Arizona is home to excellent infrastructure, a strong public health system, and a thriving economy. The state also ranks well in terms of students who graduate from college with little to no student debt. While there are only three online colleges in Arizona, each of these schools offers a large selection of online degrees and courses. At Arizona’s Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, students can earn online bachelor’s degrees in aeronautics, aviation business administration, aviation maintenance, aviation security, and engineering. At Prescott College, students can earn online bachelor’s degrees in sustainable community development, adventure education, and many other unique fields. Arizona Christian University offers several online programs in education, family studies, and ministry. Arizona also participates in the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, which supports online learning in higher education.
Online programs are known for their flexibility and affordability. Tuition rates at colleges and universities in Arizona have risen in recent years and are slightly higher than the national average. As a result, choosing to enroll at an online school in Arizona is a smart way to save money, because distance learners don’t usually pay for on–campus housing and other related expenses. Some online programs offer discounted tuition. The flexible nature of online degrees and courses can help students in Arizona balance academics with job and family obligations.
Four Reasons to Find an Online College in Your State
- Guaranteed in–state tuition saves you money
- Be a part of a university or college you know and love
- Get a degree from a school employers know and trust
- Be close enough to easily visit when desired
Ranking Guidelines for the Best Online Colleges in Arizona
We selected the online colleges and universities here based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs.
Note: In ranking the best online colleges in Arizona, giving attention to the variety of degree programs available at the institutions is of utmost importance. For this reason, a more prestigious school in Arizona may offer one, or a few online degrees, but that may not be enough for that school rank highly among the best online colleges in the state. In this ranking, we are dedicated to showing who’s leading the way in delivering quality online degree programs in Arizona.
The Best Online Colleges in Arizona
1. Arizona State University - Tempe
Arizona State University, established in 1885 provides more than 800 programs – more than 150 of these degrees are available 100% online – leading to a host of graduate and undergraduate degrees through 16 schools and colleges. Arizona State University, with over 80,000 enrolled students, is among the nation’s largest public universities. The university offers a massive study abroad program in numerous countries.
Arizona State University Online is one of the top online colleges in the country and it shows in its online degree offerings. Some of the available bachelor’s degrees include anthropology and software engineering and much more. Available graduate degrees include a master’s degree in biomedical diagnostics and a doctorate in behavioral health. ASU Online also offers over 20 graduate certificates in a plethora of fields.
Arizona State University Online students have access to online tutoring, library services, academic databases, career services, disability resources, online document storage, and software training.
Arizona State University – ASU Online is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Go to some of ASU Online’s top rankings on TBS
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2. University of Arizona
Founded in 1885, the University of Arizona, a public research university, teaches over 40,000 students and offers over 300 fields of study. NASA awards the university more research grants than any other university nationwide. The University of Arizona is a member of the Association of American Universities, an organization of prominent research institutions in North America.
The University of Arizona provides more than 40 online degree programs. Some of the available bachelor’s degree programs include agriculture, communication and ethics. Master’s degree offerings include education and political science. The university provides two online nursing doctorates. Online certificate programs include a variety of medical certifications and information technology.
The university offers its online students a 24/7 technical support center, career services, disability resources, leadership programs, a think tank and library with scholarly article databases.
University of Arizona is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University, founded in 1899, originally specialized in the education sector. To make college affordable, the university created the Pledge Program, it guarantees the same tuition rate for all four years a student attends the university. The university has almost 30,000 students, over 150 degree programs and more than 30 campuses throughout Arizona.
Northern Arizona University provides numerous online degrees. Bachelor’s degree offerings include criminal justice, small business administration and information technology. Master’s degree options include geospatial sciences and education. The university also provides a nursing doctoral program and certificate programs in subjects such as assistive technology, police leadership and speech–language pathology.
Online students have access to an online job board, library, journal article database and online study guides in several languages.
