Best Online Colleges and Universities in Arizona

ASO Staff Writers
Updated September 27, 2023
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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.

How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I’m Looking for in Arizona?

Home to some of the largest distance education institutions in the world, Arizona provides so many online college options that finding the right program may feel overwhelming. Prospective students can visit the Open Education Database and the AZ College & Career Guide to find annotated lists of the state’s schools.

How Much More Do College Grads in Arizona Make?

Higher degrees typically correlate with increases in annual salaries for American workers. The following table features the median annual earnings in the U.S. by level of education. According to PayScale, the average salary in Arizona is $62,000 a year, higher than the national average. Arizonans’ comparative wealth comes in part from an educated workforce that provides management and technical proficiency to the state’s growing healthcare, software, manufacturing, and mining industries.

Estimated Salary According to Degree
Less Than a High School DiplomaHigh School DiplomaAssociate DegreeBachelor’s DegreeMaster’s DegreeDoctoral Degree

Source: Bureau Labor of Statistics

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Best Online Colleges in Arizona Top Rankings

Arizona hosts a variety of public and private institutions that offer opportunities for online undergraduate and graduate study. Arizona’s average public tuition rate is $10,557 per year, but students can take advantage of many things to make their education more affordable.

This guide covers important information about minimizing the costs of earning a degree, including how to take advantage of financial aid opportunities, student resources, and in-state tuition rates.

#1 Best Online Colleges and Universities in Arizona

University of Arizona

  • Location-markerTucson, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,990
  • Out-of-state$33,273
  • Retention Rate83%
  • Acceptance Rate85%
  • Students Enrolled44,577
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment42%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Colleges and Universities in Arizona

Pima Community College

  • Location-markerTucson, AZ
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$2,028
  • Out-of-state$7,344
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled19,512
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment36%
  • AccreditationYes

City Spotlight: Colleges in Arizona

Phoenix, AZ

Flagstaff, AZ

Colleges and universities in Flagstaff, Arizona offer traditional degree programs as well as professional training programs that provide students with a pathway to careers in fields such as health science and cosmetology. Flagstaff also boasts a number of online programs, available through public and private institutions, with innovative options such as personalized or self-paced studies.

Colleges and Universities in Flagstaff

Northern Arizona University28,561$6,514Public
Coconino Community College6,991$2,490Public

Prescott, AZ

As a fast-growing city in a state with a widely distributed population, Prescott is home to multiple colleges and universities dedicated to providing higher education and career-oriented studies. Flexible study programs take into account the needs of working professionals and nontraditional as well as traditional students. Given the remote locations of some Arizona communities, the state has been a huge proponent of distance learning options to expand access to educational opportunities.

Colleges and Universities in Prescott

Prescott College1,526$26,208Not For Profit (Private)
Yavapai College12,973$1,608Public

Tucson, AZ

Tucson is home to Arizona’s oldest university, whose enrollment of 40,000+ creates a significant presence in a city of approximately 486,700. The second largest urban center in Arizona, Tucson offers diverse cultural and academic opportunities. Students looking to earn their undergrad or graduate degrees in Tucson can choose from institutions offering training in agriculture, optics, fine arts, allied health fields and countless other subjects. Tucson, also known as the Sunshine Factory, offers private and public higher education institutions designed to fit students’ professional and academic goals, with online study options for increased flexibility.

Colleges and Universities in Tucson

University of Arizona42,779$8,364Public
Pima Community College56,916$1,404Public

Paying for Online College in Arizona: Tuition and Financial Aid

Arizona residents who attend a public, in-state university pay an average tuition rate of $10,557, which is higher than the national average. However, Arizona also offers some of the nation’s best public aid packages, including free tuition for qualifying residents at some public universities. The tables below outline how Arizona’s average tuition prices compare to national averages.

Arizona’s Average Tuition Prices vs. National Averages
In-State TuitionOut-of-State TuitionNational Average
$10,557$26,067$9,037 (In-State) $25,657 (Out-of-State)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Cost Considerations for Online Students in Arizona

When weighing education costs, students should consider several factors. We outline several important cost considerations for prospective students below.

  • check-circle

    Cost Differences Among Online Colleges:

    The cost of attending college online varies by institution. For instance, private schools typically charge more than public universities.

  • check-circle

    In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition Fees

    Most state-sponsored universities and colleges provide significant tuition discounts for in-state students. However, some programs allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live.

  • check-circle

    Military or Veteran Discounts

    At many universities, members of the U.S. military and veterans qualify for reduced tuition rates and other financial benefits that affect the cost of their education.

  • check-circle

    Rates Are Based on Degree Level

    The type of degree that a student pursues also affects the cost of their education. Undergraduate degrees typically take longer to complete than graduate degrees, so they often come at a higher cost.

  • check-circle

    Corporate Education Reimbursements

    Some companies offer reimbursement for part or all of an employee’s educational expenses, provided the recipient meets certain criteria, such as agreeing to work for the company for a designated time period.

Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Arizona

To qualify for in-state tuition rates at a public college or university in Arizona, students must live in the state for at least one year prior to the last day of registration for the semester.

Students must provide evidence of financial independence, such as proof of employment. However, some programs allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of residency, so prospective students should research the requirements of each potential school.

Paying for College in Arizona: Scholarships and Financial Aid

Arizona residents can take advantage of a variety of financial aid opportunities to help pay for their education, such as scholarships, grants, and loans. Scholarships and grants are typically ideal as, unlike loans, they do not require repayment. We highlight several scholarship and grant opportunities for Arizona students below.

Scholarships for Arizona College Students

plusChief Manuelito Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Full-time undergraduate students pursuing a bachelor’s degree can apply for this scholarship provided that they meet the scholastic requirements as determined by their ACT/SAT scores. Recipients must complete courses in Navajo language and Navajo government before graduation.

Amount: $3,500 per term

plusArizona Section Halls of Knowledge Scholarship – American Welding Society

Who Can Apply: Candidates for this scholarship must reside in Arizona; study at an accredited technical college, community college, or university; and major in welding technology, manufacturing, or engineering studies.

Amount: Varies

plusThe ACMPE Scholarship Fund Inc.

Who Can Apply: Residents of Arizona or another state in the MGMA Western Section can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must have career plans to advance the organization’s mission to transform healthcare.

Amount: $2,500

plusPMI Phoenix Chapter Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Arizona residents seeking undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degrees in project management or a related field can apply for this annual scholarship.

Amount: Up to $2,500

plusThe Arizona Business and Professional Women’s Foundation

Who Can Apply: Women who are at least 21 years old and earning a degree at a community college to advance their careers can apply for this scholarship.

Amount: Varies

Grants for Arizona College Students

plusArizona Community Foundaiton

Who Can Apply: The Arizona Community Foundation manages funds that support various scholarships and grants for Arizona residents. Applicants complete one form that foundation staff members use to determine the applicant’s financial aid qualifications.

Amount: Varies

plusTEACH Grant

Who Can Apply: Education majors can apply for a federal TEACH grant. Recipients must agree to teach in a high-need school for at least four years following graduation.

Amount: Up to $4,000

plusArizona Financial Aid Trust Grant

Who Can Apply: Funded by the state legislature, this grant supports Arizona residents who attend state colleges.

Amount: Varies

plusArizona Teacher Student Loan Program

Who Can Apply: Arizona residents enrolled at least half time in a teacher certification program who have completed at least 55 credits qualify for this loan. Recipients must agree to teach in an Arizona public school for the same number of years that they receive aid, plus one year in exchange for loan forgiveness.

Amount: Up to $7,000 per year

plusArizona Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership

Who Can Apply: Undergraduate Arizona residents with financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can apply for this grant. Recipients must maintain satisfactory academic progress.

Amount: Up to $2,500

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The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Arizona

When researching prospective schools and programs, students should look for accreditation status. Accreditation expands employment, financial aid, and education opportunities and indicates that a school meets high academic standards.

  • Regional and National Accreditation

    Schools may receive regional or national accreditation. Nonprofit, degree-granting institutions typically hold regional accreditation, while for-profit, vocational schools hold national accreditation. Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversees various regional accrediting bodies that accredit schools depending on location. The Higher Learning Commission accredits Arizona schools.
  • Subject-Specific Accreditation

    Programs within a school may also receive accreditation, such as nursing, business, and social work programs. Like regional accreditation, programmatic accreditation indicates that a program meets high academic standards and adequately prepares students for the workforce.
  • How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited

    Students can typically find a program or school’s accreditation status through the school’s website. Additionally, students can search the CHEA database or the Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to verify accreditation status.

Online College and Adult Education in Arizona

Arizona hosts some of the largest online higher education programs in the world. Arizona learners can take advantage of many programs and resources to support their studies, many of which we highlight below.

By the Numbers: Adult Education in Arizona

The Distance Education State Almanac


students took at least one online course in 2015


students took at least one online course in 2015


of Arizona’s distance education students are enrolled in private, for-profit schools

Adult Education Programs for Arizona Students

Online College Resources for Arizona Students

Current and prospective online students in Arizona can take advantage of several resources to support their studies. The following resources offer information on topics like financial aid opportunities and Arizona’s postsecondary education options.

This website offers information about Arizona’s two state-sponsored higher education grants, as well as links to scholarship resources and federal financial aid opportunities.
This publication from the State of Arizona covers every postsecondary education option in the state, including information about accreditation and financial aid.
This state-sponsored program helps people save for their family’s college education in tax-deferred accounts. Arizonans can open an account for as little as $25.
This commission identifies and addresses ways to expand access to education and increase college success. Students can use the website to plan for college and discover learning resources.
This state-sponsored online resource helps Arizona students complete college applications and the FAFSA.

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