Why Arctic and Northern Studies?

What is Arctic and Northern Studies and why should I study it?

Green house in an Arctic village | UAF Photo
Arctic and Northern Studies is an interdisciplinary, regional studies program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) – America’s Arctic University and Alaska’s flagship campus – that educates undergraduate and graduate students on a host of issues, opportunities, and challenges related to Alaska, the circumpolar North, and the Arctic region. 



As an interdisciplinary program, it draws from several disciplines, including:





Political Science

Rural Development

... and more to prepare students to enter into diverse fields with knowledge and skills pertinent to the region.



What can you do with a degree in Arctic and Northern Studies?

Alaskan  blueberries in the fall colored foliage | UAF Photo
The Arctic is perhaps the most understudied region in the world, yet its importance cannot be overstated. Climate change is occurring at least twice as quickly here as the global average, and these changes are impacting the 4 million people who live in the region. As one example, sea ice thaw is enabling trans-regional shipping, with implications for coastal communities. How individuals, communities, states, and institutions respond to these changes will have long-lasting implications for societies and governments across the region and world.

Some careers Arctic and Northern Studies majors go on to pursue are...


... and more!


  Universal Skills
The strength of the Arctic and Northern Studies program lies in its diversity. Because it draws from so many disciplines, students hone skills that translate across many career paths, including: research, communication, writing, critical thinking, problem solving, analysis, leadership and cultural competency.



Arctic and Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks



Arctic and Northern Studies M.A. concentrations include:

Arctic Politics and Policy

Northern History

Individualized Study


Alaskan wildflowers

The History of Arctic and Northern Studies

The University of Alaska has offered a B.A. in Northern Studies for over half a century. Read about the long history of this important program.

read more



Students benefit from the extensive expertise and research activities of UAF faculty, the Alaska and Arctic collections of the UAF library and museum, and, of course, the fact of being surrounded by the North itself. Students will be a part of a growing cohort of people interested in and concerned about the world’s fastest changing region.

  Pursue your degree online!

Students can pursue the B.A., M.A., or the Interdisciplinary Studies Ph.D. in-person or online or through a combination of in-person and online classes. Online classes include both synchronous (in which students meet via videoconference) and asynchronous (in which students do not meet) options. However, not all courses are offered in multiple modalities.

GeoFORCE students participate in a scavenger hunt at the Museum of the North. (UAF photo by Leif Van Cise)

Arctic and Northern studies include faculty and courses from political science, history, art, English, Alaska native studies, geography, Russian studies, music and anthropology. Because it’s so diverse, you’ll have all kinds of unique opportunities to work with other academic programs at UAF—making new connections and expanding your career horizons as you do.




How else can I get involved around campus?

Our students are highly active on campus and commonly participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, including the Arctic and Northern Studies Club as well as the Model Arctic Council. Many take part in the Climate Scholars program and/or receive URSA funding for research projects.



ACNS students pose for a group photo | UAF Photo

Arctic and Northern Studies Abroad

Undergraduate and graduate students can study abroad, with many choosing to study at another university in the circumpolar North. UAF is a member of the University of the Arctic (UArctic) consortium, which sponsors a north2north exchange program and provides other opportunities.

Graduate students might also travel abroad to conduct research pertinent to their thesis, project, or dissertation.

Closer to home

On occasion, the program does provide excursions to its students. Past excursions include trips to symposia at Yukon College (now University) in Whitehorse, to the Toolik Field Station in north Alaska, to the Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility, and to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

Aerial view of the Toolik Field Station


The historic mining town of Wiseman, with a population of 14 at the 2010 census, is located along the Koyukuk River about 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. | UAF Photo by Todd Paris

Arctic and Northern studies faculty have won major awards for excellence in teaching, research and public service. They are also accessible mentors who are here to guide you from your first class through graduation.