POPULATION (2021): 7.2 million
LARGEST PUBLIC UNIVERSITY IN ARIZONA: Arizona State University
LARGEST PRIVATE UNIVERSITY IN ARIZONA: Grand Canyon University
Arizona is one of the fastest-growing states by population, and it is also home to several colleges and universities to serve those residents both old and new. With a year-round sunny and warm climate in the majority of the southern half of the state, the colleges in Phoenix and other southern Arizona cities are often destination universities for students from colder climates.
The northern part of the state offers a lot more diverse landscapes, including mountains big enough to ski on and one of the most popular attractions in the United States, The Grand Canyon.
Universities in Arizona- 4-Year Colleges and Online
Depending on your definition, there are roughly 25 universities and colleges in Arizona that offer 4-year degree programs. The largest ones tend to be in the warmer part of the state, but there are several options throughout Arizona for those seeking a 4-year degree, though most of them are private. Here’s a closer look at both the private and public colleges in Arizona.
Public Universities in Arizona
Even though it’s a very large state, there are only 3 public institutions that offer 4-year degrees in Arizona. Unlike most state university systems, there are no branch campuses of the 3 major public universities, however, they do offer a lot of online courses to those not close to a large city.
Tempe is home to the largest Arizona College, Arizona State University, which was founded in 1885 and currently enrolls more than 75,000 students. Flagstaff, a northern city that experiences a fair share of snow every year, is home to Northern Arizona University, a public school with ~30,000 students. The third and final public university in Arizona is the University of Arizona, located in Tucson.
Private Universities in Arizona
Though short on public universities, Arizona has a large number of options for those looking to attend school at a private university. Phoenix, the capital city and largest city, is home to more than ten colleges that offer 4-year programs to students in Arizona (more on that below). Other prominent 4-year universities in Arizona include Bryan University and the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Midwestern University, Park University, and Arizona Christian in Glendale.
There are also several special focus schools in Arizona, with Embry-Riddle being one of the more popular, offering focused education in the aeronautic and aviation spaces. Art and Design colleges in Arizona include Sessions College for Professional Design in Tempe, The Chamberlain College of Nursing in Phoenix, and The School of Architecture located in Paradise Valley.
Community Colleges in Arizona
Arizona has a very good reputation for offering quality education at the community college level, and their flagship (not to be confused with Flagstaff) system is the Maricopa County Community College District which includes 10 different colleges, some with multiple campuses:
- Chandler-Gilbert Community College (Chandler, Mesa, Sun Lakes)
- Estrella Mountain Community College (Avondale)
- GateWay Community College (Phoenix)
- Glendale Community College (Glendale)
- Mesa Community College (Mesa)
- Paradise Valley Community College (Phoenix)
- Phoenix College (Phoenix)
- Rio Salado Community College (Tempe)
- Scottsdale Community College (Scottsdale)
For those not located near the Phoenix/Maricopa County area, there are still several community college options in Arizona.
Arizona Western College has 5 campuses that offer two-year degrees, Central Arizona College has even more (8), and Eastern Arizona College, Mohave Community College, Northland Pioneer College, Pima College, Yavapai College, Coconino Community College, and Cochise College also have campuses throughout the state that offer an affordable alternative to one of the universities mentioned above.
Prominent Online Colleges in Arizona
The most popular online college in the country is The University of Phoenix – Online, and it is, indeed, headquartered in Arizona. In addition to more than 100,000 students enrolling in the University of Phoenix, nearly 50,000 students take online courses at Grand Canyon University, and the two certainly benefit from the competition they have created in the online education industry in Arizona (and beyond).
Arizona State and the University of Arizona are also touted for having quality hybrid programs that allow students some flexibility when pursuing their four-year degrees.
Universities in Glendale, Arizona
Glendale is a suburb of Phoenix and home to the West Campus of Arizona State University. Glendale is also home to Arizona Christian University, but that’s it as far as 4-year universities go. It is, however, a short drive to Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe. If any of the schools located there interest you, commuting from Glendale is very doable.
Universities in Mesa, Arizona
There is also only one 4-year university in the large city of Mesa, but it, too, is a suburb of Phoenix, and all of them are easy to move between. In addition to the 4-year Arizona State University-Polytechnic, Mesa Community College and Arizona College offer pipelines to one of the major universities.
Universities in Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix has a lot of options! Here they are:
- Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix
- Brookline College-Phoenix
- Chamberlain University-Arizona
- University of Phoenix-Arizona
- Grand Canyon University
- National Paralegal College
- Ottawa University-Phoenix
Universities in Tempe, Arizona
Tempe is also located very close to Phoenix, and in addition to being home to Arizona State University, the major 4-year college, it also has several other 4-year universities and colleges:
- University of Advancing Technology
- Bryan University
- Brookline College
- Arizona College of Nursing-Tempe
Universities in Tucson, Arizona
The University of Arizona is the largest college in Tucson, a small city about 2 hours away from Phoenix known to many as a bit of a counter-culture town and offers a lot of fun to students and other residents, including a great mix of Spanish and classic Amerian Culture. As far as other 4-year colleges, Southwest University of Visual Arts and Brookline College both offer bachelor’s programs in Tucson.
Get to Know Arizona
Arizona is popular for its beauty and the many different forms it comes in. Much of the state is a desert, but not one that simply has rolling dunes. Desert animals and plants are major sightseeing targets for people who hike in Arizona, which can be done year-round in most of the state.
The northern part experience four seasons, but offers its own venues for adventure, with skiing and rock climbing both very popular in the north during their respective seasons.