Distance learning has become a fully-integrated and sizable component of college life in the United States. Considering Alaska’s large size and tiny population, you’d be right to assume that the online classroom would play an especially important role in Alaska’s postsecondary education environment. Read on to discover what online college options Alaska has to offer, and what you need to do to find, apply for, and successfully complete the online program that’s right for you.
Given the limited number of Alaska postsecondary institutions offering distance learning programs and courses, any list of bests – like “the best accredited online colleges in Alaska” or “the best affordable online colleges in Alaska” – is bound to be somewhat repetitive. Nevertheless, we’ve compiled the following rankings based on a variety of relevant factors to provide students with a clearer understanding of the quality online options available from Alaska’s colleges and universities, so students can see which schools stand out above the rest.
As might be expected, Alaska’s population supports only a small number of colleges and universities within its borders, which in turn means a limited number of schools offering distance learning programs. Fortunately, the programs that are available are relatively robust. At the core of distance education in the state is the University of Alaska System. The UA System consists of three main university campuses – UA Anchorage, UA Fairbanks, and UA Southeast – along with 13 satellite and affiliated community college campuses located throughout the state. Together, the main UA campuses offer over 100 undergraduate, graduate, certificate and occupational endorsement programs, as well as hundreds of courses, all of which may be completed either entirely online or in a blended format.
Among other schools offering distance learning degree and course options are Alaska Pacific University, a small, private liberal arts college located in Anchorage, and Iḷisaġvik College, a public community college located in Barrow.
Alaska is a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), a non-profit organization that facilitates cooperation between 15 western states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to provide a range of services to its members and their students. Three important WICHE programs for students are the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), and the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP). Under the WEU, students from outside Alaska can enroll in Alaska public postsecondary schools for a reduced tuition cost of 150% of the in-state resident rate. The WRGP offers certain graduate students the opportunity to enroll in Alaska grad programs at the in-state tuition rate. PSEP students pay a reduced tuition for selected professional healthcare programs.
A recent report by the U.S. Department of Education showed that nearly 6,000 students in Alaska took at least one of their courses online in 2012, and that roughly 2,700 of degree-/certificate-seeking students in the state were enrolled exclusively online. Let’s look at more detailed data about the state of online learning in Alaska.