Northern Arizona University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Go to some of Northern Arizona University’s top rankings on TBS
4. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott
A leader in distance education, Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University offers a comprehensive list of online certificate and degree pathways, including 15 bachelor’s programs in majors like communication, project management, and homeland security. Students hoping to personalize their degree plan can pursue the interdisciplinary studies program. Additionally, ERAU differentiates itself from other online colleges in Arizona by specializing in technically focused training and education. Students can find degrees at all levels in fields like unmanned systems and aviation and aerospace sustainability. The university also offers free online courses called MOOCs for non–degree seeking learners.
ERAU offers 12 or 10 start dates for undergraduate or graduate programs, respectively. Online classes take nine weeks at the school’s accelerated pace. Distance learners pay the same per–credit tuition regardless of where they live, and military personnel enjoy a discounted rate.
Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University–Prescott is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
5. Prescott College
Prescott College offers a comprehensive catalog of online programs, from post–graduate certificates to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Major areas include arts and humanities, sustainable community development, and mental health counseling. Prescott also serves as one of the best online schools in Arizona for education and teacher preparation. For example, the school offers five concentrations in its master of education, including school counseling, elementary education, and leadership/principalship. The school also offers a Ph.D. in sustainable education and a teacher certification for distance learners.
Prescott offers affordable tuition rates based on degree level. Prospective students can apply for fall, spring, and summer admission, with priority deadlines set at the first of January, November, and February, respectively. Depending on the program they choose, students can either earn their degree entirely online or through a hybrid learning experience.
Prescott College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Go to some of Prescott College’s top rankings on TBS
6. Arizona Christian University
Based in Phoenix, Arizona Christian University enrolls over 24,000 students annually, many of whom pursue their degree through distance education offerings. The catalog of online degrees consists of five programs: the bachelor of arts in family studies and the bachelor of science in Christian ministries, secondary education, elementary education, or business administration. ACU also offers individual online classes for students who want to earn their degree through a hybrid delivery method. Instructors deliver remote courses asynchronously over the course of eight weeks. All learners benefit from the university’s academic services, including individualized advising and online tutoring.
Applicants must show a minimum 2.0 GPA, but do not need to submit standardized test scores. Unlike other online colleges in Arizona, ACU charges all distance learners the same affordable tuition regardless of where they live. Any student may apply for financial aid on the condition that they take six credits per session and hold U.S. citizenship.
Arizona Christian University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Go to some of Arizona Christian University’s top rankings on TBS
Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs
This section ranks some of the cheapest online colleges in Arizona, focusing specifically on schools that offer bachelor’s degrees in desirable fields within the state. Prospective learners should remember that the cheapest institution may not always be the best option. Several factors can contribute to the best overall value, including cost, school reputation, instruction method, and program requirements. The ranking below combines these components to help degree seekers make responsible decisions.
1. University of Arizona
A public research institution located in Tucson, Arizona, the University of Arizona (UA) promotes core values of integrity, exploration, inclusion, and determination. Established in 1885 as the first institution of higher education in the Arizona territory, UA now serves nearly 45,000 learners each year by providing innovative education experiences designed to address the world’s most pressing challenges.
UA offers an array of online programs for degree seekers at every level of education. These include 30 online certificates, 29 online bachelor’s degrees, 27 online master’s degrees, and six online doctorates. The programs cover topics and disciplines like nursing, systems engineering, law, information management, philosophy, psychology, public health, real estate, general studies, and special education. UA also offers supportive education for returning veterans.
Undergraduate degrees at UA typically involve 120 credits. UA uses both synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods for its fully online programs. Learners can complete some courses at their own pace while others require attendance at scheduled online discussions or lecture sessions. Because of this flexibility, many learners can finish their bachelor’s degrees in four years or less.
UA accepts transfer credits from many institutions. Prospective degree seekers can bring up to half of their required credits, expediting their paths to graduation and entry into the workforce. UA also extends the same tuition rate to in–state and out–of–state learners, making it one of the more affordable online colleges in Arizona.
The University of Arizona is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2. Northern Arizona University
Based in Flagstaff, Arizona, Northern Arizona University (NAU) is a public research university with affiliate campuses throughout the state. Founded in 1899 as a teacher’s college, NAU strives to deliver world–class educational programming for a world–ready generation of learners and degree seekers. Led by expert faculty and industry leaders, these courses advance NAU’s larger mission of leading the way to a better Arizona and a more sustainable world.
