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Arizona Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018

Students looking to enroll in an online post-secondary program often do research to ensure they’re making a solid decision. The questions for which they seek answers include tuition costs and residency restrictions. Students also want to know their options for finding the best education. This page provides the answers to these and other questions for prospective online students in Arizona so that they will have the tools needed to make the best decision on their education and career as tomorrow’s leaders.

Best Online Colleges in Arizona: 2018

Choosing a school to attend can be difficult, especially with so many options available. Students want to attend the best affordable online college in Arizona, so it pays to do the research to make the most of a college education. We looked at the metrics and the factors that make up a quality education, the most affordable schools, and also the best accredited online colleges in Arizona to provide our “Best of” list for 2017-2018. Our list below allows students to choose the right school and the right degree based on educational and future goals and aspirations.

  • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution

  • At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)

  • At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

  • Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates

  • Count and breadth of online programs available

  • Student-teacher ratio

  • 6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)

  • % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college

  • Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college

  • Availability of academic/career counseling services

  • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates

  • 3-year loan default rate

  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

*PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.

  • Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ 100.00 $8,072 46 64% 18:149%no yes yes
2 Prescott College Prescott, AZ 98.15 $24,960 53 100% 9:138%yes no yes
3 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ 97.79 $9,454 11 83% 23:159%no yes yes
4 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 96.59 $9,576 9 73% 22:161%no yes yes
5 Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ 95.96 $8,178 38 42% 27:1N/Ano yes yes
6 Ottawa University-Phoenix Phoenix, AZ 89.37 $11,520 22 N/A 7:1N/Ayes no yes
7 Trine University-Arizona Regional Campus Peoria, AZ 88.30 $14,440 7 N/A 9:1N/Ano yes yes
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2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Eastern Arizona College Thatcher, AZ 100.00 $2,000 9 24% 19:1N/Ayes yes yes
2 Arizona Western College Yuma, AZ 97.57 $1,824 23 16% 21:1N/Ano yes yes
3 Yavapai College Prescott, AZ 96.94 $1,896 23 17% 23:1N/Ayes no yes
4 Mesa Community College Mesa, AZ 96.19 $2,016 26 23% 21:1N/Ayes yes yes
5 Cochise County Community College District Douglas, AZ 94.65 $1,800 14 17% 17:1N/Ayes no yes
6 Estrella Mountain Community College Avondale, AZ 94.57 $2,016 6 22% 22:1N/Ayes yes yes
7 Central Arizona College Coolidge, AZ 94.29 $2,400 7 20% 16:1N/Ano no yes
8 Chandler-Gilbert Community College Chandler, AZ 94.11 $2,016 13 15% 25:1N/Ayes yes yes
9 Rio Salado College Tempe, AZ 94.10 $2,016 45 2% 30:1N/Ano yes yes
10 GateWay Community College Phoenix, AZ 93.30 $2,016 8 28% 13:1N/Ayes no yes
11 Paradise Valley Community College Phoenix, AZ 93.11 $2,016 5 37% 18:1N/Ayes no yes
12 Phoenix College Phoenix, AZ 92.58 $2,016 7 23% 17:1N/Ayes no yes
13 Mohave Community College Kingman, AZ 92.49 $2,400 23 7% 13:1N/Ano no yes
14 South Mountain Community College Phoenix, AZ 92.42 $2,016 4 24% 16:1N/Ayes no yes
15 Pima Community College Tucson, AZ 92.03 $1,692 8 13% 25:1N/Ayes no yes
16 Scottsdale Community College Scottsdale, AZ 90.82 $2,016 6 22% 18:1N/Ano no yes
17 Coconino Community College Flagstaff, AZ 90.69 $2,670 3 11% 31:1N/Ano yes yes

The Increase of Online Colleges in Arizona

Arizona’s online learning environment has grown steadily over the years, with colleges and universities not only offering individual online classes but also full degree programs entirely online. Schools use a wide range of technology and teaching modalities to access and support students with a variety of abilities. Northern Arizona University leads the way with 70 online bachelor’s and master’s programs and personalized self-paced programs in five fields. Arizona students have options beyond NAU with 15 other colleges and universities in the state also offering online degree programs, from community and vocational colleges through the other two major state universities.

Explore Online Degree Programs in Arizona

In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Arizona

Tuition costs are typically a concern for students researching colleges, especially when their school of choice is in another state. To qualify for in-state tuition, students must establish a primary residence in Arizona for at least one year before the last day of registration for the student’s starting semester. Out-of-state students pay a higher tuition cost. However, Arizona is part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange, an agreement between Arizona and 14 other western states to offer reduced tuition rates for a limited number of out-of-state students.

In-state tuition: $9,884

Out-of-state tuition: $24,161

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

Will I have to pay in-state or out-of-state tuition in Arizona?

