Obtaining a degree through one of Alaska's online colleges can help you be prepared to meet this need for higher-skill jobs — whether you live in one of the larger cities or if you're in a more remote area. Another benefit to attending an online college in Alaska is more immediate: you can earn an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree while continuing to work and/or take care of your family.

Here's an overview of online education opportunities in Alaska.

  • 5 schools in Alaska offer associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs online.
  • Online associate and bachelor's degrees are available at all 5 schools; online master's degree programs are available at 4 of them.
  • 2 schools featuring online programs are private, including one faith-based school; Alaska has 3 are public online colleges.
  • Alaska schools that offer the most online degree programs include University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast and University of Alaska Anchorage.
  • Although program offerings vary from school to school, online programs in fields such as business administration, elementary education and psychology are available at most schools in Alaska.

The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) promotes access to and success in education beyond high school. Online students may take advantage of its education planning tools and resources.

For more information on the best online colleges in Alaska, read on. You can also learn about scholarships and loans that may be available to eligible Alaskan applicants.

What Makes a Good Online College in Alaska?

The team here at OnlineColleges.com has compiled a range of rankings for the best online schools in Alaska, in order to help students select an online college based on the criteria that matters to them. Every school in the following rankings has been accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body, such as the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) or the Alaska Department of Education. Visit our "What is College Accreditation?" page to learn more about the importance of attending an accredited college or university, or visit the Alaska Department of Education for state-specific accreditation information.

Online students in Alaska can use these rankings to help them learn about the online colleges in their state and make an informed decision about which they want to attend. Browse these rankings to compare many key data points, such as the number of online programs offered, graduation rate, tuition costs and more. Students can read about why each of these factors are important for distance learners by visiting the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section on our "About Us" page.

Best Online Colleges in Alaska for 2019-20

When you have distance learning available to you, any college, no matter how far away physically, can be within your reach. Of course it's wonderful to have such freedom, but it can also make it difficult to decide which school to pick. To help with your decision, we have ranked the five best online Alaska colleges offering online programs, using data from the National Center for Education Statistics and our unique methodology (details at the bottom of this page). What constitutes "best" depends on the needs of each specific student Top Colleges Tool can help you with that), but to start off your research, we offer you our list of the best online colleges in Alaska.

1

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Tuition & Fees
$6,262
Distance Education Participation
58%
Number of Programs Offered
47
School Type
4-year

What is UAF like?

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is well-known for its research focus, particularly on climate change and the northern environment around it. Being only 200 miles away from the Arctic circle, UAF is also home to the Institute of Arctic Biology, the International Arctic Research Center and the Institute of Marine Science, among others. UAF is the state's only sea, space and land grant university, as well as the University of Alaska System's flagship campus.

What online programs are at UAF?

Online classes at UAF are delivered using the Blackboard learning platform. Undergraduates can earn certificates, occupational endorsements, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees. Graduate students can pursue master's degrees.

One noteworthy option for distance learning is UAF's Master of Business Administration, with a concentration in STEM with a focus on fisheries, marine biology and oceanography. The school's location and reputation add to the credibility of this program, and its uniqueness can make it hard to find a similar concentration anywhere else.

What online resources does UAF offer?

Students taking UAF's online courses typically qualify for in-state tuition rates, even if they live outside of Alaska. Distance learners completing occupational endorsements for skills like medical billing and administrative assistance may even be eligible for further reduced rates.

2

University of Alaska-Southeast

Tuition & Fees
$6,828
Distance Education Participation
71%
Number of Programs Offered
31
School Type
4-year

What is UAS like?

Established in 1987 and based in Juneau, the University of Alaska Southeast is the smallest of the three major schools in the University of Alaska System. UAS is known for its maritime studies and community engagement. Despite being a relatively small public school, UAS offers a solid list of online programs to widen the reach of the school's educational offerings.

UAS maintains partnerships with institutions such as the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and the Spatial Ecosystem Analysis Lab (SEALAB) to facilitate collaborative research ventures in the surrounding areas.

What online programs are at UAS?

Online programs at UAS can be taken to earn occupational endorsements, degrees and certificates.

Worth noting are the programs that teach Alaska native languages and studies, as they are relatively unique offerings. UAS also lists online occupational endorsement and certificate programs in salmon enhancement, as well as an associate degree in fisheries technology, under a field of research called fisheries pathways.

What online resources does UAS offer?

Like other schools in the University of Alaska System, UAS uses Blackboard as its online learning platform. Another internet-based portal called UASConnect is offered by the school to connect outside of classes through video sessions, virtual study groups and other peer activities among both on-campus and online students.

3

University of Alaska-Anchorage

Tuition & Fees
$6,690
Distance Education Participation
49%
Number of Programs Offered
27
School Type
4-year

What is UAA like?

Established as Anchorage Community College in 1954, the University of Alaska Anchorage is now the largest higher education institution in the University of Alaska System, as well as in the entire state. As a public research university, UAA students and faculty participate in the school's Arctic Initiative through taking and contributing to Arctic studies and coursework.

What online programs are at UAA?

