Degrees & Programs Offered
Undergraduate Degree Programs
B.A. in English
The English major at the University of Alaska Fairbanks encompasses study in language, literature and theory. It offers courses based on era, genre, and topic. In any given semester, students might enroll in a survey of British or American literature, a workshop in the craft of creative writing, a seminar on a single author such as Herman Melville or Virginia Woolf, a region-specific course like Alaska Native or multiethnic literatures, a critical topics seminar such as Queer Theory—and any number of other courses. The English curriculum at UAF is as vast and idiosyncratic as the Alaskan landscape itself.
B.A. Degree Requirements
Students majoring in English at UAF will fulfill the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree, which requires 120 total credits, 35 of which must in taken as upper-level English courses. The distribution of coursework ensures a broad overview of literature and literary theories. The English major culminates in a Capstone Portfolio, ENGL F400, in students' final semester of study. This course provides students with the opportunity to reflect upon and annotate previous writings from their English coursework under the supervision of English faculty.
ENGL F340 Contemporary Indigenous Literature in North America (h)
Contemporary Indigenous literature in North America including novels, short stories, poetry, film, audio expression and genre-fluid texts. Works will be discussed in their cultural contexts and explore connecting themes such as historical trauma, survivance, resurgence and decolonization.
Have you chosen your minor? The very interdisciplinary nature of the College of Liberal Arts means that you have so many options when it comes to tailoring your degree program so that it is just right for you. Here are some minors that students have paired with a B.A. in English:
Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Instructor: Manuel A. Melendez
In this course, we'll investigate how the structure of a musical fugue can help you understand memory-making, build specific memories of your own, and dive deeper into them by using each of the senses. We will experience a curated selection of texts across multimodal formats (including excerpts from literary works, film, television, music videos, and even art) that highlight the world of the senses and emulate the musical fugue. The course will focus on composition experimentations and discussions that will reflect your individual self and its various voices as you learn to craft sensory-vibrant writing. Enter the vastness of your own minds and witness for yourself who you are on the page in the clearest and most vivid form imaginable!
Instructor: Audrey Coble
What does it mean to "be online"? In this class, we'll refine our rhetorical analysis skills through an exploration of how we construct ourselves and others in the digital space. We'll explore concepts of Self, Other, and community in the technological realm. Assignments will include writing exercises and projects that span topics from cancel culture and resultant apologies, to influencers and the commodification of trauma, to Bo Burnham's Inside. Students will be required to submit weekly writing assignments, reading responses, a midterm pair project, and a final research project for this course. Additional minor assignments may be added as we go, based on the work we do together as a class and interesting rabbit trails that come out of it! Your instructor will be meeting and providing feedback to students on assignments on a weekly basis.
Instructor: Tim Ott
Instructor: Lia Ferguson
Is romantic love a social construct? Is it an innate need? What forms can love take—romantic, platonic, spiritual? Should all these feelings be contained in one word? And what role do stories and art have in shaping our perspective on love? In this class, we'll explore love across time and cultures through readings, movies, songs, and other art. We'll examine love from many perspectives, including historical, sociological, and psychological. Students will be asked to respond to class material through discussions, writings, and extended research for which they'll spend time with a topic of their choosing related to the vast subject of human love.
Instructor: Nóra McIntyre
In this course, writers will engage in various forms of writing surrounding the horror genre. We'll explore traditions in horror, subversions, and the role of the horror genre in contemporary culture. We'll also examine topics of identity within the genre. We'll dive into just a few of the various sub-genres within horror, such as the Gothic, Folk Horror, Urban Legend, the Paranormal, and Slashers. Students can expect to watch a film a week, as well as read short stories and samples of critical theory and analysis as it pertains to our discussions. Course materials will be free and/or open access. Carrie, The Wailing, Scream, Suspiria, Cabin in the Woods, and Us are a few examples of what we'll be watching. As for course work, students will have the chance to write creative and/or analytical pieces inspired by what we are watching/reading in class, as well as weekly journals reflecting on their writing. We will also write a few larger projects, including a group presentation on a film/reading, a critical research paper, and a creative piece, such as a short story, short film, or art piece.
Instructor: Liz Bolton
Writing in a business setting isn't always work -- it can be fun! Clear communication and concise writing are important in the workplace, and these days there is a lot more to consider too: how to help your company stand out as a brand; ways to use blogs and social media to reach your target demographic; how to communicate appropriately with colleagues, bosses, and even global audiences. We will learn the basics of professional communication, from designing a resume to building an effective presentation, and there will be an opportunity for students to pursue their own professional or technical writing interests as well.
