As the most sparsely populated state in the union, Alaska is home to the fewest number of colleges and universities in the U.S (tied with Wyoming). The sum total of its accredited, non-profit post-secondary institutions comes to nine, three of which are subsumed under the University of Alaska umbrella.
The Last Frontier can trace the history of its higher education system as far back as 1922, when the former Russian territory opened the doors to the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. Located just six miles outside of Fairbanks, the school’s inaugural class was comprised of 13 students. By 1935, the school had become the University of Alaska and was made freely available to residents. Out-of-territory attendees were charged the princely sum of $20 per semester.
Alaska’s most notable four-year institution actually began as a two-year college. The 17,000 that populate the University of Alaska Anchorage today are a far cry from the 400+ that helped open the school as the Anchorage Community College in 1954. Shortly after Alaska’s 1959 ascension to statehood, ACC became one of several community colleges throughout the state to become incorporated under the University of Alaska.
Since that time, the school and its students have benefitted tremendously from their location in Alaska’s most happening city. Four miles from the downtown area and tucked into the lush landscape of Goose Lake Park, UAA offers students a perfect middle ground between metropolis and nature. It should also probably come as no surprise that the school’s Seawolves have produced multiple national championships in skiing.
In case you’ve heard otherwise, be assured that Alaska is cold and snowy much of the time. Which explains why the Nordic Ski Club of the Alaska Pacific University is also among the very best in the world. This tiny liberal arts college of 750 students embodies the pioneer spirit and rugged eccentricity of the state itself, offering a bevy of personalized, self-directed, and unconventional learning opportunities.
Though Alaska’s public school system is comprised of only six public institutions (and three private colleges), prices are comparatively low. As compared to a national average of $8,070 per year for public, in-state tuition, the average Alaskan will pay $6,317.