The state of Alaska is committed to supporting nurses as the number of position continues to trend upward to accommodate health care standards. Those individuals that appreciate an evidence-based career in health care make great nursing candidates to meet this growing demand. Throughout the state, almost 50% of nurses have obtained their Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) which positions them to readily accept jobs that become available in rural and urban areas. With a number of specialized areas and great opportunities for advancement, read on to know more about nursing requirements and licensing throughout Alaska.

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Cities in Alaska

ADN Programs in Alaska

Many students begin their nursing career with an ADN degree from a community college or private career college. Programs last on average about 4 semesters over 2 years and students are able to take the NCLEX exam upon graduation and earn the title of Registered Nurse (RN) that allows them to begin their professional practice. In order to meet the need for more nurses, Alaska’s post-secondary institutions offer accredited ADN programs, again clustered around the Anchorage urban area.

What to Look For in an ADN Program in Alaska

With an array of educational choices both in college programs and throughout the nursing field, it is important that students have criteria to consider as they start their post-secondary career. Among the most important factors are:


Accrediting an ADN program ensures that the program itself meets teaching practical standards. The accrediting body for ADN programs in the state is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). As well, Alaskan colleges can be accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) – one of 6 regional bodies appointed by the U.S. Government.


Schools are licensed by Alaska’s Board of Nursing – a division of the state’s professional and corporate licensing division. Licensure is what allows nurses to use ‘RN' as their professional title; therefore, it is of key importance that the Board of Nursing supports your choice of ADN program at an accredited post-secondary institution.

Program Outcomes

Look at the outcomes for your ADN program in order to see if the objective metrics meet your requirements. For example, students may look at the following data ahead of time to see if the school meets their objectives.

  • Successful graduation numbers
  • Successful NCLEX rates
  • Student satisfaction/graduate satisfaction
  • Post-program employment data

Charter College, with sites in both Anchorage and Wasilla, AK, has a successful accredited ADN program.

ADN Program Admission Requirements in Alaska

While institutions throughout the state vary, the programs have similar requirements for admission.

  • Students are required to adhere to school admission criteria
  • Students are required to meet the school and program GPA standards
  • Students need a TEAS composite score of sixty (60) or higher
  • Evidence of successful drug and background screenings are required
  • Students must create nursing statement and have a successful interview
  • Student orientation (including proof of training on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, records management, and Blood borne Pathogens training) must be successfully completed
  • Students must undergo a health screening and provide evidence of up-to-date vaccinations

Tuition and Costs of ADN Programs in Alaska

The size of the program, access to clinical placement, transportation and accommodation concerns can all affect the tuition and associated costs of an AAS program. As a sample program, Charter College’s total cost of tuition is about $19,000. Students and potential students should check with the school to be sure of which costs are included in tuition. Some colleges include items such as clinical scrubs and materials, and some allow students to purchase their own materials and clothing separately.

Advantages of ADN Programs

There are considerable advantages of ADN programs both for individuals and for addressing nursing shortages. With lower tuition costs than BSN or MSN programs, pursuing an diploma from a community college or private career college is often a cheaper, faster way to start a career in nursing. With programs that average 4 semesters in length, students spend a minimum amount of time not working in their chosen field between graduating high school and taking the NCLEX for licensure.

BSN Programs in Alaska

A BSN (Bachelor of Science) in Nursing is a professional goal that each state is helping nurses achieve through undergraduate or professional studies. While the only on-campus program is offered through the University of Alaska, the university has a number of satellite locations to help students in locations like Nome, Juneau, Kenai, and Ketchikan achieve their career goals. Program timelines are approximately 4 years in length and students alternate through blocks of theory and clinical rotation to get experience in a variety of medical disciplines. There are also a number of schools in the lower 48 states that offer online learning for Alaskan students who wish to achieve their BSN.

What To Look For in a BSN Program in Alaska

BSN programs should impart both medical skills as well as model evidence-based patient care approaches. With experienced, ethical nursing professors, students have access to mentorship opportunities, ample experienced individuals to speak with and learn from, and a program that is responsive to the rigors of today’s healthcare needs.

Located in the metropolitan area of Anchorage, as well as a number of satellite campuses throughout the state, the University of Alaska Anchorage BSN program has accreditation through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Professionals within the program lead students in transforming the face of nursing in Alaska and throughout the world.

