Rural Development

B.A. Degree

Rural development is an interdisciplinary field that teaches the history, theory and skills needed for human, social and economic development in rural communities. Rural development degree programs are designed to educate a new generation of community leaders for rural Alaska. The B.A. degree can be earned either on the Fairbanks campus or through distance delivery. Special application requirements and deadlines apply for distance B.A. degree programs. Students applying for acceptance into the Rural Development program need to complete a department-specific written questionnaire in addition to general university admission requirements. Findings from this questionnaire will be used to support the department advising process and assist students in connecting with faculty and mentors. The questionnaire is found on the DANSRD website under “How to Apply.”

Students in the rural development program gain a broad understanding of Alaska’s relationship to the global economy and an appreciation for sustainable development strategies. Students also learn specific tools essential for community leadership, including business plan and grant proposal writing, community visioning and planning processes, community-based research techniques, computer business applications, project management, and evaluation techniques. Graduates typically take positions with tribal and municipal governments, fisheries, tourism and other private businesses, Native corporations, regional health corporations or nonprofits, and state/federal agencies.

Within the B.A. degree program, students will select and develop a concentration in one of five areas:

  • The human and social development concentration is for students interested in social services, social justice, community wellness and cultural development. Graduates may find employment with tribal governments, health consortia, clinics and schools. 

  • The tribal and municipal governance concentration is for students interested in tribal governance and rural municipal and borough government (home rule). Students develop an understanding of the history and constitutional basis for tribal governance, various home rule governance structures, basics of federal Indian law, principles and practices of self-determination, and the mandates of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. They develop skills in planning, budgeting and human resources management. Students can pursue a special interest, such as management of health programs, tribal governance programs or Alaska Native corporations, and tailor the concentration to these specifications through choice of related courses and electives. Graduates may find employment with tribal and municipal governments and organizations, ANCSA corporations, and state and federal agencies.

  • The integrated resource management concentration is designed for students interested in land use, subsistence, cultural resources and co-management. Students learn about traditional ecological knowledge, principles of natural resources management and policy, adaptive management, conservation and ecotourism, and skills for effective public/private/tribal collaboration in resource management. Management strategies for addressing climate change are explored. Graduates may find employment with ANCSA corporations, regional and tribal entities, or state and federal agencies.

  • The entrepreneurship and economic development concentration is for students interested in creating sustainable economies in rural and indigenous communities, with a focus on small business development. Students learn to develop business and marketing plans, economic development planning, and basic principles of financial and human resources management for rural enterprises. Graduates find employment in ANCSA corporations, regional development organizations, economic development agencies and as local entrepreneurs.

  • The multidisciplinary concentration is intended for students who wish to combine two or more rural development concentrations or combine a rural development concentration with another discipline. Students will work closely with their advisor to select the appropriate courses for the concentration.

Minimum Requirements for Rural Development Bachelor's Degree: 120 credits

Learn more about the bachelor’s degree in rural development, including an overview of the program, career opportunities and more.

College of Rural and Community Development
Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development
907-474-6528 Toll-free 1-866-478-2721