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2023 Best Online Colleges in Arizona

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 7/6/2023


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Arizona offers several popular online programming options for students who need scheduling flexibility in pursuit of higher education. This list of comprehensive online colleges in Arizona includes all schools in the state offering fully online degrees and certificates at the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

We've ranked this 2023 list by online enrollment so you can find the online schools most popular with your peers. If you need more time to get ready for a four-year degree, our list of Arizona's best online community colleges includes more distance learning opportunities to help further your education for transfer or to become job-ready. View our methodology for more details about our list, or learn about OnlineU

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2023 Best Online Colleges in Arizona

RankSchool Salary Score Online Enrollment
# 1 #1 Ottawa University - Phoenix 67 768
# 2 #2 Arizona State University 65 44,253
# 3 #3 University of Phoenix 59 94,038
# 4 #4 University of Arizona 54 5,073
# 5 #5 Northern Arizona University 47 6,183
# 6 #6 Bryan University Online N/A 1,115
# 7 #7 Pima Medical Institute N/A 855
# 8 #8 National Paralegal College N/A 770
# 9 #9 Prescott College N/A 649
# 10 #10 Brookline College N/A 324

#1 Ottawa University - Phoenix

  • Salary Score: 67
  • Online Enrollment: 768
  • Locations: Phoenix
  • Accreditation: HLC

Ottawa University - Phoenix (OUAZ) is part of the six-campus Ottawa University system of private, nonprofit, American Baptist institutions. It offers online degrees at the bachelor's and master's levels through its Schools of Business, Education, and Arts and Sciences. Notable online bachelor's degrees include nursing, business administration, elementary education, and psychology. Programs are accelerated with eight-week terms, helping students save time and money. About 70% of OUAZ students attend solely online.

OUAZ's online courses are taught through Blackboard. Class sizes are small, and it has a low 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, allowing for individualized instruction. Applicants who intend to enroll full time are automatically considered for scholarships to help offset tuition costs. OUAZ is known for its Christian affiliation. As such, the university's first guiding principle is "Steadfastly Christian. Proudly American Baptist. Positively open and inclusive." However, while the American Baptist faith shares many core beliefs with the Southern Baptist faith, it isn't as conservative.

#2 Arizona State University

  • Salary Score: 65
  • Online Enrollment: 44,253
  • Locations: Tempe (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Spread across five campuses throughout metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona State University (ASU) offers a comprehensive online program of over 300 degrees and certificates. These programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels in numerous fields and industries, including business, healthcare, liberal studies, STEM, law, and education. Courses are 100% online and last 6-7.5 weeks, potentially enabling full-time students to finish quickly. Most online programs have six session start dates per year. ASU offers over 200 online tools and services to support distance learners and help prepare them for success.

#3 University of Phoenix

  • Salary Score: 59
  • Online Enrollment: 94,038
  • Locations: Nationwide
  • Accreditation: HLC

Popular for years for its online degrees catering to working adults, the University of Phoenix (UP) is a private, for-profit institution offering online degrees at all academic levels and online certificates. Popular fields of study include business, criminal justice, education, and healthcare. Some online degrees worth mentioning include bachelor's degrees in business, industrial-organizational psychology, nursing, elementary teacher education, and criminal justice administration. Programs are accelerated, and students can transfer up to 75% of degree requirements from previously earned credits. UP has an open admission policy and accepts all applicants. It has a 27% graduation rate.

UP's distance learners access online program content via Blackboard. It has a 92:1 student-to-faculty ratio serving approximately 86,000 students. UP has a $1 million scholarship commitment and awards scholarships worth up to $3,000 for every new qualifying student. It's known for being affordable, with an average annual cost of $13,400, about 34% less than average.

#4 University of Arizona

  • Salary Score: 54
  • Online Enrollment: 5,073
  • Locations: Tucson (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Popular for its affordable and diverse programming, the University of Arizona (UA) offers a comprehensive online curriculum of over 150 undergraduate and graduate degrees available remotely. It also offers online certificates. These online degrees and certificates are available at both levels in fields such as criminal justice, cybersecurity, healthcare administration, management information systems, public health, and engineering. UA has six start dates each year, with courses lasting 7.5 weeks, allowing for greater scheduling flexibility. Distance learners can remotely access UA tutoring, coaching, mentoring, networking, and career opportunities.

