The online colleges in Alaska offer a robust selection of online degree programs and some of the lowest tuition rates in the country.
Although Alaska is known for snow and frigid temperatures, it has a lot to offer when it comes to higher education. Even with already low tuition rates, Alaska also offers grants and scholarships, and even participates in an exchange program with other northeastern states to help students avoid high out-of-state tuition costs.
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If you’re thinking about pursuing a postsecondary degree in Alaska, check out all the Alaska universities and savings that are in store for you.
Online Colleges in Alaska
You don’t have to be an Alaska resident to know that the state is cold and snowy most of the time. Conditions like these can make it difficult or even impossible for college students to get to campus for classes, so online degree options are a popular option.
Alaska universities offer students the choice of fully online degree programs including certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs. Programs like these make it easier for adults to return to college while still balancing full-time jobs and family commitments.
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According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 48% of Alaska’s students were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses, while 31% were enrolled in hybrid programs, which combine online learning with on-campus learning. Only 21% of Alaska’s higher-education students choose to learn exclusively on campus.
Common Online Degrees in Alaska
Whether you’re unable to commute to a college or university in Alaska or want to earn a degree from a postsecondary institution in Alaska as an out-of-state student, an online degree in Alaska may be a viable option for you.
Some common online degree programs offered in Alaska include:
- Biological Sciences: This program studies living things and the environment. You can develop an understanding of the natural world and learn about environmental issues to prepare you for a career in environmental management, agriculture, ecology, and more.
- Business Administration and Management: Students learn about the basic principles and practices of business and management. You may develop professional management skills useful to careers such as operations manager, human resources manager, or entrepreneur.
- Communication and Media Studies: This degree is an interdisciplinary program that teaches students technical media and communication skills. Various subjects studied include media writing, social media strategy, and professional communication.
- Criminal Justice: Students who wish to pursue a career in law enforcement, forensic science, homeland security, public law, or other related fields may benefit from a criminal justice degree. This program includes introductory coursework in criminology, criminal law, social research, corrections, and psychology.
- Education: An education degree can be beneficial for professionals who want to start a career in education, childcare, career counseling, or similar fields. You may specialize in a certain sector such as elementary or secondary education and gain leadership, communication, and organizational skills.
These degree programs can be useful for a number of careers in Alaska. A wide range of career opportunities may be available with these degrees and can help you become a more competitive job candidate.
Overview of Higher Education in Alaska
According to the NCES, Alaska is home to 8 degree-granting institutions, including 4 public, 3 non-profits, and 1 for-profit school, these include community colleges in Alaska and 4-year schools.
With such a limited selection of schools, you might think tuition costs would be through the roof, but that’s not the case. The NCES reports that the average tuition and fees for a 4-year public institution in Alaska were $8,297 for in-state students and $25,535 for out-of-state students. Both are well below the national average.
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To provide even more of a financial incentive, Alaska also participates in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). WICHE is a collaborative program that allows residents to enroll in degree programs at any of the 16 participating states and territories while paying no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate.
Employment Outlook for College Graduates in Alaska
The total number of employees for all occupations in Alaska is 295,880, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The largest areas of employment in Alaska include office and administrative support, transportation and material moving, food preparation and serving, management, sales, and healthcare occupations. Other top industries include education, construction, protective service, and engineering. Job availability can vary depending on the region you live in and the demand for occupations in your desired field.
Anchorage, Alaska has the highest number of employment for occupations in top areas of employment compared to other areas in the state. The mean wage for all occupations in Alaska is $63,480 per year.
Careers & Salaries in Alaska
Some of the biggest industries in Alaska include oil and gas, tourism, mining, fishing, and agriculture. A large portion of Alaska’s economy is supported by the oil and gas industry.
Tourism is a popular industry because Alaska attracts a lot of visitors each year. The state also has vast forests and coal and mineral reserves that support the timber and mining industries.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these are the annual median salaries of common careers in Alaska:
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Mining and Geological Engineers||$99,280|
|General and Operations Managers||$94,850|
|Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists||$81,640|
|Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers||$81,640|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||$60,260|
|Oil and Gas Rotary Drill Operators||$48,320|
|Forest and Conservation Technicians||$45,470|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||$45,050|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||$36,070|
Salaries and job availability can vary depending on the specific occupation and level of education, work experience, and geographic location.
There may be a higher availability of jobs in metropolitan areas of the state. Earning a degree from a university in Alaska may help you become more competitive in your desired field.
Alaska Colleges Online Admissions Requirements
Admissions requirements can differ between schools, but some materials you may be asked to submit include:
- SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)
- Official transcripts
- Application questions and fee
If required, SAT or ACT test scores may be used to consider admission or determine placement level for certain general education classes if a student is accepted.
Students are typically asked to submit official high school or undergraduate transcripts so the admissions office can review the coursework completed. Some colleges or universities may offer opportunities for students to waive the application fee.
AK Online Colleges Accreditation
Colleges and universities go through a screening process to receive accreditation. Although accreditation isn’t required for a college to provide quality educational services, it can affect students.
You can find a list of regional accrediting organizations through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These accrediting organizations have a set list of criteria used to evaluate postsecondary institutions and programs, which must meet or exceed quality standards.
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The accreditation status of a school or program can potentially affect a student’s financial aid eligibility. Employment opportunities, credit transferability, and state reciprocity programs may also be affected by accreditation.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
In order to receive financial aid to attend either on-campus or online colleges in Alaska, you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which unlocks the door to federal, state, and private college funds.
