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Alaska is the largest state in the United States by landmass, but it has one of the smallest populations. As a result, Alaska’s public university system, known as the University of Alaska, is relatively small. The University of Alaska system has three main campuses: the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the University of Alaska Southeast, which is located in Juneau. The University of Alaska system has a number of strong departments closely related to the state’s geography, particularly at the Fairbanks campus. The campus has the country’s only college rocket test range, as well as strong programs in atmospheric sciences, geology, and wildlife biology. The School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is a significant research facility. Many of the state’s best online degree programs are available through the University of Alaska system.
The State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development also operates AVTEC — Alaska’s Institute of Technology. AVTEC provides vocational training and programs in cooking and baking, welding, career skills, nursing, information technology, and construction. Online degree programs in trade math, software skills certifications, and test preparation courses are available through AVTEC’s distance learning division. Students at AVTEC receive career placement and career counseling through the school’s student services department.
Alaska faces a unique set of issues when it comes to building a diverse economy and an attractive higher education system. Because of the state’s remote location and challenging geography and climate, many Alaskans leave the state after high school to pursue college elsewhere. In an effort to attract more students to Alaska’s universities, the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and the University of Alaska offer partial, performance-based scholarships to students attending Alaska’s universities. Alaska also participates in various distance learning efforts to make education accessible to students across the region, including those living in the state’s most remote areas.
Alaska Distance Learning Initiatives
The state of Alaska is committed to several higher learning initiatives through its alliance with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Many of their objectives include improvements to the online education system and agendas to make accredited online degree programs more accessible for Alaska’s residents. WCET strives to improve the quality of education by leveraging technology, particularly for adult learners,. Another initiative, the Internet Course Exchange (ICE), is an program aimed at schools with online degree programs. ICE allows participating institutions to collaborate on their distance learning programs and share courses.
Universities in Alaska also offer extensive online degree programs. The University of Alaska system offers online bachelors degree programs in education, accounting, business, rural social work, rural development, and others. Associate degrees in dental assisting, fisheries technology, nursing, and more are also available through distance learning. Online education is a great option for Alaska’s residents who want to earn their degree or continue their education, but do not have access to a college campus due to distance.