Arizona’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in Arizona.

Arizona’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Arizona

Students hoping to attend college in Arizona can choose from associate to doctoral degree programs spanning across the state. The state’s largest university, the University of Arizona located in Tucson, offers a competitive tuition rate, at $12,000, for its 39,000 students. However, Arizona’s most affordable schools, such as the tribally-owned Diné College, offer tuition as low as $1,000. Private schools make up about one third of the higher education institutes in Arizona; and offer a comprehensive range of degrees from fine arts to naturopathic medicine. Arizona’s public universities and colleges, such as Northern Arizona University located in Flagstaff, offer students a variety of study concentrations, including mathematics, education, political science, and psychology.

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Additionally, Arizona is home to three religiously affiliated schools: Arizona Christian University, Phoenix Seminary, and International Baptist College. While tuition varies greatly among these three schools, each school provides unique degree programs, such as music ministry at International Baptist College, for students interested in combining their faith and education.

Year-round sunshine, the Grand Canyon, award-winning restaurants, and several professional sports teams — what more could a student ask for? With more than 30 colleges and universities to choose from, Arizona allows students to get their degrees while cashing in on some of life’s greatest pleasures.

Whether students are interested in obtaining an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, Arizona offers plenty of colleges and universities for students to choose from.

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What are Arizona’s Colleges & Universities?

Arizona’s Best Overall

What is a public college? And what is the difference between a private and public college?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models — one is a private company with private funding; the other is owned by the state and receives both state and federal funding to operate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs. public college, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a four-year degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a four-year public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually.

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This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 10 private universities in Arizona that satisfy the following three conditions:

  1. It must be a private, non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.

How do we determine Arizona's best private colleges and universities?

The best colleges pound for pound!

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call Concentrated Influence. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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Arizona’s Best Private Colleges & Universities

  1. #1

    Prescott College

    #2407 institution's historical influence
    #493 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    <1K

    Prescott, AZ

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    What is Prescott College known for?

    Prescott College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Grand Canyon University

    #2492 institution's historical influence
    #336 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    82K

    Phoenix, AZ

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    What is Grand Canyon University known for?

    Grand Canyon University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Arizona Christian University

    #6711 institution's historical influence
    #225 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/18

    Glendale, AZ

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    What is Arizona Christian University known for?

    Arizona Christian University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott

    #11139 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    3K

    Prescott, AZ

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    What is Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott known for?

    Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Criminal Justice
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  5. #5

    University of Advancing Technology

    #4086 institution's historical influence
    #869 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    <1K

    Tempe, AZ

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    What is University of Advancing Technology known for?

    University of Advancing Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Business
  6. #6

    National Paralegal College

    #9315 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    <1K

    Phoenix, AZ

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    What is National Paralegal College known for?

    National Paralegal College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
  7. #7

    The Art Institute of Phoenix

    #15966 institution's historical influence
    What is The Art Institute of Phoenix known for?
  8. #8

    Southwest University of Visual Arts

    #14510 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    <1K

    Tucson, AZ

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    What is Southwest University of Visual Arts known for?
  9. #9

    Brookline College

    #8845 institution's historical influence

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    <1K

    Phoenix, AZ

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    What is Brookline College known for?

    Brookline College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
  10. #10

    International Baptist College

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    <1K

    Chandler, AZ

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    What is International Baptist College known for?

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