Online Degrees in Arizona (AZ)

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Arizona’s achievements in online education are like no other state. From 2015 to 2017, online enrollment in the University of Arizona saw a 280 percent growth year-over-year. About 30,000 of its students in 2017 never stepped on campus. Through such strategies and more, the 125 colleges and universities in Arizona, many of which offer online programs, hope to increase education attainment to meet the needs of its growing workforce that is hungry for college graduates.

With such a strong focus on online higher education, entering Arizona’s virtual classrooms can be a top-tier academic experience. If you are fresh out of high school, a professional, or an at-home parent wanting to go back to school to complete your education, online programs can offer the flexibility and convenience you are looking for. And the state of Arizona has set its mark on helping you succeed as an online student.

Arizona has more than 1,200 aerospace and defense companies, excels in tech and innovative industries, and is home to industry giants such as Intel, Microchip, Honeywell, Frito Lay and JDL Software, among others. The state has one of the fastest-growing biosciences industries in the country. The stable climate favors more than 50 major data centers and, with near year-round sunshine and scenic locations, it’s a paradise for filmmakers.

With such a growing economy, job growth in this state is projected to outpace the national average of 1.7 percent. Mitsu Phillips, the Associate Provost of the mentoring department at Western Governors University, an online school with an office located in Phoenix, says that online schools can be a great choice for students who want to pursue careers in the state. And although there was skepticism about the legitimacy of online degrees in years past, she says that employers are increasingly coming to appreciate the skills and knowledge that online school graduates bring to the table.

“Employers should be particularly excited about someone who has been able to navigate through their education using current technology to complete their degree,” she says. “Companies want to hire someone with that technological aptitude, and, in my opinion, students don’t necessarily get that at a traditional institution.”

Employment opportunity can be a good reason to earn an online degree in Arizona, but take a look at a few more reasons why earning an online degree in Arizona can be worthwhile:

The future workforce needs more college graduates. According to the Lumina Foundation, although Arizona has a college attainment rate at 49.7 percent, which is higher than the nation’s average at 46.9 percent, it has a long way to go before it meets its ambitious goal of 60 percent. By 2020, nearly 7 out of 10 of all jobs in Arizona will require some form of education after high school.

According to a 2013 Georgetown University study, by 2020, the composition of the job market in Arizona may look like this:

  • 39 percent of the future workforce may require some college, an associate degree or a postsecondary vocational certificate
  • 21 percent may require a bachelor’s degree
  • 9 percent may require a master’s degree or higher

Expanding online degree options. The Arizona Board of Regents reports that colleges across the state are working on expanding online degree options, as well as creating more hybrid degree programs that will reduce the achievement gap and the cost of earning a degree — two issues that the Board has been actively working to remedy.

Arizona is a part of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE. The WICHE Internet Course Exchange (ICE) program enables students to access high-quality online courses and degree programs, not offered in their state, but offered by two- and four- year member institutions in other states.

Flexibility. It’s not surprising that Arizona educators are working to expand the reach of online schools, considering the numerous benefits students can reap from obtaining their degrees online. Phillips explains it this way, “When you attend an online school, you get expanded access to your coursework, you’re able to work independent of time, and you’re not tied to a seat or tied to a brick and mortar campus.”

Wider networking. Phillips has this to say, “You get the experience of interacting with students from all over the country, not just those in your classroom, so you expand your reach to people in different places. You also have the benefit of enhancing your communication skills through technology.”

Convenience. Online education is particularly attractive to Arizona residents because of the commute generally associated with traveling back and forth to a brick-and-mortar institution. According to Philips, “The ability to get from one place to another in Arizona isn’t always easy since you’re working through traffic and you’re working through one of the most populated cities in the country,” she adds. “Taking advantage of distance education and being able to save money and work is a pretty great option in the state of Arizona.”

Wages tend to increase with higher education. A study by Arizona’s Board of Regents (ABOR) has shown that Arizonans with an undergraduate degree earn a median wage that is about 82 percent more than individuals with a high-school diploma; while individuals with a graduate degree earn 23 percent more than individuals with a graduate.

Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics we have developed a methodology that includes factors that are very likely, important to you as you consider enrolling in an online degree program in Arizona. Accreditation, percentage of students taking online programs, student services and graduation rates are just some of the factors considered. You’ll find details of our methodology at the bottom of this page.1Arizona State University-TempeTempe, AZAverage in-state tuition$10,104No. of online programs8% of students in distance education46%Avg. amount of Aid$11,252Admissions Rate85%Graduation Rate69%Career CounselingYesPlacement ServicesYesClick here for free info about Arizona State University-TempeAdditional Info2Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff, AZAverage in-state tuition$9,738No. of online programs65% of students in distance education43%Avg. amount of Aid$9,380Admissions Rate83%Graduation Rate52%Career CounselingYesPlacement ServicesYesClick here for free info about Northern Arizona UniversityAdditional Info3University of ArizonaTucson, AZAverage in-state tuition$10,467No. of online programs87% of students in distance education38%Avg. amount of Aid$11,230Admissions Rate84%Graduation Rate64%Career CounselingYesPlacement ServicesYesClick here for free info about University of ArizonaAdditional Info4Grand Canyon UniversityPhoenix, AZAverage in-state tuition$16,399No. of online programs93% of students in distance education90%Avg. amount of Aid$7,074Admissions Rate73%Graduation Rate37%Career CounselingYesPlacement ServicesN/AClick here for free info about Grand Canyon UniversityAdditional Info5Arizona Western CollegeYuma, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,016No. of online programs2% of students in distance education52%Avg. amount of Aid$4,544Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesYesClick here for free info about Arizona Western CollegeAdditional Info6Western International UniversityTempe, AZAverage in-state tuition$6,000No. of online programs19% of students in distance educationN/AAvg. amount of AidN/AAdmissions RateN/AGraduation Rate11%Career CounselingYesPlacement ServicesN/AClick here for free info about Western International UniversityAdditional Info7Prescott CollegePrescott, AZAverage in-state tuition$29,880No. of online programs49% of students in distance education65%Avg. amount of Aid$13,268Admissions Rate95%Graduation Rate39%Career CounselingYesPlacement ServicesN/AClick here for free info about Prescott CollegeAdditional Info8Rio Salado CollegeTempe, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,040No. of online programs37% of students in distance education58%Avg. amount of Aid$2,479Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesN/AClick here for free info about Rio Salado CollegeAdditional Info9Mesa Community CollegeMesa, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,040No. of online programs35% of students in distance education35%Avg. amount of Aid$3,390Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesYesClick here for free info about Mesa Community CollegeAdditional Info10Yavapai CollegePrescott, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,360No. of online programs23% of students in distance education41%Avg. amount of Aid$5,434Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesN/AClick here for free info about Yavapai CollegeAdditional Info11Cochise County Community College DistrictSierra Vista, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,040No. of online programs14% of students in distance education56%Avg. amount of Aid$4,721Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesN/AClick here for free info about Cochise County Community College DistrictAdditional Info12Chandler-Gilbert Community CollegeChandler, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,040No. of online programs13% of students in distance education22%Avg. amount of Aid$3,251Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesYesClick here for free info about Chandler-Gilbert Community CollegeAdditional Info13University of Advancing TechnologyTempe, AZAverage in-state tuition$15,936No. of online programs43% of students in distance education35%Avg. amount of Aid$8,667Admissions Rate83%Graduation Rate23%Career CounselingYesPlacement ServicesYesClick here for free info about University of Advancing TechnologyAdditional Info14Central Arizona CollegeCoolidge, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,580No. of online programs14% of students in distance education46%Avg. amount of Aid$4,269Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesN/AClick here for free info about Central Arizona CollegeAdditional Info15Mohave Community CollegeKingman, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,430No. of online programs21% of students in distance education51%Avg. amount of Aid$3,753Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesN/AClick here for free info about Mohave Community CollegeAdditional Info16Scottsdale Community CollegeScottsdale, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,040No. of online programsN/A% of students in distance education32%Avg. amount of Aid$3,337Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesN/AClick here for free info about Scottsdale Community CollegeAdditional Info17Estrella Mountain Community CollegeAvondale, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,040No. of online programs5% of students in distance education33%Avg. amount of Aid$3,416Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesN/AClick here for free info about Estrella Mountain Community CollegeAdditional Info18Eastern Arizona CollegeThatcher, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,700No. of online programs7% of students in distance education16%Avg. amount of Aid$4,882Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesYesClick here for free info about Eastern Arizona CollegeAdditional Info19GateWay Community CollegePhoenix, AZAverage in-state tuition$2,040No. of online programsN/A% of students in distance education22%Avg. amount of Aid$3,187Admissions RateN/AGraduation RateN/ACareer CounselingYesPlacement ServicesYesClick here for free info about GateWay Community CollegeAdditional InfoSource: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

As Arizona’s economy grows, employment is expected to increase particularly in sectors like education and health services; trade, transportation, and utilities; and professional and business services over the next 30 years. This is a list of the most popular online degree programs in Arizona based up on number of student enrollments reported by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).Program NameNo. of online programsBusiness Administration and Management, General28Accounting13Business/Commerce, General13Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies12Elementary Education and Teaching12General Studies12Health/Health Care Administration/Management10Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration9Marketing/Marketing Management, General9Secondary Education and Teaching8

Arizona is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA) which works toward achieving national quality standards of distance learning education through participating states. The benefits for students not only work out to be cost-effective, but moreover, NC-SARA enhances the overall quality of distance education programs.

Arizona has over 20 colleges and universities offering online and hybrid courses that are certified by Quality Matters, a certifying body that helps colleges continually improve the quality of their online offerings through a peer-reviewed process.

While many colleges in Arizona prioritize high-quality online programs and student success, two were highlighted in a large study tracking outcomes of digital or online higher education.

Arizona State University (ASU) and Rio Salado Community College in Tempe were among the 6 colleges that were a part of this study as leading examples of digital learning strategies with successful outcomes. Both these colleges invest heavily in online course development and refreshes, online student services, and technology for its digital learning offerings.

Strategies

ASU is a four-year public research university with four campuses offering online programs in multiple formats. ASU-Online offers online undergraduate and graduate level programs mainly to working professionals and students who prefer learning through nontraditional modes. ASU serves an online undergraduate student body of 80,000.

To encourage online enrollments:

  • ASU offers six sign-up periods per year
  • The timeline for transcript evaluations, credit transfers and financial aid communications are run through a streamlined process that takes only 24 hours instead of the usual two weeks
  • Each semester undergoes a 360-review process that helps to continually improve the quality of a program
  • ASU students have 24/7 tech support, access to online tutoring services, and success coaches who can provide students with individualized support to help them balance work, life and study

Rio Salado Community College predominantly offers online programs serving an online student body of 47,000.

  • The college offers start dates on more than 40 Mondays in a year, taking flexibility a step further.

Savings

Interestingly, the study notes savings for students enrolled in fully online programs in these two colleges by way of grants and tuition costs.

  • The number of Pell Grant recipients was consistently higher by 5 percent for students who were enrolled in fully online programs when compared to those enrolled in fully face-to-face programs. About 36 percent of the ASU online student body is eligible for Pell Grant; 18 percent in Rio Salado.
  • The study also notes consistent savings in tuition for students enrolled in online programs primarily because of the rise in the number of online enrollment levels in these colleges.

Data from Arizona’s Office of Economic Opportunity shows the highest occupational job growth is projected to occur in these major occupational groups:

  • Office and Administrative Support
  • Sales and Related Occupations
  • Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations
  • Construction and Extraction
  • Healthcare Practitioners
  • Technical Occupations
  • Business and Financial Operations

The educational and health services sectors are expected to add the highest number of jobs openings over the next couple of years.

The following table from the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the top occupations in the state of Arizona which may serve as a guide for prospective students looking for careers in in-demand occupations.

OccupationNumber of WorkersAverage Salary
Office and Administrative Support Occupations438,330$39,820
Sales and Related Occupations286,680$41,030
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations268,800$30,210
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations227,680$37,530
Management Occupations169,310$108,310
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations167,590$87,370
Business and Financial Operations Occupations166,190$69,560
Educational Instruction and Library Occupations146,540$48,260
Construction and Extraction Occupations136,320$46,510
Healthcare Support Occupations124,370$30,790
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations117,030$47,740
Production Occupations108,520$39,410
Customer Service Representatives105,000$35,400
Computer and Mathematical Occupations97,920$85,170
Retail Salespersons89,290$28,910

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Depending on your financial position, you may qualify for federal aid in Arizona. You can find out if you qualify by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. A few examples of state grants you can apply for are listed here:

Apart from federal and state aid, you may qualify for scholarships awarded by institutions or private funding bodies such as:

Scholarship Listing

PepsiCo Cesar Chavez Latino ScholarshipNo. of Awards10Deadline25-MayMax. Award AmountN/ARenewableNoCriteriaApplicants must be of Latino descent accepted for enrollment or enrolled full-time in an undergraduate program in Arizona or California. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required. Selection is primarily based on demonstration of academic achievement, leadership potential, community service, extracurricular involvement and financial need.MoreBaird Foundation ScholarshipNo. of Awards7Deadline15-OctMax. Award Amount10,000RenewableYesCriteriaApplicant must be an Arizona resident, U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and demonstrate academic excellence.MoreNational Guard Association of Arizona ScholarshipNo. of Awards3Deadline1-AprMax. Award AmountN/ARenewableNoCriteriaApplicant must be a current enlisted member of the Arizona National Guard, a dependent child or spouse of a member of the NGAAZ, or a current officer member of the Arizona National Guard that is also a member of the NGAAZ. Applicant must be a full-time student and be in good standing. Selection is based upon financial need, GPA, community service, letters of recommendation, and National Guard philosophy/knowledge.MoreCU Succeed ScholarshipNo. of Awards2Deadline16-MayMax. Award Amount8,000RenewableYesCriteriaApplicant must be an Arizona Central Credit Union member with a minimum 3.0 GPA who has been accepted to, and is planning to attend an accredited college, university, community college or trade school located in Arizona as a full-time student.MoreErnest and Edna MacFarland ScholarshipNo. of Awards2Deadline17-MarMax. Award AmountN/ARenewableYesCriteriaApplicant must be an Arizona resident with financial need who is a worthy student with academic promise and leadership potential.MoreSource: Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of CollegeXpress, a division of Carnegie Dartlet. Copyright © 2020 by CollegeXpress.