Tuition rates vary among online programs in Arizona depending on the type of school and, often, the program. Most state school programs allow students to pay in-state tuition regardless of where the student lives. This allows schools to market their programs across state lines, serving a wider demographic of students.

In general, online programs may be more expensive than traditional on-campus programs. For example, at the Maricopa Community College District, the state’s largest provider of community colleges, resident tuition is $86 per credit hour while distance learning courses are $215 per credit hour for both resident and out-of-state students. This trend is similar across many of the state’s public and private colleges.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1.Tuition for online programs generally costs more than in-state, in-person programs.

  • 2.Both in-state and out-of-state students pay the same rate for online programs.

How do I apply for financial aid in Arizona?

Students who wish to apply for financial aid to attend an Arizona online program must fulfill certain requirements. The first step is for U.S. citizens to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible, but at least by March 15 preceding the academic year of attendance. Students not eligible for federal aid can apply for scholarships and grants through each college’s financial aid office. Federal aid and some scholarships are dispersed based on financial need and other factors.

Each college or university in Arizona has its own set of requirements to qualify for and maintain financial aid. Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress, holding a grade point average while taking and completing a minimum number of credit hours each semester. In general, students should expect the following criteria to maintain their aid:

  • GPA

    2.0 minimum for undergraduates and 3.0 minimum for graduate students

  • Time commitments

    Students must complete and pass at least 67 per cent of the cumulative credit hours they attempt. Credits from failed, dropped, withdrawn or incomplete classes do not count toward the student’s grade point average or financial aid.

  • Max credit loads

    Federal student financial aid only covers a certain amount of credit hours, depending on the degree program. Each degree program has its own maximum attempted credit hour limit that applies, not including audited courses. The limit for undergraduate programs is typically 180 credit hours while graduate students have a limit of around 100 credit hours. Most schools will warn students as they approach this limit.

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Scholarships & Grants in Arizona for College

Students who wish to attend college in Arizona may apply for various scholarships and grants. While many of these are needs-based awards, others are merit- and degree-based. Scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid after graduation, making them a popular choice among students. Because they are often competitive or limited awards, students should research each source fully and apply early for the best chance to win a scholarship or grant.

What kind of scholarships are available?

The list of scholarships and grants for which Arizona students can apply for is wide and long. Finding the right award might be challenging without the specific lists and resources available. Individual colleges and universities often have their own scholarships available at the financial aid offices. The Arizona Student Financial Aid Programs office offers a list of grants for students who attend school in the state. In addition, College Goal Arizona offers support in filling out financial aid applications but also points students toward both general and military-based scholarships. There are a number of scholarship databases with Arizona-specific awards, such as Scholarships.com and Niche.com.

What are the application requirements?

Each scholarship and grant has its own application and process. Students should research the process carefully to ensure they meet the requirements, then gather the required documentation. This often includes proof of residency or citizenship, high school diploma, or college transcripts for transfer students. The application and essay are important aspects of the application process, and students need to be aware of the deadline. Some scholarships and grants are available on a limited basis, so it benefits students to turn in a quality, well-thought-out application early.

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Choosing an Online College in Arizona

There’s a lot to consider as you research the best college for you. Knowing which degree you seek is a great first stepping stone, as this will help you narrow down your options. From there, cost, program quality, student services and hybrid opportunities may also be a consideration. We talked to students across the state to find out what’s on their minds as they choose their college. Here, we bring you the three most-asked questions so you can start your search on the right foot and with the right information in your pocket.

Will Arizona colleges accept transfer credits from another school and work/life experience?

Most colleges and universities will accept transfer credits from accredited institutions that meet certain criteria. These colleges have guidelines in place that help students determine which credits will transfer. Arizona State University has a Transfer Credit Guide, an online tool that walks students through evaluating their own transfer credits. Likewise, the University of Arizona has a Transfer Credit Guide and encourages students to meet with an enrollment recruiter to help answer any questions.

Each college or university sets its own limits to the number of credits students can transfer in, depending on the program type and length. Military credits are also available for veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard at many schools.

I live in Arizona. Do I need to pick an online college in the state?

Because online programs are so accessible, they’re available to students across the country and even overseas. Just because you’re an Arizona resident doesn’t mean you must choose an online college in the state. If your educational needs are better served in a school in another state, check with that school about admission requirements and financial investments.

What do I need to consider when picking an online college in Arizona?

When choosing an online college in Arizona, start narrowing down your options by knowing your educational goals. Choose a college that offers the program you’re looking for, has a good reputation, is accredited and offers the support and resources you need to be successful. For example, if you need accommodations due to a disability, find out how accessible those accommodations will be. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, look at pricing and financial aid opportunities as well as program start dates. Talking to an enrollment counselor can also help you on the right track to the best college choice for you.