm meeting with ISAP advisor

Winter Term

  • Core Course 3: Indigenous Studies 397 - Special Topics in Canadian Indigenous Studies
  • Weekly sessions at Writing Symbols Lodge
  • Midterm meeting with ISAP advisor

Students are required to attend regularly-scheduled sessions in Writing Symbols Lodge. These sessions help to build community among the cohort of ISAP students, enhance academic skills and knowledge, build effective study habits, and allow students to explore university study with Elders, mentors and peers.

Students register in required core courses as a cohort and take elective courses in their areas of interest up to a total of 12 units per term. Students who take a minimum of 9 units per term are considered full-time students and may qualify for band funding, student loans, as well as other sources of funding. Please note that some provinces have various rules regarding full-time student status and all students are encouraged to seek out the information from the program Advisor.

Admission Requirements

This program is designed for students of Indigenous identity (First Nations (Status and Non-Status), Métis and Inuit). Students should have a minimum of Grade 12 English (Alberta Education English 30-1 or equivalent) with a 65% or better. Students need to provide transcripts from high school, upgrading and other post-secondary programs.

An intake interview is conducted to determine student goals, to ensure prerequisites will be met for their target programs, and to conduct some preliminary assessment. Students are required to submit documentation to support their Indigenous identity.


Students who need to complete fewer than three upgrading and/or high school equivalency courses are able to take these in conjunction with ISAP classes. High school upgrading courses may be taken concurrently through Continuing Education at the University of Calgary or other adult learning institutions, as needed.