Instructor: Fidelis Feeley
In this class, we'll explore the interrelation between pop psychology and popular theater, film, and TV. Psychology is an evolving science. How do shifting views of mental health and psychological norms influence popular stories? Students should expect to read or watch one play, movie, or TV show a week and read related psychology popular at the time of its release. For their final projects, students will analyze either a single contemporary narrative or a prevailing trend in contemporary media through the lens of pop psychology.
Instructor: Julia Rutherford
In this course, readers, writers, and viewers will be looking at film and literature examples of the classic Bildungsroman, or the coming-of-age story. What does "coming-of-age" mean? How do our childhood experiences shape us? What are some of the ways that we've changed or stayed the same as we've aged? Students can anticipate reading both scholarly texts and fiction/nonfiction stories, as well as viewing popular film examples of the bildungsroman. We’ll specifically be exploring sociological and psychological theory on childhood development, as well as what occurs throughout adolescence. In studying the social binaries of girlhood and boyhood (and critically examining this dichotomy) we'll also gain a greater understanding of the way that gender norms and performance impact childhood and development. Some course texts may include Persepolis, excerpts from David Sedaris collections, fragments from The Kite Runner, and more. Course films may include Lady Bird, Moonlight, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Instructor: Matthew Dominick
Ever wonder why Kurosawa's samurai epics and Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns feel so similar? Is a cowboy the epitome of a man? Is the duel about honor or something else? From its early beginnings of idealizing adventure and freedom to its most recent, grittier iterations, the Western has taken many forms since its inception. This course will explore the connective themes of the Western, such as gray areas of the law, post-war societal discontentment, trauma, masculinity, morality, individualism, freedom, and honor. We will look at some of the most influential movies, subgenres, and modern iterations of the Western using examples from cinema, literature, anime, television, and scholarly articles as our points of focus. Proposed course examples: True Grit (novel), Shane (novel), Deadpool, Hondo: A Novel, For a Few Dollars More, Yojimbo, Hell or High Water, Unforgiven, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Students will use critical analysis to identify and break down major themes, story elements, and motifs in the genre course examples. Using evidence from that analysis, students will make compelling arguments in online class discussions, semi-formal reading responses, skills-based writing assignments, two formal argumentative research papers, and a creative writing final project (or an additional academic paper).
Instructor: Kathy Kitts
Science fiction is known as the literature of change, and what has changed more over the course of the last century than how we view sex, gender, and culture? In this class, we will read and discuss a dozen science fiction short stories by authors who span age, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Inspired by the ideas, concepts, and topics these stories explore, you will write one essay each in Toulmin, Classical, and Rogerian styles (the types you are most likely to run into here at UAF), and one science fiction short story. Why a creative fiction story? As we will discover, genre fiction has persuaded more people to a particular viewpoint than all the other argumentative styles combined. The instructor will provide all course materials, but the student is expected to have access to a computer and the Internet.
Instructor: Joseph Holt
In this class we’ll work toward sharpening our perception as readers, with the ultimate goal of improving as writers. We'll learn key terminology and apply it to the published works in our textbook (Serious Daring: Creative Writing in Four Genres by Lisa Roney). Then we'll also produce our own creative work—poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction—and introduce it to one another in workshops, discussing how to effectively critique and how to utilize criticism. This course is part of the undergraduate curriculum in creative writing at UAF. It should prepare you for intermediate and advanced creative writing courses, which are often specific to particular genres.
Instructor: Jennifer Schell
Rachel Carson might have launched the modern environmental movement in 1962 with the publication of Silent Spring. She was neither the first nor the last American author to tackle environmental issues, however. This semester we will study the development of the American environmental imagination between 1865 and 2023, a period which witnessed dramatic alterations to many, if not most, American ecosystems. As we will see, authors from diverse backgrounds felt compelled to respond to these changes. As they did so, they adopted myriad styles, perspectives, and approaches to their material. Thus, among other things, our readings will include Zitkala-Sä’s autobiographical essays, Marianne Moore’s poetry, Octavia Butler’s science-fiction, and a little bit of everything in between.
Instructor: Jennifer Schell
Haunted houses, histories, minds, bodies, ecosystems, and texts. We will examine examples of multiethnic American literature that employ ghost imagery as a means of talking about and thinking through pressing social and environmental issues. We will read a selection of memoirs, novels, poems, short stories, and graphic novels by authors such as C Pam Zhang, Rivers Solomon, Craig Santos Perez, and Darcie Little Badger, among others. We will travel back and forth in time and space, visiting antebellum Georgia, present-day Guam, and near-future Texas. And we will discuss matters of social justice and civil rights, as well as problems of environmental justice and climate change. Along the way, we will encounter all manner of supernatural occurrences and creepy creatures (ghost mammoths!).
