Alaska is one of the least populated states in the U.S., so it doesn’t need a huge higher education system to provide students with the resources they need to get a degree. The University of Alaska is the only public, four-year institution in the state, and is composed of three universities spread across 15 campuses, with flagship school’s in the state’s biggest cities: Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau.
There are also a number of private colleges in the state, including Alaska Bible College and Alaska Pacific University, as well as five community colleges, one for-profit associate degree college, and one seminary school, Saint Herman’s Orthodox Seminary. Because options are limited to so few schools, students often seek educational opportunities elsewhere, and as a result the state has several programs in place to improve higher education and encourage students to stay in their home state to complete school.
- UC Scholars Program. The Scholar Award is given to student residents who are among the top 10% of their graduating class. The award is monetary, offering $11,000 towards a degree at any of the University of Alaska’s 15 campuses.
- Internet Course Exchange (ICE). The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has spearheaded this program that allows an alliance of member institutions, including the University of Alaska, to share distance-delivered courses among two- and four-year institutions in the WICHE region.
- UA Strategic Direction Intiative (SDI). SDI is a program through which the state hopes to improve its university system. Under SDI, the school’s would invest in new innovations, raise awareness of the impact of higher education on the economy, develop more flexible systems to meet the needs of students, and work to improve the UA culture campus and statewide.
Both the ICE and SDI are part of measures to improve the variety of online programs to which students in the state have access. Through these, online programs will undoubtedly grow in the coming years, but there are already a wealth of routes students can take to pursue online education within the state. Each of the University of Alaska’s main campuses offers online associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Students also have options through private schools, with Alaska Pacific University and Charter College offering a wide range of courses and degree programs in everything from eduction to business administration. Community, tribal, and technical schools are also a great online option, especially for those looking to earn associate’s degrees or other certifications.
Getting a Career in Alaska With Your Degree
According to the most recent employment outlook survey’s from Manpower, Alaska’s job market is among the best in the nation, with nearly 30% of employers expecting to hire over the coming months. That’s good news for those who plan to pursue degree programs that will prepare them to take part in some of Alaska’s most important industries: oil and gas, tourism, commercial fishing, mining, timber, and government, which form the foundation of the state’s economy.
To prepare to work in these industries, most of which make use of Alaska’s rich natural resources, there are a variety of degree programs students can pursue. Those looking to work in oil and gas, by far Alaska’s most profitable industry (revenues from which almost cover the entire operations budget for the state government), may want to consider an online degree in petroleum engineering. Those who feel the tourism industry is a better fit will find programs in hospitality, tourism management, and hotel management, preparing them to take on the second-largest industry in the state. Other helpful degrees are public administration, business, and political science, which can prepare students for government work or marketing, information technology, and business, which can set the stage for employment in the private sector.
No matter what career students choose to pursue, there are ample opportunities to gain the expertise it requires through an online degree program. Here are the universities and colleges that offer access to these programs: