Northern Studies

College of Liberal Arts
(907) 474-7126


B.A., M.A. Degrees

Minimum Requirements for Degree: 30 credits

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The northern studies program offers an interdisciplinary study of northern problems and policy issues. The purpose of the northern studies program is to give interested students a broader study of the northern region--its environment, peoples and problems.

The geographic location of UAF is outstanding for the study of northern issues. Students examine the countries and regions throughout the circumpolar North, and their distinctive problems, such as the survival of indigenous populations, environmental and wilderness issues, high rates of alcoholism and suicide, fragile environments, adaptation to extreme cold and cycles of light and darkness and adult development in small frontier societies.

The M.A. program is designed especially for students who live and work in the North and who want to expand their knowledge of the history, economics, politics, psychology and anthropology of northern regions. Many northern studies students are seeking employment with northern agencies and want to develop a broad perspective on northern issues. Some students plan to pursue doctoral work in a discipline such as history or anthropology and seek a master's degree with a broad approach. Other students are employed as teachers, military personnel, or agency staff and want a rich, interdisciplinary program. The program is suitable for any of these goals, and it is designed to be compatible with either full-time graduate study or full-time employment.

The M.A. program offers three concentrations: northern history, global environmental policy, and individualized study. Students of northern history benefit from the availability of the Alaska and circumpolar collections of the UAF library, UA Museum of the North, and the Polar Regions Collection. The global environmental policy concentration focuses on political, social and psychological responses to environmental change. The individualized study concentration has a focus selected by the student.

The program offers a thesis or non-thesis option. The choice of option is guided by the student's interests and goals, the graduate advisory committee, and the requirements of the university. Faculty in the program are drawn from such disciplines as Alaska Native studies, art, anthropology, economics, English, geography, history, library science, political science and psychology.

For information on studying at McGill University, Montreal, Canada; the University of Copenhagen, Denmark; or opportunities for study in the former U.S.S.R., see International Study Abroad and Exchange Programs.

Graduate Program--M.A. Degree

Concentrations: Individualized Study, Global Environmental Policy and Northern History

  1. Complete the general university requirements.
  2. Complete the master's degree requirements.
  3. Complete the following
    NORS 600--Perspectives of the North 3 credits
    NORS 601--Research Methods and Sources in the North 3 credits
  4. Complete 2 elective courses at the 400- or 600-level 6 credits
  5. Complete 1 of the following:
    NORS 698--Project 6 credits
    NORS 699--Thesis 6-12
  6. Complete 1 of the following concentrations:

Individualized Study*
Complete 12 credits from the following:

  1. Course offerings selected from the relevant department** and,
  2. Courses offered within the Northern Studies program, including those in the other concentrations (below) and,
  3. Any of the following:
    NORS 606--Science, Technology and Development in Northern Regions 3 credits
    NORS 614--Human Adaptation to the Circumpolar North 3 credits
    NORS 640--Ethics and Reporting in the Far North 3 credits
    NORS 652--International Relations of the North 3 credits
    NORS 660--Government and Politics of Canada 3 credits
    NORS 662--Alaska Government and Politics 3 credits
    NORS 668--Government and Politics of Russia 3 credits
    NORS 680--Comparative Education 3 credits

* The individualized study concentration may be used as a basis for a M.A. thesis/project typically under the direction of a faculty member in the most relevant department.

** Some students may, with the consent of their graduate committee, develop an individualized program with an emphasis on Alaska Native studies, northern art, northern sociology, northern policy studies, or another northern field or discipline.

Global Environmental Policy*
Complete 12 credits from the following:

NORS 647--U.S. Environmental Policy 3 credits
NORS 648--Environmental Politics of the Circumpolar North 3 credits
NORS 654--International Law and the Environment 3 credits
NORS 655--Political Economy of the Global Environment 3 credits
NORS 656--Science, Technology and Politics 3 credits
NORS 658--Comparative Environmental Politics 3 credits
NORS 613--Wilderness and Environmental Psychology 3 credits

* The global environmental policy concentration may be used as a basis for the M.A. thesis/project.

Note: The global environmental policy concentration is a clear track toward interdisciplinary doctoral programs.

Northern History*

  1. Complete the following:
    NORS 690--Researching and Writing Northern History 3 credits
  2. Complete 9 credits from the following:
    HIST 470--Seminar in Alaska History 3 credits
    NORS 661--History of Alaska 3 credits
    NORS 663--Foundations of Russian History 3 credits
    NORS 664--Modern Russia 3 credits
    NORS 681--Polar Exploration and its Literature 3 credits
    NORS 683--20th Century Circumpolar History 3 credits

    * The northern history concentration may be used for the M.A. thesis/project.
  1. Minimum credits required 30