If you’re thinking about going to college in Arizona, the intense desert heat might be a strike against the state.
Don’t let it be!
Arizona has a number of extremely good colleges and universities, and you don’t actually have to be on-campus to get degrees from many of them. The rise of online degree programs has revolutionized higher education, so now you can sit in a nice, air-conditioned room and not worry about sweating it out as you trudge from classroom to classroom.
Of course, there are lots of other good reasons to consider an online college as well. Many people choose online education because they need a flexible schedule because of work or family obligations. Additionally, going online means you don’t have to pay top dollar to live on campus or commute to class. So it’s a time-saving, and a money-saving proposition. And as online education has become more mainstream, any previous stigma has largely vanished.
In fact, many schools award the exact same diploma to on-campus students as they do to online students. In large part, that’s because the same professors teach in both programs.
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What are the best online colleges in Arizona?
So if you’re considering going to an online college in Arizona, you’re probably wondering how to choose. There are lots of factors to consider, especially if you are interested in a particular degree level (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, etc.) or a particular degree program (engineering, business, nursing, etc.).
You also want to make sure you get the highest quality instruction possible, as well as a good return on your tuition investment. Well, we’ve taken all that into consideration in order to create this list. Our ranking is composed of three factors: institutional excellence, return on investment, and student satisfaction.
Institutional excellence uses the traditional metrics for gauging a school’s quality: endowment size, retention rates, student-to-faculty ratio. Return on investment weighs average tuition against the expected salary for graduates. And student satisfaction is an aggregate statistic we compile from a number of different websites where real students rate their experience at a particular college.
Our data comes from U.S. News & World Report, Payscale, the National Center for Education Statistics, individual college websites, and various student ranking sites.
See our rankings methodology page.
The University of Arizona was founded in 1885 in Tucson, Arizona. Today it is one of the largest institution in Arizona and the online program is in the top 25% in the country. In state and out of state students pay the same tuition rates. This is a great deal for out of state students.
The University of Arizona offers 80 online degree programs. Inside the classroom, the average class size of 30 students. U of A uses the D2L learning management system with cinema quality field lectures, technology support and access to everything you would need to succeed in your classes. Top online majors include:
- Interdisciplinary Studies
- Health Sciences
- Learning Sciences
University of Arizona prides itself with 100% engagement of their undergraduate student body. This program connects a student activity such as an internship, research experience or service learning project with a designated upper-level course. This connection earns the student an Engaged Learning Experience Notation on their transcript.
Arizona State University (ASU) was founded in 1887 in Tempe, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. Today, ASU is #1 in the United States for Innovation by the U.S. News and World Report in 2016 and 2017. They are #4 for offering online undergraduate programs.
Arizona State University offers 63 online Bachelor degree programs. The total number of online programs is 140 online programs for over 30,000 students. Classes start 6 times a year and each class lasts only 7.5 weeks. So, you have a few days to catch your breath before the next class. Top Undergraduate programs include:
- Liberal Arts
- Criminal Justice
ASU has partnered with Google to offer students Google Apps for their educational pursuits. Students will use technologies like Google Drive to collaborate with peers and faculty on their projects in real time without pesky emails back and forth. ASU is one of the first to implement this partnership.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was founded in 1978 in Prescott, Arizona, to be part of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University System in Daytona Beach, Florida, that was founded in 1926. Today, Prescott campus has 539 acres and is north of Phoenix, Arizona.
The Prescott campus offers over 20 majors for over 2,200 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 17-to-1. Nearly 30% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, student can access over 120 student organizations. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott participates in NAIA athletics. Top majors include:
- Aerospace, Aeronautical & Astronautical/Space Engineering
- International Relations & Affairs
- Airline/Commercial/Professional Pilot & Flight Crew
- Aeronautics/Aviation/Aerospace Science & Technology
- Mechanical Engineering
Today, Embry has the #1 online bachelor degree program, #1 best online colleges and Universities and has the #1 undergraduate aerospace engineering program by US News & World Report. The University is the only fully accredited aviation-orientated university in the world.
Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University was founded in 1899 in Flagstaff, Arizona as a school to train teachers. Today, the 740-acre campus in Flagstaff is 6,950 feet above sea level surrounded by ponderosa pine forests. Students in the Western United States can be eligible for a reduced tuitio rate.
Northern Arizona University offers over 80 online bachelor and master degrees through their online NAU-Extended Campus. Classes are offered through the Blackboard Learn platform. Students have access to 24/7 IT support as well as Library materials. Nearly 30% of the classes have less than 20 students. The Student-faculty ration is 18=to-1. Online courses include:
- Criminal Justice
- Health Professions
NAU per-credit hour tuition is significantly less than other programs within Arizona. Northern Arizona courses are $362 per credit hour versus $585 per credit hour at University of Phoenix (as of 2014-2015 prices).
Prescott College was founded in 1966 in Prescott, Arizona, through the efforts of the Ford Foundation. Today, it is a small school with 458 undergraduates on a 13-acre campus. They started their distance learning program in 1978. Today, they offer online degrees with limited residency requirements. So, students will need to plan for traveling to campus throughout their program.
All Prescott classes are supported by Moodle learning management systems. The class sizes will always be less than 20 students. Students will have regular classroom contact with faculty and their peers. – but that is the extent of their online programs. The undergraduate online degrees include:
- Arts & Humanities
- Environmental Studies & Sustainability
- Human Development
- Education & Teacher Preparation
Prescott is best known for their Master’s program in counseling. However, Prescott also offers a vast array of online Master, Doctoral and certificate programs as well. However, it is important to note that all students will be required to attend a New Student Orientation in Prescott Arizona, prior to starting their program.
Arizona Christian University
Arizona Christian University was founded in 1960 in Phoenix, AZ through the work of Ida Clouse a Christian, Baptist missionary who donated her property after her death. Today, ACU offers three modes of learning: traditional student classes on its 35-acre campus, online learning campus, and evening campus that focuses on degree completion for working adults.
Arizona Christian University just started offering their online program in 2017. The program allows online students to start at any time during the year. ACU starts classes six times a year with an 8-week terms. The online course work is the same as learning on campus. Classes are small with a student-faculty ratio of 13-to-1. Online undergraduate majors include:
- Elementary or Secondary Education
- Family Studies
- Christian Ministries
While Arizona Christian University has Baptist roots, the university became non-denominational in 2009. Since that time, they have been expanding rapidly with new programs and new avenues for students to achieve their educational goals. So, while their online program might be brand new, the university is here to stay.
Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 in Phoenix, Arizona, by the Southern Baptist Church. In the early 2000s the university was struggling. So, the college changed from a non-profit organization to a new business model to support operations. Today, this once small school is drastically changing the landscape in Phoenix with being part of the NCCA Division I athletics, creating jobs, restoring housing and reducing crime in West Phoenix. That is just the main campus exploits!
Today, GCU is #2 in the top 50 online Christian College. The University supports over 65,000 online students pursue over 200 programs online annually. Students can access class materials through LoudCloud learning management software complete with 24/7 access to the library and technical support. Most classes will have less than 30 students with a student faculty ratio of 19-to-1. Top majors include:
- Special Education
- Teacher education Grade Specific
- Human Services
97% of the degrees offered at Grand Canyon University are from online students. But don’t let that number fool you. They still have a sizable impact on their 100-acre brick and mortar campus complete with NCAA Division I athletics.