Arizona is home to numerous universities featuring different types of online learning programs. Both public and private schools in the state offer the opportunity to complete fully online degrees that match their on-campus counterparts. The list of the top Arizona online colleges below focuses on entities that provide a balanced approach to curriculum, program flexibility, affordability and student support. See who made the list of the Best Online Colleges in Arizona for 2016.
|Rank||School Name||Score||Tution & fees||# of Online Programs||Financial Aid %||Student-Teacher Ratio||Grad Rate||Credit for Experience||Placement Services||Counseling Services||School Information|
|1||Northern Arizona University||99.78||$$$$$||72||66%||18:1||52%||No||Yes||Yes|
Northern Arizona University has a wide variety of programs that are offered online. Students can earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree online. Topics students can major in include administration, health professionals, management, recreation, business, education, social sciences, engineering, communication and modern languages, to name a few. The school programs are arranged most commonly by emphasis so students can better customize what they learn. For instance, administration comes with a health sciences emphasis. Students use the Blackboard system to access their coursework, as well as connect with other students and faculty. Through the system, students participate in digital discussion and can view online lectures. Students also have access to online tutors.
|2||Arizona State University-Tempe||97.81||$$$$$||3||86%||22:1||63%||No||Yes||Yes|
At the Arizona State University-Tempe, students can choose from several undergraduate or graduate degrees, along with several online certificate programs. Degree topics range from business to art history to sustainability to biomedical diagnostics. The school prides itself on its interactive online environment, rather than just being online lectures. Students collaborate digitally with instructors and other classmates to fully understand the material. Courses are developed and taught by the same on-campus faculty. Students are also given access to Success Coaches to help them stay on track through their online education. The school uses technology like Google Apps to help students engage with a smooth online learning process.
|3||University of Arizona||97.80||$$$$$||6||77%||20:1||60%||No||Yes||Yes|
The University of Arizona offers a number of degrees online, like Africana studies, care, health & society, communication, retailing & consumer science and history. There are also highly specific programs, like the applied science, informatics emphasis: systems administration track, which helps students prepare for a very specific career goal after graduation. Programs can be completed online from anywhere in the world. Math requirements range from general to substantial, depending on the degree. Many programs also require four semesters or less of a second language.
Ottawa University-Phoenix has online learning that allows students access to their lectures and coursework 24/7 from anywhere in the world. The courses are 100 percent online, and require no outside study groups. The online programs even have a student-to-faculty ratio of four-to-one. Students are also given an academic advisor to make sure they are successful in the program. The school offers several bachelor’s and master’s programs. Students can choose from the school of arts and sciences, the school of business, the school of education and the school of health and applied sciences.
Arizona State University offers nearly 100 fully online programs at the certificate, undergraduate and graduate levels. ASU Online also dedicates time and effort orienting new students to distance learning via web-based and in-person tutorials. And planning sessions, document management and extensive use of multimedia allow students to work toward a degree conveniently.
Other online colleges in Arizona include private, for-profit schools with a strong background in technology-based education. For example, the University of Phoenix reports that it serves as the largest single post-secondary educator in the United States. To illustrate the diverse opportunities available in the state, let’s focus on the types of online learning found in a community like Chandler.
As mentioned, ASU Online offers a multitude of online bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as undergraduate and graduate certificate programs. Utilizing cloud technology, students can collaborate in real time or asynchronously. Even with a traditional campus only a few miles away, complete with library and research facilities, Chandler students have online access to resources via ASU Libraries’ website.
Chandler is also home to Chandler-Gilbert Community College, one of the 13 campuses in the Maricopa County Community College District. This community college offers online courses as well as access to all its partner campuses across the valley. A variety of private institutions round out this rich educational landscape for online learners.
Located in the suburbs of metropolitan Phoenix, Chandler offers small-town charm on the outskirts of a big city. Chandler’s economy has grown from an agricultural base to incorporate high-tech, industrial and other interests. It’s a diverse place to live and learn and has a vibrant arts district. Both the Chandler Center for the Arts and ASU’s Gammage Auditorium are family-friendly venues that allow residents to enjoy quality arts programming without leaving “their own backyard.”
With Arizona State University’s main campus a few miles away in Tempe, Chandler residents can take advantage of a big-name university that offers countless undergraduate and graduate degrees. ASU is one of the top 10 producers of Fulbright Scholars in the country, and U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among the top five up-and-coming schools nationwide. Chandler students can also take a short trip to the east to ASU’s Polytechnic campus in Mesa, with opportunities to explore professional and technical careers in a smaller setting.
Whether a prospective student lives in an urban or rural area of Arizona, cost is usually the first concern when choosing a college. Tuition is typically the largest item on the college price tag, and it differs depending on the type of school, location and whether or not the student is a resident of the state. In 2012, those qualifying as residents of Arizona paid about $10,100 each year for tuition.
In addition, there are often costs associated with individual colleges and universities as well as specific academic programs. These include special fees for labs and technology, parking, recreation centers, application, enrollment and other services. Including fees, the total cost of college for the average undergraduate student in Arizona was $10,600 in 2012.
Though tuition is the biggest cost related to college, students must also consider living expenses when deciding where to attend school. The cost of living in Arizona is about 4 percent higher than the national average. Below is the cost of living (COL) for some of Arizona’s largest cities, compared to the national mean (100%):
|Urban Area||Composite Index||Housing||Groceries||Utilities||Transportation||Health Care||Misc.|
|Lake Havasu City||11.8%||39.3%||-7.1%||4.1%||-6.5%||-2.0%||1.7%|
Students and parents exploring colleges should also think about return on investment (ROI). This metric takes tuition and fees into consideration, but also looks at salary potential after graduation. In this equation, ROI is measured by subtracting the total cost of college from the average lifetime earnings of the graduate. The following Arizona colleges have a documented ROI higher than their peers:
Students looking to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of college have quite a few national, state and school-based assistance opportunities in Arizona. For example, federal financial assistance can make a huge impact for students, no matter what degree level they’re seeking. The first step in applying for federal aid is filling out the necessary FAFSA® forms so need-based funds can be distributed. About 62 percent of Arizona’s undergraduate students got federal aid in 2012.
Another form of financial assistance is scholarships, which students can pair with federal aid to further reduce the cost of fees and tuition. Scholarships can come from the individual learning institutions, nonprofit organizations, private companies or the government. Here are some of the major establishments that offer scholarships in Arizona:
No matter the funding source for college, every Arizona student must research the accreditation of the school before enrolling. Funding programs generally require that colleges meet specific quality standards, as determined by regional or national accrediting agencies. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools is the main regional organization for accreditation in Arizona. However, certain colleges and degree programs may receive accreditation from specialized entities. For example, the University of Arizona’s law school holds accreditation from the Association of American Law Schools and American Bar Association. These unique stamps of approval ensure that programs pass review from a board with clear and demonstrated experience in that field.
There is a wide-ranging collection of educational resources available to prospective students, including information about how to pick a college and how to pay for studies. This list of resources is a starting point and provides students with insight into government services available and state-specific support via groups such as the Arizona Community Foundation.