Best Online Colleges and Universities Near PhoenixContinuing our series of best online college by state rankings, we have examined all online colleges near Phoenix and chosen to showcase the top 20 schools, based on the methodology stated below.

Phoenix is the capital city of Arizona as well as the largest city in the state by population size. It is also considered to be one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. The city is known for having beautiful weather, which allows locals and tourists alike to enjoy many different activities year-round. The city has plenty of museums, parks, hiking trails to visit, as well as the Desert Botanical Garden. Phoenix is also about 220 to 230 miles from the Grand Canyon by car, depending on the route you take.

Phoenix and the surrounding area is home to some very fine colleges and universities. This online college and university ranking focuses on 4-year and beyond institutions with the farthest institution being just under 150 miles from Phoenix.

We have also ranked the top 100 best online colleges in America, which may also help you choose the best online college or university for you.


Using sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics website, CollegeData, and Niche, as well as the college and university websites, each school was evaluated to find out if online classes were offered. Then, the schools were organized by adding together the percentage numbers for freshman satisfaction and graduation rates. Added to these numbers were a numerical equivalent of the academic and overall grades provided by niche, with A+ being 100, A being 90 and so on in this manner. In order for schools with lower costs to rank higher, the (residential) cost of attendance rounded to the nearest thousand and then subtracted from the total of the other numbers to give a final score for ranking.

Example: 43 (percent freshman satisfaction) + 72 (graduation percent) + 70 (B+ Academic Grade) + 80 (A- Overall Grade) = 265
265 (total from above) – 25 ($24,780 cost of attendance) = 240 (final score for ranking)

In some cases adequate data could not be obtained in order for the college or university to be ranked, and regretfully they were omitted. In rare cases, niche data was taken from the star system in lieu of the ABC scale with 5 stars being equivalent to an A, 4 a B, and so on. In other cases, missing data may cause a ranking to be lower than it would normally be.

10. Ottawa University-Phoenix

Ottawa University

Ottawa University, Kansas photo courtesy lezumbalaberenjena

Ottawa University was founded in Ottawa Kansas in 1865 and over the course of the past 150 years has strived to educate students and invest in them qualities of leadership and service with an enlightened faith. The Phoenix campus opened in 1977, in response to interests and requests by local American Baptists who welcomed the school. The campus is 40,000 square feet with 23 classrooms, 2 computer labs, a student resource area, and an area with vending machines. The campus also has student services and business offices, including admissions, advising, registration, student financial services and the Department of Education. Two other Arizona campuses are Queen Creek Campus about 38 miles southeast of Phoenix and Surprise Communiversity around 35 miles from Phoenix to the northwest.

The Phoenix campus of Ottawa University serves over 500 students and offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. Undergraduate programs offered at the Phoenix campus include Business Administration, Leadership and Management, Human Resources, Communication, Psychology, Human Services, Early Childhood Education, and Elementary Education. Graduate programs offered are Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Human Resources, Master of Arts in Education, and Master of Arts in Counseling. Ottawa University also offers online courses designed with working adults with families in mind. Ottawa online offers flexible format and scheduling at affordable prices, and the courses offered above are all available in through Ottawa online as well as several more.

If you wish to learn more or would like to connect, please use the following links:

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9. Art Institute of Phoenix


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While the Art Institute of Phoenix officially opened in 1995, it did not hold its first class until January 1996 with 45 students. Today the school has an enrollment around a thousand and offers students opportunities for earning diplomas or certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. Students at the Art Institute of Phoenix can choose courses in an array of subjects, such as Visual Design, Interior Design, Marketing, Animation & Effects, Film & Production, Gaming & Technology, Fashion, and Culinary.

The online division of the Art Institute system is located in Pittsburg and offers students similar programs in nearly the same areas of study. Online programs include Visual Design, Interior Design, Marketing, Animation & Effects, Photography, Gaming & Technology, Fashion, and Culinary. Students may begin taking online courses as early as their junior & senior years of high school and earn college credits before graduation with the College Bound program.

If you wish to learn more or would like to connect, please use the following links:

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8. Arizona Christian University


Photo courtesy Jisc

Arizona Christian University was founded in 1960 as Southwestern Conservative Baptist Bible College in Phoenix, Arizona. The roots of the university go back to a registered Nurse and Christian missionary, Ida Clouse, who moved to Arizona under the Homestead Act to open Clouse Ranch, which became a popular Christian retreat center. Upon her death in 1959, 35 acres of the ranch was left to form a Christian college. The university has had several other names including, Southwestern College until it was finally changed in January 2011 to the current Arizona Christian University in order to reflect its growth from a small Bible college into a Christian liberal arts university. Formerly associated with the Conservative Baptist Convention, since 2009 when ACU made the decision to transition, the university became non-denominational.