Minor in English
Aside from our English major, we also offer three separate minor programs: general English; Creative Writing; and Ancient, Medieval & Early Modern Studies. These programs are available to all University of Alaska Fairbanks students, regardless of major. Each one offers a different area of emphasis, while still allowing students to devise a course of study best suited to their individual interests.
The English minor requires that students take 18 upper-level English credits—nine
at the 300 level or higher, and nine at the 400 level. With this freedom, students
can shape their minor program to include coursework from our many offerings—everything
from Beowulf to film studies, from traditional English grammar to contemporary Alaska Native literature.
English minors are encouraged to select coursework in consultation with our faculty
The creative writing minor requires that students take 15 credits from our poetry,
fiction, creative nonfiction, and dramatic writing curriculum.
In the creative writing minor, students learn the skills of critical reading, creative production, and workshop etiquette. Most importantly, they produce a wealth of original writing in multiple genres. Students are also encouraged to participate in UAF’s rich literary community, which includes the Midnight Sun Visiting Writers Series and the student-run undergraduate literary journal Ice Box.
The Ancient, Medieval & Early Modern Studies minor is an 18-credit interdisciplinary program featuring coursework in English, Art, History, Music and Philosophy. In this program, students examine the struggles, prejudices and achievements of traditional Western culture. The curriculum (with course options linked below) requires that students take classes in at least three different disciplines; in this way, students develop a nuanced, comprehensive view of the Western tradition. For questions about the Ancient, Medieval & Early Modern Studies minor, please contact Dr. Eileen M. Harney at email@example.com.
Graduate Degree Programs
In the Department of English, we offer three graduate degree programs: the MFA in Creative Writing, the MA in English, and the combined MFA/MA. Our students receive not just an intellectual education, but an experiential one as well. The University of Alaska Fairbanks is unique in location, climate, and literary community. Our graduate programs allow students to live more simply and purposefully, and to focus on the crafts of critical reading and engaged writing. We prepare students to become active teachers, independent thinkers, and fearless writers.
M.F.A. in Creative Writing
Our MFA in Creative Writing is a three-year residential program with courses in the
craft of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Students enroll in both multi-genre
and genre-specific workshops, as well as forms and special topics courses. Additionally,
MFA students undertake an in-depth study of literature.
In their second year, MFA students take a comprehensive exam that requires them to read widely and define their aesthetic goals. In their third year, students work closely with faculty mentors to prepare manuscripts for thesis defense and eventual publication.
M.A. in English
Our MA in English is a two-year program featuring coursework in American, British,
and World Literatures. In their first year, students design a plan of study and form
a thesis committee. In the first semester of their second year, they complete a reading
examination over a defined list of literary, critical, and theoretical texts; following
that, they complete and defend their theses.
Just as our department hosts faculty with a broad range of expertise, we encourage our MA students to explore diverse studies. In recent years, MA students have written theses in literary theory, composition pedagogy, and English as a Second Language studies. Our students have full access to the Rasmuson Library, which houses numerous British and American texts, as well as the extensive Alaska and Polar Region Collections and Archives.
M.F.A./M.A. Combined Degrees
The MFA/MA degree is a three-year program that combines curricula in creative writing and literary analysis. By coordinating one’s literature and creative writing coursework, students receive the MFA/MA degree in the same time it normally takes to receive the MFA alone. Students in this track complete reading exams in both literature and creative writing. Likewise, they complete two separate theses—a critical one and a creative one. The MFA/MA is awarded as a single degree rather than two separate degrees.
ENGL F661 Mentored Teaching in English
Offered Fall and Spring
Mentored teaching provides consistent contact on course-related issues between teaching assistants and mentoring faculty. May be repeated up to six times, for one credit per semester.
Graduate Timeline & Exams
Our MFA program follows a three-year curriculum, the basic timeline for which is provided below. These dates and deadlines assume a traditional fall enrollment and three-year plan of study. You should consult your program director or the Graduate School office if you have questions or extenuating circumstances. Below, all the forms within quotation marks can be located on the Grad School's "Forms" webpage; on that site, you'll need to search for the appropriate form within the listed categories, which will allow you to submit all paperwork electronically.
- Submit your "Graduate Study Plan" by the end of the spring semester.
- Submit your "Report of Advisory Committee" by May 15.
- Form your thesis committee and submit your "Appointment of Advisory Committee" by the end of the fall semester.
- With approval from your thesis advisor, choose five additional texts for your Comprehensive Exams Reading List (linked below); submit a signed, printed copy of the exams list to Department Administrator Gwen Retterer by the end of the fall semester.
- Complete your comprehensive exams (more information below), which are typically held on the Saturday ending the fifth full week of spring classes.
