Continuing our series of best online college by state rankings, we have examined all online colleges in Arizona and chosen to showcase the top 20 schools, based on the methodology stated below.
In this college ranking, we present to you the top 20 schools in the state of Arizona offering online degree programs. To complete this ranking, we gave each of the online colleges a rating on a scale of 0-200 based on a combination of two intrinsically related criteria. The in-depth methodology that we use is one that we are confident will provide students with a solid overview of each school’s strengths as a provider of a higher education.
We have ranked each school in Arizona that offers online academic programs using the following criteria:
50%: Freshmen Retention Rates and;
50%: Graduation Rates
These ranking criteria ensure that prospective students will be able to have all of the information needed to choose a high-quality educator. To find this information, we utilized each school’s website whenever possible. In instances that this information was unavailable directly from the source, we utilized the databases of both U.S. News and World Report and the National Center for Education Statistics. In cases where two or more schools are tied, we used the alphabetical ordering of their names as a tie-breaker.
During the course of our research for this ranking, we also consulted our own ranking of the top 100 best online colleges.
20: Mesa Community College
Mesa Community College–which is commonly referred to simply as MCC–is a state-sponsored community college which is located in Mesa, Arizona and which was originally established in 1963 by Mart Godinez as an extension of Phoenix College. Mesa Community College operates a number of satellite locations in addition to its main campus. These satellite campuses include the Southern and Dobson campuses (located in downtown Mesa), the Red Mountain campus (North Mesa) and the Mesa Downtown Center. Additionally, MCC hosts the Arizona Gakuen School, a weekend supplementary Japanese school which holds its classes at the Southern and Dobson campuses. MCC is accredited by the North Central Association, a United States Department of Education-recognized regional accrediting body. Enrolled students are able to choose from more than 200 different academic programs which will ultimately lead to either a degree or a professional certification upon program completion.
Eastern Arizona College is a state-sponsored community college which is located in Thatcher, Arizona. EAC (as the community college is commonly referred to as) was originally established in 1888 by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Christian Restorationist group. Eastern Arizona College additionally operates satellite locations in Gila County and Greenlee County. EAC is the oldest community college located in the state of Arizona and is the only community college with a marching band in the area as well. Eastern Arizona College is comprised of nine different academic divisions, which are as follows: the School of Business, the School of Communicative Arts, the School of Fine Arts, the School of Health and Physical Education, the School of Industrial Technology Education, the School of Liberal Studies, the School of Mathematics, the School of Science and Allied Health and the School of Social Sciences. Through any these divisions, students can obtain an undergraduate degree or a professional certification either on-campus or online.
Cochise College is a state-sponsored public community college which operates its main campus in Douglas, Arizona. Cochise College additionally operates satellite campuses in Sierra Vista, Willcox, and Benson as well as academic centers in Fort Huachuca and Nogales, Arizona. Cochise College was originally established in 1964 and, today, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, a United States Department of Education approved regional accrediting body. Cochise also holds a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for its professional pilot and aviation maintenance degree and certification programs, an Arizona Department of Health Services and Emergency Medical Services certification for its paramedicine and emergency medical technology programs and accreditation by the by the Arizona State Board of Nursing and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) for the school’s nursing programs. Cochise College is known for having its school-owned airport, which was built specifically to support the instruction and education provided through their aviation programs.
Arizona Western College is a state-sponsored community college which is located in Yuma, Arizona and offers courses through satellite locations in Dateland, San Luis, Somerton, Wellton, and La Paz, Arizona. Arizona Western College, which is commonly referred to just as AWC, was originally established in 1963 and uniquely offers its attending students the option of on-campus housing, making it one of the very few community colleges in the United States to do so. AWC provides a selection of more than 100 academic programs which will lead to either an undergraduate degree or a professional certification upon program completion; and many of these programs are available in an online and asynchronous format. Some standouts are the Associates in Fine Arts degree program and their Associates in Business Computer Information degree program. The degree programs offered at AWC cover a variety of areas-of-study and include degree types such as A.S., A.A.S, and A.A. degrees.
Yavapai College is a state-sponsored community college which is located in Prescott, Arizona and which operates satellite campuses in the towns of Clarkdale, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, and Sedona, Arizona. Yavapai College (which is commonly referred to as YC) was originally established in 1965. Yavapai College offers more than 100 academic programs which cover more than 70 different areas-of-study ranging from professional certification through to undergraduate degree levels. Many of these educational programs are available in an online and fully asynchronous format to best serve the school’s distance-learning students. These online programs are taught by the same instructors as the on-campus counterparts, ensuring that each student will receive all of the attention and assistance that they need, regardless of the delivery method of the information. Additionally, Yavapai College is home to one of the top three gunsmithing schools in the United States, called the Yavapai College Gunsmithing School, which is often used as a recruitment center for many of the nation’s top gunsmithing companies; ensuring that students will have an easier time obtaining employment upon program completion.
