While the original campus of the University of Alaska system was established in Fairbanks in 1917, the Anchorage campus now has the largest enrollment, serving more than 18,000 students. All of the university's campuses are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The University of Alaska online is dedicated to providing flexible distance learning programs in a variety of different subjects. Online programs include, but are not limited to, accounting, business administration, criminal justice, counseling, education, health information technology, medical billing and coding, human resources management, marketing, and social work. Students have the option to enroll in individual online classes or a full degree program. While most course work can be completed remotely, the University of Alaska system often requires students to report to approved testing facilities for proctored exams.
Established in 1957 as Alaska Methodist University, Alaska Pacific University is a small, four-year liberal arts college located in Anchorage. The school is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and serves just more than 700 students. APU was ranked 60th among regional universities in the western United States by U.S. News &World Report. The school is also among a handful of Alaska universities offering online education for working adults and other students who cannot easily make it to campus on a regular basis. Online courses are available in subjects such as accounting, business, education, and human services. Special programs are also available for adult undergraduate students to help them complete their degree while balancing the demands of work and family life.
Founded in 1978, Prince William Sound Community College, also known as PWSCC, is a small two-year institution located in Valdez. The school has been accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities since 1989 and currently serves approximately 550 students. In an effort to provide flexible programs to a broader student body, PWSCC offers a number of technology-enhanced and fully online classes. Available online courses include writing and mathematics. Students will utilize Blackboard, a state-of-the-art virtual learning platform, which allows them to log in and complete their course work at the times that are most convenient to them. Instructor feedback will be received via e-mail or built-in communication tools in the online classroom.
Oil, logging, and commercial fishing are important industries in Alaska's economy. Some of the state's largest employers include ConocoPhillips Alaska, BP Exploration, and Trident Seafoods. Given the employment prospects available in Alaska, online degree programs in engineering, business, and wildlife biology present ideal opportunities for those looking to pursue careers locally.
The number of accredited online universities serving students around the globe has increased exponentially in recent years, and a number of traditional universities and community colleges have followed suit. This expansion in the availability of flexible degree programs is especially helpful for students enrolled in colleges in Alaska, who may find regular travel to campus difficult due to weather or sheer distance. Many programs are fully online and allow students to log in and complete course work whenever and wherever they can. However, some programs do have on-campus components or may require students to go to an approved testing facility to complete their exams. Still, this offers working adults and non-traditional students the opportunity to pursue further education or explore a new field where they previously had few options.