Graduate programs in Alaska could offer a unique opportunity to pursue your goals and make your mark on The Last Frontier. The largest US state by sheer land mass—and, conversely, the third smallest by population—Alaska is known for its pristine wilderness, unique demographics, and its contributions to the energy and fishing industries.
"The Last Frontier" is home to the University of Alaska system, with campuses in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau, with additional satellite locations; and Alaska Pacific University, among other schools.
Alaska is a unique state in many ways. Consider: It’s one of only two that’s not connected to the contiguous 48. It didn’t actually become a state until 1959, along with Hawaii. It’s one of only 13 states to share a border with Canada, and was a settlement of Russia until the Alaska Purchase in 1867.
It’s home to 20 different native languages spoken by members of its many indigenous cultures. And all this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Alaska is known for its natural beauty. In fact, that’s one basis for its flourishing tourism industry, through cruises and guided excursions, outdoor adventures, and more.
The Federal Government owns and manages about 65% of the space in Alaska, protecting much of it as national forests, wildlife refuges, and parks. In fact, The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, located in the northeastern corner of the state, is the largest of its kind in the world. Alaska also boasts more than 30,000 miles of tidal shoreline, active volcanic islands, more than three million lakes, and the largest glacier in North America.
What could that mean for you, if you attend a graduate school in Alaska? If you’re interested in environmental, marine, or wildlife research and management, you might find hands-on opportunities to bring your education to life and help build your resume. Students in other disciplines—business, for example—might opt to get involved in other ways, such as through the tourism industry. Or just enjoy the great outdoors for yourself in your free time!
Members of Alaska’s indigenous cultures make up a little more than 15% of the state’s total population, making this the second largest group, demographically.i This has a strong impact on local culture and traditions throughout the state. Sled dog travel was historically just a way to get around on the snow and ice.
However, one famous example of this is the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which, though it’s popular today with people of many backgrounds, has its roots in indigenous history and traditions. Additionally, the Alaska Native Arts Foundation works to promote Native artists and educate people about those traditions.
Though Alaska’s population might be small in number, they remain active in the arts. Alaskan residents include painters, novelists, memoirists, Olympians, pro athletes, actors, and musicians. Alaska has also been featured in more than sixty films over the years.
Indigenous peoples lived in Alaska for thousands of years before European settlers entered the picture. Many of those groups survive to this day, playing an important role in Alaskan traditions and contemporary culture.
Alaska was considered a Russian settlement as early as the 17th century, and was also the subject of Spanish expeditions. It became a US Territory in 1912, before becoming a state in 1959.
Alaska has played an important role in such events as the Klondike Gold Rush (now commemorated by the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park) and World War II. Today, the state makes an effort to study and preserve its history through the Alaska Heritage Resources Survey.
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Despite being an enormous state by area, the majority of the Alaskan population is concentrated in a relatively small area, in and around its major cities. As such, attending a graduate school in Alaska, you’re likely to live and work in one of these communities.
Described below are three of the biggest cities in Alaska, and what you might encounter living and studying there.
Formally known as the Municipality of Anchorage, this is the largest city in Alaska by population. In fact, more than 40% of Alaska’s total population lives in the Anchorage metro area. Anchorage is situated in south-central Alaska along Cook Inlet.
Anchorage is roughly equidistant between New York City and Tokyo.
Universities located here include the University of Alaska Anchorage, Alaska Pacific University, and Wayland Baptist University’s Anchorage campus. Graduate students in Anchorage may enjoy (or even supplement their studies with) the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Alaska Botanical Gardens, the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, and more.
Fairbanks is the second largest city in Alaska by population, and the largest city in the interior region. It’s also less than 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Notably, it’s also where you’ll find University of Alaska Fairbanks, the original campus location for today’s university system.
The city was founded in 1901, though the region had a strong Alaska Native presence for centuries prior, upheld by archeological findings on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. Tourism plays a big role here, too, with people visiting to see the northern lights and enjoy winter outdoor sports—or perhaps some, camping, hiking, and exploring in Denali National Park.
Juneau, the state capital of Alaska, is a unique city in many ways. It has the honor not only of being the third largest city in the state by population, but also the second largest in the United States by physical area. It’s located in southeastern Alaska, on the panhandle—and despite being located on the mainland, it’s an island city, because there are no roads leading there from the outside through the rugged Alaskan terrain. Locals rely on travel by airplane or ferry.
Juneau has its roots in the gold rush, and as such, mining played a significant role in its development. In fact, many of the original 19th-century structures still remain. Today, Juneau hosts the Alaska Folk Festival, a jazz festival, and a biennial cultural event celebrating Alaska Native history and traditions. The University of Alaska Southeast is located here.
Universities in Alaska offer a range of exciting programs for students like you, with the resources and support you need to achieve your goals. Whether you’re career driven or a dedicated academic, you could find the graduate programs in Alaska you’re looking for, in a community you might love. These programs could offer things like research and technology support, online learning, and a vibrant campus community. Below is a list of top occupations in Alaska as well as a few examples of the types of things graduate schools in Alaska might offer.
Top 7 Occupations in Alaska
Requiring a Post-Secondary Degree
Whether you need help deciding what
degree to pursue, or just want to get a feel for
professions with the highest employment in Alaska , the table below should be helpful.
These results were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information see the OES May 2017 State Data Report.
If you want to use your education to better serve your community, graduate schools in Alaska may be able to help. Universities may offer a range of programs related to the social sciences, including psychology and counseling, and public administration. While each program is unique, they generally combine a person-centric approach with scientific rigor and organizational skills, which students could then take into their careers and communities. Because this subject area is so broad, each degree and area of study may offer unique opportunities, coursework, and perspectives.
Example programs include:
Current or aspiring teachers in Alaska may pursue a variety of graduate programs, to enhance their classroom skills, or to prepare to move into a new area in their careers. Many graduate education programs do require that applicants already hold a teaching certification and some classroom experience. However, some programs may be able to help aspiring teachers work toward that initial licensure.
Just a few example education graduate programs in Alaska include:
Put your math and science skills to the test in a graduate engineering program in Alaska! These programs combine physics, chemistry, and even environmental science with your flair for creativity, helping to equip you with the skills to solve challenges through innovation. Many programs even focus on a specific area of need or type of engineering, enabling you to apply to the ones that most closely align with your goals. A few examples include:
Begin your search for graduate programs in Alaska right here! Simply review the sponsored program listings, and click on any program you think you might be interested in to read more and request information. Narrow your search by area of study or degree type using the menu.
[i] census.gov/quickfacts/AK |[ii] census.gov/quickfacts/table/POP010210/0203000,00 | [iii] census.gov/quickfacts/table/POP010210/0236400,00|[iv] census.gov/quickfacts/table/POP010210/0224230,00
University of Alaska - AnchorageAnchorage, AK
University of Alaska - FairbanksFairbanks, AK
Additional Alaska Campus: Online
University of Alaska - SoutheastJuneau, AK
Additional Alaska Campus: Online
Alaska Pacific UniversityAnchorage, AK
Additional Alaska Campus: Palmer