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Top Alaska Nursing Schools and Programs

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Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

Like much of the United States, Alaska faces a growing demand for licensed nurses to help care for an aging population. Between 2016 and 2026, Alaska will require over 1,100 additional registered nurses to meet the state’s healthcare needs, making it an ideal time to begin a nursing career in Alaska.

This page covers four types of nursing programs: registered nurse, certified nurse assistant, licensed practical nurse, and nurse practitioner. This resource highlights online nursing programs in Alaska, which allow students the opportunity to study off campus with limited or no on-campus requirements.

Advertisement NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Alaska?

Universities and colleges in Alaska continually work with the state government to address nursing shortages. Alaska nursing programs have begun to accept larger groups of students and offer distance learning courses at sites around the state and online, making nursing degrees even more accessible.

Nursing schools in Alaska offer somewhat lower tuition rates than neighboring states like Washington and California, for both in- and out-of-state tuitions. Alaska’s cost of living is one of the highest in the country. However, the state also ranks favorably in healthcare and opportunity, making it a great place for prospective nurses and nursing students.

How to Become a Nurse in Alaska

Alaska’s nurse licensing regulations are similar to those in other states. To earn a license, RNs must hold either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree and pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN. Candidates can apply for licensure after they pay an exam fee through the Alaska Board of Nursing.

Those who wish to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) can apply for licensure in one of four nursing specializations: nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, or certified registered nurse anesthetist. Once licensed and employed, nurses must regularly complete continuing education coursework through a board-recognized, national certification organization.

  • 1. Choose the Path That’s Right for You

    Many candidates secure an entry-level nursing job by completing a year-long, licensed practical nurse (LPN) program. LPN programs do not require a college degree, and graduates qualify to take on lower-level nursing positions under the direction of an RN or physician. In contrast, the two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) prepares graduates for either entry-level employment or to transfer a bachelor’s program.

    Both associate and bachelor’s degree holders may take the NCLEX-RN exam for RNs. A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) generally requires four years of study and features more challenging coursework than an ADN curriculum. Some RNs with ADNs who wish to pursue a BSN enroll in two-year bridge programs called RN-to-BSN programs.

    More specialized training requires a master’s in nursing (MSN), which provides a pathway to additional job opportunities and higher salaries. Finally, many professionals interested in college-level teaching positions choose to earn a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree.

  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    Most nursing schools in Alaska offer several degree options, including on-campus programs, web-based programs, and hybrid blends of the two. Online nursing degrees provide a convenient option for working adults who want to enhance their job prospects through advanced training or individuals who cannot commute to a local college or university. The most common online programs are RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN bridge programs.

    While admission prerequisites differ by school and degree type, most programs include a clinical practice requirement or internship component. Students considering an online degree should ensure that they can fulfill any practicum requirements at a nearby medical facility. Most nursing students spend anywhere from 1-5 years completing their degrees, depending on the program type and whether the school offers it online, through blended or hybrid courses, or on campus.

  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    Many nursing programs cover the topics and skills addressed on state licensing exams. Most nursing schools in Alaska introduce students to exam content areas, building their test-taking skills and confidence. For example, many bachelor’s programs include the ATI and HESI exams in their graduation requirements.

    Candidates who do well on these exams tend to score higher on the NCLEX-RN exam, and many choose to enroll in NCLEX review courses offered through test preparation services. Though required to obtain state licensure, passing NCLEX scores do not guarantee employment.

    Even before you graduate and start interviewing, you should start building your professional network, acquiring practical experience through clinical practice and internships, and taking advantage of your school’s career counseling office.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in Alaska

Prospective nurses in Alaska must hold at least an associate degree. However, many nursing students choose to pursue a bachelor’s, which opens up opportunities for more advanced clinical positions. Online RN programs in Alaska provide flexible and accessible paths to a degree and career in nursing.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in Alaska?

Online registered nurse (RN) programs in Alaska offer a variety of courses to prepare nursing students for licensure and practice. While program requirements and course offerings vary between schools, many online nursing schools in Alaska offer the following classes:

Human Anatomy and Physiology

This course covers the different body systems, including skeletal, nervous, and muscular. Students gain foundational knowledge in cell biology, body chemistry, and various human functions. Students often take multiple courses covering different areas of human anatomy.

Nursing Practice Foundations

Learners in this course explore roles, trends, and theories in nursing practice. Students examine various legal and ethical nursing guidelines and develop an understanding of issues and developments in nursing throughout the profession’s history.

Pharmacology

This course provides an overview of prescription and non-prescription drugs, surveying topics in drug therapy and patient response. Students learn to monitor patients and understand patient health in relation to drug use.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

With 1.2 people per square mile, Alaska has the lowest population density of all 52 states. Despite its large size, the state is home to relatively few colleges and universities, providing prospective nursing students with a small pool of program options. Fortunately, many institutions offer online learning options to accommodate distance learners. Online nursing programs in Alaska give students a flexible way to earn their degrees, regardless of where they live.

Online nursing schools in Alaska hold the same rigorous admissions guidelines and degree requirements as their on-campus counterparts. These programs provide the same quality education, preparing students for the necessary licensure exams and clinical practice.

