Alaska is home to several universities and colleges, many of which offer online distance education programs. While just over 4,000 students are enrolled in Alaska’s private colleges and universities, almost 30,000 learners attend public and state schools. Thanks to online learning, prospective students from any state can explore these digital campuses as they search for the perfect place to obtain their higher education goals. This page includes information on Alaska’s online college options and answers commonly asked questions about online degree programs in Alaska, including cost, transferring credits and accreditation.
Many colleges and universities in Alaska offer amenities to enhance the higher education experience, standing out for their specializations, programs or student initiatives. For research-minded students, it may be a university that features online academic advising and tutoring, a math lab, writing center and digital library. Other prospective students may look for schools with a low student-to-faculty ratio to ensure they get the classroom support they need. In addition, military personnel and veterans might prefer institutions who go out of their way to provide excellent military benefits.
Before delving into the details, it is important to understand the basic principles that the highest caliber online colleges and universities in Alaska uphold. Check out our list of the state’s top-ranking institutions based on the following quality standards.
The best way to find out which online schools in Alaska offer your degree of choice is to directly contact potential schools. However, you may also explore the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education’s website to find programs that meet your needs. The site also allows you to create a personal learning and career plan. High school students may initially log in through their high school’s account and create a private username and password. Many colleges list the online degree programs they offer directly on their websites, such as this page from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
To search a complete list of accredited colleges and universities in Alaska, click the search button to the right.
The University of Alaska System provides a comprehensive student transfer resource website that allows prospective students to better understand the different rules and regulations regarding transfer credits for its three major schools with online programs: the University of Alaska Anchorage, Fairbanks and Southeast. But there are a number of other colleges and universities in the state to consider, and transfer credit rules vary. Check the application guidelines or with the admissions office to learn more about the process.
In general, many of Alaska’s online colleges accept transfer credits earned at other regionally accredited institutions. Another common credit-for-experience scenario is for military service; Alaska’s veterans and active duty students may be able to translate their service time and field training into course credits. Other non-traditional students in who are returning to college to advance their career may also receive work experience credits at Alaska’s colleges. In addition to military or formal education credits, some of Alaska’s colleges and universities may allow students to apply work experience to college credits, requiring incoming students to take nationally-approved exams like the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).
College graduates around the country generally enjoy better job opportunities and higher earnings, and in Alaska, special efforts are being made to create a statewide college-going culture. The table below demonstrates average annual salaries for jobs with the following minimum degree requirements:
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
The most noticeable jump is for students in Alaska who earn a bachelor’s degree: jobs that require a bachelor’s level education pay, on average, $16,000 more per year than careers that require only an associate degree.
Several Alaskan industries have seen decreasing employment numbers over the past few years, including the oil and gas sector, construction and industries dependent on consumer purchasing, such as the non-profit and retail industries. Conversely, many industries that require a college education are experiencing rapid growth. The finance sector remains stable, with careers in positions like accounting and auditing and financial management presenting higher-than-average job openings. Demand for healthcare workers continues to grow, with careers as registered nurses, medical assistants and nursing assistants showing very high job openings in the state. Business and professional services—including business operations specialists and positions in scientific testing—are also on the upswing.
As Alaskan students increasingly pursue higher education online, more and more colleges and universities have developed distance learning options to meet a growing demand. However, it is crucial to select an online university in Alaska that is accredited. Accreditation ensures that an institution offers quality programs and operates according to the highest standards, and in Alaska, different colleges and universities may be nationally accredited, regionally accredited and / or offer specialized accreditations. These regulations also help assure students that online programs provide the same high-quality education as students on-campus would receive. Here are some examples of the accrediting bodies at Alaska’s colleges and universities:
Some of Alaska’s religious-based colleges are members of this national accrediting body, which includes member colleges across the U.S. and Canada.
Both public and private colleges and universities in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and British Columbia are regulated by the NWCCU.
There are many subject-specific accreditations a college or university can receive. For example, the University of Alaska Anchorage is a member of the NASAD, while the online degrees within the College of Education at the University of Alaska Southeast are accredited by the CAEP (formerly, NCATE).