In addition to federal aid, the FAFSA provides access to the Alaska Education Grant. This grant, funded by The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, is entirely need-based and can offer $500-$4000 in assistance each year.
Students majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) can also check out the Alaska Space Grant Program. This grant is given based on academic achievement, recommendations, and career goals.
Scholarships are often awarded to students with exceptional grades and test scores, but they may also be awarded based on race, religion, gender, athletic skills, talents, etc. Some scholarships are offered to students in a particular state or region. Residents of Alaska, as well as out-of-state students who enroll at institutions in Alaska, can apply for scholarships like the ones below.
- Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS): $2378-$4755 per year
- Art Jess Scholarship: $1000 or more
- NSHSS Tesoro Youth Leadership Awards: $2000 (5)
- Red Boucher Scholarship: Up to $1000
- Tim Akers Memorial Scholarship: $1000
Each of the colleges and universities in Alaska offers additional financial aid, some based on need and some based on merit. To find out how you can access those funds, contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend.
Alaska Online Education Resources
A number of organizations provide education resources to help students navigate college preparation, financial assistance, and career planning.
- Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education: This organization provides information on financial aid, career planning, and scholarship assistance.
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU): The NWCCU is a nationally recognized accrediting organization that helps students find accredited institutions and provides educational resources.
- Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski: Senator Lisa Murkowski’s website offers student resources for financial aid opportunities, internships, college preparation, and more.
Browsing education resources may provide you with helpful information on how to access financial assistance, internships, and more.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to an Online College in Alaska?
Attendance costs for online colleges in Alaska can vary depending on several factors, such as in-state versus out-of-state tuition and public versus private colleges.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the total cost of attendance for in-state students is $22,185. Out-of-state students pay slightly more, with a total cost of $25,535 for tuition and other fees. The average total cost for students attending a private four-year college or university is $28,362.
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Online public college degrees may cost less for in-state and out-of-state students compared to in-person or private college programs.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Colleges and universities in certain states may participate in a state reciprocity program with Alaska colleges and universities, which can cut down the cost of tuition for out-of-state students.
Distance learning courses may be offered by a college or university in a student’s home state, which can be applied to other participating institutions. Online programs may be a cheaper alternative for out-of-state students who want to learn remotely, but additional fees for distance learning may still apply.
You can check with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) to find out if the state you live in participates in a state reciprocity program with colleges and universities in Alaska. If you live in a participating state, you may receive a tuition break despite being an out-of-state student and potentially pay less than the average cost of out-of-state tuition.
What Jobs Are in High Demand in Alaska?
According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, these careers are experiencing moderate growth and very high openings in the state:
- Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers
- Dental Assistants
- Healthcare Support Workers
- Medical and Health Services Managers
- Registered Nurses
There are other jobs that have high or very high openings but low growth, such as accountants and auditors, amusement and recreation attendants, environmental specialists, zoologists, and wildlife biologists. Overall, the occupations with the highest demand in Alaska are in the healthcare field.
What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in Alaska?
The top-paying jobs in Alaska are found in the healthcare and engineering fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the highest-paying jobs in Alaska:
- Dentist: $198,950
- Chemical Engineer: $164,340
- Petroleum Engineer: $163,360
Annual wages have been calculated by multiplying the median hourly wage by a “year-round, full-time” hours figure of 2,080 hours. Salaries can be dependent upon the level of education, location, and work experience.
List of Online Colleges in Alaska
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Alaska Pacific University splits its degree programs into three institutes: Business and Public Policy, Culture and Environment, and Health and Wellness. The institutes are designed to serve the Alaskan community.
Students may pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees. APU offers degrees in counseling psychology, creative writing, environmental science, and more. The school also offers certificate programs and early honors classes for high schoolers.
Alaska Pacific University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Ilisagvik College is the only tribal college in Alaska. Ilisagvik offers education programs that are steeped in the rich Iñupiaq cultural heritage. Students can earn degrees through entirely online courses or in a hybrid format. The school offers associate and bachelor’s degrees, certificates, and endorsements. Areas of study include accounting, Iñupiaq studies, and more.
Iḷisaġvik College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Alaska—Anchorage offers several online degrees. Students who live out of state still pay in-state tuition for all courses that are completely online. Students can pursue certificates and associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. There is a wide range of degree options, such as a BS in Occupational Safety and Health and an MS in Project Management.
UAA is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Students at the University of Alaska—Fairbanks have the choice of over 40 online majors. Most courses are asynchronous but still have weekly work due. While most courses last a traditional semester, the school offers a small selection of 7 week classes. Students can earn degrees in the fields of emergency management, justice administration, biology, and more.
UAF is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Alaska—Southeast offers completely online degree programs for students worldwide. Fall and spring semesters are 15 weeks long, while summer terms are shorter. Students can pursue certifications, associate degrees, or bachelor’s degrees in applied fisheries, social sciences, and more. Students can earn their master’s in fields such as public administration. education, and more.
The University of Alaska – Southeast is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Getting Your College Degree in Alaska Online
Online degree programs in Alaska can provide you with a more flexible distance learning option. It may be a better option for professionals who want to earn their degree, but have to work around other responsibilities. It can also be more flexible for in-state students living in rural areas, which could make commuting to and from campus difficult.
If you want to receive your degree from a university in Alaska but can’t relocate, an online degree program in Alaska might be a good option. You can begin your educational journey by researching online accredited institutions in Alaska that best support your goals and interests.
You can also view our Online Colleges in Alabama and Online Colleges in Arizona guides for more options.