Best Public Colleges in Arizona 2024

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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.

Colleges and Universities in Arizona

Both traditional and online students hoping to attend college in Arizona have a lot to choose from. With both in-person and online degrees at every level of education, Arizona offers educational variety and excellence. Students can choose from associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs anywhere in 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.Moreover, 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. Arizona’s private schools offer a comprehensive range of traditional and online degrees from fine arts to naturopathic medicine.

Arizona’s public universities and colleges, such as Northern Arizona University located in Flagstaff, offer both on-campus and online students a variety of study concentrations, including mathematics, education, political science, and psychology. If you’re looking for flexibility, Arizona has 14 colleges and universities offering entirely online degrees.

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Arizona is also 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.

Arizona boasts year-round sunshine, the Grand Canyon, award-winning restaurants, and several professional sports teams? 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.

If you want to experience the state of Arizona while taking some online courses, you may be able to take a hybrid degree program. Many Arizona colleges and universities allow you to earn a degree through a combination of online learning and on-campus courses.

Arizona offers a variety of excellent and affordable colleges and universities for on-campus and online students at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree level.


What are Arizona’s Colleges & Universities?

Arizona’s Best Overall

What is the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, 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 bachelor’s 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. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

Arizona's Best Public Colleges Badge
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This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 3 public universities in Arizona. To be included in our list of the best public colleges in Arizona, shcools must receive direct funding from the state, be fully accredited, and offer a broad range of bachelor’s degress.

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Best Public Colleges in Arizona 2023

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1220/25

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Arizona

    Cost of Degree: $12,937
    Expenses: $18,350
    Starting Salary: $49,109
    Salary after 4 years: $63,203
    Cost Recoup Time: 10 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    University of Arizona’s Online Degrees

    BA in Africana Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Administration of Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Care, Health and Society
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Emergency Medical Services
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Cyber Operations
    Degree Concentrations
    • Engineering
    • Defense & Forensics
    • and Cyber Law & Policy
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Early Childhood
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of General Studies in Economy and Industry
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Environmental Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of General Studies, in Arts, Media and Entertainment
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of General Studies in Global and Intercultural Understanding
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Global Media
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Government and Public Service
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Human Rights Practice
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Human Services
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Geographic Information Systems Technology (GIST)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Literacy, Learning and Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Information Science and ESociety
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Law
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Political Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Regional Commerce
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Intelligence and Information Operations
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in History
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Philosophy: Ethics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Biology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nutritional Sciences
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Spanish
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of General Studies in Sports and Society
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Public Health
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Sustainable Built Environments
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of General Studies in Social Behavior and Human Understanding
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    73K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/24

    Career Outlook for degree at Arizona State University

    Cost of Degree: $11,618
    Expenses: $19,509
    Starting Salary: $52,210
    Salary after 4 years: $65,824
    Cost Recoup Time: 10 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    Arizona State University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Applied Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Project Management
    • Health Sciences
    • Required Credits: 111-120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Communication
    • Sustainability
    • Required Credits: 114-120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Educational Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business
    • Community Health
    • Family and Human Development
    • Global Studies
    • Health Innovations
    • Personal Health
    • Political Science
    • Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 114-120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    25K

    Career Outlook for degree at Northern Arizona University

    Cost of Degree: $11,810
    Expenses: $16,928
    Starting Salary: $43,408
    Salary after 4 years: $54,749
    Cost Recoup Time: 11 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    Northern Arizona University’s Online Degrees

    BAS in Applied Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Administration
    • Emergency Management
    • Logistics and Supply Chain Management
    • Public Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Science in Education in Career and Technical Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business and Marketing
    • Education and Training
    • Family and Consumer Science
    • Health Careers
    • Industrial and Emerging Technologies
    • Occupational
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Dental Hygiene
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Information Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Sciences
    Degree Concentrations
    • Diagnostic Medical Imaging and Therapy
    • General Allied Health
    • Medical Assisting
    • Paramedic Care
    • Physical Therapist Assisting
    • Respiratory Care
    • Surgical Technology
    • Public Health
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS/BA in Communication Sciences and Disorders
    Degree Concentrations
    • Communication General
    • Organizational Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Entrepreneurship and Small Business
    • Global Business
    • Human Resource Management
    • Logistics and Supply Chain Management
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Interdisciplinary Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Administration
    • Early Childhood
    • Technology Management
    • Humanities
    • Public Administration
    • Technology Management
    • University Studies
    • Emergency Management
    • Industrial Leadership
    • Technology Management
    • Justice Studies: Intelligence Studies
    • Criminal Justice Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS/BA in Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • Health Care
    • Entrepreneurship and Business Development
    • Human Resource
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Parks and Recreation Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • Community
    • Commercial and Tourism
    • Outdoor Education and Leadership
    • Park Protection
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Public Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSW in Social Work
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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Arizona’s Best Public College in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utilized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. University of Arizona
  2. Arizona State University
  3. Northern Arizona University

Check out our directory of public colleges throughout the U.S. for a look at the top public colleges in every state.

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