Online Colleges in Arizona

The state of Arizona is brimming with opportunities for employers and employees alike, which could make it a great place to attain a college education. Read on to learn more about online colleges in Arizona, including a list of 10 online schools ranked by affordability.

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According to 2012 data from the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, Bachelor's degree holders in Arizona earn a median wage that's roughly 67 percent higher than that of just a high school graduate. In their 2012 report "Leaders & Laggards," the ICW estimates that even an Associate degree holder can expect to earn around 33 percent more than someone with only a high school diploma. Their study shows that unemployment among degree holders is less than among high school graduates, as well.

In addition to possibly paying higher wages, jobs requiring postsecondary education are quickly becoming more widespread. By 2018, the Lumina Foundation predicts that about 61 percent of Arizona's jobs will require a college degree. However, only about 37 percent of adult workers are expected to hold a college credential by that time, leaving a large gap between available jobs and qualified workers.

Arizona's economic future and the ability to compete nationally depend on producing more college graduates. As such, in September 2010, the Arizona Board of Regents developed and unveiled the Arizona Higher Education Enterprise Plan (AHEE), with the goal of increasing college completion rates by 2020. The AHEE outlined reforms in how the educational system is financed and delivered, including the implementation of more online programs.

Currently, educational attainment in Arizona is on par with other areas across the country; 16.9 percent of adults age 25 and older hold a Bachelor's degree and 9.7 percent hold a graduate degree, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

There are 2,475,660 people currently employed in Arizona according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates from 2013, and they make an annual mean wage of $44,370. This is slightly below the average salary for Bachelor's degree holders in Arizona as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau: they make an average of $48,372, while those with a graduate or professional degree make $61,760.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students in Arizona can pursue a Bachelor's degree at any of the 48 institutions of higher education that offer them, many of whom offer the option for online courses or degree programs.

Students who choose to pursue an online degree can benefit from the flexibility of online programming and the potential for savings as well. There are also several unique skills students may be able to gain from online degrees in Arizona that could translate well to the workplace, such as increased self-discipline and technology skills. For example, a student might learn the skills needed to create digital presentations or effectively engage in Internet discussion groups, which could be assets in today's corporate world.

The Most Affordable Online Colleges in Arizona

The following list ranks the 10 schools in Arizona that offer online degrees at the lowest tuition costs. This ranking is based on a number of factors that are important to prospective students such as the actual degree programs that are taught online, and information on tuition fees, accreditation and notable alumni. Tuition figures are sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics and reflect in-state tuition (when in-state tuition is available) for all students, including online students. See our Methodology section for more details on the ranking methodology.

#1 - Cochise College

  • In-State Tuition: $1,752 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 14 Associate degree programs

Cochise College first branched out into online learning in 1998, and has since expanded to offer 14 degree programs and 3 certificates through its virtual campus. Cochise takes pride in the fact that many of its online degree programs are taught by the exact instructors who oversee the on-campus equivalent. Currently, Cochise College offers online Associate of Art degrees in Communication; Early Childhood Care and Education; Economics; General Requirements; Humanities; Philosophy; Psychology; Social Sciences; and Social Work. Online Associate of Applied Science degrees are offered in Early Childhood Care and Education and Intelligence Operations. An Associate of General Studies is also offered, as are Associate's in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems.

#2 - Yavapai College

  • In-State Tuition: $1,872 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 12 Associate degree programs

Yavapai College is another Arizona-based institution of higher education offering Associate degrees and certificates to students who hope to directly enter the workforce or transfer credit to a four-year institution upon graduation. In addition to a wide range of on-campus Associate degree programs, Yavapai College also offers the following Associate of Arts degree programs online: Elementary Education; Fine Arts; Business; and General Studies. The college also offers the following Associate of Applied Science degrees: Accounting; Administration of Justice; Emergency Management Applications; Fire Science; Management; Office Administration; Paralegal Studies; and Video Game Development. A wide range of Certificate programs are also offered for students wish to gain additional credentials or simply beef up their resume.

#3 - Mesa Community College

  • In-State Tuition: $1,974 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 7 Associate degrees programs

As a community college, Mesa Community College offers over 500 online classes which can lead to over 20 different online certificates. Associate of Applied Science degrees currently offered include Administration of Justice Studies; Business; Emergency Response and Operations; Fashion Merchandising and Design; Music Business; Organizational Management; and Retail Management. MCC sets itself apart by offering free online support to its students, including a Help Center, online tutoring, an online library, and video training.

#4 - Rio Salado College

  • Tuition: $1,974 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 14 Associate degree programs

Rio Salada College offers its online students choice and flexibility through a customized learning design. In order to meet its goals, the school currently grants students the opportunity to pursue various Associate degree and Certificate programs in a flexible, online format. Some of the degree programs currently available to students include Associate of Applied Science degrees in Accounting; Behavioral Health; Computer Technology; Early Childhood and Human Development; Family Life Education; General Business; Detention Services; Corrections; Military Leadership; Organizational Management; Paralegal Studies; Quality Customer Service; Retail Management; and Sustainable Food Systems.