Often, online nursing programs take the same amount of time to complete as on-campus options. However, online students generally must complete in-person clinical rotations, either at a nearby site or at one of their school’s in-state campus locations.

Nursing Licensure in Alaska

All nurses in Alaska must hold a license from the Alaska State Board of Nursing. This government agency regulates all nursing practice and licensure in the state for nurses in all positions. Although currently not a member of the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC), the board has begun moving toward establishing membership, which will open further opportunities for nurses to work in and outside of the state.

The state nursing board offers licenses for RNs, certified nursing aides (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). In Alaska, ARPNs hold full practice status, obtaining prescriptive authority with no formal collaborative practice agreement required. Nurses employed through the state also enjoy excellent employee benefits, including healthcare and disability plans.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

The table below outlines Alaska’s licensure requirements for different nursing positions, as mandated by the state nursing board.

  • Certified Nurse Assistant

    Known in Alaska as certified nurse aides, CNAs must complete a state-approved nurse aide training program. Applicants must complete the training program no more than two years prior to applying for licensure. The training program must entail at least 140 training hours, including at least 60 hours in the classroom and 80 hours of clinical training.

    Applicants whose training took place outside of the U.S. or as a part of military medic training may also qualify for licensure.

    Applicants who hold a nursing license issued in or outside the U.S. may qualify for licensure.

    In addition to required training, CNA licensure applicants must pass the state-based certified nurse aide competency evaluation.

    All nurse aides must submit to a background check and fingerprinting.

    CNAs in Alaska must complete 24 hours of continuing education and 160 hours of paid employment as a CNA during each two-year renewal period.

    Alaska Licensure Requirements

    • Education: Approved certified nurse aide training program of at least 140 hours, including both clinical and classroom instruction

    • Additional Clinical Hours: Training program must include at least 80 hours of clinical training/experience

    • Exams: Certified nurse aide competency exam (written or oral)

    • Renewal Frequency: Every two years, in even-numbered years, regardless of when the certificate was initially issued

    • Continuing Education: 24 hours within the licensing period

  • Licensed Practical Nurse

    Licensed practical nurses must complete an approved pre-licensure nursing program. Options include LPN certificate and diploma programs or an associate degree. Applicants must submit a program verification form and official transcripts from the nursing program.

    After completing the required training, prospective LPNs may apply and sit for the NCLEX-PN at any point during the licensure application process. Applicants must submit official scores to the licensing board along with their completed applications.

    Upon passing the NCLEX-PN, the nursing board will issue the applicant’s permanent LPN license.

    In Alaska, LPN licenses must be renewed by September 30 of even-numbered years.

    During each licensing period, LPNs must complete two of the following: 30 continuing education hours, 60 hours of unpaid professional activities, or 320 hours of paid employment as an LPN. All continuing education and professional activities must meet board standards and approval to count toward renewal requirements.

    Alaska Licensure Requirements

    • Education: Approved pre-licensure nursing program

    • Additional Clinical Hours: N/A

    • Exams: NCLEX-PN

    • Renewal Frequency: Every even-numbered year on September 30

    • Continuing Education: Two of the following: 30 contact hours of continuing education, 60 hours of uncompensated professional activities, or 320 hours of employment

  • Registered Nurse

    RNs must complete at least an associate degree to earn a license. However, many choose to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Both degrees prepare graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN, which all candidates must pass to obtain licensure.

    The state board issues permanent licenses after applicants have passed the NCLEX-RN.

    Licensure applicants must submit a verification form for their nursing education program, along with official transcripts from their schools. Nursing degrees must come from approved programs at accredited institutions.

    Currently, Alaska is not a member of the NLC, and nurses must earn a state license in order to practice in Alaska. However, the state nursing board is considering joining the compact in the future.

    RNs in Alaska must renew their licenses by November 30 on even-numbered years. During each licensure period, RNs must complete two of the following: 30 continuing education hours, 60 hours of unpaid professional activities, or 320 hours of paid employment as an RN.

    Alaska Licensure Requirements

    • Education: Associate or Bachelor of Science in Nursing

    • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program

    • Exams: NCLEX-RN

    • Renewal Frequency: Initially, 6-29 months, depending on birth month, and every two years following

    • Continuing Education: RNs must complete two of the following: 60 hours of unpaid work in the field, 30 hours of continuing education units, or 320 hours of paid employment

  • Nurse Practitioner

    Advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs, must hold at least a master’s in nursing. Nurse practitioners (NPs) are the most common type of APRN. Some employers may prefer to hire NPs who hold a doctorate.

    NPs in Alaska must hold certification from an approved credentialing body for advanced nursing practice. Currently, the seven approved agencies include: the National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), the National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing Specialties (NCC), the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the American Academy of Nursing Practitioners (AANP), and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

    NPs must renew their licenses alongside their RN licenses by November 30 in even-numbered years. Candidates for renewal must complete at least two hours of continuing education in opioids and pain management.

    NPs may obtain prescriptive authority after they complete at least 15 hours of contact education in pharmacology no more than two years prior to licensure.

