While relatively isolated from the remainder of the United States, due to its size and widespread population, four-year schools in Alaska have plenty of reason to offer online courses as an alternative to on-campus enrollment. The sole provider of such online offerings is the University of Alaska system; split up into three campuses (Anchorage, Fairbanks and Southeast), each with their own distance programs and resources, the school’s network of online learning is refreshingly robust.
But before we take a more detailed look at online colleges in AK, let’s start with the overall state of higher education and online education in the state today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Alaska
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Alaska had 9 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 5 public schools, 2 nonprofits and 2 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 1,757 at public schools, 76 at private nonprofits and 62 at private for-profits.
- 5 public
- 2 non-profit
- 2 for-profit
Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $6,570, while the out-of-state average was $20,550.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Alaska awarded $3.89 million in need-based grants and $7.82 million in non-need grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 3.0% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education. Over the same period, the state also awarded $4.59 million in loans, $770,000 in loan assumption/forgiveness and an additional $1.16 million in conditional grants. According to a CollegeBoard report on college pricing trends, Alaska had the highest state appropriations 2013-2014; the state spent $18,857 per full-time equivalent student.
According to an economics report conducted by the state government, at least 23 prominent occupations in the state require a minimum of a bachelor’s ― each of those positions, barring one, had average wages in the highest quartile of Alaskan salaries. When you consider then that Alaska is one of two states to increase higher education funding from 2013 to 2014, by 4.6% no less, it is clear that Alaska is committed to awarding more degrees and maintaining a well-educated workforce.
The State of Online Higher Education in Alaska
The NCES estimates that at least 16.4% of students enrolled in online schools in AK institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 82.3% were reported to be and 91.3% were found to be living in Alaska.
Alaska is also part of the SARA regional education compact known as the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). The WICHE Internet Course Exchange (ICE) offers opportunities for state residents, through their local college or university, to access high quality distance programs offered at out-of-state WICHE institutions, often at greatly reduced rates.
Best Online Colleges in Alaska
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Alaska. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Alaska, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Alaska or our index of popular in-state scholarships.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
University of Alaska Fairbanks
|Fairbanks||$$$$$||505 South Chandalar Drive|
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7500
UAF's online degree programs offer asynchronous courses through the Blackboard learning system. Select courses are also available using audio and video conferencing, or a hybrid model of online and classroom interactions. UAOnline is designed for the working adult, and offers completely online learning graduate, bachelor and associate degrees, as well as a number of certificates and occupational endorsements. Some courses require prerequisites like placement exams and credit hours, which are listed in the course descriptions and must be fulfilled before students enroll in any online colleges in Alaska.
UAF offers a number of resources to students, including the UAF Off Campus Library, elearning academic advising, writing center tutoring and a math lab with free tutoring and problem solving services. There is also a variety of open courseware available to all UAF distance learning students. Tuition waivers are granted to UA employees and their dependents for elearning courses, and UAF supports the Defense Activity for Nontraditional Education Support (DANTES) programs for active military members. Veterans educational benefits are also available, as well as scholarship options awarded for merit, academic excellence, and volunteer experience.
Online Undergraduate Degrees
UAF also offers a wide range of individual online courses in fields like Applied Science, Education, Business, and Human Relations. Individual Graduate courses are also available online, and require prerequisites clearly listed in the course descriptions.
Online Graduate Degrees
UAF's online programs are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
University of Alaska Southeast
|Juneau||$$$$$||11120 Glacier Highway|
Juneau, AK 99801-8697
UAS offers the most expansive selection of distance courses among all online colleges in Alaska, including undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. UAS courses are operated on the Blackboard platform (also referred to as Elluminate or Webmeeting), and many courses use both online and video conferencing facetime interactions. Lab courses are available online, and students receive all the tools they'll need to complete assignments by mail, including microscopes, molecule kits and DNA kits. Some e-learning courses require students to login and meet at designated times, while others have a flexible schedule. Assignment due dates, exams, and meetings are set by instructors and outlined in the course syllabi.
UAS has many resources available to e-learning students, like access to the Egan Library, Student Health 101, a disability resource center, and a student helpdesk with access to IT support for Blackboard, computer software downloads, and support video tutorials for UAonline. Most financial aid options require students to be enrolled in at least six credits to qualify, and UAS also offers Veterans benefits for tuition costs for active military members, veterans and their dependents.
