2002-2003 UAF Catalog

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Experience

In 1917, just 15 years after Felix Pedro found gold in the heart of Alaska wilderness, the University of Alaska Fairbanks was born. It wasn't called UAF back then; it was the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, created by a special act of the Alaska Territorial Legislature. The college opened in 1922 with six faculty members and six students. A year later, commencement was held in honor of the school's first graduate.

As Alaska grew, so did the institution. In 1931, the Agricultural Experiment Station (established in 1906 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a site that was later to become part of the campus) was transferred from federal ownership to the college. This action established the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and its experiment farm as a unit of the college, in line with agricultural experiment stations in other land-grant universities. In 1935, the Territorial Congress decided the school had graduated from a college to something more, and the "University of Alaska" was born.

World War II brought many changes to Alaska. Battles were fought on Alaska soil, the Alaska Highway was built, and the activity spawned the first major migration of people into the state since the gold rush. As people moved to Alaska, so did money, ideas and energy.

The Geophysical Institute was established by the U.S. Congress in 1946. GI has since earned an international reputation for its studies of the earth and the physical environment at high latitudes. It also operates the Poker Flat Research Range, the only university-owned rocket range in the world.

In 1947, the first summer session was held at the university, symbolizing its growth into a year-round center for knowledge. Ten years later, the university awarded its first Ph.D. All this at the University of Alaska, when Alaska itself had yet to become a state.

Statehood changed the political system for the people who inhabited the vast land mass and waterways known as Alaska. Alaska's constitution was hammered out in what's now Constitution Hall on the UAF campus, and the document was signed, fittingly enough, in stately Signers' Hall, now the home of the UAF administration. Alaska's admission into the Union in 1959 also coincided with major changes at the university itself.

In 1960, the Institute of Marine Science, a unit of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, was established by the Alaska Legislature. Its offices are on the main UAF campus, with its principal shore facility in Seward. The Seward Marine Center is also the home port of the R/V Alpha Helix, a 133-foot research vessel operated by IMS for the National Science Foundation.

Three years later, the Alaska Legislature created the Institute of Arctic Biology. IAB manages the Large Animal Research Station north of campus, the home of musk oxen, caribou and reindeer.

As the Fairbanks campus expanded, so did the educational needs of the rest of the state. In 1975, the University of Alaska statewide system was created. Campuses in Anchorage and Juneau were given their own central staff and chancellors, with the statewide administration and the overall university president still located in Fairbanks. This period of consolidation coincided with rapid expansion and improvement at the university's main campus in Fairbanks.

The University of Alaska Museum, one of the most popular visitor attractions in the state, moved into the Otto Geist Building in 1980, and visitors continue to marvel at the tremendous array of unique collections and displays.

In 1981, enrollment topped 5,000 students for the first time. The university also began to emphasize its shared scholarship and global education effort in a series of agreements with schools in Japan, Denmark, Canada, People's Republic of China and Russia.

Today, UAF continues to prosper. In addition to the main campus in Fairbanks, UAF has branch campuses in Bethel, Dillingham, Kotzebue, Nome and the Interior. UAF provides an important resource to rural Alaskans with education centers in Fort Yukon, McGrath, Tok and Unalaska.

The UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences combines programs in Juneau and Kodiak with those in Fairbanks and administers the Alaska Sea Grant College Program, the Marine Advisory Program, the Institute of Marine Science, the Coastal Marine Institute, the West Coast and Polar Regions Undersea Research Center, the North Pacific Marine Research Program, the Fisheries Division, and the Fishery Industrial Technology Center.

Public service is an important part of UAF's mission. The statewide Cooperative Extension Service, with eight district offices, is headquartered at UAF. UAF's public broadcasting stations KUAC-FM and -TV were the first public stations in the state; the stations offer an important resource for students, who can get hands-on experience at the facilities. The stations also play a major role in the production and distribution of distance education courses.

UAF is the state's Land, Sea and Space grant institution. Its rural college has the primary responsibility for Alaska Native education and study, and UAF is the only university offering doctoral degrees in Alaska. UAF's colleges and schools offer more than 70 fields of study and a variety of technical and vocational programs.

UAF offers graduate degrees in a wide range of academic disciplines. The expertise of UAF scientists and scholars is anchored along the northern edge of the Pacific Rim and extends around the circumpolar north. UAF maintains a standing among the top 100 universities in the country in terms of National Science Foundation-funded research.

UAF is the only doctoral-granting institution in Alaska, offering doctoral programs in the areas of anthropology, atmospheric sciences, biochemistry/molecular biology, biological sciences (options in botany, wildlife biology and zoology), fisheries, geology, geophysics, mathematics, oceanography, physics and space physics. Master's degrees are offered in more than 50 fields in the humanities, social sciences, northern studies, computer science, physical and natural sciences and in professional fields such as engineering, education and business administration. Interdisciplinary programs are possible for students who have a research focus in areas in which UAF has faculty expertise and research facilities. As it expands the frontiers of knowledge, UAF will continue to play a major role in making Alaska, and the world, a better place to live, to learn and to prosper.