Many prospective students in Alaska worry about the cost of attending college. Over the past several years, tuition rates in Alaska have increased to counter the state’s budget deficit. But there are ways to make a college education more affordable in Alaska. Here are some of the tuition discount and state partnership tuition programs available in Alaska:
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) This non-profit organization promotes educational cooperation between 15 U.S. states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. WICHE maintains a program known as the Western Undergraduate Exchange, which allows distance learners outside of Alaska to earn their degree from an Alaskan school and pay only 150 percent of Alaska’s in-state tuition rate. In addition, the Western Regional Graduate Program lets some online graduate students pay in-state tuition rates as they earn a master’s degree from an Alaskan institution.
Occupational Endorsement and Certificate Programs A 25 percent tuition discount is available for certain occupational endorsement (OEC) and certification (CEP) programs offered by Alaska’s colleges and universities, many of which are also offered online.
Some colleges and universities in Alaska charge different rates and fees for online students versus on-campus students. Here are some examples of how tuition is paid for online students in Alaska:
Fee Per Course Level Online students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks pay different rates for different levels of courses. Standard to 200-level courses cost less than 300-400 level courses and graduate-level courses.
Flat Rate Per Semester Some colleges, like Alaska Bible College, may offer a flat tuition rate for all full-time students taking between 12 and 18 credits per semester.
Part-Time Tuition Rates Students who can’t take a on full-time workload may be charged a lower tuition rate, like at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Standard In-State / Out-of-State Rates Out-of-state students may pay more than in-state students across the board, even for online education at some Alaska colleges, such as at Kenai Peninsula College, where out-of-state tuition rates are waived for all students except those who participate in distance learning.
Here are more answers to a few commonly asked questions about the cost of online colleges in Alaska.
In Alaska, students must prove that they intend to live in Alaska permanently to establish residency and qualify for in-state university tuition. They can demonstrate their intent by showing their employment history or proof of owning or renting a home in Alaska.
Public college tuition in Alaska varies by school. For example, the University of Alaska Fairbanks boasts online tuition costs “well below the national average”. While the ways Alaska’s colleges and universities charge online students varies, Alaska’s general rates for in-state and out-of-state tuition are, on average, XXX than the national mean tuition rate.
In-State Tuition in Alaska, Public Colleges & Universities: $6,880
Change from 2015 $524
In-State Tuition in Alaska, Private Colleges & Universities: $19,957
Change from 2015 $821
Average Out-of-State Tuition in Alaska $20,463
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
Students interested in online schools in Alaska might need some financial assistance to cover program costs. While many choose to apply for federal financial aid (FAFSA), scholarships can also help fund your degree. Unlike loans, they do not need to be paid back. Here are a few scholarships and grants that are ideal for individuals studying at online schools in Alaska.
Alaska Education Grant: Developed through state legislature, this grant program provides financial assistance to Alaskans attending in-state colleges. Grants are need-based, and annual awards range from $500 to $3,000.
BBB Foundation Students of Integrity Scholarship: Students in Alaska who demonstrate outstanding ethical principles may apply for this $10,000 award. Applicants must showcase their academic accomplishments, dedication to community service, and personal integrity.
Church’s Partners Foundation, Inc. Scholarship: This scholarship is intended for Alaskan high school and homeschooled students. Candidates must plan to attend college or a vocational program after graduation. Scholarships winners receive an award of $1,000, but the amount may vary.
More than 3,000 people across Alaska participated in adult education programs between July 2016 to June 2017. Adult education programs often provide an academic foundation for postsecondary studies, bridging the gap between a high school education and earning a college degree. These programs can be especially useful for adult college students who need additional college prep and career counseling.
Adult education can help Alaska’s aspiring college students with the following:
Adult Education programs can be useful for:
College Prep Workshops and Learning Opportunities: Promoting university access and college success in Alaska, a variety of local campus workshops are available to hone writing, math, science and reading skills as well as ESL prep, career exploration, test prep and more.
Career Readiness After Graduation: The WorkKeys assessment system can help Alaska college students match their knowledge base with the demands of different occupations and understand if they need additional training for their desired career goals.
Men and women in Alaska enroll in adult learning programs in relatively equal numbers, although slightly more women take part than men. Most adult students are between 25 and 44 years old, and many are Native Americans or Alaskan Natives.