Alaska Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2017-2018

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A Guide to Online Colleges in Alaska

Private for-profit schools have had a big impact in the online learning market, but more and more traditional colleges have also realized the importance of flexible online offerings. One of the goals of the University of Alaska is to provide a quality education throughout the entire state, and due to the remote location of some communities, that means having a solid distance learning program.

The University of Alaska System has more than 80 certificate and degree programs available fully online. Degrees range from the associate to the master’s level and cross more than a dozen major areas, including education, social work, engineering, accounting and general studies. Students also receive support from the system’s UAOnline platform, which enables quick searching and communication. Online programs are administered through the university’s three campus locations, including Anchorage.

Focus on Higher Education in Anchorage

With only four accredited universities, Anchorage’s postsecondary education favors quality over quantity. The largest entity, the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), has programs encompassing disciplines such as health and social welfare, arts and sciences, public policy and engineering. UAA’s Community and Technical College is chiefly dedicated to career-oriented education. UAA offers degrees in more than 150 fields, with some of its most popular majors being nursing, education, business administration and aviation technology.

Other academic opportunities include Alaska Pacific University, a small liberal arts college with a strong emphasis on environmental studies. APU is a founding member of the Eco-League, a nationwide group of five institutions with the goal of promoting ecological research. Charter College, a private institution located in Anchorage, offers certificate, associate and bachelor’s degree programs in fields such as business, health care, IT and criminal justice.

Distance Learning in Anchorage

The University of Alaska provides several online degree and certificate programs through the Anchorage campus, including the licensed practical nurse certificate, associate degree in medical imaging sciences, and master’s degrees in arctic engineering or project management. Serving learners statewide, the UAA Distance Education program utilizes the Blackboard course management system. In addition, Wayland Baptist University’s Anchorage campus offers two online graduate degree programs: Master of Divinity and Master of Public Administration.

College Costs & Tuition in Alaska

Tuition typically represents the largest expense for college, and prospective students should be mindful of the rates when choosing a school in Alaska. Tuition varies depending on the type of institution, with religious and/or private schools generally topping the list. Other factors include the college’s location and the student’s residency status, with state residents enjoying lower tuition fees. Alaska college students paid about $8,800 in tuition per year in 2012.

Of course, there are other costs to keep in mind when researching a college or university. Many schools have extra charges for items such as application and enrollment, parking, course fees, lab fees and more. In Alaska, tuition + fees made the total cost of a college degree about $9,800 per school year.

While the actual cost of school is the primary expenditure for college, students must also consider living expenses. Though Alaska has a reputation for a high cost of living, if students do their research, they can find affordable housing in most college towns. Alaska’s cost of living is about 32 percent higher than the U.S. average. Find out more about the cost of living (COL) at some of Alaska’s top college towns, compared to the national average (100).

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Anchorage 28.4% 42.9% 34.5% -5.9% 22.0% 37.7% 24.8%
Kodiak 28.7% 27.8% 49.4% 31.9% 43.4% 30.7% 15.4%
Juneau 36.5% 65.7% 33.1% 35.1% 21.2% 44.4% 16.1%
Fairbanks 37.4% 48.4% 27.9% 93.1% 18.7% 44.9% 18.8%

An investment in a college education involves a decision that cannot be taken lightly. Selecting the right school and program can make the difference in lifelong success. It’s useful to analyze potential lifetime earnings as well as college fees and tuition to discover schools with low net costs compared to career value. The institutions shown below demonstrate the top return on investment for Alaska colleges.

  1. University of Alaska – Fairbanks
  2. University of Alaska – Anchorage

Paying for Alaska Online Colleges

Obtaining financial assistance, either through loans or scholarships, offers a way to defer some of the cost of a higher education. For example, federal financial aid can make a huge difference in the initial out-of-pocket costs for students at any level. To begin, students must fill out required FAFSA® forms so that the government can allocate funds based on financial need. About 52 percent of Alaska undergrads applied for and received federal financial aid in 2012.