Online colleges in Arizona generally set their own requirements and standards for admission. Some colleges may require students to complete SAT or ACT tests before applying. Prospective students are advised to call a college admissions office for more information.Methodologies and SourcesMethodologies and Sources

Methodology

To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:

  1. Be an accredited U.S. institution
  2. Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
  3. Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
  4. Be active in the 2015-16 school year
  5. Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology

We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:

  • The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
  • Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
    • Dual credit
    • Credit for life experience
    • Advanced Placement credit
    • Academic and career counseling
    • Job placement services for graduates
    • Offers credit for military training

Sources:

  • Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
    • 2017 Annual Report On Wages Earned By Arizona University System Graduates, Arizona Board of Regents,https://www.azregents.edu/sites/default/files/public/2017%20Wages%20of%20Graduates.pdf
    • 2017 Arizona “Year In Review”, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Office of Education, 2017,https://azgovernor.gov/annualreport,accessed June 2018
    • Achieve Prosperity, The Arizona Board of Regents,https://www.asu.edu/dashboard/DashboardDocs/arizona-higher-education-enterprise.pdf, accessed September 2018
    • Application Requirements, Central Arizona College,https://centralaz.edu/admissions/application-process/application-requirements/, accessed June 2018
    • A Stronger Nation, Lumina Foundation,http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2018/#state/AZ, accessed June 2018
    • Arizona Long-Term Occupation Employment Projections: 2014-2024, Office of Economic Opportunity,https://laborstats.az.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/LT_OccProjReport_format.pdf, accessed June 2018
    • Arizona Minority Student Progress Report 2018, Seventh Edition, Arizona Minority Education Policy Analysis Center,https://highered.az.gov/sites/default/files/AMEPAC%202018%20Report.pdf, accessed June 2018
    • Arizona Student Financial Aid Programs,https://azgrants.az.gov/, accessed June 2018
    • Arizona Quick Facts from the US Census Bureau, United States Census Bureau,https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/az,US/PST045217, accessed June 2018
    • Attainment, Expect More Arizona,https://www.expectmorearizona.org/progress/attainment/?region=Arizona, accessed June 2018
    • Changing the Game, Arizona Industries, Arizona Commerce Authority, https://www.azcommerce.com/industries/, accessed September 2018
    • Explore Our Degrees, Northern Arizona University,http://pl.nau.edu/ExploreOurDegrees.aspx, accessed September 2018
    • Growth on the Horizon: Arizona’s 30-Year Outlook, Arizona’s Economy, https://www.azeconomy.org/2017/09/outlook/growth-on-the-horizon-arizonas-30-year-outlook/, accessed June 2018
    • Internet Course Exchange (ICE) Initiatives,https://www.wiche.edu/ice/initiatives, accessed September 2018.
    • Making Digital Learning Work, Success Strategies from Six Leading Universities and Community Colleges, March 2018,https://edplus.asu.edu/sites/default/files/BCG-Making-Digital-Learning-Work-Apr-2018%20.pdf
    • National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, http://nc-sara.org/, accessed September 2018
    • New study indicates less than half of Arizona’s high-school graduates eligible for admission to Arizona’s public universities, Arizona Board of Regents Insights, 2015, http://www.azregents.edu/insights/new-study-indicates-less-half-arizona%E2%80%99s-high-school-graduates-eligible-admission-arizona%E2%80%99s
    • Phillips, M., personal communication, August 29, 2014
    • QM Member Institutions / Organizations, Quality Matters, https://www.qmprogram.org/qmresources/subscriptions/subscribers.cfm?program=0#, accessed September 2018
    • Short-Term Industry & Occupation Employment Projections 2017-2019, Office of Economic Opportunity,https://laborstats.az.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/ST_Projections.pdf, accessed June 2018
    • Trends in Student Aid 2017,https://trends.collegeboard.org/, accessed September 2018
    • UA Online: All This and Science, too, https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/ua-online-all-and-science-too, accessed September 2018

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