With over 360,000 students enrolled exclusively in online programs, Arizona’s distance learners more than double those of any other state. They account for roughly 13% of the nation’s exclusively online learners. Strong online programs at institutions such as Arizona State University and the University of Phoenix have helped establish Arizona as a go-to source for online education, with particular success reaching out to and enrolling distance students from out-of-state.
But before we look at the best online colleges in AZ, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Arizona today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Arizona
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Arizona had 87 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 24 public schools, 11 nonprofits and 52 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 24,843 at public schools, 860 at private nonprofits and 40,593 at private for-profits. These figures beat out 70% of the states, making Arizona a leader in degree-conferring educational institutions.
- 24 public
- 11 non-profit
- 52 for-profit
Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $10,650, while the out-of-state average was $27,490.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Arizona awarded $ 8.283 million in need-based grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 2.4% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education. Efforts to increase state spending per student continue, with a 4.5% boost in funding during the ‘13-‘14 school year.
The State of Online Higher Education in Arizona
Arizona has the highest numbers for online enrollment in the nation. The NCES estimates that at least 48.2% of students enrolled in Arizona’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 78.5% were reported to be undergraduates and 17.3% were found to be living in Arizona, which makes Arizona far and away the nation’s leader in the total number of out-of-state distance students it attracts.
Online colleges in Arizona receive a great deal of support from the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education. Under this organization’s umbrella, the Arizona Ready Council strives to increase the number of students graduating from Arizona institutions. The council’s goal is to double the number of students receiving a baccalaureate degree by 2020. This type of support for higher learning in Arizona continues to boost programs both on-campus and online.
Best Online Colleges in Arizona
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Arizona. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Arizona, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Arizona or our index of popular in-state scholarships.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||University of Arizona||Tucson||$$$$$||1401 E University|
Tucson, AZ 85721-0066
When the school was founded in 1885, Arizona was the state’s only university. The 380-acre main campus is located in central Tucson. With 29 bachelor’s degree programs available online, UA has become one of the best online colleges in Arizona. Most online programs are designed to work the same as on-campus programs with the added flexibility of studying asynchronously, but some of the classes are taught synchronously. They feature scheduled class times, discussions, and/or online meetings. Undergraduate programs include administration of justice, Africana studies, business administration, and cyber operations. The school also offers master’s and graduate certificate programs. All online students have access to free tutoring for writing and math, and academic skills tutoring, such as general time management and best practices for online learning. UA has an IT support center open 24/7 to help troubleshoot any problems.
|2||Arizona State University||Tempe||$$$$$||University Drive and Mill Avenue|
Tempe, AZ 85287
Arizona State is one of the largest universities in the country with more than 90,000 students in over 350 undergraduate majors. ASU is also one of the top online colleges in Arizona. ASU Online offers more than 150 degrees and enrolls more than 30,000 students. It also offers six start dates per year. Online programs include business administration, art history, food industry management, and criminal justice. The school has a dedicated support staff available for every student. This includes enrollment counselors who help students apply for programs, academic advisors who provide advice and assistance, and success coaches who assist with academic issues, such as tutoring. Online students can access the IT help center any time. ASU has also established several online clubs and other resources for networking and community building to provide its distance learners with an on-campus experience.
|3||Northern Arizona University||Flagstaff||$$$$$||1900 S. Knoles Dr, Babbitt Administrative Center|
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-4132
In 1899, Northern Arizona University opened its doors to 23 students. The school now serves nearly 30,000 students from all over the world. The main campus is located in Flagstaff, Arizona. NAU is one of the leading online colleges in Arizona. The school offers more than 150 degrees, including more than 90 at the bachelor’s level; 45 are available online. Most online courses are taught asynchronously, but some have synchronous components. The university also offers Personalized Learning Degree programs. These are self-paced programs that allow students to complete coursework entirely on their own time. Online resources include 24/7 technical support, extensive online library resources, and online academic support in any subject. NAU encourages online students in the Arizona area to visit one of its many locations, where they can use on-campus resources or support one of the school’s 15 NCAA Division I athletics teams.
|4||Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott||Prescott||$$$$$||3700 Willow Creek Road|
Prescott, AZ 86301-3720
In 1926, the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation was founded to train local pilots. Embry-Riddle is now a world-leader in aviation and aerospace with campuses in Arizona and Florida, making it one of the leading online colleges in AZ. Degree programs are available in seven different fields of study: applied science, aviation, business, computers & technology, engineering, security, intelligence and safety, and space. Online students have access to courses in each of these fields, including 15 fully online bachelor's degrees. When it started in 1971, ERAU-Worldwide became one of the first schools in the country to offer distance learning. The university offers 12 different start dates throughout the year to undergraduate students. Each online student is paired up with an academic advisor who ensures that they are on track. Student resources are designed and created with online students in mind.