#5 Northern Arizona University

  • Salary Score: 47
  • Online Enrollment: 6,183
  • Locations: Flagstaff
  • Accreditation: HLC

Located in Flagstaff, Northern Arizona University (NAU) has a comprehensive online program of approximately 180 bachelor's and master's degrees as well as certificates at both levels. Students participating in distance-only education can choose from majors across a wide range of in-demand areas, such as logistics and supply chain management, communication studies, allied health, public administration, civil engineering, and nursing. NAU offers a traditional online format with semester-based course schedules and a personal online format with flexible scheduling and six-month flat-rate tuition. Online support services include tech support, access to library resources, peer mentoring, and tutoring.

#6 Bryan University Online

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 1,115
  • Locations: Tempe
  • Accreditation: ACCSC

Bryan University Online (BU) is a private, for-profit institution in Tempe offering online degrees at the associate and bachelor's levels and one online master's degree in public health. Online undergraduate degrees are in areas of study such as healthcare, accounting, human resources, and technology. Notable degrees include online bachelor's degrees in healthcare administration, business administration - accounting, and exercise science. Courses run for eight weeks, which may help students finish degree programs faster. BU also offers online certificate programs such as medical billing and coding and pharmacy technician. BU has an open admission policy and accepts all applicants, while 23% of students graduate with degrees.

BU delivers its online asynchronous programming via Canvas and synchronous coursework via Zoom. It has a 32:1 student-to-faculty ratio. BU provides its distance learners with access to digital adaptive textbooks for some of its classes, which can save money. Other online student services include job assistance and employment counseling, academic advising, and Student Resource Center (SRC) access, including "Ask a Librarian."

#7 Pima Medical Institute

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 855
  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Accreditation: ABHES

Pima Medical Institute (PMI), located in Phoenix and Tuscon, is a private, for-profit institute offering online degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. Degrees are all in the healthcare industry and include fields of study such as healthcare administration, radiology, nursing, respiratory therapy, and physical therapy. Full-time distance learners can complete online associate degrees in about 20 months, bachelor's completion programs in about 16 months, and master's degrees in about two years.

PMI's distance learners use the Blackboard learning management system to access online curriculum. While it doesn't offer scholarships, future students are encouraged to apply for federal financial aid to help pay for college and potentially avoid excessive loan debt if eligible for grants. PMI offers extensive student career services, including externship placement, job placement, professional development, and alumni career services after graduation.

#8 National Paralegal College

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 770
  • Locations: Phoenix
  • Accreditation: DEAC

National Paralegal College (NPC) in Phoenix is a 100% online college. It is a private for-profit institution specializing in legal and business studies. It offers online degrees at the associate and bachelor's levels and online master's degrees through its National Juris University. Online undergraduate degrees include associate and bachelor's degrees in legal studies and business administration. Online graduate degrees include legal studies, compliance law, and taxation. Full-time students can earn online associate and master's degrees in about a year and online bachelor's degrees in less than three years. NPC accepts all applicants due to its open admission policy, and it has a 43% graduation rate.

Distance learners log into the NPC portal to access their coursework and lectures. NPC has a 35:1 student-to-faculty ratio. While instructors present live, interactive lectures, attendance during these lectures is not mandatory. These online classes are recorded and students can watch them as schedules allow. NPC has a unique program delivery format. Undergraduate students watch lectures for two months, and graduate students for three months before spending a month completing assignments. NPC writes its own custom courseware materials for classes. It offers a free two-week enrollment trial for prospective students.

#9 Prescott College

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 649
  • Locations: Prescott
  • Accreditation: HLC

Prescott College (PC) is a private, nonprofit institution offering unique online degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels and certificates. Notable degrees include online bachelor's degrees in psychology and human development, social justice studies, and sustainable food systems. Online master's degrees include education, social justice and community organizing, and critical psychology and human services. Just over one-third of PC's undergrads and all graduate students participate in online-only education. It accepts 99% of applicants, and 51% of students graduate with degrees.

PC delivers its online curriculum via Canvas and uses Zoom for video conferencing. It has a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio and small class sizes. PC offers limited scholarship and grant opportunities for eligible students that can help defray college costs. It has an Online Resources Hub with services, such as counseling, writing assistance, access to the library, and faculty appointments available remotely. PC is known for supporting social justice, reflected throughout its programming.

