Why Choose UAF?

A snow-capped mountain near Castner Glacier south of FairbanksAt a recent poetry reading, professor emeritus John Morgan was asked about his early days in Fairbanks. "Like a lot of people here," he said, "I came for one year and never left." Fairbanks has a way of doing that—welcoming people, endearing them to university and community, then encouraging them to leave their mark just as the region leaves its mark on them. At the University of Alaska Fairbanks, you'll find space to explore new ideas and support for all your literary pursuits.

Our graduate programs are well established: the MA program actually predates Alaskan statehood, while the MFA program was founded in 1965; the combined MFA/MA degree was added in 2008. Because of these degree options, our graduate-level offerings include a mixture of creative and literature-based coursework. We boast a small faculty-to-student ratio, meaning students receive a great deal of individual attention.  And the department provides numerous outlets for involvement and professionalization: the English Graduate Organization, the Midnight Sun Visiting Writers Series, internships with the University of Alaska Press, and editorial positions with our national literary journal, Permafrost. Further, all graduate applicants are considered for teaching assistantships, which provide opportunities for classroom leadership and Writing Center tutoring. We nominate student work every year for the AWP Intro Journals Project Awards; since 2019, our MFA students have been honored with two honorable mentions and two category winners.

And then there's the city of Fairbanks itself, defined by its ruggedness and charm. Fairbanks lies in the Tanana Valley, just 140 miles south of the Arctic Circle. As the second-largest city in Alaska—and by far the largest city in Interior Alaska—Fairbanks has all the amenities of any mid-sized city in the Lower 48. What's more, the region offers unlimited recreation: even the university has a 25-mile trail system, which can be used for walking, running, disc golfing, and cross-country skiing. Outside of Fairbanks, you can get to Chena Hot Springs within an hour, or to the main entrance of Denali National Park within two hours.

Finally, our department is unique for its sense of community. It takes a hardy soul to commit to life so far north, land of both the midnight sun and the northern lights. We are an independent people, resilient and optimistic. We value introspection and intentional living. And given our climate and geography, we foster helpfulness and cooperation. By choosing English studies at UAF, you begin a journey of sharpening your literary talents and expanding your view of natural world. You might even find, like John Morgan, that a move to Fairbanks can launch you into your life's work.

For information about English studies at UAF, contact:
Dr. Chris Coffman
Department Chair
(907) 474-6361

For information about creative writing at UAF, contact:
Dr. Gerri Brightwell, Director of Creative Writing
Department of English
(907) 474-5307