Alaska may not be on your radar just yet when it comes to searching for colleges, but it should be – especially if you enjoy the outdoors and don’t mind the cold! This unique state has plenty to offer adventurous students, and by attending a school in one of the state’s cities, like Anchorage, you can have access to everything you need while only being a few steps away from the stunning sights that call Alaska home.
Below, you’ll find information on some of the best colleges in Alaska, the benefits of going to college in the state, and details about affording your education thanks to financial aid programs!
Top Colleges in Alaska
- University of Alaska Fairbanks
- Location: Fairbanks
- Student Enrollment: 6,607
- Acceptance Rate: 65%
- Alaska Pacific University
- Location: Anchorage
- Student Enrollment: 595
- Acceptance Rate: 99.3%
- University of Alaska Anchorage
- Location: Anchorage
- Student Enrollment: 10,464
- Acceptance Rate: 66.5%
- University of Alaska Southeast
- Location: Juneau
- Student Enrollment: 1,923
- Acceptance Rate: 62.9%
- See More
Why Should You Go to School in Alaska?
Alaska can feel remote, but for those with a spirit for adventure, you’ll never be without somewhere to explore within the state!
1. History and Education
Alaska has only been a state since 1959, but the rugged region is home to some amazing historical sites. The Skagway Historic District maintains buildings and structures that were built during a gold rush in the state in order to preserve or restore the 1890s atmosphere.
There is also a ghost town at the Kennicott Mine in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The town was originally known as McCarthy, but declined rapidly after copper prices fell in the late 1930s. Today, the site is on the National Register of Historic Places.
And if museums are your thing, you’re in luck here, too! The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks is one of the top rated locations in the state. Containing 70 historic automobiles, it’s the perfect destination if you love cars. The University of Alaska is also home to the Museum of the North which features 2.5 million artifacts and specimens for those interested in biology and history.
Alaska has a thriving history and is home to Alaska Natives, too. The Alaska Native Heritage Center, for instance, features stories that have been passed down for generations, crafts, ceremonial outfits, instruments, and so much more. And, the Anchorage Museum features ceremonial masks, clothing, ivory carvings, and other exhibits.
When it comes to food, you’ll definitely have some unique options here! The wild-caught seafood is sure to be a treat if you are a seafood lover (it’s sustainable, too!). You can opt for salmon, crab, rockfish, cod, and others. And if you’re not into seafood, that’s okay – you might just meet an Alaskan who hunts on your visit and get to try one of the many traditional game meats to be found in the state including moose, caribou, reindeer, and black bear.
The state of Alaska has some of the most stunning scenes anywhere in the United States. Denali National Park and Preserve is home to Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), the tallest peak in North America. There are plenty of hikes – solo and guided – available, plus other opportunities such as biking, camping, flightseeing, and even a chance to hang out with some working sled dogs!
You may also want to plan some trips to the Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Alaska SeaLife Center, and the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Every single location presents unique opportunities to explore the true wilderness and potentially see the animals that call Alaska home such as bears, moose, caribou, and others.
Paying for Colleges in Alaska
For Alaska residents, there are two state grant programs that can help make college more affordable if you decide to stay in the state: The Alaska Education Grant and the Alaska Performance Scholarship. In addition, the state has some other financial aid programs available to students such as the Alaska Supplemental Education Loan.
Alaska also has tuition reciprocity with several other states, meaning if you decide to attend school in Alaska but you’re from one of the participating states, you can qualify for in-state tuition, potentially saving you thousands of dollars if not tens of thousands. In the Western region, participating states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
If Alaska is on your radar as a potential state for your college experience, you’ll definitely want to keep this extremely unique state at the top of your list. Just be sure that you can stand the cold and shorter days during the winter!
Not sure which of the schools in Alaska would best fit your education and career goals? We have you covered with our College Match tool! Simply sign up, input your information, and we’ll provide you with information on some of the best colleges and universities out there that fit your wants, needs, and goals. Start here for free!