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|
|1||University of Alaska Fairbanks||Fairbanks||$$$$$||505 South Chandalar Drive|
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7500
The University of Alaska System's flagship campus, UAF is home to one of the premier online colleges in Alaska. Since UAF brands itself as "Alaska's research university" and "America's arctic university," a number of the school's programs focus on research into uniquely Alaskan issues. The online distance education program consists of over 25 diverse fields of study, which offer associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs in mainly career-related fields. Students in all online programs are supported by two faculty members - an eLearning and academic advisor - and are granted access to UAF's off-campus library. For those wanting a taste of campus life, traditions like Springfest, Winter Carnival, and the Starvation Gulch bonfires are popular among Nanooks, UAF's mascot, meaning "polar bear" in Inuit.
|2||University of Alaska Southeast||Juneau||$$$$$||11120 Glacier Highway|
Juneau, AK 99801-8697
With three campuses dotting the Alaska-Canada border, the University of Alaska Southeast boasts perhaps the most extensive program list of all online colleges in Alaska. UAS offers 36 online fields of study, including associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs; certificates; and occupational endorsements. The majority of these programs are only available to students who live in Alaska, however, the school's notable bachelor in business administration program is open to students in all 50 states. BBA students can concentrate their degree in accounting, human resources, management, and management of information systems. In order to support its online students, UAS offers faculty advising, tutoring, and eLibrary resources.
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.
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