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The Best Places to Study Arctic

Have you ever been fascinated by icy landscapes or northern lights? Indigenous peoples’ culture? Whales and seals? Or maybe political and law aspects of “top of the world”?
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Well, the Arctic region combines everything. It is a “hot topic” nowadays, both literally and figuratively, since the Arctic has been melting and warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world. This means ecosystems are changing and societies are changing. As a result, there is a large field for various research. Whether you are interested in biology, geology, or social science, you can study the Arctic region from the perspective of your chosen subject.

The best Arctic research is being conducted in what is called “Arctic countries” — the ones that have territories above the Arctic circle. These are the USA, Canada, Iceland, the Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. These countries are very popular student destinations, so if you are passionate about studying the Arctic, you should consider universities there.

There is also UArctic.org — a network of educational institutions that offer full-time study programs or individual courses on the Circumpolar North. This network promotes cooperation between universities and those interested in studying the Arctic can check for study opportunities, exchange programs, and relevant news on their website.

Canada

Canada has a huge Arctic territory and is a great place to study the region. A lot of Canadian universities offer a wide range of bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD programs. These are mainly the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Northern British Columbia, and the Memorial University of Newfoundland. No matter what you are interested in — oil and gas extraction, Arctic indigenous peoples, environmental sciences, biology, or tourism, — you can find a program to your taste. You will see with your own eyes how the Arctic looks like, experience its challenges first hand, meet a lot of Arctic native people, and see some pretty amazing Arctic landscapes during your studies. 

Examples of bachelor’s programs

Environmental Science

Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (B.S.A.) at the University of Saskatchewan

Northern Studies 

Bachelor in Northern Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia (also available as a minor)

Earth Sciences

Bachelor of Science in Earth Science at the Memorial University of Newfoundland

Examples of master’s programs:

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Graduate Program

MA, an MSc, and the interdisciplinary MNRES at the University of Northern British Columbia

Oil and Gas Engineering

Master of Applied Science (MASc), Master of Engineering (MEng), or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Oil and Gas Engineering at the Memorial University of Newfoundland

Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering

Master of Engineering (MEng) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering at the Memorial University of Newfoundland

The Kingdom of Denmark

How come Denmark has an Arctic territory? Denmark indeed does not, but the Kingdom of Denmark does. The whole of Greenland, the Kingdom of Denmark’s autonomous territory, lies above the Arctic circle. It is populated by the indigenous Inuit peoples and covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside of Antarctica.

Several universities, mainly Aalborg University, the University of Copenhagen, and Roskilde University, offer programs, mostly on the graduate level, for those interested in the Arctic region. Apart from biology and geology studies, you can find programs on intercultural communication, security risk management, and urban planning. For international students who are not afraid of the Arctic weather, there are courses offered by the University of Greenland and Greenland Institute of Natural Science.                                                                                                                           

Examples of bachelor’s programs:

International Studies 

The International Bachelor in Social Sciences at Roskilde University

Examples of master’s programs:

Arctic Studies - Culture, Communication, and Globalization 

Master’s in Culture, Communication, and Globalization at Aalborg University

Climate Change

Master of Science (MSc) in Climate Change at the University of Copenhagen

Nordic Urban Planning Studies

Master of Science (MSc) in Nordic Urban Planning Studies at Roskilde University

West Nordic Studies

Master of Social Sciences in West Nordic Studies, Governance, and Sustainable Management at the University of the Faroe Islands 

Finland

A home country of Santa Claus and the indigenous Sami peoples, Finland is a good place to go if you seek top-quality education and good conditions to live, along with excellent student services and healthcare. The University of Oulu, the University of Lapland, and the University of Turku are the ones that provide the majority of programs on the Arctic. Most of them are graduate ones.

Finland is also a good study destination for those interested in tourism and especially Arctic tourism. This country has a great experience of making a tourist attraction out of basically nothing!

Examples of master’s programs:

Biomedical Engineering

Master's in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oulu

Mineral Resources and Sustainable Mining

Master's in Mineral Resources and Sustainable Mining at the University of Oulu

Northern Tourism

Master of Social Science in Northern Tourism at the University of Lapland

Arctic Art and Design

MA in Arctic Art and Design at the University of Lapland

The EnCHiL Nordic Master

The Nordic Master in Environmental Changes at Higher Latitudes (EnCHiL) at the University of Helsinki

Iceland

Thanks to a little island called Grímsey, surrounded by the wide Arctic Ocean, about 40 km off the north coast, Iceland is considered an Arctic country. This country’s universities, mainly the University of Iceland and the University of Akureyri that is cooperating with the University Centre of the Westfjords, provide top-quality graduate education.

The University of Akureyri’s renowned Polar Law Program attracts professors and teachers from all over the world and prepares specialists in international law with a focus on polar regions. Programs such as Coastal Communities and Regional Development and Coastal and Marine Management are housed in the town called Isafjordur, Westfjords, a picturesque place with only about two thousand inhabitants.