#5 - Mohave Community College

  • In-State Tuition: $2,040 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 13 Associate degree programs

Mohave Community College serves more than 13,000 students each year, many of whom choose to pursue their educational goals via one of the school's online degree programs. The school's online component, also known as MCC online, currently offers the following Associate degree programs in an online format: Administration of Justice; Accounting; Business and Entrepreneurship; Business Administration; Chemical Dependency Studies; Computer Graphics and Web Design; General Studies; English; History; Liberal Arts; Social and Behavioral Science; Social Studies; and Paralegal Studies.

#6 - Northern Arizona University

  • In-State Tuition: $9,738 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 21 undergraduate and 7 postgraduate
  • Notable Alumni: Actress Marjean Holden, Congresman Rick Renzi

The NAU extension campuses offer accredited, entirely online degree programs that allow students to pursue their educational goals in a flexible, online format. The school also offers programs in a blended format, which are perfect for students who prefer a hybrid approach with some courses takes at NAU campuses across Arizona. Because of NAU's commitment to online education, they offer many online undergraduate programs to students, including: Administration; Health Sciences; Technology Management; Justice Studies; Law Enforcement Management; Occupational Education; Comparative Cultural Studies; Liberal Arts; Computer Information Technology; Hotel and Restaurant Management; Industrial Technology Management; Criminal Justice; Intelligence Studies; Nursing; Criminology; Dental Hygiene; Parks and Recreation Management; Psychology; Emergency Management; Public Administration; and Sociology. Online graduate degrees currently include many specialties in Administration; Education; Communication; English; and Nursing, as well as Applied Geospatial Sciences and Human Relations. Northern Arizona University also offers a plethora of Certificate programs to round out their online educational offerings.

#7 - Arizona State University

  • In-State Tuition: $9,861 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 33 undergraduate programs and 27 postgraduate programs
  • Notable Alumni: Actor Nick Nolte, Comedian Jimmy Kimmel, Comedian David Spade

Arizona State University is not only recognized for its award-winning faculty, but also for being a trailblazer in the field of online learning. Because of their focus on flexible, online degree programs, the school offers far more than their share of online undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. Online undergraduate degree programs currently allow students to specialize in Art History; Business; Communication; Criminal Justice and Criminology; Education; Engineering; English; Family and Human Development; Film; Food Industry Management; Global Health; Graphic Information Technology; Health Sciences; History; Information Technology; Interdisciplinary Studies; Internet and Web Development; Justice Studies; Liberal Studies; Mass Communication; Nursing; Nutrition; Operations Management; Organizational Leadership; Philosophy; Political Science; Psychology; Religious Studies; Sociology; Software Engineering; Spanish; Technical Communication; and Technological Entrepreneurship and Management.

Online graduate programs are also plentiful at Arizona State University, including 27 degree programs from Criminal Justice to Information Management.

#8 - University of Arizona

  • In-State Tuition: $10,391 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 2 undergraduate programs and 16 postgraduate programs
  • Notable Alumni: Senator Bob Dole, Actress Kourtney Kardashian, Actor Greg Kinnear

The University of Arizona offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs that can be earned completely or at least partially online, including an online Pediatric Integrative Medicine in Residency program that was the first of its kind. Online undergraduate degrees offered by the school include a Science Teacher Preparation Program and Nutritional Science degree program. Online graduate students will find a much wider range of educational options to choose from, including: Agricultural Education; Doctor of Nursing Practice; Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Engineering Management; Geographic Information System Technology; Industrial Engineering; International Security; Library and Information Science; Clinical Systems Leadership; Management Information Systems; Business Administration; Optical Sciences; Photonic Communications Engineering; Special Education; and Systems Engineering. The University of Arizona also offers many online certificate programs that cover everything from Education to specialties in Mining Safety and Health.

#9 - University of Phoenix- Southern Arizona Campus (Visit School Site)

  • Tuition: $11,307 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: Numerous undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in seven subject areas.

While traditionally seen as an online school, the University of Phoenix actually offers some traditional degree programs that can be earned on-campus at various locations around the country, including its Southern Arizona Campus. However, Arizona students who wish to earn a degree online can still do so by signing up for one of the many online undergraduate and graduate programs that this school has to offer. Currently, the University of Phoenix- Southern Arizona Campus offers online undergraduate and graduate degrees in the Arts & Sciences; Business and Management; Criminal Justice and Security; Education; Human Services; and Nursing and Health Care; Psychology; and Technology. For those who desire a shorter timeframe to reach their goals, the school also offers many online Associate degree options, as well as Certificate programs.

#10 - Fortis College-Phoenix

  • Tuition: $12,428 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: Several associate degrees in four subject areas.

