Want an education from a broad perspective? Try the biggest state in the Union.
If you were to superimpose Alaska over the 48 states, you'd be able to see that the southernmost tip of the state could touch Florida, while the farthest island off the coast would reach California. This is a big state, with lots to explore.
For all that landmass, however, there fewer than one million people. This means that there are just a handful of colleges in Alaska. But the smaller number shouldn't discourage you from exploring the option of going to college in the state—whether you're an Alaskan native or considering coming from out-of-state.
That's why we've put together this list, ranking Alaska's best colleges, to help you in your search. Of course, don't assume that our ranking takes into account everything there is to say about Alaska's colleges.
Related: Best Online Colleges in Alaska
It's intended to give you a baseline, so you can know what's out there, and then assess the candidates based on factors numbers can't take account for, like campus vibe and specific programs you're interested in.
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What are the best colleges in Alaska?
The ranking for the best colleges in Alaska is based on three main data points: excellence of the institution, return on investment, and student satisfaction.
Each data point is itself representative of an aggregate of other data points, so excellence is a composite of statistics from the IPEDS database and U.S. News & World Report. Return on investment is a weight of program cost versus the expected early career salary of graduates. And student satisfaction is an aggregate of student reviews of their college.
See our rankings methodology page.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
University of Alaska – Fairbanks (UAF) was founded in 1917 in Fairbanks, Alaska, to be an agricultural and mining school. Today, the main campus has 2,250 acres. There are six additional locations in the community as well as an eLearning program. Backpacker Magazine calls it the #1 outdoor adventure college UAF is the flagship campus of the University of Alaska System. It is a Land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant institution located just 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
University of Alaska – Fairbanks offers 175 majors for over 7,600 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 12-to-1. Nearly 66% of the classes have less than 20 students. University of Alaska – Fairbanks participates in NCAA Division II sports conference. Top majors include:
- Biological Sciences
- Mechanical Engineering
- Business Administration
- Computer Science
UAF is the top teaching and research university and offers the only Doctoral programs in the state. Its unique location allows students to experience one of the last great frontiers and study in numerous climates to discover how life so near the Arctic Circle impacts the world around all of us.
University of Alaska Anchorage
The University of Alaska Anchorage was founded in 1950 in Anchorage, Alaska as a community college. By 1987, the college became a university due to expansive growth. The main campus has 1,702 acres located about 4 miles from downtown Anchorage. UAA also has satellite locations in Homer, Kodiak, Soldotna, Valdez, and Mat-Su.
The University of Alaska Anchorage offers 100 majors for 16,090 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 11-to-1. Nearly 60% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 50 student organizations. The University of Alaska Anchorage participates in NCAA Division II sports conference. Top majors include:
- Industrial Production Technician
The auditorium is named for John Wendell “Wendy” Williamson. The interesting thing about the university auditorium is that supposedly six different beings haunt it. When you are on campus, you should ask about the history of the theater and other points of interest.
University of Alaska Southeast
University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) is a public 4-year institution in Juneau, Alaska established in 1972. UAS also has campuses in Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, and Online. The Juneau campus is located about 900 air miles northwest of Seattle and 600 air miles southeast of Anchorage.
The University of Alaska Southeast offers over 40 majors for 4,000 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 15-to-1. The University of Alaska Southeast participates in intramural sports – intercollegiate sports stopped in the 1990s. Top majors include:
- Wildlife & Fisheries Management
- Police & Criminal Science
The university sits on the edge of one of the last uncultivated areas in North America. As such, there is plenty to study in the region. For example, the university researchers just discovered a new species of flying squirrel native to British Columbia, Canada, region.