Iceland boasts beautiful landscapes, fjords, northern lights, hot springs, seals and whales, and wild fields of frozen lava, together with a good infrastructure for living and studying. Higher education in public institutions is free for everyone, including international students!

Examples of master’s programs:

Polar Law

LLM/MA/Diploma in Polar Law at the University of Akureyri

Sustainable Production and Utilisation of Marine Bio-Resources

MA Sustainable Production and Utilisation of Marine Bio-Resources at the University of Akureyri

Coastal Communities and Regional Development 

MA in Coastal Communities and Regional Development offered by the University Centre of the Westfjords in Ísafjörður in cooperation with the University of Akureyri

Arctic Studies 

Postgraduate Diploma in Arctic Studies at the University of Iceland

Earth Sciences

MS Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland

Law, Natural Resources Law, and International Environmental Law

LL.M. in Law, Natural Resources Law, and International Environmental Law at the University of Iceland

Norway

Recognized worldwide as a leader in offshore petroleum exploration, Norway is a country known for its high level of life, free higher education, and extensive research cooperation in the Arctic region, as well as picturesque landscapes and unique natural sites.

If you are passionate about the Arctic region, you can find programs on all educational levels and go to remote Tromso to do Northern Studies at the UiT The Arctic University of Norway or not so remote Stavanger to study Marine and Offshore technology at the University of Stavanger, or strike a golden mean by going to Nord University. You can also experience the true polar Arctic by traveling to Svalbard, also known as Spitsbergen, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, that is unique both in legal and any other possible ways.

Examples of bachelor’s programs:

Circumpolar and Nordic Studies

BA in Circumpolar and Nordic Studies at Nord University

Northern Studies

BA in Northern Studies at UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Examples of master’s programs:

Sustainable Production and Utilization of Marine Bioresources

Nordic Master in Sustainable Production and Utilization of Marine Bioresources at Nord University

Energy, Environment, and Society

Master in Energy, Environment, and Society at Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Stavanger

Marine and Offshore Technology

MS in Marine and Offshore Technology at Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Stavanger

Law of the Sea

LL.M. in Law of the Sea at UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Russia

Russia has the largest Arctic territory, a long tradition of Northern research, and hundreds of indigenous peoples living throughout its regions. Whether you are dreaming of building icebreakers, studying petroleum engineering, working in the field of biological conservation, or being engaged in environmental international cooperation, you can find a good program and spend a few years in the largest and, probably, most diverse Arctic country in the world.

If you are interested in a study program in Russia, consider the universities such as Northern (Arctic) Federal University, Ukhta State Technical University, Siberian Federal University, and St. Petersburg University.

Examples of bachelor’s programs:

Circumpolar Studies

Bachelor of Circumpolar Studies at the Northern (Arctic) Federal University

Ecology and Management of Natural Resources

Bachelor of Ecology and Management of Natural Resources at Ukhta State Technical University

Examples of master’s programs:

Arctic Law

MA in Arctic Law at the Northern (Arctic) Federal University

Energy Politics and Energy Transition in Eurasia

MA in Energy Politics and Energy Transition in Eurasia at European University of St. Petersburg

Technosphere Safety in the High North and Arctic Regions

MA in Technosphere Safety in the High North and Arctic Regions at Siberian Federal University

Polar and Marine Sciences (POMOR)

MA in Polar and Marine Sciences (POMOR) at St. Petersburg University

Sweden

The world’s most sustainable country, Sweden earned this title due to its wide use of renewable energy sources and low carbon dioxide emissions. This country is probably one of the best places to study northern ecology and sustainability, with graduate programs offered by Umeå University and Stockholm University.

Examples of master’s programs:

Polar Landscapes and Quaternary Climate

MA in Polar Landscapes and Quaternary Climate at Stockholm University

Ecology and Biodiversity

MA in Ecology and Biodiversity at Stockholm University

Environmental Science with focus on sustainable development

MA in Environmental science with a focus on sustainable development at Umeå University

The United States

The United States bought Alaska from the Russian Empire in the 19th century. That is how this country became an Arctic nation. With Alaska itself serving as a learning lab, you can immerse yourself into ecological, social, conservation, and other issues this region has been experiencing due to climate change.

The US is a great destination to study business solutions for the changing Arctic, Arctic engineering, rural development, or disaster management. You can find a wide variety of programs on all levels of education. Check out the degrees offered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Pacific University, Climate Change Institute - University of Maine, and the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Examples of bachelor’s programs:

Arctic and Northern Studies

BA in Arctic and Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (available both as major and minor)

Sustainability Studies

BA in Sustainability Studies at the Alaska Pacific University

Examples of master’s programs:

Arctic Security 

Graduate Certificate in Arctic Security at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Quaternary and Climate Studies Degree

MS in Quaternary and Climate Studies at Climate Change Institute - University of Maine

Arctic Engineering 

MS in Civil Engineering (MSCE) with an emphasis in Arctic Engineering at the University of Alaska Anchorage

UAF STEM Blue MBA Business Solutions for a Changing Arctic

The UAF STEM Blue MBA at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

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