Fortis College prides itself on being a community-focused career college with a variety of opportunities for students, both on-campus and online. With faculty-taught classes and plenty of online support for students, Fortis makes online education easy with live chats, group forums, and more. Fortis College-Phoenix currently offers several Associate of Applied Science degrees in an easy-to-use online format, and in subjects such as Business; Accounting; Business Management; and Human Resource Management.

Snapshot of Arizona Cities

The following paragraphs provide a breakdown of Arizona's economic and demographic landscape by metro area. All economic data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 2014 Cost of Living Index published by The Council for Community and Economic Research. All demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and the latest Labor Force Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The biggest metropolitan region in Arizona includes the city of Phoenix and surrounding areas, known as Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale. With 1,781,210 million employed people who make an annual mean wage of $45,680, Phoenix may be an excellent location for aspiring students to pursue a degree and settle down. The Cost of Living index for this area is 100.7, with the median home price averaging $174,100.

As of April 1, 2010 the Census Bureau reported that the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale metropolitan region had a population of 4,192,887, making it the 14th largest metro area in the United States.

Fun Facts for Online Learners
More than 13.3 million people visit the Phoenix metropolitan region annually for leisure, which is likely due to 211 sunny and 85 partly cloudy days they boast each year. Phoenix is also home to the 20,000-acre South Mountain Park which is the largest municipal park in the world.

The Pima County-Tucson metropolitan area is home to as many as 351,610 workers who make an annual mean wage of $42,450. The Cost of Living Index is for this area is 89, and U.S. Census reports that the median price was $153,700 from 2008-2012.

Based on 2013 populations from the U.S. Census, the Tucson area is home to as many as 516,116 residents.

Fun Facts for Online Learners
The Tucson area is home to many walkable areas that have become hotspots for tourists, including landmarks such as Reid Park, the Reid Park Zoo, and the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Lake Havasu
Arizona's third biggest metropolitan area covers Mohave County, Arizona and includes the Lake Havasu City- Kingman, Arizona metropolitan area. According to the BLS, this area employs 44,070 people who earn an annual mean wage of $37,260. The Cost of Living index for this area is 111.80. Home prices, one of the six composite categories that make up the index, came in at median value of $206,400 from 2008-2012 according to census data.

As of the 2010 census, the Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Arizona metropolitan area was comprised of 200,186 inhabitants.

Fun Facts for Online Learners
The Lake Havasu-Kingman, Arizona area is home to the Grand Canyon and Colorado River, making it one of the most scenic places on Earth. Mohave County also boasts 18 official wilderness areas, some of which extend into other surrounding counties.

Helpful Resources

There are a wide range of online tools for students interested in pursuing online education in Arizona. The state's three public universities- Arizona State University (ASU), Northern Arizona University (NAU) and The University of Arizona (UA)- all offer a variety of degree programs that are geared towards students who wish to complete their studies in a flexible, online format, and include easy-to-use search tools on their respective websites. The National Center for Education Statistics is another resource that can help students compare potential degree programs based on factors such as affordability, retention, and graduation rates.

You can find other schools, as well as our top choices for affordability, flexibility and quality, by using our Best Online Colleges search tool.


  1. Arizona State University, http://asuonline.asu.edu/
  2. "Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Employment Statistics, Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_38060.htm
  3. "Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Employment Statistics, Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Arizona, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_29420.htm
  4. "Bureau of Labor Statistics," Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_az.htm
  5. "C2ER," The Cost of Living Index, http://www.coli.org/
  6. Cochise College, http://www.cochise.edu/online/
  7. "Cost of Living Index," U.S. Census, https://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0728.pdf
  8. "College Navigator", National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
  9. Fortis College-Phoenix, http://www.fortis.edu/fortis-online/degree-choices.aspx
  10. Institute for a Competitive Workforce, http://www.uschamberfoundation.org/center-education-and-workforce
  11. Lumina Foundation, www.luminafoundation.org
  12. Mesa Community College, http://www.mesacc.edu/elearning/online-degrees-certificates
  13. Mohave Community College, http://www.mohave.edu/academics/mohaveonline
  14. Northern Arizona University, http://ec.nau.edu/OnlineDegrees.aspx
  15. Rio Salado College, http://www.riosalado.edu/About/pages/default.aspx
  16. "State and County QuickFacts," U.S. Census, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/04/0455000.html
  17. "State and County QuickFacts," U.S. Census, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/04/0439370.html
  18. "State and County QuickFacts," U.S. Census, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/04/0477000.html
  19. "The National Center for Education Statistics," College Navigator, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=AZ&l=93
  20. The University of Arizona, http://outreachcollege.arizona.edu/online
  21. The University of Phoenix, http://www.phoenix.edu/campus-locations/az/southern-arizona-campus/southern-arizona-campus.html
  22. "U.S. Census Bureau," American Fact Finder, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_5YR_S1501
  23. Yavapai College, https://www.yc.edu/v5content/academics/divisions/computer-technologies-instructional-support/instructional-support-improve/online-degrees-certs.htm

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