Alaska has a tradition of individualism: we won't tell you what to major in or which job to take, but invest some time and energy and you'll leave UAF with an education that expands your opportunities. Study, live and play in the 49th state while exploring your options at UAF.

Learning about other cultures means learning more about ourselves. A freshman from an Alaska village may share insights with a classmate from Tallahassee or even Tokyo in one year, and in the next take advantage of a UAF exchange program to study in Canada, Russia, Mexico, Denmark or Japan. You won't be bored at UAF. There are more than 70 student organizations, and students sponsor the weekly Sun Star newspaper, KSUA-FM radio station and scores of special interest groups.

UAF's enrollment in the fall of 2001 was 8,421 students. Many of UAF's students are "non-traditional." They study at night or after work and juggle family responsibilities and class studies. UAF offers a wide variety of night and weekend classes.

Some UAF students live in remote areas of the state, but they still "attend" UAF classes. Through distance delivery of classes, using computers, telephones and the latest technology, students can work toward their degrees without ever leaving home. UAF students are a diverse group; here are some facts about the UAF student body:

  • 59 percent are female, 41 percent are male
  • 84 percent are Alaska residents, 12 percent are from other states, 4 percent are from foreign countries
  • 90 percent are undergraduate students, 10 percent are graduate students


UAF's faculty members are among the best in the country, and with a low student/faculty ratio, you'll get lots of personal attention. You'll get more one-on-one attention, in fact, than you would at almost any other public university in the country. Once you've chosen a major, you'll be assigned a faculty member from your academic department as an advisor. Your advisor can help you choose the classes you take each semester as well as explain various programs and requirements. It's been said that "It's not what you know, but who you know." At UAF, students get to know their faculty as friends and not just as the medium through which an endless stream of facts and figures are delivered for future examination. Education is an individual process, different for everyone, and at UAF, that's what you'll be -- a person, not just a face in the crowd.


The University of Alaska Fairbanks acts continuously to improve the educational experience available to its students. To achieve continuous improvement, all aspects of education are regularly assessed. Students evaluate their teachers at the end of each semester. Courses in the core curriculum are assessed every year. Each degree program and certificate is assessed minimally every five years. Assessment results are used directly to change and improve the education provided by UAF.

UAF Mission Statement

The University of Alaska Fairbanks, as the nation's northernmost Land, Sea, and Space Grant university and international research center, advances and disseminates knowledge through creative teaching, research, and public service with an emphasis on Alaska, the North and their diverse peoples.

-- Board of Regents Policy 10.01.03, adopted April 21, 2000

Fairbanks Campus

UAF's Fairbanks campus is located a few miles from Fairbanks, near the center of the state. On the 2,250-acre campus are two lakes and miles of ski trails. If you're interested in fitness, the main campus has a major intramural sports program, and the student recreation complex offers areas for basketball, volleyball, badminton, tennis, calisthenics, dance, gymnastics, judo and karate; a rifle and pistol range; courts for handball, racquetball and squash; a jogging track; a swimming pool; weight training and modern fitness equipment areas; an ice arena for recreational skating and hockey; a special aerobics area; and a climbing wall. Whether you like to play or just watch, UAF sponsors intercollegiate athletics teams in men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross-country running and skiing, coed riflery, men's ice hockey and women's volleyball.

As a UAF student on the Fairbanks campus, you'll become very familiar with the Wood Center. The center is the focus of many of UAF's out-of-class activities. With a pub, snack bar, conference rooms, lounge and games area, Wood Center is a gathering place for the entire university community.

You'll find some of the best facilities in the state at UAF. Whether you're a performer or a spectator, you'll find something to suit your taste going on almost every weekend during the academic year at the Davis Concert Hall or the Salisbury Theatre. The Rasmuson Library is Alaska's largest and offers traditional ways to access library materials as well as extensive computer databases to extend the library resources beyond the state. Aside from being among the top visitor attractions in the state, the UA Museum is also a student resource; its vast collections are used for demonstration and comparative studies in classrooms and labs.

The Fairbanks campus is the university's principal research center, with internationally respected research institutes. As an undergraduate, these institutes provide you with an opportunity to see research in action and perhaps participate in research activities.

Fairbanks Area

Fairbanks, Alaska's second largest city, is situated on the banks of the Chena River in the heart of Alaska. The UAF campus is only four miles from the downtown business district, and the university is easily accessible via the local bus system and a network of bike trails.

Steeped in a history of riverboat captains and gold seekers, today Fairbanks is the dynamic, thriving city that helped build the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Here striking contemporary buildings sit side-by-side with log cabins built in the early part of the century. It's a city where the old quietly blends with the new.

With a population of more than 80,000, the Fairbanks area offers the conveniences of a big city, yet rolling hills and spectacular panoramas are only minutes away. Literally millions of acres of wilderness surround Fairbanks. Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America, is often visible from many residence hall windows. Whether the sport is canoeing, climbing, running, skiing or fishing, nowhere else compares with Alaska.