NAU’s distance education offerings include 28 online certificates, 47 online bachelor’s degrees, 32 online master’s degrees, and one online doctorate in nursing practice. The school’s online undergraduate programs include technical and professional fields like emergency management, business, and elementary education, along with academic studies in English, psychology, sociology, and the liberal arts. Most these programs require 120 credits, which most learners can complete with eight semesters of full–time, online study.
The school uses a combination of innovative technologies to manage its distance learning programs. The traditional online learning option blends learner flexibility with synchronous, scheduled progress and involves a tuition rate based on credits. A more asynchronous, competency–based path lets learners set their schedules and choose their own start dates. Degree seekers on this path pay a six–month, flat subscription rate.
A qualifying applicant to NAU must provide evidence of a 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA and meet course prerequisites in compliance with the Arizona Board of Regents. Transfer learners can bring in more than 24 credits from outside institutions.
Northern Arizona University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. Arizona Christian University
Arizona Christian University (ACU) is a private, nondenominational school located in Phoenix. Founded in 1960 as a Bible college affiliated with the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, ACU now identifies as an ecumenical Christian liberal arts school. It provides quality educational programming from a Christian perspective and seeks to form leaders of influence and excellence.
The school’s online programs include five bachelor’s degrees in business administration, elementary education, secondary education, family studies, and Christian ministries. These degrees each require 120–122 credits distributed across general education clusters, core major requirements, and free electives. All ACU degree seekers must also complete 18 credits in biblical studies. Most learners can complete these programs in four years or less, depending on individual circumstance and plan of study.
ACU administers all coursework for these degrees through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning technologies. These modules deliver all class material across six eight–week sessions conducted throughout the year. The school also provides various support services to its online learners, including the university library and centers for counseling and academic support.
A degree seeker interested in applying to ACU must submit evidence of a 2.0 minimum cumulative GPA. Transfer students must also maintain this GPA for any earned credit they wish to transfer to ACU. The school also boasts one of the lower tuition rates among affordable online colleges in Arizona.
Arizona Christian University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4. Prescott College
Founded in 1965 through endeavors initiated by the Ford Foundation, Prescott College now educates learners of different ages and backgrounds to understand and enhance the world and its environment. Located in the central Arizona city from which it takes its name, Prescott advances the cause of critical thinking, diversity, inclusion, and sustainability throughout its many academic programs.
Prescott’s menu of online opportunities includes 11 certificates, nine online bachelor’s degrees, 15 online master’s degrees, and one online doctorate in sustainability education. Most of the master’s programs cover education and counseling. The undergraduate programs include disciplines like arts and humanities, human development, education, cultural studies, environmental studies, and community development. The bachelor’s degrees require 120 credits, which most learners can complete in eight semesters.
All the school’s online programs operate according to a limited–residency model that requires learners to travel to Prescott’s main campus periodically for orientation sessions, colloquia, or symposia. Most of the coursework is completed online through a combination of innovative learning technologies designed to accommodate busy lives and work schedules.
Qualifying undergraduate applicants to Prescott’s online programs must submit official transcripts for all previous academic credit. Each candidate must also provide a 2–3 page essay that discusses both their educational goals and their ability to work toward those goals within the parameters of Prescott’s online, limited–residency system.
Prescott College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott
A private, nonprofit institution with campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona, Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) specializes in aviation and aerospace education. Founded in 1925 as a flying school, ERAU provides academic programming to over 30,000 learners each year. Its courses promote the school’s larger mission of offering first–rate educational experiences to degree seekers from around the globe.
ERAU administers many distance education programs, including three online certificates, six online associate degrees, 15 online bachelor’s degrees, 21 online master’s degrees, and an online doctorate in aviation. ERAU’s online programming covers disciplines and areas of study like aeronautics, communications, emergency services, project management, leadership, and unmanned systems applications. Each bachelor’s program involves 120 credits, typically achievable in four years or less.
