Best Community Colleges in Arizona

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Danika Miller
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Danika Miller is a senior writer at BestColleges and Accredited Schools Online. Her writing has also appeared in Grad School Hub, Best Value Schools, Affordable Colleges Online, and Her Campus. Her financial expertise has been featured in The Simple ...
Updated on June 11, 2024
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College enrollment continues to grow in the United States. The National Center for Education Statistics projects that the number of undergraduate students will increase from 16.8 million to 17.2 million between 2017 and 2028. By earning a postsecondary degree, you gain access to better job opportunities and higher pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those with an associate degree earn $7,000 more in average annual salary than individuals with only a high school diploma. They also benefit from substantially lower unemployment rates.

While higher education institutions offer accessible academic programs for students of all backgrounds, the plethora of options can prove overwhelming as you look for the right school for you. This guide supports your search by offering a list of the best community colleges in Arizona. The 20 ranked profiles below offer insight on elements like admission requirements, financial aid, and student resources. You will also learn about available academic degrees, occupational certificates, and online learning opportunities.

Best Community Colleges in Arizona

#1 Eastern Arizona College Thatcher, AZ
#2 Tohono O'Odham Community College Sells, AZ
#3 Cochise County Community College District Douglas, AZ
#4 Paradise Valley Community College Phoenix, AZ
#5 South Mountain Community College Phoenix, AZ
#6 Estrella Mountain Community College Avondale, AZ
#7 Yavapai College Prescott, AZ
#8 Chandler-Gilbert Community College Chandler, AZ
#9 Glendale Community College Glendale, AZ
#10 Scottsdale Community College Scottsdale, AZ

Both universities and community colleges enable students to earn accredited certificates and degrees. However, the latter offer more flexibility for their students who often hold full-time jobs and take care of families while enrolled in classes. To support these practical needs, community colleges typically feature open admission policies and low tuition prices. These schools also emphasize career placement, offering certificate training in technical and trade-oriented professions. Alternatively, many learners use community colleges as a starting point for their higher education, earning associate credentials before transferring into a bachelor's-completion program.

On top of affordable tuition and diverse academic programming, you will enjoy great employment prospects by attending a community college in Arizona. As of July 2019, the Grand Canyon State's unemployment rate sits at 4.9%, a decrease from previous months. The BLS reports occupational growth for many industries in Arizona, with the highest increases in construction, manufacturing, and health services. Arizona's low cost of living offers another incentive. PayScale statistics show that even in metropolitan areas like Phoenix, living costs are 5% cheaper than the national average.

Ranking the Best Community Colleges in Arizona

Best Community Colleges in Arizona

  1. Eastern Arizona College

    Thatcher, AZ



    Based in Thatcher, Eastern Arizona College enrolls 6,000 students in accessible and career-relevant academic programming. The college offers 35 degrees and 69 certificate options. To apply, domestic students submit an online form and sit for the ACCUPLACER placement test. International students complete a separate application process and submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. As one of the best community colleges in Arizona, EAC offers one affordable tuition price regardless of residency status. U.S. citizens can access financial aid, which includes athletic and performing arts scholarships.

    For students who want to enter the workforce immediately after graduation, EAC delivers an associate of applied science (AAS) and certificate programs in areas like administrative information services, cosmetology, and nursing. Learners can also earn an AAS in welding technology, taking advantage of the resources provided by the Arizona Regional Manufacturing Professional Project. Students who want to pursue bachelor's training can enroll in the diverse transfer programs. Options include anthropology, biology, education, mathematics, and psychology.

  2. Tohono O'Odham Community College

    Sells, AZ



    Tohono O'Odham Community College was founded in 1998 and primarily serves members of the Tohono O'Odham Nation. However, any student can enroll in the college's 47 academic programs. TOCC operates an open door admissions process, which requires only that candidates provide government identification, complete an online application, and, if applicable, pass a placement exam. On top of offering affordable tuition, TOCC facilitates government aid and provides private awards, including the Gewkdag Scholarship for Tohono O'Odham Nation members.

