The Top Nursing Schools in Alaska

NurseJournal Staff
Updated June 6, 2023
Review some of Alaska's top nursing programs and how to earn a degree, become licensed to practice, and find jobs in the state.
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a scene of downtown Anchorage by the shoreCredit: Blue Poppy / Moment / Getty Images

With its one-of-a-kind setting, increasing demand, and substantial annual salary figures, Alaska makes for an appealing location for prospective nurses.

This guide provides an overview of how to become a nurse in Alaska, the salary and job outlook, and the best nursing programs in the state.

The Best Nursing Schools in Alaska

Learn more about the top nursing schools in Alaska and uncover the programs in the state that provide the best options for prospective nurses.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Alaska, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

#1 The Top Nursing Schools in Alaska

University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Location-markerFairbanks, AK
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,301
  • Out-of-state$23,319
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate67%
  • Students Enrolled6,813
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment90%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Top Nursing Schools in Alaska

University of Alaska Anchorage

  • Location-markerAnchorage, AK
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,224
  • Out-of-state$23,072
  • Retention Rate68%
  • Acceptance Rate77%
  • Students Enrolled11,953
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment95%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Top Nursing Schools in Alaska

University of Alaska Southeast

  • Location-markerJuneau, AK
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,250
  • Out-of-state$23,154
  • Retention Rate63%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled2,070
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment84%
  • AccreditationYes

Featured Online MSN Programs

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How to Choose a Nursing Program in Alaska

When choosing the right nursing program, applicants should consider various factors in connection to their academic and professional goals. Determine tuition costs, program length, and financial aid options to establish if the program suits your needs.

It is crucial that the nursing institution is accredited. In addition, review the average National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) scores and graduation rates, which can indicate how well the program prepares its students for success.

Why Become a Nurse in Alaska

As one of the country’s highest-paying states for registered nurses (RNs), choosing to earn a degree and work in Alaska can be a smart choice. Coupling the above-average pay with the projected demand for RNs and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) makes the state even more advantageous for healthcare professionals.

For prospective nurses who live in the western portion of the country, Alaska provides lower tuition when compared to neighboring states, such as California and Washington. Despite Alaska’s higher cost of living, it still costs more to live in Oregon and California.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Alaska

Alaska is one of the highest-paying states for nurses, which stems from its isolated location. Therefore, the higher salary can draw more nurses to the state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs earn an average of $97,230, licensed practical nurses earn $63,650, and certified nursing assistants earn $43,080. APRNs earn the most at $113,820.

While most nurses earn above the national average, the cost of living in Alaska ranks as the seventh most expensive region in the country. So, the higher salary helps to offset the high cost of living.

Like most other states, Alaska anticipates an increase in the demand for nurses. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expects the state to experience a shortage of over 5,000 nurses.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in Alaska

The highest-paying jobs for RNs can be found in Anchorage, the most populated area in the state. Anchorage is in the south central portion of the state, just north of the Gulf of Alaska. The population in regions north of Anchorage is too low. Therefore, the demand in those areas is minimal.

Top-Paying Cities
Top Paying Metropolitan AreasMedian Salary for RNs
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Alaska

Becoming an RN or APRN in Alaska is similar to the process required in most other states. First, prospective nurses need to complete a nursing program approved by theAlaska Board of Nursing.

After fulfilling their academic requirements, undergraduate students must pass the NCLEX-RN to gain licensure through a nationally recognized certification organization.

Both RNs and APRNs must satisfy continuing education requirements for nurses to maintain their license.

RN Requirements

To become an RN in Alaska, prospective nurses must graduate from an accredited nursing program recognized by the state board of nursing with either anassociate degree in nursing (ADN) or abachelor of science in nursing (BSN).

Upon completion, prospective nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN and submit a licensure application to the state, which includes a $100 application fee, a $200 licensing fee, and a $75 fingerprint processing fee.

RNs must renew their license by November 30 of every even-numbered year. To be eligible for renewal, RNs must complete 30 continuing education hours, 60 hours in professional activities, and 320 hours of employment in an official capacity.

APRN Requirements

To become an APRN, nurses need an unencumbered RN license that allows them to practice in the state. They must also earn amaster of science in nursing or adoctor of nursing practice. Nurses must complete 60 hours of continuing education between each renewal period.

The application includes a $100 APRN licensure fee, $100 prescriptive authority fee (if applicable), $100 controlled substance application fee (if applicable), and $100 temporary permit fee.

APRNs must renew their license by November 30 of every even-numbered year. To be eligible for renewal, they must complete 60 continuing education hours, which includes 15 hours of education in advanced pharmacology and clinical management of drug therapy for prescriptive authority.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Alaska

question-mark-circleHow much do nurses make in Alaska?

Licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants in Alaska benefit from having the highest average pay in the country, earning $63,650 and $43,080, respectively. RNs enjoy the fifth highest salary in the nation at $97,230 annually.

However, APRNs do not fare as well as their nursing counterparts, earning $113,820 per year, which places the position at 31st when compared to the rest of the country.

question-mark-circleAre nurses in demand in Alaska?

Yes, nurses are in demand in Alaska. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Alaska is projected to have a significant shortage of nurses from 2014-2030. Overall, the state is expected to be short over 5,000 nurses in that time.

question-mark-circleHow long does it take to become an RN in Alaska?

Like most other states, the length of time it takes to become an RN in Alaska depends on the nurse’s education. Students in an ADN program who attend class on a full-time basis can earn their degree within two years; those who complete a BSN program full time can finish in four.

question-mark-circleHow do I get a nursing license in Alaska?

After earning an ADN or a BSN in the state, prospective nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN before applying for licensure. Applicants must then pay application, licensing, and fingerprinting fees to the state before receiving an RN license.

Find Nursing Programs in Other States

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.