Why Foreign Languages & Literatures?

Why should I study foreign languages?

exchange student in Barcelona | Stock image from Canva

A degree in Foreign Languages opens the world to you.

The purpose of languages is to make connections between people; the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures is a group of individuals dedicated to helping connect our local students to the wider world community. We help our students connect with other people and cultures by helping them understand the thinking and worldviews of other cultures and parts of the world. This takes place through the study of the classics of great literature as well as via popular forms of communication.

Foreign Languages Offered at UAF


*Available as a major or minor
**Offered through the CTC


Whether the object of study is an expression of “high” or “low” culture, students of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures develop an advanced level of proficiency in the target language over the course of their studies here. We help our students acquire an important skill set: concrete language abilities and cognitive tools that they can use for the rest of their lives. Along with the building of language skills, our department also provides opportunities here in the local community that foster cosmopolitanism and international consciousness, allowing our students to more easily embrace globalism and recognize their role as citizens of the world.
A busy street at night in Russia | Stock image from Canva



What can I do with a degree in foreign languages?

A tutor works with a student
Faculty at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures educate future language teachers for Alaska and beyond. Our degrees serve the need of producing graduates that strengthen the Alaskan workforce, particularly in the area of language teaching. In this way, our work impacts not only UAF students, but also the quality of language education in the entire state.

Some careers foreign language majors go on to pursue are...

Hannah Gerrish

Hannah Gerrish | Biology ('18) and French ('19) Majors with Music minor

Ever wondered what it would be like to live in another country? Is it your dream to land a career in international politics, finance, science, or education? Or maybe you’re looking for a way to challenge yourself while opening new worlds of possibility for your academic and professional careers? 

Check out our student success stories and see what the language program has in store for you!

Read Hannah's story

"Graduates from our program have come from all walks of life, but they all leave the UAF French Program with marketable skills and, for many, international experience."

Read some of the graduate success stories from our French Department.

  Universal Skills
As the world becomes more connected, learning other languages becomes increasingly important to bridge peoples and cultures. Knowledge of at least one foreign language can also be a major asset in business and other careers.



Foreign Languages & Literatures at the University of Alaska Fairbanks



Our Mission Statement

Language is the embodiment of culture and an expression of a people's way of thinking, feeling, and viewing the world. We have an increasing need to communicate directly with other peoples to achieve mutual understanding. Learning a new language opens new avenues of thought, new modes of expression, and new models of understanding. The study of foreign languages and literatures liberates the student from the confines of one culture.



A road winding through a forest

The bachelor’s in foreign languages offers classes in French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. You can focus your degree in one language, or choose the two languages concentration. Students majoring in Japanese studies are required to successfully complete at least one semester of an exchange program in Japan. Spending a full academic year abroad is strongly encouraged.




How can I get involved?

Because the foreign language community at UAF is vibrant and diverse, you’ll find opportunities for mentorship and professional development outside the classroom as well. 



Students at work on the computers in the UAF language lab | UAF Photo


The Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures houses a language lab with computers and numerous programs available for improving or maintaining your language skills--surfing the net in a different language, sending e-mail to foreign countries, or spell-checking your language papers. 


Collaborate one-on-one with professors who are published researchers and practitioners. They will not only help you hone your language skills; they will foster your global consciousness and help you on your career path.


A German class held outdoors | UAF Photo