By Iris Stone
In this ranking, we examine top value universities and colleges in Alaska for 2016.
Alaska: a state so remote and geographically distant from the 48 contiguous that it practically feels like a country of its own. Although Alaska is the country’s largest state by area, it’s the 4th least populated. A vast portion of Alaska is still uninhabited, and its cold weather and lack of metropolitan areas can be a deterrent to many. However, its also renowned for its awesome natural features (like the Aleutian Islands and Mt. Denali) and the unique life it offers.
Understandably, Alaska isn’t as abundant in colleges as it is in national parks, but it is home to a few diamonds in the rough (or rather, in the snow) that deserve attention. Their low cost, targeted academics (which take full advantage of the surrounding environment) and student-centric focus make them great choices for any student seeking a “best value.”
Read more about the methodology we used for this article here.
3. University of Alaska Fairbanks
With a diverse student population hailing from 49 states and 45 countries, Fairbanks is the largest of UA’s campuses and one of the top cheap colleges in Alaska. A great choice for undergrads (89% of students pursue a baccalaureate degree) this school provides access to “America’s Last Frontier” for just $8k a year. Known for its International Arctic Research Center, Institute of Northern Engineering, and Geophysical Institute, the campus is a magnet for aspiring polar explorers. And despite the remote location, academic resources on campus are plentiful; degree programs include Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Alaska Native Languages, American Sign Language, Arctic Engineering, and Ethnobotany, plus career-oriented subjects like Automotive Technology, Carpentry, Welding, and Pastry Arts (available through the College of Rural and Community Development).
Net Price: $8,383/yr
2. University of Alaska Southeast
Located in the beautiful city of Juneau, this top Alaskan university enjoys the mildest climate zone in the state. The school’s location along the Tongass National Forest and Al Inside Passage makes it an ideal place to study Marine Biology and Environmental Science. Just outside your door is a magnificent wilderness and living laboratory, and the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity will provide funding for research projects of your own design. You can live on or off campus, but the convenient dorms are very tempting. A new one for freshmen just opened in 2014, with private rooms and spectacular views of lakes and glaciers. There are even apartments for upperclassmen and families, all with instant access to the Alaskan wilderness. You can’t get that in the Lower 48!
Net Price: $8,509/yr
1. Alaska Pacific University
If you have a passion for the outdoors and the environment and want to learn in the field as much as the classroom, APU is the place for you. It’s one of the best colleges in Alaska for integrating your academic and extracurricular interests; top majors include Sustainability Studies, Outdoor Studies, Marine Biology, Environmental Science, and Earth Science. With a special commitment to serve Alaska’s Native peoples, APU also has a major in Alaska Native Governance. And of course APU boasts a well-stocked outdoor center, through which you can rent equipment or sign up for trips to go sea kayaking, ice climbing, skiing, or backpacking in the Northern wilderness. Even the dining hall and student center reflect a sense of environmental consciousness through their emphasis on local and organic foods.
Net Price: $25,306/yr
This concludes our ranking of best value Alaska colleges and universities.
About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career as a freelance writer and researcher. She now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Her work has included articles related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and careers.