All the school’s online offerings use flexible and convenient asynchronous learning technologies that let learners create their schedules and move through the curriculum at their own paces. Related course material and assignments can be accessed anytime, anywhere, through a cloud–based learning management system that easily accommodates busy work schedules.
Applicants and transfer degree seekers will find ERAU’s policy straightforward and easy to navigate. Prospective learners must provide academic transcripts before admission, bearing in mind that the school considers all qualifications when making admissions decisions. Degree seekers carrying earned credit can take advantage of ERAU’s many transfer and articulation agreements, potentially reducing their time in school.
Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Most Affordable Online Associate Degree Programs
This section ranks some of the cheapest online colleges in Arizona, focusing specifically on schools that offer associate degrees in desirable fields within the state. Prospective learners should remember that the cheapest institution may not always be the best option. Several factors can contribute to the best overall value, including cost, school reputation, instruction method, and program requirements. The ranking below combines these components to help degree seekers make responsible decisions.
1. Pima Community College
A public, two–year institution located in Tucson, Arizona, Pima Community College (PCC) provides affordable, comprehensive educational experiences designed to support collective student success. Initially, established in 1966, PCC focuses on workforce development, career training programming, continuing education, and broad–based liberal arts instruction. The school maintains a large staff of full–time faculty and instructors to serve over 60,000 learners each year.
PCC offers seven online certificates and 10 online associate degrees with various concentrations and specializations. These include courses of study in the arts, business, early childhood education, general studies, health information technology, human resources, and teacher education. Learners can complete most of these programs in two years or less, depending on enrollment status and individual circumstances. Credit requirements vary depending on the certificate or degree.
However, each program involves comprehensive general education instruction designed to inform learners of history and promote a basic understanding of effective communication, science, technology, and mathematics. PCC also boasts generous transfer agreements with schools in Arizona and around the country.
All PCC’s online programs use synchronous learning technologies for course delivery. While degree seekers do not need to attend in–class sessions on campus, they are required to log on to the learning management system at regularly scheduled times. Online learners also enjoy a reduced tuition rate, making PCC one of the most affordable online colleges in Arizona.
Pima Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2. Cochise County Community College
Headquartered in Douglas, Arizona, with a satellite campus in nearby Sierra Vista, Cochise College has been one of the most affordable colleges in Arizona since its founding in 1964. As a public, two–year institution with a high student success rate and promising return on investment, Cochise provides accessible educational opportunities that promote constructive citizenship, meaningful careers, and lifelong learning.
Cochise offers many convenient distance learning programs, including two online certificates and nine online associate degrees. The certificates focus on systems administration, small business management, and entrepreneurship, while the associate degrees encompass many disciplines, including economics, social sciences, liberal studies, business administration, intelligence operations, and computer information systems.
The school also features a flexible transfer policy. Learners with completed coursework from outside institutions can easily bring in credits to Cochise pending an administrative evaluation. Likewise, credits earned at Cochise seamlessly transfer to many four–year institutions in Arizona. The school also maintains articulation agreements with many out–of–state colleges and universities.
Cochise uses the Moodle learning management system, an open–source content platform that mostly relies on synchronous delivery methods. Enrolled degree seekers at Cochise can access all course material and complete all assignments through this platform. Classes convene at regularly scheduled times throughout the week with mandatory attendance through the online learning system. The school also maintains a robust technical help desk that helps new learners navigate the platform.
Cochise College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. Yavapai College
Founded in 1964 near the site of a now–defunct U.S. Army post, Yavapai College (YC) is a public community college committed to enhancing educational, cultural, social, and economic opportunities across Arizona. Located in Prescott, Arizona, YC retains several affiliate locations in Clarkdale, Sedona, and Chino Valley, all which advance its larger mission of enriching campus and community life through high–quality educational programming.
YC’s online programs include 19 certificates and nine associate degrees, all delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning formats at an affordable tuition rate. Most of the school’s associate programs focus on business, management, education, and accounting, but there are a few more specialized courses of study, including video game development and paralegal studies.
