What is Political Science and why should I study it?


American Flag


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 Authority

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

Study of Values

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

Science of Political Behavior

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

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

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.

Speaker addresses an audience


Some of the questions political scientists answer are...



What can you do with a Political Science degree?

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. 

  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.
  • learn to communicate your ideas effectively, both verbally and in writing

Political Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks



Courses are offered in the traditional subfields of international and comparative politics, American government, political theory, and public law. The department also offers a number of classes in environmental policy and politics and indigenous politics.


International Relations

Courses in international relations examine different dimensions of global power, foreign policy, peace and security, terrorism, international law and organizations.

Comparative Politics

Comparative politics courses focus on the different ways in which governments form, function and transform by examining the experiences of countries throughout the world.

American Government

Our courses on American government examine the major institutions and processes that shape the U.S. policy and economy.

Political Theory

The department also offers courses in political theory, with an emphasis on the history of Western political ideas from Plato to the writings of contemporary thinkers. These courses also present materials on the history of American political thought and examine the role of ideology in the modern world.

Public Law

Political science is the premier major for students desiring to go to law school and also prepares students for work in various fields of government.


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.


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.



How else can I get involved around campus?

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). 

Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks

The Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks is UAF's student government. ASUAF gives students an opportunity to develop leadership skills while advocating for all UAF students. 

Model United Nations at UAF

Established in 1982, the Model United Nations of Alaska is a simulation of of the United Nations. Each year a different topic is selected and the simulation focuses on a specific issue or set of issues unique to the topic. MUN allows students to gain a greater appreciation of the dynamics of the relations among states and the United Nations' role in the international system

Pi Sigma Alpha

The Political Science Department hosts a local chapter of the National Political Science Honors Society, Pi Sigma Alpha (PSA). The PSA offers an opportunity for students to contribute to their campus community as emerging political scientists.

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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