    Alaska Licensure Requirements

    • Education: Master or Doctorate in Nursing

    • Additional Clinical Hours: Must submit proof of 60 hours of continuing education completed in the two years prior to application for licensure

    • Exams: Certification through an approved credentialing agency for advanced nursing

    • Renewal Frequency: Every even-numbered year on November 30. Must first renew RN license

    • Continuing Education: Maintain national certification (continuing education requirements vary); 2 hours focused in pain management and opioid use

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Alaska FAQ

  • Can Someone Become a Nurse in Two Years?

    Yes, someone could potentially complete the requirements to become an RN in two years. Nurses in Alaska must earn a diploma or associate degree in nursing to earn initial licensure, and these programs often take two years or less.

  • How Should I Choose What Nursing Field to Go Into?

    Your chosen field should reflect your personal career interests and goals. For instance, if you want to work with children, consider pursuing a career in pediatric nursing.

  • Does an Online Nursing Degree Have the Same Value as an On-Campus Degree?

    Absolutely. Online nursing programs in Alaska offer the same rigorous, quality education as their on-campus counterparts. Students complete the same coursework and clinical practice, and your degree will look exactly the same as one earned on campus.

  • Is Alaska a Good State For Nurses?

    Yes! Like much of the country, Alaska faces a growing demand for qualified nurses to help care for an aging population. Alaska also offers state employees a variety of excellent benefits.

  • Is Alaska a Nurse Compact State?

    Currently, Alaska is not a part of the NLC. However, the board has surveyed nurses working in and around the state to see how they view joining the compact, and the majority of nurses would like the state to adopt it.

Alaska Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

Alaska’s nursing field is projected to grow substantially in the coming years. As data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates, CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and NPs in Alaska enjoy excellent projected job growth rates and average salaries compared to neighboring states and national averages.

According to the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Alaska’s healthcare industry is expected to see substantial growth in the coming decade. The state is also projected to lead many industries in job growth. An aging population and a growing need for qualified healthcare professionals may further increase job growth rates in the years to come.

The data below details mean salary rates for nursing professionals. Keep in mind that salary and job growth depend on many factors, and no education or degree guarantees a specific salary or employment.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Alaska, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $39,830 19.6%
Licensed Practical Nurse $58,250 17.6%
Registered Nurse $89,310 20.8%
Nurse Practitioner $122,880 24.2%

Source: BLS, Projections Central

Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

  Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
United States $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
Washington $32,130 $55,420 $82,670 $117,650
Oregon $33,230 $53,240 $91,080 $110,010
Hawaii $35,770 $50,930 $98,080 $120,570

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant


CNAs in Alaska earn a mean salary of around $10,000 more than the national average salary for this profession. They also tend to earn substantially more than CNAs in neighboring states like Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii. The BLS projects CNA jobs in Alaska will grow by over 19% between 2016 and 2026 — faster than the national average. This growth coupled with salary potential makes Alaska a great option for prospective CNAs.

Licensed Practical Nurse


Alaska ranks third in the country for LPN salary rates, where these professionals make substantially more than the national average. Alaska’s nonmetropolitan areas are also the nation’s top paying regions for LPNs. In the coming years, LPN jobs in Alaska are projected to grow by 18% — much faster than the national rate for the field. A growing demand for nursing professionals makes Alaska an ideal place to begin an LPN career.

Registered Nurse


One of the top paying states for RNs, Alaska employs over 5,700 RNs — more than any other healthcare profession. Despite this large number, the BLS projects RN jobs in Alaska to grow by 21% between 2016 and 2026 — substantially faster than the 12% national rate. Alaska colleges and universities have begun expanding their nursing programs to train more professionals and meet the state’s growing demand.

Nurse Practitioner


NPs provide valuable primary and general care services, helping bridge the care gap for patients without access to physicians. Demand for these nursing professionals continues to grow both in Alaska and across the country. As the data above indicates, NP jobs are projected to grow by 24% between 2016 and 2026. Alaska ranks second in the country for NP salaries. On average, advanced nursing professionals in the state earn $122,880 a year.

Nursing Resources for Alaska

  • Alaska Nurses Association This organization aims to advance the nursing profession in Alaska through advocacy, professional development, and empowerment. The association offers online and in-person continuing education opportunities and provides information on relevant legislation.
  • Alaska Nurse Practitioner Association The Alaska Nurse Practitioner Association welcomes both practicing NPs and students. Members enjoy discounted conference fees, exclusive dinner meetings, and the ANPA website's members-only areas.
  • Alaska Board of Nursing The Board of Nursing in Alaska handles and regulates all nursing licensure in the state. The board sets and implements nursing policy and procedure. Nursing professionals may apply for and renew their licenses on the board website.
  • Alaska School Nurses Association This association provides school nurses around the state with professional support. The association's website features information on certification, awards, and professional conferences.
  • Alaska Action Coalition A branch of Campaign for Action, the Alaska Action Coalition aims to advance healthcare statewide. The organization provides a network and collaborative platform for the state's nursing organizations.

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Advertisement NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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