|5||Ottawa University - Phoenix||Phoenix||$$$$$||9414 North 25th Avenue|
Phoenix, AZ 85021
For more than 150 years, Ottawa University has been providing a Christ-centered education to its students. In 2008, OU-Online was founded and has since become one of the best online schools in AZ. The university has online degrees available in the fields of health and applied sciences, education, business, and arts and sciences. Undergraduate programs include English, history, law enforcement, health care management, and business administration. Graduate programs are also available. Each online course lasts eight weeks and is taught asynchronously. Online courses have a student-to-faculty ratio of 4:1, giving students more access to their instructors than most programs offer. Online students are also paired with a personal academic advisor to walk them through the admissions process and to help with accessing online resources, such as online tutoring, the e-library, and technical support. Ottawa allows students to sample an online course. All online courses are taught through Blackboard.
|6||CollegeAmerica-Phoenix||Phoenix||$$$$$||9801 N. Metro Parkway East|
Phoenix, AZ 85051
CollegeAmerica, established in 1964, started in Arizona and has since expanded to six-campus locations in Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona. CollegeAmerica-Phoenix was founded in 2004 and has developed an online affiliation with Independence University, making them one of the top online colleges in Arizona. CollegeAmerica offers associate, undergraduate, and graduate degree program options in the fields of healthcare, technology, business and graphic arts, including 13 degrees that are available online. Online programs include forensic accounting, business administration, health information management, and web design and development. Students have access to online instructors, tutors, and career services professionals. All textbooks and supplies, including tablets and laptops, are provided at no extra charge. The school’s Better Life Blog offers students tips and tricks for studying, de-stressing, and other life-hacks. CollegeAmerica also offers credit for military experience.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Arizona
Below you’ll find the online schools in Arizona sorted by lowest tuition rate.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Arizona
Arizona Excellence Award
The Arizona Excellence Award is a multi-tier scholarship for out-of-state students entering the University of Arizona. To qualify for the maximum amount of $48,000 (distributed as $12,000 per year), applicant must have a 3.0 GPA with a 1300 SAT (critical math and reading) or 29 ACT score.
Baird Foundation Scholarship
Awarded to ten freshmen per year by the University of Arizona. Candidates are nominated by their high school – interested students should talk to their high school counselor for more information. Applicants must be residents of Arizona, and must be admitted to the UA Honors College.
This award is for freshmen entering Arizona State University. To be eligible, students must be finalists or semifinalists in the National Merit, National Achievement, or National Hispanic competitions. A minimum GPA 3.0 is required.
For resident or non-resident freshmen entering Arizona State University with a GPA of 3.25+. Applicants must be nominated by a high school counselor, and must demonstrate leadership ability.
National Merit Finalist Scholarship
Administered by the College of Nursing & Health Administration at Arizona State University, this award is for students studying a nursing-related field. Applicants must be a National Merit Finalist or Honors student with a GPA of 3.25+.
Applicants may be sophomores, juniors or seniors at Arizona State University. A minimum GPA of 3.25 is required, as well as demonstration of financial need, and evidence of community service involvement.
The Arizona State University President’s Scholarship is a subcategory of the New American Scholars Award program. Selection is competitive, based on academic achievement. Applicant must be a freshman and a resident of AZ, enrolled at ASU full time.
The Arizona State University Provost’s Scholarship is a subcategory of the New American Scholars Award program. Selection is competitive, based on academic achievement. Applicant must be a freshman and a resident of AZ, enrolled at ASU full time.
Sun Devil Scholarship
This scholarship is for incoming or currently enrolled students at Arizona State University. It is awarded to multiple students each year. Applicants must demonstrate academic success and a commitment to community service, and must be in need of financial assistance. Minimum GPA 3.0.
The University Scholarship is a subcategory of the New American Scholars Award Program. Selection is competitive, based on academic achievement. Applicant must be a freshman and a resident of AZ, enrolled full-time at Arizona State University.
Wildcat Excellence Award
The Wildcat Excellence Award is a multi-tier scholarship for Arizona residents entering the University of Arizona. To qualify for the maximum amount of $32,000 (distributed as $8,000 per year), applicant must have a 3.0 GPA with a 1300 SAT (critical math and reading) or 29 ACT score.
Find Schools in Arizona
Explore accredited online colleges with our comprehensive database of online programs. Sort the results based on criteria like degree level and location.Start Your Search