Today, there are nearly 800 students attending Arizona Christian University and the school offers its undergraduates a diverse selection of programs in areas such as Biblical Studies, Christian Ministries, Business Administration, Communication, Behavioral Health, Family Studies, Psychology, Music, Biology, Political Science, Elementary Education and Secondary Education. There are also Pre-Professional Tracks available for students who may be interested in Pre-Seminary, Pre-Med, or Pre-Law. Degree completion programs are available for several Bachelor of Science areas of study, such as Business Administration, Behavioral Health, Christian Ministries, Elementary Education, and Secondary Education. Select online courses are available, such as the upcoming Summer Session, which offers students opportunities to earn credits for online courses to reach their educational goals sooner.

If you wish to learn more or would like to connect, please use the following links:

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7. CollegeAmerica-Phoenix

Studying Girl

CollegeAmerica-Phoenix was established in 1964 and currently has three locations, in Colorado, Wyoming, and Phoenix, Arizona. The school’s parent institution is Center for Excellence in Higher Education. The location in Phoenix serves over 600 students today and awards both associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees. The two-story campus contains a medical lab, computer lab, several large classrooms, as well as a library, student lounge and all with Wi-Fi.

CollegeAmerica-Phoenix offers its students several options in associate’s degrees. An Associate’s Degree in Computer Technology and Networking, and associate’s degrees in the following business areas are available on campus: Business Management & Accounting with an Asset Management emphasis, Business Management & Accounting with an Event Planning emphasis, and Business Management & Accounting with a Retail Sales Management emphasis. The Associate’s Degree in Graphic Arts is currently only available online, however, an Associate’s Degree in Business Management and Accounting, as well as an Associate’s Degree in Medical Specialties are available both in online and face-to-face formats. The selection of Bachelor’s degrees is even larger and most of them are available in both formats, with few exceptions, such as the Graphic Arts being solely online. The other areas of study include Business, Healthcare, and Technology with multiple degree selections in each. Online studies are offered through Independent University which is an affiliated institution.

If you wish to learn more or would like to connect, please use the following links:

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6. Prescott College


Prescott, Arizona is around 100 miles from Phoenix and it is there that you will find Prescott College. The college began in the 1960s during a time of optimism and growth. The founder of Prescott College was Dr. Charles Franklin Parker, minister of Prescott’s First Congregational Church, and it was his goal to create the Harvard of the West in Prescott College. Along with a group of visionary leaders, Parker drew inspiration from other institutions founded in the Congregationalist tradition such as Harvard, Middlebury, Dartmouth, Yale, and many prominent schools. Many of the core educational and philosophical principles of Prescott College were established during a conference of state and nationally known leaders from higher education which was sponsored by the Ford Foundation. The main purpose would be for the school to produce leaders who were strong and capable of handling the new challenges of the changing world.

Today Prescott College serves more than 800 students with an amazing 9 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Undergraduate Degrees offered on campus include Adventure Education; Arts & Humanities; Environmental Studies & Sustainability; Global Studies; Psychology, Human Development, and Counselor Education; and Education. Meanwhile, online undergraduates are able to choose from Education & Teacher Preparation, Arts & Humanities, Environmental Studies & Sustainability, and Human Development. Most of the graduate programs at Prescott College are offered in a hybrid format with limited-residency which allows students less frequent visits to campus while still getting a high-quality education. There are two separate programs for Social Justice, one being Social Justice & Community Organizing which is available 100% online, the other is Social Justice & Human Rights which is taught on campus. There are also graduate degrees in Adventure Education, Education, Master of Education, Arts & Humanities, and Environmental Studies & Sustainability. Prescott College is recognized for having excellent programs in Counseling and offers a variety of master’s level programs which include Addictions Counseling; Rehabilitation Counseling; School Counseling; Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling; Expressive Art Therapy, Ecotherapy, and more. There is also a Ph D in Sustainability Education program available at Prescott College.

If you wish to learn more or would like to connect, please use the following links:

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5. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

Photo courtesy GrandCanyonU

The private, Christian campus of Grand Canyon University lies in the heart of Phoenix. The school was founded by the Southern Baptist Church in 1949 and was known as Grand Canyon College. The first campus was located near Phoenix in an abandoned armory building in Prescott, Arizona and two years later relocated to Phoenix. Since then, GCU’s commitment to progressive academic excellence for higher learning has helped build its strong reputation as a premier, private Christian university. In the early 2000’s financial support had waned and led to Grand Canyon University transitioning out of non-profit status in 2004, inspiring the school to implement new business practices and revive the school. This included a new emphasis on enhancing the curriculum as well as opportunities for working professionals, nursing and education in particular. Today, Grand Canyon University stands strong with the purpose to make a difference in the lives of others and enriching the local and global community.

Grand Canyon University has a student population of more than 69,000 students and is still growing, leading the school to perform multi-million-dollar renovations and expansions. There are already many brand new amenities and state-of-the-art athletic facilities available. When it comes to academics, GCU offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in popular and growing fields. While many students attend the physical college, there are also a large number of online programs available for students through many of the schools and colleges of the university. Some of the areas of study offered online for bachelor’s and master’s degrees are Business; Theology; Education; Fine Arts and Production; Humanities and Social Sciences; Science, Engineering and Technology; and Nursing and Health Care Professions. There are also three degrees offered through the College of Doctoral Studies.

If you wish to learn more or would like to connect, please use the following links:

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School Profile

4. Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University

Photo courtesy Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona is just under 150 miles away from Phoenix. In 1899, the school first opened its doors with a total of 23 students and two faculty members, one of whom was also the president of Arizona Normal School, as it was named then. The only building then is now known as Old Main and is a part of campus and history. In 1901 the first graduating class was four women who were receiving credentials to teach in the Arizona Territory. While Flagstaff did suffer ill effects from the Great Depression, the school was able to carry on and through efforts of the president at the time, Grady Gammage actually had an increase of students from 321 in 1930 to 535 ten years later. However, WWII dropped the enrollment to a mere 161 students, but the university survived through valuable contributions to the war effort, such as serving as a facility for the Navy’s V-12 program. By the 1950’s the university began to grow again, and with more students, so came more programs, such as the creation of the forestry program in 1958. By 1966 it was recommended that its current name then, Arizona State College, would become Northern Arizona University.

While it is more than 60 years later, Northern Arizona University continues to grow and change along with the world around it. The university has plenty to be proud of including high-research status, nationally ranked programs, and becoming recognized as a leader in sustainability, science, business, green building, and cultural arts. Not only does the university serve students at the Flagstaff campus, but Northern Arizona University now has multiple statewide locations as well as online options for students. Overall there are more than 150 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered at Northern Arizona University. Areas of study in which online courses are offered include Administration, Business, Communication, Computing and Technology, Education, Engineering, Health Professions, Hospitality, Humanities and Arts, Management, Mathematics and Science, Modern Languages, Recreation, and Social Sciences.

If you wish to learn more or would like to connect, please use the following links:

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3. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott

Embry-Riddle - Prescott

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott is located in Prescott, Arizona, which is around 100 miles away from Phoenix. Human’s fascination with flight has likely been around since they first looked up the sky and marveled at the birds. When Orville and Wilbur Wright made history in 1903 with their controlled flight of a powered aircraft, it was a considerable breakthrough allowing humans to advance into the skies with passenger aircraft as well as military aviation. Naturally, learning to fly as well as building the devices which would transport humans into what used to be the realm of the birds, requires special education. The original Embry-Riddle operations combined airplane dealership, airmail service, flight training center, and mechanic school all into one new type of school which focused entirely on aviation.

The Embry-Riddle Company was founded by the barnstormer John Paul Riddle and entrepreneur T. Higbee Embry on December 17, 1925, which was precisely 22 years after the famous flight of the Wright Brothers. The company was founded at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio and the following spring Embry-Riddle School of Aviation was opened. The same year the implementation of the Air Commerce Act of 1926 required the certification and medical examination of pilots. Within three years the school became a subsidiary of AVCO, which is the parent of American Airlines, but the school became mostly dormant until World War II broke out and a demand for skilled mechanics and aviators increased dramatically. Several flight training centers were opened in South Florida by Embry-Riddle and it wasn’t long before it was the world’s largest aviation school. Around 25,000 men from the U.S. and Allied nations were trained by Embry-Riddle during the war years.

