Graduate Degree Program

MA in Rural Development

Rural Development (minimum requirements for degree: 30 credits)

UAF's MA degree in Rural Development is designed to educate a new generation of leaders for rural Alaska, the circumpolar north, and beyond. We emphasize Indigenous leadership development, organization management, community development, program and project planning, and an awareness of international Indigenous issues in a dynamic, cross-cultural environment. We welcome you to this exciting new program and look forward to working with you to achieve your academic and professional goals.

By earning your MA degree in Rural Development, you are broadening your own horizons, positioning yourself to take leadership roles in these settings, advance in corporations or organizations you are already working in, and becoming role models for future generations of Alaska Native and rural leaders.

 

Christine Davenport

Christine Davenport

Graduate Student Coordinator

Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development

Sitka, AK


Program Objectives

The major objectives of the MA Rural Development program are:

  • to educate leaders with a broad understanding of interrelationships between rural communities and the dynamic global economy;
  • to offer a high quality program of advanced study for place-committed students in rural Alaska, combining personal networking with cutting-edge distance course delivery;
  • to build strong ties to employers and leaders in Alaska to support program relevance and student success; and
  • to create an innovative model for circumpolar graduate study with an emphasis on international Indigenous leadership development.

Who we serve

The MA in Rural Development is designed to educate leaders who understand the dynamic relationship of rural Alaska with the global economy and who have professional skills in areas of leadership, business development, administration and conflict management.

Graduates typically take positions with tribal and municipal governments, fisheries, tourism, Native corporations, regional health corporations or non-profits, state/federal agencies, or other private businesses.

What you learn

Graduate degree students gain a broader theoretical understanding of development processes in Alaska and the circumpolar North. Students complete a thesis or applied community development project and have opportunities for international study and research.

Students can earn the MA degree either on the Fairbanks campus or through distance delivery.


Degree Requirements

Minimum credits required - 30 credits

Complete University Requirements

Complete Core Courses

RD F600 Circumpolar Indigenous Leadership Symposium

RD F601 Political Economy of the Circumpolar North

RD F625 Community Development Strategies: Principles and Practices

RD F650 Community-Based Research Methods

RD F651 Management Strategies for Rural Development

Complete Elective Credits

Complete 9-12 elective credits at the F600-level (up to 6 credits may be at the F400-level with approval from the graduate committee). Examples of electives include:

RD F425 Cultural Impact Analysis

RD F652 Indigenous Organization Management

RD F655 Circumpolar Health Issues

ANTH F610 Northern Indigenous Peoples and Contemporary Issues

CCS F608 Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Complete Final Requirements

Research path students must complete one of the following:

  • Research Project (6 credits)
  • Thesis (6-9 credits)
Non-research path students must complete:

RD F691 Seminar in Rural, Community and Indigenous Development Issues (3-credits)


Research and Non-Research Paths

The MA in Rural Development has two pathways: the research (project or thesis) pathway and the non-research (coursework only) option. Students should decide on which option they intend to pursue by the second year of their program. 

Research Path: Thesis or Project?

The research pathway requires a project or thesis, represented by 6 credits of RD 698 (project) or RD 699 (thesis) in the degree requirements. The research pathway is intended for students who wish to make an original contribution in research or project design or implementation. 

1. Successfully complete at least 30 credits of course work including at least 6 credits of project work (RD F698). The number of credits allowed (between 6 and 9) will depend on the nature of the student's project and must be approved in advance by the student's graduate committee. RD698 enables the student to complete a project under the supervision of the graduate committee.

At least 21 credits, including those earned for thesis and research/project, must be at the F600-level.

2. Pass a written and/or oral comprehensive examination (may be combined with the project defense).

3. Present and defend the project.

4. Submit a completed and signed Report on Project Defense form to the Graduate School.

1. Successfully complete at least 30 credits of course work including at least 6 credits of thesis (RD F699). No more than 12 thesis/research (F699/F698) credits may be counted toward the minimum degree credits. The number of credits allowed (between 6 and 9) will depend on the nature of the student's project and must be approved in advance by the student's graduate committee. RD699 enables the student to conduct research and write a thesis on a topic approved by the student's committee.

At least 21 credits, including those earned for thesis and research/project, must be at the F600-level.

2. Pass a written and/or oral comprehensive examination (may be combined with the thesis defense).

3. Present and defend the thesis.

4. Submit a completed and signed Report on Thesis/Dissertation Defense form to the Graduate School.

5. Archive the thesis in the UAF Rasmuson Library.

Your thesis is to be treated as a book, not a manuscript to be sent off for further editing. Since it is viewed as a finished product, and since it is an indication of the ability and character of its author, the thesis should be correct in spelling and punctuation, neat in form (smudges, visible corrections, "white out," etc., are unacceptable), and consistent in all matters.

Click here for an updated copy of the Thesis Formatting Handbook

Coursework Path

The non-research (coursework only) option is intended for students who may not have time to complete independent projects and research, students who already have project and/or research experience and who want to develop additional skills in working with Alaska Native and rural communities on development projects, and students from outside of Alaska who may not have accessible rural communities to work with. The non-research pathway replaces the 6 credits of RD 698 (project) or RD 699 (thesis) with 6 additional credits of electives. 

The coursework option is a non-research path to an RD MA degree that replaces the 6- credits of RD 698 (project) or RD 699 (thesis) with 6 additional credits of electives. The pathway includes 18 credits of program requirements and 12 credits of RD electives or other courses approved by the department. At least 6 of these credits must be at the 600 level; up to 6 credits may be at the 400 level with approval from your advisor. Students will be guided through the program by a
department faculty advisor and synthesize their knowledge in the new required course, RD 691 Seminar in Rural, Community, and Indigenous Development Issues.

Completing a piece of original work, whether a community project or independent research, is a major accomplishment and contribution. However, it is not the only way to make a significant contribution and is not the right path for everyone. Students contribute to their communities over a lifetime. We do not see the choice
as between something more or less prestigious, but a choice about what will help you contribute the most to your community.

No. However, students who plan on the research path
do need to have an outline of their proposed project. If you choose to enter under the non-research/coursework path and change your mind later, you will need to develop an outline of your proposed project to switch paths.

Yes, master’s students may graduate under any catalog within the 7-years of their enrollment.

Yes, both options will be available for students who reapply. Courses that
were taken more than 7 years ago will have to be petitioned by the department. When you reapply, your former advisor or a newly assigned advisor will review your transcript and let you know which courses older than 7 years will be accepted and how many additional courses you will need to take.