Paradise Valley Community College (which is commonly referred to simply as PVCC) is a state-sponsored community college which is located in the northeastern portion of Phoenix, Arizona (to be more precise, PVCC is located in Paradise Valley Village, which is one of the fifteen Urban Villages of the City of Phoenix). They also operate the Black Mountain campus which is located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Paradise Valley Community College was originally established in 1985 as the Northeast Valley Education Center by the Maricopa County Community College District. The college’s first classes were temporarily held in spare classrooms of the Paradise Valley High School. PVCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and has been since obtaining independent accreditation in 1990–having been previously operated as an extension of Scottsdale Community College (SCC). Both PVCC and SCC are member institutions of the Maricopa County Community College District, which is one of the largest community college districts in the United States; serving more than 220,000 students annually in the Maricopa County area of Arizona.
Scottsdale Community College, which is commonly referred to simply as SCC, is a state-sponsored community college which is located in Scottsdale, Arizona. As previously mentioned, it is a member institution of the Maricopa County Community College District. SCC was originally established in 1970, with an initial enrollment of only 948 students, a stark contrast to today. Currently, SCC serves more than 20,000 total students (both degree seeking and non-degree seeking) annually. SCC is located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community–an area inhabited by the Pima (Akimel O’odham) and Maricopa (Piipaash) Native American tribes and which is federally-recognized tribal land–making SCC unique among colleges for being located on a natural preserve and tribal area. SCC also hosts the Northern Arizona University–Scottsdale campus, which offers several undergraduate programs and other academic programs, including the Scottsdale Community College to Northern Arizona University (SCC2NAU) program which allows students to easily transfer to Northern Arizona University (NAU) after obtaining an undergraduate degree from SCC.
Originally established in 1968, GateWay Community College (which is commonly referred to as GateWay CC or simply as GWCC) was the first technical college to be created in the state of Arizona and is, today, a state-sponsored community college which is located in Phoenix, Arizona. GateWay CC was originally named Maricopa Technical College but underwent a name change–to its present-day name of GateWay Community College–in 1987. GateWay Community College is one of the ten regionally accredited institution members that comprise the Maricopa County Community College District System. GateWay is the only Maricopa Community College with a Valley Metro Light Rail (a 26.3-mile long public light rail line) stop on campus, which allows students an easier (and greener) way to commute to and from their on-campus classes. GWCC has held a regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since July of 1971. GWCC offers more than 100 academic programs to students; many of which are available online. The school also operates The Automotive Center, the Children’s Learning Center and the Central Plant in addition to its main campus.
Diné College is a tribal-operated two-year community college which is located in Tsaile, Arizona and which serves the 27,000-square mile area of the Navajo Native American Tribal Nation. Diné College was originally established in 1968 as the Navajo Community College by the Navajo Nation and was the first college which was established by Native Americans for Native Americans. The college offers to its students a variety of scholarships, which are available through the American Indian College Fund (AICF), a non-profit organization which is designed to help Native American students in attending a postsecondary educational institute. In addition to Diné College’s main campus, the school also operates seven satellite campuses located in Chinle, Ganado, Window Rock, Tuba City, and Kayenta, Arizona as well as locations in Crownpoint, New Mexico and Shiprock, New Mexico. Diné College is home to two important programs: The Center for Diné Studies and The Uranium Education Program. The Center for Diné Studies places great emphasis on providing students an education through the use of Nitsáhákees (Thinking), Nahatʼá (Planning), Iiná (Living) and Sihasin (Assurance) in their studies of the Navajo language, history, and culture. The Uranium Education Program is focused on the study of radiation and environmental health issues which arose from the aftermath of uranium mining and milling operations on the land used by the Navajo Nation.
11: Arizona State University–Downtown Phoenix Campus
The Arizona State University–Downtown Phoenix Campus is one of four campuses of the Arizona State University system. Frequently referred to as ASU Phoenix, the public research university was originally established in 2006 and is located in Phoenix, Arizona. ASU Phoenix is organized into several academic divisions, including the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, the College of Nursing & Health Innovation, the College of Health Solutions, the College of Letters and Sciences, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, the Barrett Honors College and the University College. Through these divisions, ASU Phoenix provides its more than 12,000 students a broad selection of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certification programs. Many of these programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format and are taught by the same dedicated faculty members that teach the on-campus counterparts. One such program is the university’s very popular Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration degree program.