Scholarships provide another opportunity for students to receive financial assistance, and the best part is that they do not have to repay these funds. A variety of private companies, nonprofit organizations, individual learning institutions and even the government offer scholarships in Alaska. Below are some sources for scholarships for Alaska students:

  • ACLU Alaska
  • Alaska Commission on Post-secondary Education
  • Alaska Native Epidemiology Center
  • Alaska Power Association
  • American Council of Engineering Companies
  • American Legion, Western District
  • The Arc, Washington State
  • ASTA
  • Gear Up
  • Kodiak Electric Association
  • Nordic Skiing Association of Alaska
  • Northwest Osteopathic Medical Foundation
  • Western Interstate Commission

Why Accreditation Is Important

Students looking to attend college in Alaska, or any state in the U.S., need to investigate institutional accreditation. This is especially important if the student is seeking financial assistance, as aid usually requires that the college meet specific standards. Alaska colleges should be accredited by organizations such as the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. In addition, various specialized accreditation agencies may recognize individual schools or programs at Alaska colleges. For example, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ School of Management — and its accounting program — have been accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). Only 178 post-secondary institutions worldwide have achieved such accreditation.

Best Online Colleges In Alaska For 2016-2017

In 2013, approximately 60,000 students were enrolled in postsecondary colleges and universities in Alaska. Many of the residents of communities across this vast state complete fully online degree programs or take classes online. The University of Alaska system is committed to distance education, increasing opportunities for students to earn degrees and develop marketable career skills. The highly ranked colleges shown below were selected based on specific criteria that promote success via online learning.

Rank School Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % #ONLINE PROGRAMS Student-teacher RatioGrad Rate
Alaska Pacific University 86.00 100% 17 7:1 60%

Students at Alaska Pacific University can take three programs in an eLearning format: a combined master’s and bachelor’s degree in business, an associate degree in business administration and a doctor of psychology. Courses are offered online, but students connect digitally with staff and other classmates for an interactive, engaging learning environment. The programs allow students the choice of courses that are delivered online or at night, giving a blended option. The school prides itself on providing opportunities and enhancing abilities like applied research, leadership, critical thinking, problem solving and a commitment to serving the native peoples of Alaska.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesNo
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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University of Alaska Southeast 99.27 48% 18 15:1 17%

The University of Alaska Southeast offers both on-campus and online courses. Students enroll in e-Learning classes the same way they would traditional programs. Programs that are offered through the eLearning service include occupational endorsement certificates, general certificates like in small business management, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and graduate certificates. Courses can be done through the web, audio and video conference or a satellite broadcast. Students can also use email and other methods of correspondence to keep in touch with instructors. Online students also receive services like faculty advising, admission counseling, tutoring and an online library. Students can also access online tools like grade reports, registration and bill payment.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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University of Alaska Fairbanks 99.64 43% 21 14:1 32%

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has a number of graduate, bachelor’s and associate degrees online. Certificates, occupational endorsements and minors are also available. The online degrees are flexible and structured for working adults, so the degree programs focus on professional studies: justice, business administration, homeland security and emergency management, accounting and early childhood, to name a few areas of study. Students in these online programs can live anywhere in the world and still get a flexible education. Online students still have full access to an academic advisor who helps them through their education.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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Finding the Right Online Program in Alaska

Although Alaska may seem limited in the total number of colleges, those institutions still offer an array of academic programs, curriculum choices and degree types. Prospective students can use the search tool below to narrow down the list of schools by various factors such as enrollment and tuition. An organized search process can help students find a college that matches their personal and professional needs.

Degree Level:
Student Population:
School Type:
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Best Online Colleges in Alaska for 2015

RANK COLLEGE Tuition And Fees Enrollment Accredited MORE INFO
1 University of Alaska Anchorage$5,72626,030YES
University of Alaska Anchorage offers all of its courses both online and in the classroom. Students may also take a combination of both distance and classroom instruction in coursework leading to certifications and occupational endorsements, undergraduate and graduate degrees. Prospective students can view a full list of courses at UAOnline using a keyword search and register at the same site.
2 University of Alaska Southeast$5,7405,787YES
Earn an associate, bachelor's or master's degree online through the University of Alaska Southeast. E-learning through UAOnline includes coursework for programs leading to an Associate of Applied Science, Bachelor of Business Administration, and even a master’s degree in public relations or education. Master’s programs in education include degrees in teaching, educational leadership, special education and mathematics education.
3 University of Alaska Fairbanks$5,89814,850YES
University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) brings 25 years of distance learning experience through correspondence courses to its 21st century online degree programs. A renowned international faculty delivers an advanced system of long distance instruction via five innovative online learning sites. Pursue an occupational endorsement, certification, associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree through one of UAF’s accredited eLearning programs.

Resources for College Students in Alaska

Information is a powerful tool for prospective students at Alaska online colleges, and the resources below offer a starting point. These sources discuss state-specific groups and agencies that provide different types of support for college students, particularly adult learners.

Major Alaska Educational Resources: