Explore Higher Eduction in the Last Frontier state. With 10 accredited universities and over 100 online degree programs, options abound for both residential and online students in Alaska.
Unless you’ve visited the area or are a state resident, the thought of attending school in Alaska can be a tad intimidating. Although it is a beautifully scenic area, those who prefer to live in warmer climates may have some aversion to the often iced-over state. Nevertheless, many do not realize that Alaska does have warmer months (the warmest month being in July, with average temperatures of 67 degrees) and that attending college in the state can provide students with a unique, life-changing collegiate experience. That said, here are some of the most common FAQs regarding Alaska colleges.
Are There Any Colleges in Alaska?
If you are unfamiliar with the area, you may wonder if there are even any colleges in Alaska. Of course, the answer is yes! In fact, most students are delighted to find out that Alaska offers most of the most prominent majors, as well as several that are unique to the area. From fisheries and marine science to environmental education to outdoor leadership and sustainability, students can gain valuable skills in a variety of areas that are only available in Alaska. In this article, we will discuss some of the unique college majors that are offered at universities and colleges throughout Alaska. We will also explore how these degrees can help students prepare for their future career paths and make an impact on their communities.
Alaska: Best Colleges
Wonder how many colleges in Alaska? The state has ten colleges in total. They may not make U.S. News & World Report, but there’s quality education in Alaska. From associate degrees to bachelor’s degrees to graduate students, Alaska offers student resources the attract prospective students.
Although it doesn’t have as many colleges as most larger states, there is a good selection of Alaska colleges and universities to choose from. If you’re looking for a more in-depth answer to the question of how many colleges are in Alaska, here is a list of the four-year colleges in Alaska:
Alaska Public Universities:
- University of Alaska Anchorage – largest college
- University of Alaska Fairbanks – flagship campus
- University of Alaska Southeast
Alaska Private Colleges:
- Alaska Bible College
- Alaska Pacific University – private institution
- Saint Herman Theological Seminary
- Wayland Baptist University
- Alaska Career College, a for-profit vocational school
- Charter College, a for-profit associate’s college
Are There Community Colleges in Alaska?
On the other hand, many prefer to attend community colleges because they are often less expensive and more accessible. Here is a list of the community colleges in Alaska:
- Iḷisaġvik College — tribal community college
- Kenai Peninsula College –
- Kodiak College
- Matanuska–Susitna College
- Prince William Sound College
What Are the Most Popular Majors in Alaska?
As most students know, all colleges aren’t created equal. Therefore, you must take the time to do your research before deciding which college you wish to attend. As with most states, Alaska universities offer a wide array of majors that enable students to pursue careers both in the state and when relocating to other areas. Here is an overview of the most popular majors in Alaska colleges:
Accounting – 4%
One of the most popular majors in Alaska is accounting. They are tasked with learning the underlying theory behind accounting and learning how to analyze the financial positions of entrepreneurs, organizations, and firms. Those who have an interest in learning to produce, audit, and maintain accurate and detailed systems designed to display the finances of any given entrepreneur, organization, or business.
Business – 4%
Earning a business administration degree can provide you with a highly lucrative way to earn a living. These degrees are highly versatile and can make it possible for you to take on a wide array of careers. Upon graduation, you can take on jobs in sectors such as nonprofit organizations, the business sector, the government, and much more. Therefore, you can choose to stick with one specialization, or you can try multiple sectors until you find the best.
Biology and Biomedical Sciences – 2%
Biology and Biomedical Sciences is a highly popular major in Alaska. This is because these programs help prepare students for careers in the medical and biomedical sectors, life sciences, and other sciences. They can also choose to go into teaching, graduate school, or medical school, which are sectors that can include the integration of biology and biomedical sciences. Either way, Alaska is an excellent area to major in biology due to its unique ecosystem.
Engineering – 2.4%
Another highly popular degree in Alaska is engineering. Those who choose to major in engineering must have a good understanding of science and math, as well as some basic business principles. While earning an engineering degree, students learn skills such as how to design and conduct experiments, identify and solve problems, understand ethical and professional and ethical responsibility, and communicate more effectively.
Health Administration –2%
Health administration is yet another prominent major for those attending Alaska universities. Earning these degrees prepares students to take on leadership roles within an array of healthcare settings. In addition, this major allows organizations to learn how to enable an organization to run more smoothly by implementing new protocols and changes to help improve organizational efficiency as well as daily operations.
Health Sciences –2%
Studying health sciences means learning a combination of natural science and behavioral science as a means of better understanding how they impact our health. Therefore, health science majors study a variety of subjects, such as psychology, sociology, biology, epidemiology, chemistry, etc. Also, you may learn about health policy and how to manage the business of healthcare.
Social Sciences – 2%
Social sciences are also a very popular major in Alaska. Those who choose social sciences programs can create lucrative careers in fields such as politics, economics, and urban planning, as well as many others. This is because the courses taken as a part of these programs can enable you to learn a wide array of skills that you can use to pursue careers in a wide variety of sectors.
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies –13%
Liberal Arts and Sciences majors are still relatively popular across the country. This is even true in Alaska. Those who choose to major in the liberal arts learn about topics such as writing, literature, history, sociology, philosophy, psychology, creative arts, and much more. Liberal arts programs help students learn generalized skills such as how to communicate appropriately, formulate compelling arguments, and solve problems creatively.
Registered Nursing – 8%
Choosing to major in Registered Nursing enables students to prepare for a career path in nursing administration, nursing research, and/or clinical nursing. This major teaches students the skills needed to assess clinical scenarios, facilitate positive patient interactions, and work successfully in a wide array of healthcare settings.
How Many College Students are in Alaska?
If you are considering attending the universities of Alaska, you may be wondering just how many college students there are in Alaska. According to Univstats, the number of students attending college in Alaska is 22,291. Moreover, the average acceptance rate is 28.60%, the average graduation rate is 43.89 %, and the student-faculty ratio is 9.67 to 1. That allows academic advising to be more hands-on than in larger colleges as well.
What Kinds of Jobs are Needed in Alaska?
Alaska is far from a typical American state. Therefore, the opportunities and job requirements may vary drastically when compared to many other American states. Here are some of the top jobs in Alaska:
1. Orthopedist — $390,000
If you are interested in helping people heal from injuries and illnesses to the musculoskeletal system, becoming an orthopedic surgeon can be a highly lucrative career choice if you plan to stay and work in the state.
2. Psychiatrist — $254,067
If you are interested in helping patients improve their mental health, becoming a psychiatrist may be an excellent option. This career path involves tasks such as developing treatment plans, conducting evaluations, providing crisis intervention, prescribing and administering medication, and more.
3. Cardiology Physician — $244,228
If you are more interested in working with the cardiovascular system, becoming a cardiological physician can be quite lucrative and rewarding. Doing so can not only enable you to ensure that patients maintain sound cardiovascular health while also earning lots of money in the process.
4. Petroleum Engineer — $163,360
If you are more interested in working in the great outdoors, becoming a petroleum engineer may be a great career option. Those who choose this career path enjoy high wages and have the unique ability to make a difference in this nation’s oil and gas industry.
5. Conservation Scientist — $82,000
Given the nature of Alaska, its environment, and weather, it is a great location to become a conservation scientist. Accepting a position as a conservation scientist in Alaska will enable you to survey and protect the environment while also earning an average of $82,000 with no experience to a moderate level of experience.
What are Some Tips for Attending College in Alaska?
Since Alaska is such a unique place to live, attending college is a highly unique experience. Here are some tips for those interested in attending college in Alaska:
- Grants and Scholarships: Given that Alaska is less densely populated than many other states, there is far less competition for grants, scholarships, and even financial aid. Many colleges have lower tuition costs than the lower 48 as well. This means students who choose to attend universities in Alaska have a better chance of graduating from college with little to no debt. If you are planning to attend an Alaskan university, be sure to research your options for federal financial aid, scholarships, and grants, before you apply for any loans or pay out of pocket.
- Housing: As with all colleges, Alaska college students have the option of living on campus or off campus. This can mean you stay in a dorm or apartment, or if you plan to stay for the long term, you may even be able to rent or buy a home. Students should take the time to consider their budgets and financial aid and find out which type of housing is best for them.
- Transportation: Even if you choose to live on campus, you will likely need reliable transportation while living in Alaska. Many students choose to use buses, ride-sharing companies, or taxis. However, there are several carports in Alaska, which makes it possible to travel in your own vehicle. Take the time to consider which option works best for your needs and budget.
- Things to Do: One of the biggest selling points for attending college in Alaska is the vast array of unique, refreshing hobbies and pastimes. Some of the most popular hobbies in Alaska are sightseeing, biking, hiking, kayaking, and more.
- Making Money: If you plan to work while attending Alaska State colleges, you will want to pay attention to the local economy. This is because the area has lots of entry-level positions that are perfect for inexperienced college students. Many of these positions pay minimum wage, which is $10.34. Therefore, students must carefully consider which positions work best with their experience.
Not surprisingly, there are many online programs in the Alaska system (hazardous traveling conditions much of the year, after all). Students with a high school diploma who are interested in online undergraduate and graduate degrees may find more information here. Bachelor’s degree education programs give Alaskans a leg up on the job market.
What Do International Students Need to Know about Attending College in Alaska?
If you are an international student who wishes to attend school in Alaska, there are many things you need to know. Here are a few tips to help make your transition more seamless:
Big Land, Small Town
One of the top things that international students need to be prepared for when attending colleges and universities in Alaska is that, although the land mass is massive, it’s actually the least populated state in the entire country. So, if you are traveling from other countries and are venturing to Alaska in hopes of having a considerable city experience, you are likely to be disappointed. Moreover, your best chance of having any semblance of a major city experience is by moving to the city of Anchorage; almost half its population of citizens live in or around this major city. Choosing to live in other areas will result in far fewer residents and can make it more difficult to venture out socially.
Moreover, when attending Alaska Universities and community colleges in Alaska, you may experience unique challenges. This is especially true if you’re not used to living in colder climates. Alaska is known for incredibly harsh winters. This means students will need to be bundled up whenever they choose to go outdoors, and they will also need to take special provisions in terms of traveling. This is especially true if you plan to take your own vehicle. Driving in the snow can be very treacherous and requires a vehicle that is in relatively good condition as well as the skills to know how to properly navigate through such terrain.
Additionally, given the nature of the climate, students must be prepared to deal with above-average cost-of-living expenditures. This may include anything from paying higher energy costs in your home or apartment to paying inflated prices for certain supplies that may be vital yet relatively scarce in the region.
Background to the Backcountry
Two things make Alaska Alaska – natural resources, and natural preserves. On the one hand, Alaska is incredibly wealthy in gold, petroleum, natural gas, fishing, and forestry, all of which made that the US’s choice to buy the land (for 2 cents an acre!) from Russia in 1867 a surprising investment (gold and oil were not even known at the time). On the other hand, nearly two-thirds of Alaska is owned by the federal government as national park and refuge land, making it one of the world’s most important natural preserves. Research in Alaska is crucial to understanding sustainability, environmental science, and climate change.
That’s why Alaska’s colleges and universities, though few in number, are great in importance.
Opportunities in Alaska
The University of Alaska Fairbanks, for instance, was founded when Alaska was just a new American Territory as an Agricultural Experiment Station, and it has continued as a land, sea, and space grant research university with research key to understanding and preserving Alaska’s precious resources. UA Anchorage, on the other hand, is the center of professional and technical study in the state, being at the heart of the state’s largest city (where nearly half of all residents live). These and other institutions work to preserve Alaska’s other great source of value and strength – its native cultures and traditions. Alaska’s institutions are crucial to community service and outreach, from its private colleges to the UA system, reaching out to the many isolated, rural towns, villages, and outposts where healthcare and economic opportunity are often hard to come by. And nearly all of Alaska’s colleges and universities keep tuition low, student support high, and financial aid generous, helping to keep Alaska’s best student in Alaska to forge the next generation of pioneers.
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