Yup’ik Language and Culture

Bachelor's Degree Program

Alaska is a land of diverse languages and cultures. One of these languages is Central Alaskan Yup’ik, which is part of the Yupik branch of the Eskimo-Aleut language family, spoken in western and southwestern Alaska.

The bachelor’s degree in Yup’ik language and culture at UAF is the only program of its kind in the world. It offers a unique opportunity not only to learn the language, but to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for Alaska Native people and the Yup’ik way of life.

One of the opportunities you’ll have in this program is to work with linguists at the Alaska Native Language Center, internationally known and recognized as the major center in the United States for the study of Eskimo and Northern Athabascan languages. You’ll also get to access materials at the Alaska Native Language Archive, the premier repository worldwide for information relating to the Native languages of Alaska.

In addition to the bachelor’s degree in Yup’ik language and culture, we also offer an associate degree and certificate in Yup’ik language proficiency.

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Why Study Yup’ik Language and Culture at UAF?

UAF offers the only bachelor’s degree in Yup’ik language and culture in the world, offering a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Yup’ik way of life. Read on to learn more about the opportunities you’ll have when you study Yup’ik at UAF.

Engage in exciting research and field work

  • Our students have a variety of opportunities to conduct language research and experience Alaska Native culture. For example, during the Festival of Native Arts (an annual celebration of Alaska Native people) our students conduct an introductory workshop on the Yup’ik language.

Access unique language and cultural resources

  • The Alaska Native Language Archive houses an archival collection of more than 15,000 items (nearly everything written in or about Alaska Native languages) offering a tremendous resource for researchers and students in the Yup’ik program. You’ll also have unique opportunities to study with linguists at the Alaska Native Language Center.

Work closely with expert faculty

  • Walkie Charles, Ph.D., is a native speaker of Central Alaska Yup’ik and has decades of teaching experience. Dr. Charles also participates in Alaska Native Language advocacy as a member of the Alaska Native Language Preservation Advisory Council, and provides support for K-12 Yup’ik language teachers.


What Can You Do With a Degree in Yup’ik Language and Culture?

Many graduates of the bachelor’s degree in Yup’ik language and culture return to their communities and incorporate the Yup’ik language into their teaching or workplace. The Yup’ik program is also excellent preparation for graduate study in applied linguistics—a program offered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Examples of what some of our students and recent graduates are doing include:

  • Incorporating Yup’ik into the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative website for easier access to members’ accounts.
  • Translating and transcribing manuscripts and interviews for statewide publications for Calista Corporation in Anchorage.
  • Working as translator and transcriber for the Calista Elders’ Council.




Get Started on Your Bachelor’s Degree in Yup’ik Language and Culture

Take the next step toward earning your bachelor’s degree. We have the resources to help you get started.