#10 Brookline College

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 324
  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Accreditation: ABHES

Brookline College (BC) is a private, for-profit institution with four campuses throughout Arizona. Its Phoenix campus offers a limited selection of online degrees in the health field at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. Degrees include an online associate degree in allied health, online bachelor's degrees in health & wellness and healthcare administration, and online master's degrees in healthcare administration, public health, and public administration. It takes about 2.5 years to complete an online bachelor's degree and a little over a year for an online master's degree. A quarter of undergrads and all graduate students attend BC solely online. It accepts all applicants through its open admission policy and still manages to maintain a 47% graduation rate.

BC has a proprietary learning management system that distance learners access for online coursework and instruction. It has a 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio. BC features student resources, such as job readiness and career development assistance, that help students prepare to enter the job market when they graduate. Alumni can continue to use these free services as they progress in their careers.

#11 University of Advancing Technology

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 291
  • Locations: Tempe
  • Accreditation: HLC

Geared toward the busy, working adult, Arizona's University of Advancing Technology (UAT) has a comprehensive online technical program of 23 bachelor's and master's degrees that students can complete 100% remotely. Current, on-trend majors are offered in the fields of business and innovation, creation and simulation, cyber security, digital arts, game studies, and software engineering. UAT provides students with a multi-faceted academic environment and a Synchronic Learning model, which promotes independent thinking and collaborative practice with opportunities to apply skills to real-world situations. Distance learners receive coaching and mentoring to help ensure their success.

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Higher Education in Arizona

In the heart of the Southwest sits Arizona, home to approximately 7,360,000 people. Many of these residents are employed in the state's top industries, which include agriculture, natural resources, aerospace, astrophysics, biosciences, and the military. Among the top employers headquartered in Arizona are Banner Health, HonorHealth, and Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

In Arizona, you'll find a wealth of opportunities to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree through traditional on-campus programs and especially through distance education. This state is home base for three of the largest online education providers — Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, and the University of Phoenix.

Many students enrolled in online colleges in Arizona opt for bachelor's degrees in business administration, health sciences, information technology, and criminal justice. Some of the more common online master's degree programs include business, social work, and organizational leadership.  

Before enrolling in an Arizona online college or in-person university, applicants should check each school's accreditation status. All of the schools on our list of the best online colleges in Arizona are accredited, usually by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) or the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC). Accreditation is an important factor when it comes to receiving financial aid, transferring credits between colleges, getting accepted into graduate school, or obtaining a state-issued license to practice certain professions, such as teaching or nursing. 

Interested in preparing for healthcare and social work careers in Arizona? Explore our Online Nursing Programs in Arizona and Online MSW Programs in Arizona pages. 

FAQs About Online Colleges in Arizona

How Many Colleges Are in Arizona?

The College Navigator, which provides data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), lists a total of 121 postsecondary institutions of higher education in Arizona. The state's three biggest campuses — Arizona State University in Tempe, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and the University of Arizona in Tucson — are all public schools. Arizona also operates about 20 community colleges. As for private colleges, most are smaller institutions that tend to specialize in specific subjects, such as Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott and the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe. 

What Are the Best Colleges in Arizona?

Arizona State University — one of the state's three public universities — tops our list of highly regarded colleges. Arizona Christian University in Glendale and Prescott College in Prescott top the list of well-respected private schools in the state.

How Much Is Arizona College Tuition?

The most current data provided by the NCES indicates that Arizona's college tuition and fees may be higher than the national averages for resident students but lower for nonresident students. Learners who are concerned about the total cost of earning a college degree may want to consider some of the following cost-saving tips:

  • Enroll in an Arizona college online degree program that offers a lower tuition rate for its online degree programs than for its campus programs. 
  • Complete your general education coursework at an affordable online community college in Arizona, then transfer to a four-year university to complete your undergraduate degree. 
  • Apply for financial aid by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You'll be considered for federal aid programs, such as the Pell Grant, as well as state-funded programs, including Pay4CollegeArizona.

Do Arizona Colleges Have Reciprocity With Other States?

Yes, Arizona participates in three reciprocity programs that allow eligible undergraduate and graduate students to attend college in many Western states for less than the standard out-of-state tuition rates and vice versa. These reciprocity agreements are monitored by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Looking for online programs in a particular state? Discover the possibilities on our List of Online Colleges By State.

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