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Major Alaska Cities
Alaska Job Outlook
There are currently more than a dozen accredited colleges and universities in the state of Alaska, with private four-year institutions outnumbering public schools. The largest of the state’s higher education programs is the University of Alaska System, which enrolls 33,000 undergraduates across three campuses. The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) is the biggest of the three, with 17,000 undergraduates attending.
Alaska is one of the most sparsely populated places in the world, and by far the least densely populated state, with about 1 person per square mile. This presents formidable challenges for providing higher education. Almost 700,000 people call the state home, ranking Alaska only above Vermont and Wyoming in terms of state population.
The largest colleges and universities in Alaska can be found in Anchorage, the state’s largest city and the predominant economic center in Alaska. In addition to UAA, Anchorage is home to Wayland Baptist University, Alaska Pacific University, and two-year institutions Kenai Peninsula College and Charter College. A number of other small institutions can be found in some of Alaska’s other cities, such as Fairbanks and Juneau.
Alaska’s economy is heavily dependent on the oil and natural gas industry, and many of the state’s two- and four-year schools offer trade-specific programs in the related natural sciences. The geology department of the University of Alaska Fairbanks is particularly noteworthy, operating the university’s well known Geophysical Institute for the study of the natural sciences. Also, the prevalence of small two-year schools demonstrates the practical nature of Alaskan higher education – students enroll in specialized programs to develop skills required for a specific trade in their specific location.