After the war, Embry-Riddle expanded its international outreach and strengthened its academic programs. Later in 1965, Embry-Riddle consolidated its flight, ground school, and technical training programs in one location in which was in Daytona Beach, Florida. It was in 1968 that Embry-Riddle was accredited to award associate, bachelor, and master degrees and in 1970 changed the name from Institute to University to reflect the academic changes. Centers were established at U.S. military aviation bases in order to educate and train active-duty personnel that same year. The Prescott Campus was opened in 1978 on the 511-acre site of a former college. Prescott offers excellent flying weather, and with the school’s expansive grounds, the western campus of Embry-Riddle is an excellent companion for the campus in Daytona Beach.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott offers students on campus a wide variety of bachelor’s degree options which include, but are not limited to Aeronautical Science — Fixed Wing, Aeronautical Science — Rotary Wing, Aeronautics, Aerospace Engineering, Air Traffic Management, Applied Meteorology, Business Administration, Cyber Intelligence & Security, Electrical Engineering, Forensic Psychology, Global Business, Mechanical Engineering, Software Engineering, Space Physics, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems. There are also two master’s level programs, Master of Science in Safety Science & Master of Science in Security & Intelligence Studies as well as a Ph. D. in Aviation. Online courses are served through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide which is based in Daytona Beach, Florida. There are programs offered for certificates, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees through the online format. Students are able to choose from fields of study such as Applied Science; Aviation; Business; Computers & Technology; Engineering; Security, Intelligence, and Safety; and Space.

If you wish to learn more or would like to connect, please use the following links:

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2. University of Arizona

University of Arizona

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The University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona is about 114 miles from Phoenix and was established in 1885. It is Arizona’s super land-grant university which has two medical schools and graduates from UA are ready to meet the challenges of the real world thanks to the school’s 100% Engagement initiative. The school covers more than 380 acres in central Tucson in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Since its establishment, the school has been a leader in research and is revolutionizing the fields of biosciences, space sciences, optics, medicine, and more. UA is leading projects such as the OSIRIS-REx mission, which intends to scoop samples from a near-Earth asteroid in 2020. Innovators and educators, the University of Arizona is a place where students are able to learn in an environment that caters to curiosity and a passion for learning answers to the most popular and the most obscure questions.

The University of Arizona offers a huge variety of programs for its students with more than 300 programs for both undergraduates and graduates through 20 colleges and 11 schools. University of Arizona Online offers more than 70 degree programs which are 100% online. Undergraduate students are able to choose from many popular programs, such as Administration of Justice, Communication, History, Early Childhood Education, Law, Economy & Industry, Public Health, Organized Leadership, Psychology, and many others. Graduate students also have a large variety to choose from, such as MBA, Accounting (MSA), Electrical and Computer Engineering (MS), Management Information Systems (MS), Public Health (MPH), Industrial Engineering (MS) and many others, including doctorates.

If you wish to learn more or would like to connect, please use the following links:

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1. Arizona State University

ASU Panoramio

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Arizona State University is in Tempe, Arizona, about 14 miles from the capital city of Phoenix. It was established in 1885 as Territorial Normal School and over the years it has changed, grown, and evolved with the needs of its students and with the community. In 2008, the school celebrated its 50 year anniversary of officially becoming a university. Among the national recognition it has received, recently it was recognized by U.S. News & World Report for being number 1 in innovation.

Arizona State University offers students hundreds of programs from which to choose, both undergraduate and graduate. In addition to on-campus degree programs, Arizona State University has a large number of high-quality online degree programs available. Areas of study for online programs include Anthropology, Business Administration, Business Communications, Food Industry Management, Global Leadership, Global Logistics Management, Business Data Analytics, Communication, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Educational Studies, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Management, Global Health, Health Sciences, Justice Studies, Liberal Studies, Management, Mass Communication and Media Studies, Nursing – RN to BSN, Marketing, Organizational Leadership, Philosophy, Psychology (BA) and Psychology (BS), Religious Studies, Sociology, Sustainability, Urban Planning and many others. Online programs are taught by the same professors who teach the on-campus version of the course, so students know they are receiving the same education at a distance as they would be face-to-face. Students are able to rest assured that they are getting a high-quality education from a nationally and internationally recognized institution which will allow them to gain the skills and education needed for success in their careers and chosen fields.

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We hope that this ranking of the top 10 online colleges and universities near Phoenix enables you to make a more educated decision in choosing an online college or university in the Phoenix area.

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