Computer Science Programs in Alaska

Alaska is one of the top paying states for computer programmers and other computer science occupations. The national job outlook for computer and information technology professionals is bright; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment will increase by 13% between 2016 and 2026.

According to Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development, employment growth in the state is not as high as the nation, but there are still ample employment opportunities, with roughly fifteen new job openings each year. If you are someone with an interest in computer science who enjoys cold weather and beautiful landscapes, getting an online computer science degree in Alaska may be right for you.

According to Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development, employment growth in the state is not as high as the nation, but there are still ample employment opportunities, with roughly fifteen new job openings each year.

Higher Education in Alaska

There are 35 higher learning institutions in Alaska. A few of the largest public universities include the University of Alaska in Anchorage and the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Some top private universities in the state include Alaska Pacific University and Alaska Bible College. These institutions of higher education offer online, on campus, and hybrid courses. 16.4% of students in Alaska are enrolled in exclusively online courses and 17.2% are enrolled in some but not all online courses, which is higher than the national average of online course enrollment.

While Alaska may not have the most extensive network of public and private colleges, its smaller universities offer a more intimate and tailored educational experience. For instance, the average student-to-teacher ratio at the University of Alaska in Anchorage is 12 to 1 and the majority of classes do not exceed 20 students. These small class sizes allow each student to receive more individualized attention than in large lecture halls of a hundred or more students typical at public state universities.

Computer Science Careers in Alaska

Computer science degrees can be applied to several careers, including software engineering, computer programming, computer and information research, computer systems analysis, information security analysis, web development, and software development. As mentioned earlier, Alaska is one of the top paying states for computer scientists in the nation. However, employment and salary can vary depending on location within the state. For example, the Anchorage and Fairbanks metropolitan areas have the highest employment of computer programmers and software developers in Alaska.

Education level can also affect salary. Individuals with a master’s degree in computer science generally earn a higher average salary than those with a bachelor’s degree. As illustrated in the table below, software developers, programmers, and software engineers with master’s degrees earn roughly $14,000 more a year than individuals in the same positions with a bachelor’s degree. Salaries are also impacted by years of experience and in some cases, experience in the field may offset educational background.

Median Salary for Computer Science Careers by Degree

Bachelor's Degree

Senior Programmer $108,000
Software Developer $72,242
Software Engineer $78,628

Master's Degree

Senior Programmer $108,604
Software Developer $79,796
Software Engineer $90,687

Computer Science Employers in Alaska

  • Computer Task Group, Inc.: CTG provides a variety of information technology services, with branches throughout the world. Some computer science related positions within the company include application development manager and software engineer.
  • Bering Straits Information Technology: BSIT provides information technology services to local organizations and companies in Alaska and state or federal institutions throughout the nation. Some computer science related positions in the company include cyber security analysis, .net developer, and systems administrator.
  • Resource Data Inc.: Resource Data Inc is a consulting company that specializes in custom software, GIS, and IT issues. Some computer science related positions in the company include programmer/analyst, lead systems architect, and GIS programmer/analyst.

How Much do Computer Scientists Make in Alaska?

Salaries are often determined by factors such as geographic location and educational level. As the chart below demonstrates, the average annual salary for computer scientists in Alaska is slightly lower than the national average, but not by much. Salaries also vary by level of experience and specific position within a company. Below is the average salary for all computer and mathematical occupations in Alaska and the United States.

Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Alaska 5,050 $39.84 $82,860
United States 4,165,140 $42.25 $87,880

Source: BLS

Computer Science Programs in Alaska

Traditional on-campus computer science programs in Alaska are offered at all degree levels. Bachelor’s programs typically require 120 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Core courses cover topics such as computer programming, data structures, operating systems, programming languages, computer networks, and software engineering. Capstone projects often require students to apply their knowledge from coursework into developing a product such as a phone application. On campus master’s programs typically require 30 credit hours of coursework. Classes delve more deeply into topics of software development and programming. Regardless of degree level, learning takes place in the physical presence of peers and teachers at designated times during the week.

Online programs, on the other hand, offer more flexibility. While online computer science programs in Alaska generally follow the same course requirements as on-campus programs, different course delivery options accommodate busy schedules. Asynchronous classes allow students with other obligations like work or child care to listen to lectures and complete readings at their own pace. Synchronous classes provide a real-time interfacing experience for interactive learners. Distance learning students also benefit from being able to obtain their degree from anywhere in the state rather than being confined to near campus, where rent may be higher. The cost of education can be less for an online degree because students don’t have to pay for a dorm room or commuting costs.

