Indigenous Student Access Program (ISAP)

Creating supportive pathways to post-secondary education


The Indigenous Student Access Program (ISAP) is a one-year program that provides an alternate access route for eligible Indigenous students, including First Nations (Status and Non-status), Métis and Inuit. This includes Indigenous students applying directly from high school, or upgrading or university and college entrance programs (UCEP). It's also beneficial for adult learners who may have taken a break in their studies and wish to complete a post-secondary degree program.

This admission pathway is also 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. Through ISAP, students can be accepted into Open Studies and complete upgrading or other courses so they can apply to their desired program in subsequent years.


Kelsey Pfeil
ISAP Coordinator


Want to be an ISAP student? Applications are open from December 1 to July 31.

Apply now

Start your studies with support

This comprehensive program equips learners with a solid academic foundation and assists them in the selection of relevant courses to prepare them to apply for their degree program of choice.

Indigenous learners who are part of an ISAP cohort are provided with first-year university classes, coupled with enhanced academic support, such as advising, tutoring, career advising, dedicated workshops and individualized success planning. It also includes access to cultural support, such as the ability to connect with Elders, cultural wellness and resources, and more.


Get credit for your degree

Courses taken in ISAP will be applied toward credit for their degree programs. Students are permitted to complete a minimum of one and a maximum of four semesters in this program before applying to their chosen degree program.


Upgrading options for learners

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

Interested? Email the ISAP Coordinator at for more information on admission to the program. They can also advise prospective Indigenous students and/or their family members or support network on the various pathways to studying at UCalgary, including financial aid, awards and more.

Applying to ISAP

Ready to start your post-secondary journey with ISAP? Review these requirements to learn what's needed for your ISAP application. The application is open from December 1 to July 31. Due to the cohort nature of this program, students will be admitted only in the fall term.

  1. Review the ISAP requirements.
  2. Create an eID and then sign in to complete the ISAP application form.
  3. Connect with the ISAP Coordinator to discuss your educational background, academic goals, post-secondary funding, course options and available support services.
  4. Submit all required documents by August 10.

Questions? Contact the ISAP coordinator at for assistance.

To be considered for admission, applicants must:

  1. Present a minimum 65 per cent in English 30-1, or equivalent; OR
  2. Present a minimum 2.00 GPA in a transferrable post-secondary English course(s); OR
  3. Achieved a minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA on the most recent 12 units of academic post-secondary coursework.* 

Students who do not meet the admission requirements outlined above may present information that outlines their educational goals and how their past education, cultural knowledge, life and work experiences will enable them to succeed in the ISAP program through a supplementary application. This will be reviewed by the ISAP admission committee.

*Students presenting 12 or more units of academic post-secondary coursework will be considered for admission based on the GPA of their most recent 12 units.

Program overview

Fall term

  • Required core course: Indigenous Studies 201 – Introduction to Indigenous Studies
  • Required core course: English 251 – Literature and Society
  • Weekly cohort sessions at Writing Symbols Lodge
  • Mid-term meeting with ISAP advisor
  • Elective courses as selected

Winter term

  • Required core course: Indigenous Studies 397 - Special Topics in Canadian Indigenous Studies
  • Weekly cohort sessions at Writing Symbols Lodge
  • Mid-term meeting with ISAP advisor
  • Elective courses as selected

Weekly cohort sessions

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.

Elective courses

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.

A student looks at the camera while studying in the Taylor Family Digital Library.

Get in touch

Interested? An ISAP Coordinator can provide more details on admission to the program, and advise prospective Indigenous students and/or their family members or support network on the various pathways to studying at UCalgary, including financial aid, student awards and more.