Unlike other universities in the state System, UAA does not offer any distinctive online program based on Arctic research it participates in. Instead, the focus of the majority of distance education programs at UAA is healthcare and its related disciplines. UAA is the only school in the University of Alaska System to offer online baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate programs in nursing.

Blackboard is the online learning portal of choice for UAA. Most programs facilitated through it are 100 percent online, with a few exceptions. UAA's online master's degree programs in public health practice and social work have on-site course requirements, as do a few other options.

What online resources does UAA offer?

Online tutoring through a partnership with Tutor.com is available seven days a week. UAA also provides video tutorials through Hoonuit via Blackboard to explain and teach students how to use technology and applications needed for distance learning, including Adobe Acrobat, Google Apps for Educations, Office 365 and Blackboard.

On top of services available to the entire student body, such as career development and financial aid assistance, UAA offers specific resources for online students. The school has an online newsletter called eLearning eXpress, which disseminates distance learning-related information such as important dates and campus events.

 

Affordable Online Colleges in Alaska for 2019-20

Whether you live far from urban centers or are a resident of Fairbanks or Anchorage, you're probably looking for affordable and flexible degree program options. The following colleges offer students just that. This list of affordable online colleges in Alaska includes information on tuition costs as well as the number and type of online programs offered.

Financial Aid Resources in Alaska

Tuition cost and affordability is a concern for students all over the United States, and Alaska is no exception. Fortunately, financial aid can help to ease the price of college, especially in the form of grants -- which are awarded based on need -- and scholarships -- which are awarded based on merit. It's important to seek out and apply for financial aid that could be of use to you, in order to mitigate the net costs of your education as much as possible.

What Grants and Scholarships are Available in Alaska? 

Browse some of the financial aid options for students studying in Alaska in the tables below. For more information on how to apply to grants or scholarships, see our articles the Ultimate Guide to Grants and the Ultimate Guide to Scholarships.

1

Alaska World Affair Council

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$2,500
Application Deadline
April 1
Application Deadline
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicants must be current Alaskan high school seniors planning to attend a post-secondary institution in Alaska in Fall 2017. Students must demonstrate community involvement, leadership, character, academic ability and financial need.

2

Richard D. Johnson Memorial Post-Secondary Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
N/A
Application Deadline
March 30
Application Deadline
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be a resident of Alaska who is a major participant in community service, activities, and/or American Legion Post involvement. Applicant must have an improving versus declining academic outlook; selection will be made in favor of the student that normally would not receive an academic scholarship.

3

Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage(NSAA) Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$1,500
Application Deadline
March 31
Application Deadline
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be a resident of Alaska who was a member of the NSAA and their high school cross-country ski team during their junior and senior years. Minimum 2.7 GPA required.

4

Wrangell and Stika Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$5,000
Application Deadline
March 31
Application Deadline
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be a graduating senior from Sitka or Wrangell High School who will pursue post-secondary education.

Student Loans in Alaska

Alaska offers its students two supplemental education loan options through the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE). The state is committed to providing rates exactly as they are advertised and promises to lower costs whenever it is possible. They also pride themselves on their customer service, provided by Alaska-based agents, and the fact that their loans have a lower interest rate than the Federal PLUS loan.

The ASEL is a low-cost loan for both in-state and out-of-state students, as well as those in career training institutions that are not covered by federal loans. Eligible students must be enrolled at least half-time, and have a qualifying credit score (or apply with a cosigner who does). Students are not required to make any payments while enrolled full-time, though there is no penalty for paying off the loan early.

  • Application deadline:  Up to $14,000 per year for undergraduates
  • Award amount:  Not specified
The FEL offers an opportunity for a family to help cover the cost of a student's education. The borrower may be a spouse, parent, stepparent, foster parent, or grandparent. Both the borrower and the student must be residents of Alaska, and the student must be enrolled full-time. There is no credit score requirement, but the borrower must have an acceptable credit history.

  • Application deadline:  Up to $14,000 per year for undergraduates
  • Award amount:  Not specified

Learn more about student loans of all types in the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Alaska

  • The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education provides education planning tools and other resources, as well as information on a few career-specific loans for students in fishery-related, biomedical or exchange programs.

Costs for Out-of-State Students in Alaska

If you want to study in Alaska but don't already live there, you could find yourself paying non-resident tuition rates. Even if you're relocating for a job and plan to permanently settle in the state, it can take two years before you qualify for in-state tuition through public institutions like the University of Alaska.

However, you may be able to minimize the amount of out-of-state tuition you have to pay. In-state rates may be extended to students who fall into one of the following categories:

  • Active duty military personnel and National Guard members, their spouses and dependents
  • Participants in the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) through the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE)
  • Dependents of college or university employees

The Western Undergraduate Exchange can also reduce costs for some out-of-state students studying in Alaska Through the exchange, students in 16 Western states and territories can study in an another participating state for a rate that is no more than 150 percent of in-state tuition.

If you're worried about affording non-resident tuition rates in Alaska, talk to your school's admissions and financial aid office. There may be scholarships available to offset the cost of out-of-state tuition.