Online computer science programs can also be either regionally or nationally accredited. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is the regional accreditation agency responsible for the state of Alaska. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as a valid accreditation body for computer science programs. Students should look for these accrediting bodies when evaluating computer science colleges in Alaska.

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Types of Computer Science Degrees


There are many types of degrees students can choose when pursuing education in computer science: associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree. In general, further formal education within a field results in a higher salary. In addition, some positions require a certain level of degree. For instance, many research positions or teaching positions at the university level require at least a master’s or doctorate degree. The table below features descriptions and basic data about each degree type.

Associate in Computer Science

 

An associate in computer science provides students with foundational knowledge in computer languages and programming. In addition to learning about computer systems, students will emerge with general education courses usually required by four year colleges. Graduates with an associate degree qualify for entry-level computer science positions in the job market.

Average Program Length – 2 Years
Median Salary – $32,897

Bachelor’s in Computer Science

 

A bachelor’s in computer science provides students with knowledge of operating systems, a variety of programming languages, database management, and computer systems and architecture. These programs typically require 120 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Many employers in the industry are increasingly hiring individuals with a bachelor’s degree.

Average Program Length – 4 Years
Median Salary – $60,835

Master’s in Computer Science

 

A master’s in computer science provides students with a deeper understanding of computer systems, design, and programming languages. Some master’s programs may provide specializations for those who wish to concentrate further in a specific area. Individuals with a master’s degree typically earn a higher salary upon graduation than those with a bachelor’s.

Average Program Length – 1-2 Years
Median Salary – $104,269

Computer Science Ph.D

 

A doctorate degree in computer science is designed for individuals who wish to pursue research in the field. These intensive programs often require students to narrow their field of study and design and carry out a specific research project that culminates in a dissertation. Graduates with a Ph.D in computer science often go into academia as computer science professors.

Average Program Length – 4+ Years
Median Salary – $126,744

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What Schools Offer a Computer Science Degree in Alaska?


Online computer science programs can vary in several areas, including course requirements, cost of tuition, and whether classes are synchronous or asynchronous. All of these factors should be taken into consideration when trying to pick an institution for your online computer science degree. Below is a list of accredited universities offering online computer science degrees in Alaska.

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Professional Computer Science Organizations in Alaska

Professional computer science organizations provide invaluable resources and networking opportunities to those working in the computer science industry. For working professionals and researchers, these organizations often host career development workshops, continuing education training, academic conferences and publications, and job announcements. For undergraduate and graduate students, they may provide scholarships or internships, research presentation or publication opportunities, and mentorship and guidance from established leaders in the field. Many international or national organizations have local chapters and networks. Below are three professional organizations students studying computer science in Alaska can join.

  • IEEE Computer Society: The IEEE Computer Society is a global organization for computer science researchers, educators, software engineers, programmers, and students. It is dedicated to providing trusted information, networking opportunities, and career development to its members.
  • Computing Resource Association: CRA connects the computer science industry with government and academia in order to make advances in computing research and practices. The association hosts conferences, a summit on technology and jobs, and career and mentoring workshops.
  • Association for Women in Computing: AWC is one of the first organizations dedicated to helping women advance their careers in the computing industry. The organization provides networking opportunities, continuing education, and mentorship for female computer science researchers, programmers, and students.

Additional Computer Science Resources in Alaska

  • Computing Resource Association Jobs: CRA posts job announcements for computer science professionals and researchers on their website. Many of these positions are academic positions at the university level, but also there are also positions with research institutions.
  • National Science Foundation Funding Opportunities: NSF provides funding for a variety of disciplines, including computer and information sciences. This website includes opportunities for computer science students, professionals, and researchers.
  • W3Schools Coding Tutorials: W3Schools is a renowned website that provides educational tutorials on coding. Their materials are used in many university curriculums. Tutorials include information on HTML, CSS, Javascript, and server side issues. This website can be a great place for computer science students to find additional help on coding and web programming topics.
  • CodingBat Practice Problems: CodingBat is a site filled with simple programming problems that allow students to practice logic, arrays, and decision making in the programming languages of Java or Python. All problems can be answered on the website and then checked online afterwards. This is an excellent resource for computer science students who want to get some extra coding practice outside of class.