    Students can enroll in associate programs designed for transfer into bachelor's-completion tracks. These options consist of studio arts, business administration, health science, social work, and elementary education. TOCC sets itself apart from other community colleges in Arizona by offering an associate degree in environmental studies in indigenous borderlands. Alternatively, learners can pursue direct-employment programs in areas like carpentry, heavy equipment operation, plumbing, masonry, and construction painting. Many of these employment programs come with apprenticeships, allowing candidates to earn money as they complete their college education.

  3. Cochise County Community College District

    Douglas, AZ



    Founded in 1964 as one of the first community colleges in Arizona, Cochise College enrolls 11,500 students in academic and workforce development programs. The school provides a tuition price that is 77% less expensive than the average state university. Learners also benefit from ample scholarship opportunities and, if they graduate from a Cochise County high school, qualify for four consecutive semesters of financial support.

    Cochise has articulation agreements with all three Arizona universities and many out-of-state institutions. Students who want to take advantage of these seamless transfer opportunities can pursue associate programs in liberal studies, small business management, computer programming, nursing, and administration of justice. The college features a unique associate degree in crop science for learners who want to work in agribusiness or environmental conservation. Cochise also delivers direct-employment programs in industries like computer-aided drafting (CAD), HVAC, and residential construction technology. Students can also earn credentials in aerospace thermal fusion and professional pilot technology.

  4. Paradise Valley Community College

    Phoenix, AZ



    Located in Phoenix, Paradise Valley Community College is one of the 10 schools that make up the Maricopa County Community College system. PVCC enrolls over 8,400 students, many of whom attend part time while maintaining job and family obligations. To cater to a working student population, PVCC offers ample financial assistance that includes scholarships for small business entrepreneurs and high school students pursuing dual enrollment.

    Students can enroll in any one of 20 associate of applied science programs, including degrees in accounting, dietetic technology, emergency response and operations, and integrated public health. PVCC differentiates itself from other community colleges in Arizona by delivering associate programs in audio production technologies and music business. The latter track caters to working musicians and candidates who want to pursue careers in production and venue management. Students can also take advantage of distance learning options, which include fully online, hybrid, and guided independent learning classes facilitated by Canvas.

  5. South Mountain Community College

    Phoenix, AZ



    South Mountain Community College was established in 1978 as part of the Maricopa County Community College District. Today, the school educates more than 6,000 students, many of whom are first-generation learners from minority communities. Nearly 50% of SMCC's students enroll with the intention of transferring to a four-year university. To help learners achieve this goal, the institution offers eight meta-major programs designed for easy transferability. Students can pursue associate training in areas like accounting, criminal justice, and psychology. They can also enroll in pre-professional tracks within the health sciences.

    The college features conventional degrees in forensic science, mobile app programming, and early learning and development. Working professionals can bolster their skills for career advancement by earning certificates in business microfinance and organizational leadership. As one of the best community colleges in Arizona, SMCC offers affordable tuition rates based on residency status. Students also enjoy financial aid opportunities through the Stars Campaign and the MCCCD Foundation.

  6. Estrella Mountain Community College

    Avondale, AZ



    Based in Avondale, Estrella Mountain Community College enrolls more than 11,000 students each year. The school operates two campuses and 50 academic programs. As a Hispanic Serving Institution, EMCC receives additional federal funds that enable the school to offer low tuition and generous financial aid. Students can apply for need- and merit-based awards, including the New Century Workforce Pathway Scholarship. Learners may also apply for the Maricopa Grant if they do not qualify for federal funding.

