Best Colleges in Arizona

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Updated on July 5, 2023
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The Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity projects employment across all job sectors in the state to increase by 1.7% each year between 2016 and 2026 — more than double the projected rate of job growth for the country as a whole. Much of this economic expansion can be attributed to new opportunities in education and health services, which are projected to add nearly 184,000 jobs over that time period. Additionally, the field of professional and business services is expected to account for another 80,000 new jobs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual mean wage in Arizona was $49,290 in 2018. Occupations that require additional training and education, however, typically pay much more. For example, the BLS reports that registered nurses in the state earned an average salary of $77,000; Arizona requires all RNs to complete at least some form of postsecondary education to receive a license. Similarly, human resources managers in Arizona earned an average salary of $101,910 in 2018, and these jobs typically require a bachelor's degree or higher.

Best Colleges in Arizona

#1 Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix Phoenix, AZ
#2 Arizona State University-Polytechnic Mesa, AZ
#3 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ
#4 Arizona State University-West Glendale, AZ
#5 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott Prescott, AZ
#6 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
#7 Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ
#8 Dine College Tsaile, AZ
#9 Arizona Christian University Phoenix, AZ
#10 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ

A college degree can help you find a job or take the next step in your career, but it can be difficult to know which school to choose. To guide your search, we have compiled the following list of the best colleges in Arizona. Our ranking includes information about common admission standards, available courses and programs, delivery methods, and financial aid opportunities. Unless otherwise noted, all of the schools in this ranking hold regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Ranking Accredited Colleges in Arizona

Best Colleges in Arizona

  1. Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix

    Phoenix, AZ



    Established in 1886 -- some 30 years before Arizona achieved statehood -- ASU is a comprehensive research university that offers degrees through 19 schools across five locations and online. The downtown Phoenix campus of ASU is home to the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.

    The downtown Phoenix location is also the only ASU campus where students can pursue degrees in majors such as food service management, community sports management, and the science of healthcare delivery.

    ASU Online links all of the university's institutions, providing a single point of access for online learners, regardless of their home campus. Distance education students can choose from more than 300 online degrees in subjects like business administration, information technology, and political science.

    Prospective students must meet specific course requirements and academic standards, such as a minimum 3.0 GPA or an ACT score of 22 or higher.

  2. Arizona State University-Polytechnic

    Mesa, AZ



    ASU's Polytechnic campus focuses on serving students interested in engineering, management, technology, and interdisciplinary sciences. For example, undergraduate students may pursue bachelor's degrees in aeronautical management technology and human systems engineering, while graduate students may seek master's and doctoral degrees in areas like environmental resource management and robotics and autonomous systems. Polytechnic students can also take courses remotely through ASU Online.

    The Polytechnic campus is situated on the outskirts of Phoenix, providing students easy access to a desert arboretum and a national forest. The location also boasts a residence hall for first-year learners, dining facilities, and a recreation center, making it a popular choice for students looking for a self-contained educational experience.

    Regardless of where they study, all ASU undergraduate applicants must meet the same admission requirements. In addition to holding a bachelor's degree, graduate applicants may also need to submit results from a standardized entrance exam like the GRE.

  3. Arizona State University-Tempe

    Tempe, AZ



    ASU's Tempe campus houses the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and the School of Sustainability. Tempe students may also major in engineering, education, or business, along with a host of other academic disciplines through ASU Online.

    Through a light rail system, the Tempe campus provides easy access to metropolitan Phoenix. It is also home to many research and athletics facilities, including the school's Global Institute of Sustainability and Sun Devil Stadium.

    ASU offers multiple sources of financial aid. Arizona residents receive significant in-state tuition discounts, while many of the university's scholarship programs are open to out-of-state students and those pursuing their degrees online. For example, the William D. Kavan Scholarship provides $1,000 in aid each year to select students majoring in political science.

  4. Arizona State University-West

    Glendale, AZ



    At ASU's West campus, students can explore subjects like applied quantitative science, healthcare compliance and regulations, forensic psychology, and elementary education. Nearly 100 undergraduate degrees are available through the West campus, along with 27 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. Students can also take advantage of the university's array of online classes and programs, making it easier to balance their studies with a job or family obligations.

    Students at ASU West benefit from amenities like a swimming pool, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex, and the Fletcher Library. The school also provides a variety of support services designed to help students thrive personally, academically, and professionally. For example, the university hosts an online career counseling hub that allows students to search for internship and job opportunities, make one-on-one advising appointments with dedicated coaches, and sign up for career fairs and skill development workshops.