Transportation to Fairbanks

Fairbanks is easily accessible by both land and air. Anchorage is only 365 miles away via the Parks Highway or the Alaska Railroad, and Seattle is 2,300 miles away via the Alaska Highway. Major airlines offer several daily flights to Anchorage and Seattle as well as to many other destinations.

The Alaska Railroad provides all full-time UAF students with a round-trip ticket for the price of a one-way ticket. This rate applies to Summer Session students as well as students attending during the regular sessions of the university. To get this special price, students should ask for the special student rate when they purchase their first ticket. When they get to UAF, students must have their ticket receipts certified by the Office of Admissions when fees are paid.

Community and Rural Campuses

When the University of Alaska system was restructured in 1987, UAF's instructional, research and public service programs were expanded throughout Alaska. Through its College of Rural Alaska, UAF now administers community and rural campuses in downtown Fairbanks, Bethel, Dillingham, Kotzebue and Nome and maintains a number of rural education centers through its Interior-Aleutians Campus in Fairbanks. These branches serve rural Alaskans and are central to fulfilling the UAF mission of providing educational opportunities throughout the state. No matter which UAF campus you attend, your credits are fully recognized among all UAF campuses. This means you won't have to worry about losing credits when you switch campuses.

Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham

The Bristol Bay Campus is situated in a 55,000 square mile region bounded by the Bristol Bay, the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The campus's administrative center is located in Dillingham (about 322 air miles from Anchorage and 570 air miles from Fairbanks) with subregional centers in Naknek, Iliamna and Togiak. The Bristol Bay Campus serves 32 rural communities as far south as Ivanoff Bay, into the north at Port Alsworth, and west to Togiak.

Enrollment at Bristol Bay Campus ranges from 400 to 600 students. The campus offers an associate of arts degree in general studies. Associate of applied science degrees are offered in applied accounting, applied business, community health, early childhood education, human service technology, interdisciplinary studies, microcomputer support specialist, and office management technology. Bachelor of arts degrees are offered in interdisciplinary studies and rural development. The bachelor of arts and sciences degree is offered, and a master's degree in rural development is offered. Courses leading to a master's in Early Childhood Education are offered.

The Bristol Bay Campus also offers educational opportunities for the communities within its service area including vocational-technical, community interest and graduate courses. Courses are offered by distance delivery (audio-conference, correspondence or Internet), and by itinerant instructors using traditional methods.

Chukchi Campus in Kotzebue

The Chukchi Campus is located 26 miles north of the Arctic Circle, on the shores of the Chukchi Sea. The campus serves Kotzebue and 10 villages in a region of more than 36,000 square miles. Chukchi offers the associate of arts and associate of applied science degrees, as well as courses leading to baccalaureate degrees in education, rural development and social work. Courses are offered by local instructors and through the College of Rural Alaska audioconferencing system.

Interior-Aleutians Campus

The Interior-Aleutians Campus in Fairbanks services 56 towns and villages within the Doyon region and the Aleutians/Pribilof Islands, an area of approximately 200,000 square miles. The Interior-Aleutians Campus is the most decentralized of the College of Rural Alaska campuses. Although the director's office and some faculty are located at the University of Alaska Fairbanks main campus, there are Interior-Aleutians Campus centers in Fort Yukon, Galena, McGrath, Tok and Unalaska. Courses are offered throughout the region via distance delivery, on site by local or itinerant instructors and by correspondence. The campus offers a range of degree programs, including the associate of arts and several associate of applied science vocationally oriented degrees, as well as skill-building and community interest classes.

Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel

The Kuskokwim Campus is located in what can most accurately be described as a regional center serving an extended community of about 50 rural communities. Bethel, located 80 miles inland on the Kuskokwim River, is a community of approximately 6,000 and serves as the transportation and service center of the region. Kuskokwim Campus offers academic, vocational, and community interest courses as well as courses leading to associate and baccalaureate degrees. Housing is available on campus in Sackett Hall, which provides suites with space for four students in each.

Northwest Campus in Nome

This campus serves not only the residents of Nome but also the people in the 15 Eskimo villages surrounding Nome. Northwest offers a general program with courses leading to three baccalaureate degrees: education, social work and rural development, as well as associate of arts and associate of applied science degrees. Vocational and applied courses involve about half the student body.

Tanana Valley Campus in Fairanks

The Tanana Valley Campus (TVC) provides general education and vocational/technical training at the certificate and associate degree levels. The campus is housed in three locations in the Fairbanks community: UAF Downtown Center, Hutchison Career Center and University Park.

UAF Downtown Center: Located on Second Avenue in Fairbanks, the UAF Downtown Center is the administrative headquarters for TVC, and houses programs in applied business and accounting, associate of arts, microcomputer support specialist, office management and technology and paralegal studies. Student computer and office labs are available. The UAF Downtown Center is home to TVC's Professional Development and Career Training programs.

Hutchison Career Center: Located on Geist Road, Hutchison Career Center houses programs in automotive technology, aviation maintenance, aviation technology, culinary arts, diesel and heavy equipment, drafting, process technology and welding.

University Park: Located on University Avenue, University Park houses programs in early childhood education, emergency services, health technology and human service technology.