Online Undergraduate Degrees
UAS offers a number of e-learning Graduate degrees, mainly in the field of education. Several upper level programs require prerequisites like minimum credit hours, minimum GPA or General Education requirements, which are outlined in the degree program requirements section.
Online Graduate Degrees
Besides online undergraduate and graduate degree programs, certificates are also available, including titles for Fisheries Technology, Accounting Technician, Healthcare Privacy and Security and Small Business Management.
University of Alaska Anchorage
|Anchorage||$$$$$||3211 Providence Drive|
Anchorage, AK 99508
One of the best online colleges in Alaska,UAA offers asynchronous undergraduate and graduate programs through the Blackboard platform. UAA maintains both entirely online programs and blended programs, which require students to come in 50% of the time for meetings, labs and exams. Individual distance courses are available, as well as occupational endorsement, baccalaureate and graduate certificates in areas like Corrections, Children's Behavioral Health and Medical Office Coding. Students are encouraged to work at their own pace, but weekly or biweekly deadlines may be set for assignments, exams or papers. Consult class syllabi or course instructors for specific online course requirements.
UAA students have access to a number of resources, like the UAA Consortium Library and the online resource center, which hosts helpful links to Blackboard tutorials, the online tutoring center, disability support services and academic advisors. Several distance education courses require students to sign up for proctored exams; request forms can be submitted online, well in advance. Financial aid and scholarships are available to distance learning students, including scholarships for Alaskan natives.
Online Undergraduate Degrees
Online Graduate Degrees
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Alaska
Below you’ll find Alaska’s online undergraduate programs sorted by affordability.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Alaska
David E. Knox Memorial Nursing Fellowship
For Alaska students enrolled in an RN or BSN nursing program. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required. Recipients must commit to 1 year of service practicing nursing in a small Alaska community. Preference is given to students with financial need. Funded by the Alaska Community Foundation.
Dr. Merritt Olson Scholarship
For graduating seniors from West Anchorage High School. Applicants must demonstrate academic merit, leadership or community involvement, and financial need. A GPA of 3.0+ is required. Preference is given to students pursuing a career in education. Funds provided by the Alaska Community Foundation.
Melissa Faye Pike Scholarship
For graduates of Diamond High School or students of Alaska Dance Theatre who are pursuing advanced study of dance. Average award is $3000; amounts vary depending on availability of funds. Funds are provided by the Alaska Community Foundation.
Neal O. Thorpe Memorial Scholarship
For Alaska residents who are graduates of high school or an equivalent program in Alaska. Applicants must be the first in their family to pursue a college degree. This scholarship is administered by the Alaska Community Foundation.
Pinkerton Orchestral Scholarship
Awarded to Alaska students who demonstrate a dedication to music and a commitment to pursuing advanced music education at a postsecondary institution. Special preference is given to students interested in music teaching. Minimum GPA 3.0. Students of violin, viola, cello and string bass are eligible. Funds provided by the Alaska Community Foundation.
Red Boucher Scholarship
For outstanding Alaska students pursuing a career in a technology-related field. Applicants must demonstrate academic success and/or leadership qualities, have financial need, and maintain a GPA of 3.0+. This scholarship is provided by the Alaska Community Foundation.
Richard D. Johnson Memorial Post-Secondary Scholarship
For graduating seniors in Alaska with a GPA of 2.0 to 3.0. Applicants must have participated in community service or American Legion activities, and demonstrate financial need. A personal essay required. Funding is provided by American Legion of Alaska.
Shelly Szepanski Memorial Flight Scholarship
This award is intended to help female Alaska students earn their private or commercial flight license. Applicants must pass an FAA written flight test and medical; be enrolled in a science-related degree program; and be pursuing flying as part of science-related career goals. Preference given to students enrolled at the University of Alaska. Funds are administered by the Alaska Community Foundation.
Sven E. & Lorraine Eriksson Scholarship
This award is granted to incoming freshman at the University of Alaska who plan to study electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, or music. Applicants must demonstrate academic success, leadership qualities, and financial need. Minimum GPA 3.0; applicants must be graduates of an Alaska high school.
Wrangell and Stika Scholarship
For high school seniors graduating from Sitka High School. Applicants must demonstrate outstanding academic merit or special talent. The scholarship is awarded to three students per year. Provided by the Alaska Community Foundation.