- Submit your "Report on Comprehensive Exam" immediately upon confirmation of passing your comprehensive exams.
- Submit your "Report of Advisory Committee" by May 15.
- Submit your "Advancement to Candidacy" by October 15.
- At the beginning of the spring semester, consult with your thesis committee to determine a defense date; ideal times are toward the end of February or the beginning of March, and you should provide your committee with a completed version of your thesis two weeks in advance of your defense date.
- Submit your "Report on Thesis/Dissertation/Project Defense" upon confirmation of your successful thesis defense.
- After your successful thesis defense (no later than March 24), email a PDF file of your thesis to CLA Dean Ellen Lopez and CLA Coordinator Miriam Stelges with the subject line "English MFA Thesis for Approval"; please also cc: your thesis advisor on the email.
- After approval of your thesis by CLA Dean Ellen Lopez (no later than April 7), submit your "Approval of Thesis/Dissertation/Project."
- Upload the final version of your thesis to the ProQuest ETD Administrator website no later than April 7; your thesis must be approved by your committee, the English Department Chair, and the CLA Dean before being uploaded.
- Submit your "Report of Advisory Committee" by May 15.
Again, all the above forms indicated with quotation marks can be located on the the Grad School's "Forms" webpage.
MFA candidates take comprehensive exams toward the beginning of their fourth semester.
The exams consist of two three-hour sessions, in which students write short essays
assessing the craft, forms, and techniques of certain literary texts. In the exams,
students should demonstrate a solid base of knowledge in their chosen genre. In some
cases, literature and forms courses will assign books from the reading list as part
of the curriculum. Thesis advisors will also provide students with additional support
about their individualized reading lists (five additional texts of the students' own
choosing). Students are encouraged to begin reading from the examination list when
they first enter the program.
The dates below refer to the years in which each exam taken; for instance, if you entered the program in Fall 2022, you will take your exams in Spring 2024 and should study from the 2023–24 document in your genre. MFA faculty update the reading lists every two to three years.
Our MA program follows a two-year timeline, and students may be admitted for the fall or spring semesters. MA candidates take comprehensive exams during their second year in the program. (The timeline might vary for students pursuing the MFA/MA degree.) The following document provides an overview of the MA degree process, and students will receive further assistance on their comp exams and thesis development from faculty advisors.
How to apply to the graduate degree program
To apply, please (1) complete your online application, (2) upload your supplemental materials, and (3) submit your brief Teaching Assistantship Form. These requirements are described in more detail below.
Note that we do not require GRE results.
- MFA and MFA/MA applications are due by January 15, with a start date in the fall semester.
- MA applications are due by either October 15 (for spring enrollment) or January 15 (for fall enrollment).
Visit the UAF Office of Admissions webpage. Once you create an account, you can begin filling out your application. The management system will allow you to save your progress and return later if you choose. While completing the application, you will submit:
- Unofficial transcripts (please provide unofficial transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work; although the application system will ask for official transcripts, those will only be required later for students who accept a place in the program)
- Contact information for three references (your references will receive an email with a link for submitting letters; if your letters are stored via Interfolio, you can provide the "send. Recommendation...@interfolio.com" email for each specific letter)
Once you submit your application, return to the application portal homepage. There, you will upload the following documents:
Creative writing sample (MFA applicants)
Submit 25–40 pages of fiction, creative nonfiction, or dramatic writing, or 15–20 pages of poetry. It is acceptable (but uncommon) to submit work in more than one genre. Also, please include a brief note at the beginning of your manuscript indicating the genre in which you’re applying.
Scholarly writing sample (MA applicants)
Submit 20–25 pages of your best scholarly or critical work. At the beginning of your document, please include a brief (one paragraph max.) contextual statement explaining for which course(s) you wrote this paper(s) and why you're choosing it as your writing sample.
MFA applicants: In 600–1,000 words, address your personal goals for graduate studies. You can discuss your current interests, writing projects, and literary influences. You might also address how your experience, skills, and intellectual outlook make you an ideal fit for our writing community.
MA applicants: In 600–1,000 words, discuss why you wish to earn an advanced degree in English. Identify which research area(s) you plan to focus on during your graduate work, and explain why the University of Alaska Fairbanks is an attractive site for your studies.
Teaching Assistantship Form:
Please submit the UAF English Teaching Assistantship form to declare whether you would like to be considered for an assistantship. We do not require a specialized statement or teaching philosophy—just this short form.
For questions about the application process, contact:
For information about our MA program, contact:
Dr. Chris Coffman
For information about our MFA program, contact:
Dr. Gerri Brightwell
Director of Creative Writing