The flagship of the University of Alaska System, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is the state’s original public research institution, with federal land, sea, and space-grant status (and a sun-grant partnership with Oregon State University for work on sustainable energy). Founded in 1917, UAF dates back to the original Fairbanks Agricultural Experiment Station, a federal facility dedicated to testing viable agricultural methods for the new territory. As a land-grant institution, UAF’s original mission was practical, applied scientific research and instruction, and that dedication remains at the heart of the university’s vision. UAF is a world leader in STEM research and learning.
Academic ProgramsUA Fairbanks puts most of its emphasis on STEM programs; its most popular majors are biological sciences, mechanical engineering, computer science, and nursing, along with business administration. As a major public research university, UAF gives students ample opportunity to take part in real research efforts, with more than 40% of students engaged in research projects by graduation. Some of UAF’s most important areas of include fields uniquely suited to Alaska, such as forestry, marine science, geology, and energy, as well as key ethnographic and cultural study of Alaska’s people and history.
Like the state of Alaska itself, UAF has a rather small population, particularly for a university of its stature, but that size gives students a distinct advantage. With a student/faculty ratio of only 11:1, students benefit from the kind of personalized attention and mentoring that is expected of a small liberal arts college, not a large public university. Students get to be deeply engaged in the kinds of activities, including research, internships, and study abroad, that provide strong job market skills. UAF is also deeply engaged with the people of Alaska, with programs like the College of Rural and Community Development producing leaders to carry Alaska through the challenges of the modern age.
Student LifeUAF has a highly diverse student body, a quarter of which is made up of individuals of Native American and Native Alaskan heritage. First-generation students are also in high proportion at UAF, an institution which plays a crucial role not only in preserving Alaskan culture, but in providing social mobility and uplift for Alaska’s people. This multicultural, dynamic community gives students a wealth of options for organizations and clubs, and for activities that bring students together to gain strength from their differences.
Recreation and athletics are an important aspect of student life at UAF as well. UAF Outdoor Adventures organizes students for activities that take full advantage of the Alaskan landscape, such as climbing, hiking, and rafting, while the Outdoor Ed Center provides instruction and lessons in outdoor sports safety. The Alaska Nanooks – a nickname drawn from the Inupiac word for polar bear – compete in NCAA Division I hockey, and Division II basketball, volleyball, and cross-country. Skiing and rifle (marksmanship) are also popular, though, of course, hockey is the university’s biggest draw.