Did You Know UA system collaborates with top-tier universities to offer specialized degrees?

Did you know that the University of Alaska system collaborates with top-tier universities to offer academic programs that grow Alaska’s workforce in specialized fields? These collaborations help Alaska students to complete advanced degrees in healthcare, law, and veterinary medicine while minimizing the need for out-of-state residency and cost. 

Here’s a rundown of partnering institutions and the degrees made possible through collaboration:

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - Colorado State University and UAF

reindeer calf

The nationwide shortage of veterinarians extends to Alaska. This is particularly apparent in rural veterinary medicine, public health, food safety, and in biomedical research, and UAF is uniquely positioned to address all of these areas. After completing rigorous undergraduate requirements, students can apply through Colorado State University to be in the UAF/CSU Collaborative Veterinary Program. The program operates on a 2+2 model where students complete the first two years of veterinary medicine school at UAF paying CSU’s sponsored in-state tuition rate, and the final two years at CSU. The benefits to Alaska students are reduced time out-of-state, reduced cost, and the ability to work with the unique four-legged residents at UAF’s Large Animal Research Station, including muskox and reindeer. There are 14 slots available each year and academically-competitive Alaska residents get an admission preference.

Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) - Creighton University and UAA

medical student

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 17% growth in the field of occupational therapy through 2030. To meet Alaska’s demand, the UAA-Creighton University pathway, launched in 2008, created the first hybrid, clinical occupational therapy doctorate program in the country. This program prepares students to serve the rural and underserved urban health care needs in the state. Students take classes in traditional, distance and asynchronous online formats with labs and supplemental learning opportunities held on the UAA campus. Up to 14 students per year, who have a minimum of 60 semester hours of coursework and meet the required prerequisites, are accepted to this three-and-a-half year, full-time program. After successful completion of the program, students are eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy examination and to apply for licensure.

Doctor of Pharmacy - Idaho State University and UAA

pharmacy student

Alaska was once the only state that did not offer a doctor of pharmacy program, now a partnership with ISU allows students to complete all four years of instruction without leaving Alaska. Technology connects students and lecturers who participate in real-time, synchronous classroom instruction from three locations: Pocatello and Meridian, Idaho, and Anchorage.The program admits 15 students per year, and graduates are prepared to work in a variety of healthcare settings. Dr. Thomas Wadsworth gives a personal video tour of the program here.


Juris Doctor - Willamette Law School and UAA, UAF and UAS

law student

All three universities in the UA system partner with Willamette Law School to provide students and alumni the opportunity to complete the classwork that prepares them for the Alaska State Bar exam and a career as an attorney. Students complete four years of undergraduate study at UAAUAF, or UAS, and three years at Willamette Law in Salem, OR. A $10,000 annual scholarship is guaranteed for students admitted to the program, which can be renewed each year they remain in good standing. UAA also partners with University of Washington School of Law and Case Western Reserve University School of Law to provide qualified UAA students the opportunity to earn a baccalaureate degree and law degree on an accelerated schedule.

Master of Clinical Health Services (Physician Assistant) - University of Washington School of Medicine MEDEX Northwest and UAA

physician assistants students group photo

Multiple reports predict double-digit increases in the need for physician assistants (PAs), and it’s easy to see why. PAs are recognized by the Affordable Care Act as one of three primary care providers, along with doctors and nurse practitioners. PAs can practice autonomously under the supervision of a physician, diagnose and treat disease and prescribe medication. The time and cost to become a PA is significantly less than to become a physician. The 27-month course of study is offered in Anchorage to students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree, and is focused on primary care with an emphasis on underserved populations. The program admits 24 students a year, and expects applicants to have a personal connection to Alaska. Following completion, students are prepared to take the national certification examination and provide healthcare in a variety of settings.

Doctor of Medicine - University of Washington WWAMI School of Medicine and UAA

WWAMI medical students in classroom

One of the longest standing collaborations is the WWAMI medical exchange program, which turned 50 this March. WWAMI is a collaborative medical school among universities in five northwestern states, Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho and the University of Washington School of Medicine. Each year, 20 Alaska resident students are accepted into the program.

Alaska’s WWAMI medical students take classes at UAA for an 18-month foundations phase, equivalent to the first and second years of medical school. The clinical phase can be completed almost entirely in Alaska at a variety of sites, with a minimum of 12 weeks spent in Seattle. Students pay in-state tuition to the University of Washington during the last three years of the program, and the State of Alaska pays the difference between in-state and out-of-state costs during those years. WWAMI is currently the only medical school program where Alaskans are eligible for in-state tuition.Alaska WWAMI has trained more than 500 physicians since 1971. The UW School of Medicine and its WWAMI program has been ranked No. 1 in primary care education for most of the past 30 years, and is currently ranked in the top two medical schools in the country for Family Medicine by U.S. News & World Report. About 60% of Alaska WWAMI graduates return to practice in Alaska and account for almost 14% of the state’s licensed physicians.