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Study in Alaska, United States

State overview

Adventurous students only need to apply for studying in Alaska. It’s expensive, difficult to reach, has limited public transport and most of the state is inaccessible. However, Alaska is also big, beautiful and full of breathtaking scenery.

America’s largest state by land area is actually the least populated, with more than have its citizens living in the major city of Anchorage. However, living in Alaska isn’t about its cities – it’s about the wildlife, landscape and climate.

For international students looking for a completely different experience, studying a graduate program in Alaska could be the answer.

Education profile

Despite its isolation, there are more than a dozen universities in Alaska. You can study a graduate program in Alaska at:

Professional, or ‘terminal’, masters are designed to lead to employment rather than further study. Popular courses include: Master of Business Administration (M.B.A) and Master of Library Science (M.L.S.).

Academic masters, however, are generally designed to lead the way into doctorate/PhD study. Popular courses include: Master of Education (M.Ed.), and Master of Engineering (M.Eng.).

Both last between one and three years, depending on the subject.

Doctoral degrees are the most advanced level of higher education, and usually take between four and eight years to complete, which includes the time it takes to write and present a dissertation. 

Immigration and visas

Before coming to study a postgraduate course in Alaska, you will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa.

The most common kind of student visa is the F-1 visa, which entitles the holder to study at any US accredited college or university.

To apply for a student visa for a graduate program in Alaska you will need to fill out an application form (found on the US Embassy website) and send appropriate documentation, such as evidence of financial standing and proof of university acceptance and academic qualifications, as well as possibly attending a visa interview at the US Embassy in your home country.

Life in Alaska

Life in Alaska is dominated by the climate and weather. Such is the difficulty of getting goods into the state and the lack of transport, that the cost of living here is much higher than in any other state in the US. Many residents will bulk buy food and supplies from big stores to offset costs – it might be worth clubbing together with fellow students to do the same.

Many of Alaska’s biggest events focus around the states traditions and are fascinating for students. Try the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the World Ice Art Championships or the Sitka Whale Fest.

Of course, no program in Alaska would be complete without visiting some of its natural beauty. The Kenai Fjords National Park is a great place to Kayak through icebergs and go seal watching.

Working in Alaska

Oil and gas production dominates Alaska’s economy, with more than 80% of revenue in the state coming from this field. Unsurprisingly, the next largest contributor is fishing, with salmon, cod, Pollock and crab being the main exports.

Outside employment is mainly in government industries, with the military a significant source of employment in both Fairbanks and Anchorage.

Tourism is also starting to play a larger role in Alaska’s economy, supporting tour guides, local lodging and the services sector.


Almost all postgraduate students in Alaska will live in university accommodation, as this is the easiest way of securing somewhere to live and getting used to your new surroundings. Universities in Alaska will have a housing department who you contact once you have secured a place – they will be able to offer you advice on the best place to live for your needs.

Weather and climate

As such a big state, the climate of Alaska depends on where you are situated in the state. The panhandle is traditionally the warmest and wettest region of Alaska and is the only area to have an average daytime temperature above freezing during the winter months. The interior of Alaska is sub-arctic, with some of the highest and lowest extremes of temperatures. Summer highs can be above 30C, while winter temperatures can fall below -40C.

What to do next

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