  5. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

    Prescott, AZ



    Although its main campus is located in Florida, ERAU's Prescott campus provides an extensive selection of high-quality educational opportunities to Arizona residents. For example, undergraduate students can choose from a slate of majors in areas like aerospace engineering, aviation business administration, and space physics. Master's programs are also available in safety science and intelligence studies.

    While online coursework is available, the university emphasizes the importance of hands-on learning. Aviation students, for instance, receive supervised training on more than 30 planes and 10 helicopters, as well as advanced simulators. ERAU's STEM Education Center also features propulsion systems labs, robotics testing facilities, and engineering design studios.

    To apply to ERAU as an undergraduate student, you must have a high school diploma. Applicants can submit standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay to improve their chances of admission and qualify for specific financial aid opportunities. Graduate admission requirements vary by program, but most require at least a bachelor's degree.

    ERAU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. University of Arizona

    Tucson, AZ



    Established in 1885, UA serves roughly 45,000 students every year through 19 colleges and schools. Undergraduate students can find majors that match nearly any academic or professional interest, including agricultural systems management, government and public service, and religious studies. More than 150 graduate programs are also available in fields of study such as accounting, nursing, philosophy, and education.

    Arizona Online expands access to the university's degree programs to students around the world. Many online courses are available in asynchronous formats, meaning you can review course materials, participate in class discussions, and complete assignments at your convenience.

    Undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma. Prospective graduate students typically need to meet additional entrance requirements, though these vary from program to program. For example, law school students must have a bachelor's degree and submit results from the LSAT. During the admissions process, students can also apply for numerous forms of financial aid, including scholarships specifically for transfer students and non-residents.

  7. Arizona State University-Skysong

    Scottsdale, AZ



    Established in 1968, Diné College is the first tribally controlled, fully accredited college in the United States. While it primarily serves students from the Navajo Nation, learners from all backgrounds can benefit from the college's rich selection of associate and bachelor's degrees in subjects like early childhood education, environmental science, business administration, and computer information systems. Diné College does not currently offer online programs.

    To apply to the college, prospective students must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. All incoming students -- except those who have previously earned college-level credit -- must take a placement exam that assesses their reading, writing, and mathematics skills.

    Several scholarship programs help students defray the cost of their education at Diné College. For example, the American Indian College Fund covers all tuition and fees for one Native American student at the school each year. To qualify, students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher during high school and demonstrate a commitment to community service.

  8. Dine College

    Tsaile, AZ



    A Christian university based in Phoenix, ACU offers undergraduate programs in subjects such as biblical studies, Christian ministries, and Christian family studies. Students can also earn degrees in professional disciplines like business administration, elementary and secondary education, and sports management. To support students who need to schedule their learning around other responsibilities, ACU provides evening and online courses.

    Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. They must also sign a student affirmation of faith declaring that they are followers of Jesus Christ. During the admissions process, prospective students can apply for a variety of scholarships. For example, incoming first-year students who maintained a high school GPA of 3.85 or higher and scored at least 30 on the ACT may qualify for the university's President's Scholarship, which covers all tuition and fees. The university also matches financial support from a student's church -- up to $500 per semester.

  9. Arizona Christian University

    Phoenix, AZ



    Through online and in-person programs, NAU provides a world-class education and personal attention to all of its students. Students in their first year work with dedicated advisors to develop a set of academic and personal goals, participate in a first-year learning initiative that lays the foundation for future success, and enroll in seminars designed to foster a diverse learning community and help students develop critical-thinking skills.

    Undergraduate and graduate programs of study are available in fields such as journalism, criminal justice, and social work. Students can also pursue fully online degrees in areas like business administration, education, and nursing. Competency-based online programs at NAU allow students to move through their coursework at their own pace, meaning you can earn your degree as soon as you meet specific benchmarks and submit required materials.

    While admission requirements vary depending on the program and delivery method, undergraduate applicants typically must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Graduate applicants must have a bachelor's degree.

  10. Northern Arizona University

    Flagstaff, AZ



    Prescott College strives to make higher education affordable, especially for students who plan to dedicate themselves to public service after graduation. For example, the college's Changemaker Scholarship provides $16,000 in undergraduate aid to qualifying on-campus students and $3,000 to qualifying online students. Aspiring teachers with a minimum 3.0 GPA in high school can receive an additional $3,000 per year.

    Prescott College offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in fields like critical psychology, social justice and community organizing, and sustainable food systems. Fully online degrees in elementary education and environmental studies give students the flexibility to continue their education on their own terms.

    To pursue a bachelor's degree at Prescott College, students must have a high school diploma or GED certificate, though the college does not require applicants to submit results from any standardized tests. Instead, all prospective students must write an essay outlining their academic goals and demonstrating their readiness for postsecondary study.

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