Ottawa University–which is commonly referred to simply as OU–is a private, not-for-profit and Christian-affiliated liberal arts university. The university’s main campus is located in Ottawa, Kansas, but the school operates satellite campuses in Overland Park, Kansas; Brookfield, Wisconsin; Jeffersonville, Indiana and in the cities of Phoenix and Chandler, Arizona. Ottawa University–Phoenix is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and its education programs in Kansas are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Kansas State Department of Education. Ottawa University became the founding member of the Pi Kappa Delta (ΠΚΔ) Greek Society (which is a Forensics-centric debate and public speaking club) and is still home to the Alpha Chapter to this day. Ottawa University offers undergraduate degree programs and professional certification programs across more than 25 areas-of-study. Many of these programs are also available in an online and fully asynchronous format, allowing for a wide-range of flexibility which allows the university’s many distance-learning students to complete their education when and where they want. Across all campuses and through the online division, Ottawa University provides an education to more than 7,000 students annually.
Arizona State University–Lake Havasu, which is commonly referred to simply as ASU Havasu, is a public research university which is located in Lake Havasu City, Arizona and which was originally opened in 2012 as a small and low-cost extension of the Arizona State University system. ASU Havasu offers an interdisciplinary approach to student education and curriculum and has 14 bachelor’s degree programs and three exploratory programs from which students can choose. The bachelor’s degrees that are available include Applied Computing, Biology, Biology with a Focus in Environmental Science, Business Administration, Business with a Focus in Communications, Communications, Environmental Science, General Studies, Health Education and Health Promotion, Kinesiology, Organizational Leadership, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology. The exploratory programs are Exploratory Health and Life Sciences, Exploratory Humanities, Fine Arts and Design and Exploratory Social and Behavioral Sciences. Online and asynchronous degree-granting programs and professional certifications are available through the core ASU website for distance-learning students, and there is a wider selection of programs which are available.
8: Arizona State University–SkySong Innovation Center
Arizona State University–SkySong Innovation Center is Arizona State University’s Online Education division, through which all of ASU’s campuses offer their online academic programs. The Online Division is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona and is known simply as the SkySong Innovation Center. As a “virtual campus,” ASU SkySong does not offer any on-campus classes, but the online classes which are offered are still taught by the same dedicated and committed faculty that teaches the on-campus counterparts available through the other 7 ASU campus locations (Tempe, Downtown Phoenix, Mesa, Polytechnic, West, Havasu Lake and the Thunderbird School of Global Management.) Some of the available academic programs for ASU’s distance-learning students to enroll in include: Bachelor of Arts in Global Health degree program, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Justice Studies degree program, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Anthropology degree program and their Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) in Electrical Engineering degree program, among many others. ASU SkySong has more than 100 academic programs available for students to choose from and more than 70% of ASU SkySong’s students receive some form of financial assistance, making the university a flexible and affordable option for receiving a quality education.
Northern Arizona University, which is commonly referred to simply as NAU, is a public research university located in Flagstaff, Arizona. NAU also operates more than 30 satellite locations throughout the state, in addition to its main campus. NAU was originally established in 1899 as the Northern Arizona Normal School and has undergone a number of name changes over the years (Northern Arizona State Teacher’s College, Arizona State Teacher’s College of Flagstaff, Arizona State College of Flagstaff and then finally its present-day name). NAU is organized into 7 schools and colleges including the College of Arts and Letters; the College of Education; the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences; the College of Health and Human Services; the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; The W.A. Franke College of Business and the Graduate College. Through these schools, NAU provides its more than 30,000 students with a choice selection of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs and professional certificate-granting programs, many of which are available in an online and fully asynchronous format that caters to NAU’s distance-learning students. NAU is the first public university to offer a competency-based online degree program. This competency-based online degree program allows students to earn credit for various life experiences, such as previous work experience and related activities or hobbies.
