Alaska Bible College (ABC) has embarked on a new mission that includes offering an accredited teaching degree in which graduates are grounded in Christian faith, but also state-certified to teach in public or private schools across the state.

Thanks to a recent agreement with the Alaska Board of Education, Alaska Bible College just celebrated its first Elementary Education bachelor’s degree graduate who has full state teaching certification. This allows graduates to immediately qualify for entry-level teaching jobs throughout the state.

Students take part during a class at Alaska Bible College in Palmer.

Historically, the college offered a single bachelor’s degree in biblical studies and Christian ministry. The ability to now provide teaching degrees with certification helps the school further its underlying mission.

“We are a Bible college that’s focused on equipping the next generation to become vocational Christian servants in a full-time capacity,” said College President David Ley. “We see it strategic with education – having a witness in the public schools, having a witness in the Christian schools or in the villages.”

Founded in Glennallen 50 years ago, Alaska Bible College relocated 10 years ago to downtown Palmer where it provides instruction from a Bible-based, non-denominational worldview.

Ley said the school wants to fully equip students to be Christ-like witnesses wherever they work, but especially in remote areas of the state.

“We have a burden for the Gospel in the villages, and that fits our mission of training up servants who will lead with Christ-like character and serve in those places where others may not be willing to,” he said. “We want to send graduates who have a mission-minded commitment, so they are going to the village to improve the educational quality of the village, but also to have a spiritual impact.”

Alaska Bible College’s educational degree program may also help to address the growing teacher shortage across Alaska.

According to a 2023 state report, teachers are leaving Alaska faster than they can be replaced. In 2002, Alaska had 8,232 teachers, and that remained relatively stable until 2013. Since then, the number has steadily decreased, and by 2022, the teacher count was down to 6,916. Public school enrollment has also dropped over that period, from 133,105 in 2002 to 127,509 in 2022.

While many factors play into Alaska’s lack of teachers, including burnout in remote villages, classroom discipline issues and other challenges, there are also fewer places to get an accredited teaching degree without leaving the state.

In 2019, the University of Alaska campus in Anchorage, lost its licensure accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), a national group that ensures colleges and universities provide quality teacher training and education.

Since then, UAA has been unable to provide accredited Elementary Bachelor of Arts degrees for students working to earn their initial teaching certification. While the state has granted UAA provisional approval to continue offering initial one-year teaching certificates, the lack of accreditation has undermined the degree program.

Since 1982, Alaska Bible College has been accredited through the Association for Biblical Higher Education, a national accrediting organization that has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education since 1952.

The vast majority of ABC students are from Alaska and remain in state after graduating. Ley noted this fact when asked about why the State Board of Education agreed to grant ABC graduates a teaching certification.

“There is a desperate need for teachers in Alaska,” he said. “So, I think they observed our program, saw that it was good quality, saw that it was rigorous and decided to give us state licensure.”

Moving forward, Ley hopes that the college’s teaching program will expand. In addition to this year’s graduate, there are three other elementary education majors in the pipeline for the fall. He’s also working with the Mat-Su School District on a potential plan to train teachers for the district in the future. This is not yet in place, but Ley said it could be established sometime next year.

“We say ABC is the best kept secret in the Valley,” he added, noting that tuition is a fraction of what students pay for most four-year degrees. “People just don’t know about it, but we’re trying to get the word out.”

Prospective students can apply to ABC throughout the summer by visiting the college website. Applications are typically processed within 24 hours.

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Amid Alaska teacher shortage, faith-based college expands mission with certified degrees

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Friend of Humanity says:

    I did not know that UAA had lost its licensure accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), Maybe this explains why they have gone woke – Soros money keeping their doors open!
    Thank you to the Alaska Bible College for providing education with an eye on growing. We need a good college here in Alaska since the monopoly college has taken a turn for the worse. I’ll be sharing your information!

  • jon says:

    The graduates who get jobs in public schools can not express their faith there. Make sure they know that.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      But, it is okay for the satanists to have their satan-worshipping clubs and push pedophilia.

  • Homeschool Mom says:

    Alaska Bible College has a very nice dual-enrollment program for high school students. My daughter did find that their credits did not transfer to UAA/Mat-Su College.