Careers and student testimonials
Our students have used political science as the basis for further education in political science, interdisciplinary graduate study programs or in law school. Through their political science education, students will gain an in-depth understanding of how the law is created and applied, and how it changes over time. In addition to this substantive focus, students will learn about research methods and improve their ability to make an informed argument, which are essential to legal practice. Our majors have been admitted to the nation's top law schools including the University of Minnesota, Gonzaga University, Georgetown University and the University of California Berkeley.
After completing their education, our students have enjoyed careers in a variety of fields in the private and public spheres. Our graduates have gained employment as high school, college and university educators. Others have received employment in the media and the public relations sector, or in business at the state or national level. The study of political science has also prepared students for work in various fields of government. Alaska offers exciting job prospects for our graduates as managers in state and local governments and as legislators and legislative staff members. Many of our students also end up working outside Alaska in an array of different public and private sector jobs. Our graduates go on to make a sizable impact in their communities in Alaska and beyond. See some of their stories below:
Joining the UAF Political Science Department was one of the best decisions I have ever made. This department not only has small class sizes that promote in-depth discussion of topics ranging from Africa to the Arctic, but also professors who genuinely care about your academic and professional outcomes. Since graduating from the program, I have been accepted to one of the top ten law schools in the country – a feat I could have never accomplished without my outstanding professors. They taught me the fundamentals of politics and wrote dozens of letters of recommendation on my behalf. Unlike other professors, the ones in Political Science know your name, work with you, and make the college experience all the more enjoyable.
This department also connected me with new lifelong friends, all of whom have taken promising career paths that utilize their degrees. My former peers now work for the State of Alaska, the U.S. Department of State, and even sitting members of Congress – and that’s just the peers I keep up with! If you are looking for a challenging, yet fascinating field of study that will help you make a positive difference in the world, then you found the right place to start.
Deciding to attend UAF was a no brainer! UAF provided me with numerous opportunities to develop my academic and professional skills all while living in a naturally beautiful and exciting environment. Since I was interested in politics, I signed up for Introduction to American Government and Politics with Professor Lovecraft my very first semester. After that class, I immediately declared my new major in political science! The political science curriculum challenged me to think critically about solving problems in our community, state, and across the nation. The political science faculty cared about creating opportunities for me to succeed in college and after graduation. During my junior year, I participated in the Ted Stevens Legislative Internship Program in Juneau. I worked every day in the Alaska State Capitol for my local state representative. After graduating, I used that experience to secure a fulltime job as a legislative aide. After two years, I decided to go to law school. My work experience and degree from UAF made my applications stand out. I am now attending the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. After graduation, I hope to return to Alaska for a clerkship and then pursue a career in environmental law. In the picture, I'm the farthest on the right.
My name is Joe Byrnes, I graduated from UAF with BA in Political Science in 2013 and an MBA from the School of Management in 2020. I chose to study political science because I had an interest in history, politics, and government in high school and felt that it was a natural fit that might help me develop those interests. After initially starting my degree out of state, I transferred back to UAF because of its affordability and its strong reputation within the UA system.I thoroughly enjoyed the professors I had in the political science program who I found knowledgeable and passionate about the field. Not being the most orthodox thinker, I appreciated that my professors encouraged me to express and develop my ideas with a critical thinking framework while also broadening my perspective. I never felt like I was discouraged from holding a contrary view to my classmates.
I now serve as chief of staff to a representative in the Alaska State Legislature. I would not be in this career had it not been for the political science program at UAF and the UA Legislative Internship Program where I got my start in state government. The critical thinking skills I honed during my political science classes are incredibly valuable in my job, where attention to detail and understanding alternative viewpoints are essential.
Growing up in rural Alaska led me to ask many questions about equity, opportunity, and the power dynamics that exist within populations and within governments. When I chose to study political science, I imagined myself working abroad or in Washington D.C. on foreign affairs. While in the Political Science Department I designed an independent study program that allowed me to work in rural Kenya at a women’s organization. It was during this time that I realized that the personal is political and that the most meaningful change we can make in the world often happens in our own communities.
Consequently, I returned to Alaska and began working at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as a social science researcher in the Subsistence Division. I was given the chance to explore the human dimensions of resource management and observe the way in which indigenous communities and cultures are impacted by the State’s public and political processes. I am currently involved in the implementation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty which guides Alaska’s Yukon River salmon management as well as research and policy related to the changing Arctic. After nearly 11 years in this position I am still grateful for the education I received through UAFs Political Science program. The emphasis on critical thinking, writing, speaking, and thoughtfully engaging those whom you disagree, are essential skills I use every day. I strongly recommend the Political Science program to anyone at UAF looking for a versatile degree.