Arizona Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2016

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An Overview of Arizona Online Colleges

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.

Distance Learning in 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.

Introducing Chandler’s Higher Education Opportunities

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.

Understanding the Total Cost of College in Arizona

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.
Tucson -3.5% -8.1% -2.8% -13.3% 4.6% -0.8% 0.5%
Sierra Vista -2.1% -0.3% -3.5% -2.8% 4.0% -3.9% -4.5%
Phoenix 0.7% -9.6% 8.1% -3.4% 8.9% 8.8% 4.6%
Yuma 1.2% -3.6% 7.4% 12.2% 4.6% 7.8% -2.4%
Prescott-Prescott Valley 3.7% 18.1% -4.8% -8.2% 0.3% -2.2% -0.3%
Lake Havasu City 11.8% 39.3% -7.1% 4.1% -6.5% -2.0% 1.7%
Flagstaff 14.9% 49.3% 6.6% -7.5% 5.5% 0.0% -0.5%

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:

  1. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott, AZ
  2. Arizona State University
  3. University of Arizona
  4. Northern Arizona University

Financial Aid and Paying for College in Arizona

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:

  • American Quarter Horse Association
  • Arizona Business & Professional Women’s Foundation
  • Arizona Nurses Foundation
  • Arizona Small Business Association
  • Arizona Society of CPAs
  • Arizona State Savings & Credit Union
  • Buzz Sands Chevrolet
  • Central Arizona Project
  • E. Blois de Bois Foundation
  • Flinn Foundation
  • Italian Catholic Federation
  • John C. Lincoln Hospital
  • Medical Group Management Association

Accreditation Guidelines 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.

Choices for Arizona Colleges Online

Arizona has nearly 140 accredited postsecondary institutions, both big and small, urban and rural. For prospective students interested in online education, there are multiple factors to consider prior to selecting a program. The search tool below can help start the search process through customizable filtering of data on schools in Arizona. Before making a decision about a particular school, it’s easy to do research on its online programs and degrees, tuition, enrollment, location and more.

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Excellent Resources for Online Students in Arizona

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.

Major Arizona Educational Resources:

Best Online Colleges in Arizona for 2015

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 2015.

RANK COLLEGE Tuition And Fees Enrollment Accredited MORE INFO
1 Northern Arizona University$7,33222,975YES
Northern Arizona University offers hybrid, real-time and non-real-time, or asynchronous learning, through its distance-learning programs. In most cases, online college students receive instruction through the online Blackboard course management system and can pursue wholly online bachelor's and master's degrees. Subject areas include but are not limited to English, the health sciences, interdisciplinary studies, and public administration.
2 University of Arizona$9,28633,190YES
The University of Arizona's distance-learning program, "Outreach College," provides both non-credit and credit learning to students. This includes online college degree programs at the master's and doctoral levels that may be available in subjects such as engineering, information systems and management as well as graduate-level certificates. Non-credit online certificates are offered in a diverse range of subjects.
3 Arizona State University$9,72065,501YES
Arizona State University Online College offers a wide range of bachelor's and master's degrees in subjects such as curriculum and instruction, criminal justice, project management, and more. A number of graduate-level certificates are also available through distance learning programming in areas such as social entrepreneurship and clinical research management. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
4 Ottawa University-Phoenix$10,440954YES
Ottawa University offers online undergraduate minor and major degrees in fields such as accounting, English, management, nursing and sundry others. Graduate degrees at the master's level can be found through e-learning in the business, counseling and education fields. Ottawa University provides distance-learning students with 24/7 access to coursework and lectures and is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
5 Thunderbird School of Global ManagementN/A2YES
The Thunderbird School of Global Management offers post-MBA education online, leading to a Master's of Global Management degree. The online format features access to coursework anytime from anywhere and includes online lectures, and interactive chats and bulletin boards. The program typically takes 15 to 19 months to complete and requires 30 credit hours of coursework.