Arizona’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in Arizona provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

Arizona’s Best Public 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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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.

More see more Less see less

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.

More see more Less see less
Arizona's Best Public Colleges 2021 badge
Download Badge

The following list of Arizona’s best public colleges and universities is composed entirely of schools offering four-year undergraduate degree programs. We’ve identified 3 public universities in Arizona that satisfy the following three conditions:

  1. It must receive direct funding from the state.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. Its offer a broad range of bachelor’s degree programs.

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

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 “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.

More see more Less see less

Arizona’s Best Public Colleges & Universities

  1. #1

    University of Arizona

    #85 institution's historical influence
    #605 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    39K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/25

    Tucson, AZ

    View profile

    What is University of Arizona known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Arizona State University

    #138 institution's historical influence
    #1312 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    51K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/25

    Tempe, AZ

    View profile

    What is Arizona State University known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Northern Arizona University

    #992 institution's historical influence
    #303 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    27K

    Flagstaff, AZ

    View profile

    What is Northern Arizona University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

Find the best public college for your interests

Resources for College-Bound Students