Why Political Science?

What is Political Science and why should I study it?

American Flag

Politics is everywhere, shaping not only governments but families, social organizations, schools and decision-making bodies of all types, from student councils to international institutions. Political science educates citizens, who are able to act and respond to national and global political changes in an informed way. Political science provides valuable social science training and prepares students for a variety of careers.



Socrates and Aristotle referred to the study of politics as the master science. 

Study of Power

Who benefits from our politics, who doesn’t and why.


Study of Values

Why citizens obey or rebel, the nature of the just society, and the ways individuals reconcile personal liberty with political authority.

Study of Authority

The struggles over and claims to power made by political actors.


Science of Political Behavior

The choices and actions of citizens, interest groups, political parties and public officials.


Some of the questions political scientists answer are:

  • What explains the increasing polarization of American political life?
  • Under what conditions do countries become and remain democratic? And when do democracies decline?
  • What does reconciliation look like in settler societies?
  • What explains international and domestic war and peace?
  • How does living through violence influence post-conflict politics?
People gathered in a room listening to a female speaker | Stock photo from Canva



What can you do with a Political Science degree?

ASUAF Senator Bryant Hopkins votes on a motion during a student government meeting in Oct. 2012 at the Alumni Lounge.

Ultimately, what you do with a political science degree is up to you, but a background in political science will benefit you throughout your life by giving you the analytical tools to understand and act on the politics affecting you.

From teaching, to law school, to careers in international politics, it’s all possible with a degree in political science from UAF. 

Some careers political science majors go on to pursue are...


... and more!


  Universal Skills
As a Political Science major, you will develop communication, research and analytical thinking skills you can apply to many different careers and endeavors, learn how to make an argument and back it up with facts and learn to communicate your ideas effectively, both verbally and in writing.



Political Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks




Courses are offered in the following traditional subfields: 

The department also offers a number of classes in environmental policy and politics and indigenous politics.



An aerial view of the Toolik Field Station, about 370 miles north of Fairbanks on Alaska's North Slope . The camp is operated by UAF's Institute of Arctic Biology and hosts scientists from around the world for a variety of arctic-based research efforts.

The political science department offers a series of courses related to environmental politics and policies examining the relationships between government, inter-governmental, and non-governmental decision-making and the natural world. Through this sub-disciplinary training, students will learn to identify public needs, collect data on controversial issues, compare alternative solutions to problems, and conduct evaluations of ongoing public programs. Additionally, they will learn about and apply different approaches to methodology in social science research.




How can I get involved?

Our students are highly active on campus and commonly participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, including the Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (ASUAF), the model United Nations and Pi Sigma Alpha (the Political Science honors society). 


Internship Opportunities

While pursuing their degree, students often choose to participate in an internship in Alaska or elsewhere in the United States, to gain valuable workplace experience. Many students chose to intern through the highly popular Senator Ted Stevens Legislative Internship Program.



2014 Model UN

Our faculty have expertise in their respective fields, and all have multiple interdisciplinary research interests. Faculty research has been funded by major granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), Social Science and Humanities Research Council (Canada) and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. Faculty research has been published in highly recognized academic journals.




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