Central Arizona College (which is commonly referred to simply as CAC) is a public state-sponsored community college which is located in Coolidge, Arizona and is known as the Signal Peak campus. CAC also operates the following satellite campuses and centers: Aravaipa Campus (Winkelman), the Superstition Mountain Campus (Apache Junction), the Maricopa Campus (Maricopa), the San Tan Campus (San Tan Valley), the Casa Grande Center (Casa Grande), the Corporate Center (Casa Grande) and the Florence Center (Florence). CAC was originally established in 1969 and, today, provides students with a diverse selection of undergraduate degree programs and career training certification programs from which to choose; many of these are available online in an asynchronous format. Additionally, CAC offers a variety of non-credit personal enrichment courses, both on-campus and online. Through the college’s five campuses and three academic centers, CAC provides more than 10,000 annual students with affordability, flexibility and quality in the pursuance of their education. Some of the programs available online include their Associate of Applied Science in Accounting (A.A.S.) degree program and their Preschool Student Education certification program.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University–Prescott is a private and not-for-profit independent university. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (which has many shorter names such as Riddle, or just ERAU) is nicknamed “Harvard of the Sky” due to being the world’s largest and fully accredited university which specializes in aviation and aerospace academic programs. The name is also reminiscent of the quality of the aviation and aerospace programs in which students can enroll. ERAU was originally established in 1926 as the Embry-Riddle Flying School by Talton Higbee Embry (a wealthy aviation enthusiast) and John Paul Riddle (a pilot and aviation enthusiast). Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s main campus is located in Daytona Beach, Florida, but operates an extension campus in Prescott, Arizona. The Prescott campus is home to the nation’s only master’s degree program in the field of Safety Science. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the university’s programs in Aviation Maintenance, Air Traffic Management, Applied Meteorology, Aeronautical Science, Aerospace and Occupational Safety, Flight Operations and Airport Management are all accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI). Additionally, the business programs are accredited by Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and the engineering programs are all accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET). The programs in Aeronautics, Air Traffic Management, Applied Meteorology, and Aerospace Studies are also certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The Arizona State University–Polytechnic campus is one of four campuses of Arizona State University and was originally established as ASU East in 1996. ASU Polytechnic (as the university is commonly referred to as) is a public research university which is located in Mesa, Arizona. The campus originally opened with an enrollment of almost 1,000 total students in one of the original eight degree programs which were offered. Today, ASU Polytechnic has more than 8,000 attending students and offers more than 40 different degree programs; many of which are available in an online and asynchronous format to cater to the university’s large distance-learning student body. The campus started with two schools–the School of Technology and the School of Management and Agribusiness. Today, it has further divided into eight schools and colleges including the College of Technology and Innovation; the W.P. Carey School of Business; the College of Letters and Sciences; the Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education; the Graduate College; the Honors College; the University College and The Polytechnic School. Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education is recognized as one of the nation’s top schools of education for students wishing to earn an online degree; according to U.S. News & World Report, the college is ranked 23rd among all online graduate education programs in the nation.
The University of Arizona, which is commonly referred to as U of A or simply as UA, is a public research university located in Tucson, Arizona. U of A was originally established in 1885 and is the flagship campus of the University of Arizona System; it was the first to be chartered in the Arizona Territory. U of A is also one of the elected members of the Association of American Universities, an international and not-for-profit organization which consists of 62 academic institutions–both public and private–and which are committed to ensuring that the programs that they each offer are of a very high quality. Impressively, this is the only member institution in the state of Arizona featured in this group. The university operates two medical schools (the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix) and is affiliated with the only two academic medical centers in the region (the Banner University Medical Center of Tucson or BUMCT, and the Banner University Medical Center of Phoenix). The Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center is neighboring BUMCT and is the area’s only dedicated children’s hospital. UA offers its more than 43,000 enrolled students a selection of undergraduate degree programs, graduate degree programs and professional certification programs to choose from; many of which are available in an online format.
Arizona State University–Tempe, which is commonly referred to simply as ASU Tempe–is the largest of the four campuses that compose the Arizona State University system. ASU Tempe is located in Tempe, Arizona and was originally established in 1885. This campus is ASU’s original campus and remains the flagship campus of the system of ASU schools. ASU Tempe is organized into ten schools and colleges, through which the university provides its more than 50,000 enrolled students a varied selection of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certification programs. These programs cover a myriad of areas-of-study and many of them are available in an online and asynchronous format, such as their Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History degree program, their Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program and their Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Software Engineering degree program, among many others. Predating Arizona’s statehood by 14 years, Old Main was the second building constructed as part of this campus, but was the first to be wired for electricity, in 1898. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
Arizona State University–West Campus, which is commonly referred to simply as ASU West, was originally established in 1984 by an act of the Arizona Legislature and was the second campus built as part of the Arizona State University. The university is located in Phoenix, Arizona, and prompts more than 10,000 students to seek a degree from through both on-campus and fully online options each year. ASU West shares Arizona State University’s online education division with the other three campuses that comprise the Arizona State University system, ensuring that distance-learning students that enroll in ASU West will have a wide selection of degree programs available to choose from; at the undergraduate, graduate and certification levels. ASU West’s campus is designated as a “Phoenix Point of Pride,” among 33 other landmarks and attractions throughout the City of Phoenix. They were selected by an election of more than 40,000 residents of the area and are claimed to best represent the principal features of the city for both residents and visitors alike. ASU West holds this distinction along with sites such as the Desert Botanical Garden, the Heard Museum and the Pueblo Grande Museum and is the only university to be listed as a Phoenix Point of Pride. ASU West is home to a large solar array that was completed in 2011 and, today, powers nearly the entire campus through a sustainable energy source. ASU West was ranked as our top pick for the best school in Arizona that offers online degree programs due to the excellent combined rating of the university’s freshman retention rate and graduation rate, which beat out every other school in the state with a score of 146 out of 200 total points.