Requirements for an Arctic and Northern Studies Master of Arts Degree

The Master of Arts in Arctic and Northern Studies

The Master of Arts in Arctic and Northern Studies is a 30-credit degree program requiring both course work and a project or research thesis. At least 18 credits of course work and 6 credits of project/thesis must be at the graduate level.

Full time students generally take two to three years to complete the program, depending on how much time their research requires.

All students are required to complete the two introductory courses:

  • NORS 600 -- Perspectives on the North (an introductory overview of the program)
  • NORS 601 -- Research Methods and Sources in the North (a methodology course)

Students then choose one of four concentrations:

  • Northern History
  • Environmental Policy
  • Arctic Policy
  • Individualized

Students will complete 12 credits of course work in one of the concentrations from following lists:

Northern History Concentration *

NORS 661 -- History of Alaska (3)
NORS 663 -- Foundations of Russian History (3)
NORS 664 -- Modern Russia (3)
NORS 681 -- Polar Exploration and its Literature (3)
NORS 683 -- 20th Century Circumpolar History (3)
NORS 690 -- Researching and Writing Northern History (3)

Environmental Policy Concentration

NORS 603 -- Public Policy(3)
NORS 647 -- US Environmental Policy (3)
NORS 648 -- Environmental Politics of the Circumpolar North (3)
NORS 654 -- International Law and the Environment (3)
NORS 655 -- Political Economy of the Global Environment (3)
NORS 656 -- Science, Technology, and Politics (3)
NORS 658 -- Comparative Environmental Politics (3)

Arctic Policy Concentration

Complete one of the following:
PS 669 -- Arctic Politics and Governance (3)
NORS 652 -- International Relations of the North (3)

Complete 9 credits from the following*
PS 650 -- Comparative Aboriginal Rights (3)
PS 660 -- Government and Politics of Canada (3)
PS 662 -- Alaska Government and Politics (3)
PS 668 -- Government and Politics of Russia (3)
PS 669 -- Arctic Politics and Governance (3)

*Students may substitute 1 course from other PS graduate offerings, with the approval of their graduate committe chair

Complete 6 credits from the following**
ANTH 610 -- Northern Indigenous Peoples and Contemporary Issues (3)
ECON 637 -- Natural Resource Policy (3)
HIST 404 -- Modern Scandinavia (3)
NORS 661/HIST 662 -- History of Alaska (3)
NORS/HIST 664 -- Modern Russia (3)
NORS/HIST 683 -- 20th Century Circumpolar History (3)
RD 601 -- Political Economy of the Circumpolar North (3)

**Students may substitute courses with approval of their graduate committee chair


Individualized Concentration

Students develop an individualized program with an emphasis on Alaska Native Studies, northern art, northern sociology, northern policy studies or another northern field or discipline. Students must complete 12 credits of course work from:

  1. course offerings selected from the relevant department and
  2. other courses offered within the Northern Studies Program, including those specified in either northern history or global environmental policy concentration, and
    • NORS 610 -- Northern Indigenous People and Contemporary Issues (3)
    • NORS 611 -- Environmental History
    • NORS 620 -- Images of the North (3)
    • NORS 625 -- Visual Images of the North (3)
    • NORS 652 -- International Relations of the North
    • NORS 660 -- Government and Politics of Canada
    • NORS 662 -- Alaska Government and Politics
    • NORS 668 -- Government and Politics of Russia

Students must complete two additional courses (6 credits) at either the 400 or 600 level. They may choose from Northern Studies courses or courses in disciplines related to their research interests.

To learn more about other courses available at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, see the UAF catalog.

Candidates for a Master's Degree in Northern Studies must also complete a project or thesis , which is classed under the following course names:

  • NORS 698 Research (6 credits)
  • NORS 699 Thesis (6-12 credits)

After completing most course work, students take written comprehensive examinations. One exam is a "depth" question and usually relates to the student's thesis or project. The other exam addresses a topic of greater breadth. The student and his or her graduate advisory committee members discuss and agree upon the topics of the exams and agree on a reading list for each exam.

Each student forms a graduate advisory committee consisting of at least three University of Alaska faculty members. At least one member of the graduate advisory committee will represent the discipline most closely associated with the candidate's project or thesis. Students may have additional committee members who are not UAF faculty in order to bring additional expertise to their committees.

The 30 credit NORS MA is generally viewed as a 2 year program for students who attend full time.  However, for a variety of reasons many full time students complete the program in 2 1/2 or 3 years.  All work must be completed within a seven-year time frame.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Mary Ehrlander
Director of Northern Studies
University of Alaska Fairbanks
P.O. Box 756460
Fairbanks, AK 99775

Back to Top