BSN Program Length in Alaska

While some online options can accelerate the course curriculum, the standard length of the BSN program is 4 years. While there is some variance, a four-year program allows students ample time to gain experiential knowledge in a variety of medical environments in order to best care for their patients. Students who are pursuing a RN to BSN track through the university have about 2 years of course and clinical work as they refresh and expand their skill set.

BSN Program Admission Requirements in Alaska

While every institution has admission requirements that are unique to its mandate, BSN programs often have these elements in common for student applications:

  • University admission criteria is met
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 for BSN students is met
  • Official transcripts are provided

Tuition and Costs of BSN Programs in Alaska

BSN tuition costs can vary significantly depending on logistics, living arrangements, clinical arrangements and whether the program is accelerated or not. For an example, the University of Alaska Anchorage charges tuition and student fees (which cover student services like electronics, facilities, and student government fees, and other fees) totaling just under $7,000 per year for in-state students. Textbooks add another $1,600 per year, or $800 per semester.

Advantages of BSN Programs

There are distinct advantages of pursuing a BSN. Men and women throughout the program show their commitment to the well-being of those who are in need of nursing care with a four-year degree. With a number of options for employment – from hospitals to in-home care, BSN graduates are found in almost every town and city throughout the state. Predicted to grow from 50% of the nursing workforce to 80% throughout the next few years, BSN students should also be aware that in many cases they have the opportunity to earn more money than their AAS counterparts do.

MSN Programs in Alaska

RNs who are hoping for the most flexibility, professional accord and responsibility are encouraged to pursue their Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN). Having successfully completed their undergraduate BSN degree, the MSN is the next logical step depending on career goals. With titles such as Nurse Midwife, Pediatric Nursing Specialist, Clinical Nurse and Nurse Practitioner, these individuals sometimes pursue teaching or policy development on a clinic or state level. There is currently only one in state offering for MSN degree programming at the University of Alaska Anchorage, but there are also a number of online options are available to Alaskan students.

MSN Program Length in Alaska

Depending on the graduate student’s career aspirations and current workload, the average length of an MSN program is about 3 years. Some students are able to complete the requisite courses and clinical blocks sooner, and some do take longer. There may be extra qualifications that add to the program length depending on the field a graduate student wants to enter and his or her experience to date.

MSN Admission Requirements in Alaska

Undergraduates who successfully complete their BSN and decide to carry on to MSN-level coursework should be aware that as they advance, the admission requirements become more rigorous:

  • Evidence of a completed BSN degree with GPA in line with MSN entrance requirements
  • Evidence of ‘RN’ status in good standing; able to practice in Alaska
  • Professional reference letters
  • Transcripts provided directly to the MSN Admissions department
  • Evidence of GRE, GMAT, or MAT graduate test scores that satisfy MSN entrance criteria

Tuition and Costs of MSN Programs in Alaska

Tuition costs for MSN programs range higher than undergraduate and associate’s degrees. For example, the University of Alaska Anchorage quotes a total program cost of just under $30,000 for the 2.5 – 3.5 year long program, which does not include accommodation or many other costs. Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid, regardless of their financial status.

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Getting an Alaska Nursing License

Alaska regulations for nursing licensure are as follows for candidates by application and those from another state by endorsement:

Along with a completed application, the applicant must have ready:

  • An official transcript from an approved nursing program
  • Proof of citizenship or immigration status
  • Receipt of NCLEX-RN exam registration
  • No derogatory information on NURSYS database

Nurses from other states may apply for endorsement to practice in Alaska.  They should be prepared to submit:

  • Current license from the former state of practice
  • A sealed copy of their school transcripts from a state-approved school
  • Proof of US citizenship or lawful equivalent
  • Fingerprint documentation
  • Receipt of NCLEX-RN exam registration
  • No derogatory information on NURSYS database

Accelerated Nursing Programs in Alaska

In many cases, employers throughout Alaska are willing to incentivize RNs to bridge to a BSN degree or continue to a MSN degree. Given the remote terrain, Alaska is poised to become one of the major consumers of online course content, meaning that nurses will have the flexibility of course start dates as well as the ability to balance their school work and professional responsibilities. Those nurses who undertake the accelerated program offerings at the BSN or MSN level will find the commitment is intense throughout the 12 - 36 months it takes to earn their degree, as there are the same number of clinical hours in non-accelerated degree options.

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