Nearly 320,000 students are enrolled in Arizona private colleges, and close to 355,000 are enrolled in public and state schools in Arizona. With more than 100 colleges and universities to choose from across the state, aspiring students should do their homework when it comes to trying to find the right college fit. Discover more about Arizona's colleges and online university options, find out the answers to students' frequently asked questions, and explore how higher education can prepare you to thrive in the workforce long term below.
Some college-bound students in Arizona prioritize finding a school with a stellar student-teacher ratio, such as Arizona Christian University or Prescott College, where the student teacher ratio is lower than the national average of 14:1. Others might prioritize finding a college with an array of online degree programs, like the University of Arizona, where nearly 22 percent of incoming freshman come in as “undecided” majors with room to choose their path as they learn.
Before researching these specifics to find the perfect college fit, it’s important that a school meets a few basic standards, like being accredited, offering online education options and offering federal financial aid. Take a peek at our list of Arizona’s best online colleges with these features and more:
Arizona’s colleges and universities offer a wide range of undergraduate degree options, many of which are fully online. The Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education provides a listing of all the state’s private and public higher education institutions, along with detailed information on course offerings and the length of study required at each.
Many colleges, like Northern Arizona University, specifically list their distance education programs on their websites. With online programs ever-evolving, the best way to know which schools offer the degree you're interested in is to call the admissions office or check the college’s website. To narrow down all the accredited colleges and universities in Arizona, click the search button to the right.
Most Arizona schools have their own guidelines to help transfer students determine if their credits will count towards a new degree program. For instance, Arizona State University offers a transfer credit guide that allows students to evaluate their eligibility-credits may transfer if they were earned at a regionally accredited institution.
Regarding work/life experience, college and university policies in Arizona may also vary. The University of Arizona will recognize work and life experience credits that are validated by testing, such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Many online colleges and universities in Arizona may also offer military experience credit for students who want to earn their degree after military service and business- or industry-specific credit for working students.
In Arizona, completing an online degree can increase your earning potential down the road. Let's examine the average pay college graduates in Arizona can expect, based on their degree level.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
On average, Arizona residents with a master's degree can make almost $42,000 more per year than residents working in jobs that require no formal education, and those whose jobs require a doctoral or professional degree might make $87,000 more per year. The statistics also make a strong case for Arizona students who already have an undergraduate degree, as Arizona’s careers that require a doctoral degree pay $46,000 more on average than careers requiring a bachelor's degree.
Arizona's economy is anticipated to grow over the next three decades. Most of the state's job growth during this time is projected to take place in the service-providing sectors, including health services, education services, utilities, trade, transportation, and business and professional services. These industries make up more than 60 percent of the projected growth.
There are online college programs offered in Arizona associated with these fast-growing industries. If one of these fields interests you, the next step is to learn more about the degree and career prospects within healthcare, education and business sectors, and match them to the college of your choice.
Online higher education is on the rise in Arizona, especially as the state grapples to find solutions on how to better fund colleges and universities. But not all Arizona’s online schools are equal. Students should seek out colleges that are accredited—accredited institutions must consistently meet certain requirements to demonstrate that they provide a top-notch education.
Colleges and universities can be accredited by both national and regional bodies, but regional accreditation is considered more prestigious. For example, Arizona State University, who has a broad online program base, holds their general, regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
In addition to regional accreditation, some online colleges in Arizona have earn subject-specific accreditation for individual programs. Arizona State University is one who also holds these additional specialized accreditations; the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits their nursing programs, including their online nursing degree.
Tuition costs have climbed across the country over the past 30 years, and many Arizona students in are concerned about their ability to afford a college education.
In Arizona, online tuition rates vary by school, and even by program. However, some online colleges in Arizona charge their distance learners in-state tuition rates regardless of where the students live. This allows online schools in Arizona to market their individual programs across the United States and meet the needs of a much wider student demographic. For example, Arizona State University charges $520 to $728 per credit hour for undergraduate students online, and there is no out-of-state tuition.
Arizona is a part of an agreement called the Western Undergraduate Exchange, where out-of-state students from participating states can attend Arizona colleges and pay a discounted tuition rate, rather than the more pricey, out-of-state tuition rate. This is a major benefit for students in other states who may be interested in earning an online degree from an Arizona college.
Let's take a look at a few frequently asked questions about paying for online colleges in Arizona.
To quality for in-state university tuition, students must live in Arizona for an entire year before applying for college. They must also demonstrate that they intend to establish an Arizona domicile (live permanently in the state) rather than only live in the state as a student.
As mentioned earlier, tuition costs vary at Arizona’s colleges and universities. Here are some examples:
At Prescott College, one of Arizona’s smaller online campuses, online students can expect to pay $598 per credit, or roughly $16,000 per year for tuition and fees for a bachelor’s degree,
By the numbers, this puts Arizona's tuition costs below the average total tuition cost in the United States for public colleges, which comes out to more than $16,700 per year.
Several scholarship opportunities are available to Arizona’s aspiring college students. If you’re looking for help funding your online degree, there are some state-specific scholarship options available in Arizona:
Arizona BPW Foundation Scholarship: This $1,500 scholarship is available for women ages 25 and older who are returning to college to advance their careers. The scholarship is available through the Arizona Business and Professional Women's foundations.
PepsiCo Cesar Chavez Latino Scholarship: Students of Latino descent in Arizona can take advantage of this $5,000 scholarship to start or continue their higher education studies. Winners must complete 30 service hours with the Cesar Chavez Foundation within a year of receiving the award.
Arizona CPA Foundation for Education and Innovation Scholarship: This scholarship is available to any Arizona resident who plans to enter college full time. It is specifically reserved for students who intend to major in accounting.
To search for additional scholarship and financial aid information, click the icon to the right.
Adult education programs are an excellent resource for students who could use some additional stepping stones to reach their college degree. From July 2016 to June 2017, more than 13,000 Arizona residents participated in these adult education programs, primarily students who were 25 to 44 years of age.
Adult Education programs can help aspiring Arizona college students with:
Completing High School Equivalency: Arizona students seeking their high school equivalency diploma can do so as they also earn college credits by applying for the College Credit Pathway program.
Transferring to a four-year college or university: The AZ Transfer program offers college advice on transferring to Arizona’s major universities, as well as counseling on college preparation and earning general education equivalency credits.
Earning work experience after college: For degree earners who are pursuing higher education to advance an existing career, the Arizona@Work program offers career workshops and internship and apprenticeship connections.