    Candidates can earn certificates of completion in career-relevant areas like automated industrial technology, Microsoft server administration, fire investigation, and culinary studies. Alternatively, they can prepare to complete a bachelor's degree by obtaining an associate of general studies, business, or science. EMCC also offers three associate of fine arts programs in studio art, theater, and dance. The school enables students to personalize their academic training by pursuing specialty certificates areas like in interdisciplinary storytelling, sustainability and ec

  7. Yavapai College

    Prescott, AZ



    Yavapai College opened its first campus in Prescott in 1968. Today, the school enrolls more than 11,600 students at six locations around the state. To attend YC, applicants must demonstrate U.S. citizenship and establish state residency, which requires at least 12 months of physical presence and a dedicated domicile. Prospective students also need to provide evidence of financial independence. YC's tuition prices are 29% less expensive than other community colleges in Arizona. The institution offers scholarships based on academic performance and tribal affiliation.

    Through its six locations, YC delivers over 100 trade, academic transfer, and lifelong learning programs. Options include associate degrees in visual arts, hotel and restaurant management, paralegal studies, and radiology. Students can also enroll in an applied pre-engineering program to develop the core technical skills needed to complete a bachelor's degree in the field. For individuals who want to immediately translate their education into career opportunities, YC provides trade training in high-need areas like aviation, commercial driving, welding, machining, culinary arts, and fire science.

  8. Chandler-Gilbert Community College

    Chandler, AZ



    Chandler-Gilbert Community College enrolls 20,000 students across its four campuses, making it one of the fastest-growing community colleges in Arizona. Prospective students need to possess a high school diploma or an equivalent from a regionally accredited school. They must also display academic potential through transcript details and placement test performance. Learners pay low tuition prices based on residency status. On top of federal aid, CGCC offers institutional awards, including scholarships for aviation and aircraft maintenance technology students.

    CGCC has direct transfer agreements with three Arizona universities and multiple out-of-state institutions. Students can earn associate degrees in general business, computer science, fine arts, registered nursing, and teacher education. The college also operates engineering technology associate programs with concentrations like industrial engineering, biomedical sciences, and electrical systems. Certificate options include homeland security, sustainability, and women's studies. Candidates can also earn an emergency medical technology certificate, which allows them to pursue careers as first responders and healthcare administrators.

  9. Glendale Community College

    Glendale, AZ



    Since its establishment in 1965, Glendale Community College has served over 500,000 students. As one of the best community colleges in Arizona, GCC delivers 60 academic programs. The school bases its low tuition rates on residency status and offers departmental scholarships for learners pursuing counseling, performing arts, nursing, and English degrees. GCC also features scholarships for students who want to transfer to any one of the partnering universities.

    Learners pick from diverse associate of applied science tracks, which include accounting paraprofessional, automotive service, marketing and sales, and information security. They can also enroll in audio production technology programs with emphasis in either sound design or audio production. Furthermore, GCC offers university transfer tracks centered on elementary education, general studies, fine arts, and physical science. For candidates who want to pursue job entry after graduation, GCC offers occupational certificate training for industries like law enforcement, automotive service, and insurance studies. Students can also develop skills in Adobe foundations and iOS application development.

  10. Scottsdale Community College

    Scottsdale, AZ



    Scottsdale Community College enrolls over 10,000 students in 100 degree and 60 certificate programs. SCC welcomes students of all backgrounds, operating an accessible admissions process that requires only that candidates pass the ACCUPLACER placement exam. The college waives this requirement if an applicant provides evidence of a high school diploma, GED, or adequate ACT scores. In partnership with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, SCC offers comprehensive academic support and financial resources for Native American students.

    Learners pick from associate programs in fields like political science, anthropology, physics, and web design technologies. SCC also offers an associate of equine science, which consists of coursework in stable management, relevant business laws, and veterinary training. The school delivers certification training in areas like personal training, law enforcement, tribal development, and practical nursing.

    SCC is one of the few community colleges in Arizona to deliver bachelor's programs. By partnering with Northern Arizona University, SCC enables students to earn baccalaureate credentials on its campus. Bachelor's degree options include interior design, biology, elementary education, and hotel and restaurant management.

Click here to see the best colleges in Arizona. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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