POPULATION (2021): 732,673
LARGEST PUBLIC UNIVERSITY IN ALASKA: University of Alaska – Anchorage
LARGEST PRIVATE UNIVERSITY IN ALASKA: Charter College
Alaska, as most know, is located west of Canada’s mainland and doesn’t connect to any other states. However, it does account for nearly ⅓ of the United States’ total landmass. The population is another story, though, as Alaska has fewer people than Rhode Island. This lack of people is one of the main reasons some seek out Alaska, for both college or life away from the normalcy of the lower 48 states.
Alaska became a state in 1867, but the first college wouldn’t follow until 1922, known as The Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines at the time. That same Fairbanks school became the University of Alaska’s main campus in 1935 and is now known as The University of Alaska – Fairbanks, as the main campus is in Anchorage.
Universities in Alaska – 4-Year Colleges
The current college landscape isn’t all that much larger than it was in 1922, but students in Alaska do have a few more options for both 4-year colleges and universities and two-year schools. Here’s a look at the 4-year options.
Public Universities in Alaska
The aforementioned University of Alaska is the only public university system in the state, though it now has three campuses. The largest i The University of Alaska – Anchorage, which currently enrolls nearly 15,000 students. Located on the Cook Inlet, the Anchorage campus offers students a lot of options for activities outside of school. Hiking and camping are popular in the summer, as is entertainment by the water in Alaska’s biggest city.
The second-largest public school in Alaska is the U of A at Fairbanks, which was the location of the first university founded in the state. Though Fairbanks is also the second-largest city in Alaska, its population is only a touch over 30,000 and definitely has a more small-town feel than Anchorage, as does the location of the third University of Alaska: Juneau (called U of A Southeast).
Private Universities in Alaska
The first private university in Alaska was (and is) Wayland Baptist University, located in Anchorage. It is also the private university with the highest enrollment in Alaska, with approximately 4,500 students. Alaska Pacific University is also located in Anchorage, and is a private university with 500 students.
Two other faith-based universities are located in Alaska, with Alaska Bible College located in Glennallen and Saint Herman Theological Seminary in Kodiak.
Community Colleges in Alaska
For being such a large state land-wise, it’s good to know that there are a handful of community colleges spread throughout Alaska for those students looking to get a taste of college before heading to one of the universities mentioned above.
The Alaska Career College and Charter College are both located in Anchorage and offer students two-year programs, though they are private institutions.
There are also7 public community colleges located throughout the state, with most having affiliations with one of the native tribes from Alaska.
- Ilisagvik Tribal Community College – Utqiagvik
- Kodiak College – Kodiak
- Kenai Peninsula College – 3 Campuses: Soldotna, Homer, Seward
- Matanuska-Susitna College – Palmer
- Prince William Sound College – Valdez
Prominent Online Colleges in Alaska
Being as spread out as it is, and often difficult to travel in, Alaskan universities and colleges benefit from offering students online courses, and all of the public campuses above do just that. They currently offer more than 100 degree programs online across their three campuses, and the list grows every year.
Get to Know Alaska
Alaska is big. Really, really big. With that, the landscapes vary greatly, as does the weather. Most of the colleges are located in the southern part of the state, which has fairly comparable weather to Washington State and Oregon, but the Fairbanks campus, for instance, is in the central part of the state and regularly experiences temperatures in the negative double digits (e.g. -15).
In the winter, most fun is had inside, at least at night, but things like snowshoeing, hockey, ice skating, and skiing are popular in the winter when the sun is up.
The cost of living is very low, as is most tuition at the colleges mentioned here. Alaska is certainly a place to go to college if you want to have a unique experience with endless exploration to be done.