You can read more about tuition assistance programs for out-of-state students in Alaska at these links:

Best Careers In Alaska

Online students in Alaska have many different career paths from which to choose, from traditional industries such as oil and gas production to emerging industries such as renewable energy. Students can use the data in the following section to compare statewide employment, job projections and average salaries for many of the most in demand jobs in Alaska. Using this data can help students narrow down their career choices prior to enrolling in online colleges in Alaska.

EmploymentEmployment GrowthMedian High School SalaryMedian Bachelor's Salary
332,2805.1%$35,691$54,997
Employment in Alaska332,280
Employment Growth in Alaska5.1%
Median High School Salary in Alaska$35,691
Median Bachelor's Salary in Alaska$54,997

Top Alaska Industries

*Industry rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Top IndustriesEmploymentProjected GrowthAverage Salary
Ambulatory healthcare services224,0507%$68,689
Hospitals; state, local, and private249,1207%$68,415
Educational services; state, local, and private281,7305%$66,961
Nursing and residential care facilities212,0209%$63,709
Management of companies and enterprises259,2005%$64,875
Support activities for mining134,2504%$72,209
Professional, scientific, and technical services262,3005%$64,788
Petroleum and coal products manufacturing120,0104%$74,147
Social assistance235,2007%$62,956
Chemical manufacturing163,8304%$70,321

Any conversation about high demand careers in Alaska should include discussion of the state's oil and gas industry. It's the largest segment of Alaska's economy, with oil revenues accounting for about 85 percent of the state's annual budget.

The 800-mile long Trans Alaska Pipeline Systems moves oil from Prudhoe Bay in the north to the port town of Valdez on the eastern side of Prince William Sound. The industry employs a diverse range of workers, so careers that focus on petroleum manufacturing, management, or ancillary professional and technical support positions are among the many good jobs to have in Alaska. The industry also requires additional skilled workers in the field of chemical manufacturing to support oil production by making new catalysts or polymers that can help increase oil production.

Other leading economic drivers in the state include agriculture, timber production, fishing, tourism and mining. Support activities for mining, in particular, could be one potential avenue of employment for graduates of online colleges in Alaska who earn degrees in geology or professional careers such as accounting, law, engineering, data research and other related occupations.

Despite having the lowest population density of any state in the U.S., Alaska offers some of the highest salaries for teachers -- annual mean wages for elementary and middle school teachers in 2018 was around $75,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Education supports several of the most needed jobs in Alaska, such as healthcare, management and engineering. However, similarly to many other states, Alaska is suffering from a teacher shortage. These appealing salaries are one of the ways the state is working to alleviate the need for educators in Alaska.

In the section that follows, we'll take a closer look at some of the most in-demand careers for Alaska's two largest metro areas.

Anchorage, AK Metro Area

Total Population
399,360
Median salary for high school grads
$38,503
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$59,091
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
27.1%
Median rent
$1,237

Anchorage is the largest population center in Alaska, with more than 291,000 people residing in in Anchorage County in 2018. Four hospitals serve the region, providing ample employment opportunities for skilled healthcare workers. Physician assistants are among the most high demand jobs at Alaska Regional Hospital and Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage's two largest healthcare facilities.

Though construction accounts for a modest portion of Anchorage's total economic composition, there's strong demand for civil engineers and construction managers in the region, especially to meet the needs of the petroleum industry. It therefore makes sense that petroleum engineers are another of the high paying jobs in Anchorage.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Petroleum EngineersBachelor's degree$177,120330
Physician AssistantsMaster's degree$122,460340
Civil EngineersBachelor's degree$132,680810
Massage TherapistsPostsecondary nondegree award$86,590410
Construction ManagersBachelor's degree$118,250680

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Fairbanks, AK Metro Area

Total Population
100,031
Median salary for high school grads
$39,102
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$50,855
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
36.9%
Median rent
$1,272

The Kinross Gold Fort Knox mine located 25 miles northeast of Fairbanks is a major employer in the region with hundreds of employees and additional on-site contractors. Expansion projects at the mine, along with new construction in the Fairbanks region itself, require skilled construction managers, operating engineers and heavy equipment operators. And though the education sector is under-served across the state, kindergarten teachers are particularly high demand jobs in Fairbanks.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special EducationBachelor's degreeN/AN/A
Medical and Health Services ManagersBachelor's degreeN/AN/A
General and Operations ManagersBachelor's degree$98,590610
Construction ManagersBachelor's degree$105,270230
Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment OperatorsHigh school diploma or equivalent$74,970350

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

 
Sources
Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:

  • Level of institution is either "Four or more years" or "At least 2 but less than 4 years"
  • Data is reported for all 11 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section
  • At least 1% of students are taking at least some of the classes via distance education
  • "Number of programs offered via distance education" was an integer greater than 0

We ranked the resulting 1,813 colleges on 11 criteria, using 2016-17 data from IPEDS:

  1. Number of programs offered via distance education
  2. Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  5. Graduation rate
  6. Retention rate
  7. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Other)
  8. Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
  9. Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
  10. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  11. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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