Most of these programs require 60 total credits with at least 30 credits of general education instruction in science, the arts, and humanities. Many learners can complete these programs in two years or less, depending on transfer standing and enrollment status. Degree seekers who wish to transfer beyond YC will have no problems because the school’s credits apply to many of Arizona’s four–year institutions.
Eligible applicants must be at least 18 years old and provide proof of high school graduation or an equivalent certificate. Qualifying transfer applicants must maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA. Interested applicants who do not meet these requirements must submit SAT or ACT scores and complete course prerequisites before admission.
Yavapai College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4. Phoenix College
Phoenix College (PC), located in the Phoenix suburb of Encanto Village, is one of several online community colleges in Arizona. As a public institution first founded in 1920, PC is one of the oldest two–year colleges in the U.S. and focuses its efforts on providing student–centered learning opportunities. PC aims to help a diverse set of learners achieve their personal and professional goals.
PC offers traditional, hybrid, and online courses of study. Its distance learning options include eight administration– and general education–oriented certificates along with three associate degrees in arts, general studies, and the applied administration of justice. The associate degree courses involve 60–65 credits, including general education requirements. Most learners can complete these programs in two years or less.
The school’s online programs use an asynchronous learning management system, which allows enrollees to log on to the platform any time they choose. As the most convenient and flexible online learning method, this format is an ideal option for working professionals and other busy individuals.
Transfer learners will have no problem navigating PC’s policies. Degree seekers looking to advance to four–year colleges or universities can use the easy transfer pathways that PC maintains with other institutions. Likewise, learners who carry credits from outside institutions can transfer up to 30 credits to PC, significantly reducing their time in school.
Phoenix College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5. Mohave Community College
A public, two–year institution first established in 1970, Mohave Community College (MCC) serves over 6,000 learners each year. Headquartered in Colorado City, Arizona, with several affiliates across the state, MCC promotes excellence and innovation by empowering students to succeed in their personal and academic endeavors. The school provides its learners with quality resources and learning experiences designed to advance cultural and civic awareness.
MCC offers many online courses of study, including nine certificates and 13 associate degrees. These programs include instruction in general education, business, science, the liberal arts, and administration of justice. Several of the associate degrees focus on more technical and specialized training, like computer information systems and substance abuse counseling. MCC’s associate degree curriculum comprises 60–65 credits.
The school’s online programs use a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning technologies as specified by the program. Prospective learners should be prepared to enroll in classes that require weekly meetings through the online learning management system. Depending on the program, other courses may let degree seekers access material and complete assignments at any time. Most learners complete MCC programs in two years or less.
Each eligible applicant must provide proof of accredited high school graduation or an equivalent credential. As one of the most affordable online colleges in Arizona, MCC offers in–state learners a reduced tuition rate. The school also maintains several transfer partners and institutional affiliations for those who need to transfer credit into or out of MCC.
Mohave Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6. Mesa Community College
Based in Mesa, Arizona and the largest of 10 institutions in the Maricopa County Community College District, Mesa Community College (MCC) has led the way to success in its local and global communities since 1965. The school excels in teaching and learning, providing a diverse student body with the resources necessary for career readiness and intellectual exploration.
MCC’s online education offerings include 17 certificates and 17 associate degrees. The certificates focus on technical and professional development while the associate degrees encompass science, business, and the liberal arts. Specific MCC programs include computer programming, management, music business, victimology, web design and development, and women’s studies. Most of these associate degrees involve 60–65 credits, which students typically achieve in two years or less.
MCC uses a combination of synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods to administer its online programs. These innovative learning technologies provide learners with choices, flexibility, quality, and interactive collaboration. The school also features technical support services to degree seekers who need assistance navigating the online learning management system.
Qualified applicants must be at least 18 years old with accredited high school diplomas or GEDs. Learners with previously earned hours can transfer up to 30 credits to MCC. Those seeking to further their educations at four–year colleges or universities can take advantage of MCC’s easy transfer protocols, which apply to many institutions in Arizona and throughout the U.S.
Mesa Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2018 Best Online Colleges and University in Arizona
- Arizona State University – ASU Online
- University of Arizona
- Northern Arizona University
- Grand Canyon University