Alaska is home to ten accredited universities and many technical and vocational colleges. With so many schools to pick from, choosing the one that best aligns with your academic and professional interests can be tricky. Prospective students need to consider a variety of factors as they evaluate colleges, including program length, cost, location and scholarship availability.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development projects employment across all industries in the state to increase by 5.1% from 2016 to 2026, which is roughly in line with the projected rate of growth for the entire United States economy. As in other parts of the country, Alaska's healthcare industry should experience considerable growth during this time, driven largely by the state's increasingly aging population.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual mean wage in Alaska was $58,710 in 2018. However, jobs requiring a college education generally offer considerably higher compensation. For example, that same year, budget analysts earned an average salary of $79,650, while information security analysts earned an average salary of $105,280. These types of roles typically require at least a bachelor's degree.
Attending college can enable you to take advantage of new professional opportunities. To help you determine the best place to enroll, we have compiled this list of the best colleges in Alaska. Our ranking includes information on elements like general admission requirements, available courses of study, and financial aid offerings. It also indicates whether each college offers online degrees, an important factor both for working professionals and students from more rural parts of the state.
Each school on this ranking holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is the flagship campus of the University of Alaska system, a group of three universities hosting 19 campuses across the state. Each year, roughly 8,500 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees at UAF in topics like Alaskan native languages, civil engineering, marine science, and social work. Through the university's eCampus, learners can take more than 350 fully online and asynchronous courses in some 60 different areas of study.
Undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma and submit results from either the ACT or SAT. Graduate applicants must have a bachelor's degree and meet the specific entrance requirements of their chosen program, such as a minimum GPA or GRE score.
Residents of Alaska receive a substantial tuition discount, and UAF offers more than 450 additional scholarships to further reduce the overall cost of education for students. In addition, the university waives both the application fee and all course fees for active-duty military personnel.
Situated in the Tongass National Forest, the University of Alaska Southeast offers both in-person and fully online degree programs in fields like business, social science, power technology, and maritime training. Through classroom and work-based learning opportunities, students at the university benefit from the institution's research partnerships with organizations like the Alaska Climate Science Center and Pacific Northwest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit.
At UAS, learners can pursue professional certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees. Students may also seek a master's in education or public administration, but the university does not currently offer doctoral programs. Additionally, online programs allow learners to major in disciplines such as fisheries and healthcare from the comfort and convenience of their own home.
Applicants to a bachelor's program at UAS must have a high school diploma. Prospective students who earned a high school GPA below 3.0 must also submit ACT or SAT scores. Graduate applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, with the public administration program also requiring three letters of recommendation.
Alaska Pacific University offers a high-quality education that honors Alaska's indigneous heritage. In addition to majoring in areas like Alaska native governance and environmental sciences, students at the university can also prepare for diverse careers in business administration, education, healthcare, and information technology. While some professional studies classes are available at a distance, APU does not currently host any fully online programs.
Undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma, but the university does not require prospective students to submit standardized test scores. Application requirements for graduate students vary by program, though most require a bachelor's degree, letters of recommendation, and an essay.
The APU Promise Tuition Grant serves students with financial need and covers any shortfalls in state and federal financial aid, meaning qualifying learners pay no tuition whatsoever. Additional scholarships are available based on academic merit. For example, the Atwood Distinguished Scholar program provides $7,000 in annual aid to students with a GPA above 3.85 or an ACT score above 30.
With nearly 18,000 students enrolled across four community campuses, the University of Alaska Anchorage is the largest university in the state. Roughly 1,200 faculty members instruct learners in subjects such as accounting, educational leadership, global supply chain management, and legal studies. Along with occupational endorsement certificates, the university offers associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. UAA also houses the state's only medical school.
To ensure access to high-quality learning opportunities for students across the state, UAA makes a large portion of its courses available online and in an asynchronous format. Online students benefit from the same support services available to those studying on campus, including tutoring and academic advising, career counseling, and internship and apprenticeship opportunities.
Bachelor's program applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and a minimum GPA of 2.5. Prospective students with a lower GPA may qualify for conditional admission, though they must work closely with an academic advisor throughout their first year. Graduate applicants must have a bachelor's degree, and most programs require a GPA of 3.0 or above.