Best Accredited Online Colleges in Arizona

James M. Tobin
Updated June 26, 2024
Edited by
This guide to online colleges in AZ focuses on accreditation and its importance. Use it to locate top-ranked accredited online colleges in Arizona.
Your Future is Waiting

Explore and compare a list of accredited schools to enroll in your next program.

Person in college

In 2021, Arizona’s state government introduced a plan to have a 60% postsecondary graduation rate among its workforce by 2030. In support of that goal, Arizona has pursued strategic initiatives and financial assistance plans to help residents complete their degrees.

Online learning has emerged as a key factor in Arizona’s postsecondary landscape. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 71% of Arizona college students enrolled in distance education courses in 2022.

This guide to the top online colleges in Arizona can help you understand the critical importance of accreditation. Use our research to inform your school search and help evaluate colleges and programs that interest you.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Loading...Learn More
Visit Site
Loading...Learn More
Visit Site
Loading...Learn More
Visit Site

What Colleges Are Accredited in Arizona?

When researching prospective schools and programs, students should look for accreditation. This status expands employment, financial aid, and education opportunities and indicates that a school — and its programs — meet high academic standards.

Institutional Accreditation

In 2022, the U.S. accreditation system did away with the longtime distinction between regional and national accreditation. Instead, agencies that previously functioned as regional and national accreditors became institutional accrediting bodies.

Institutional accreditation communicates that an authorized independent agency has evaluated a school and found that it meets acceptable academic standards. Attending an accredited school ensures that employers and other colleges will recognize your degree(s).

You can check the institutional accreditation standing of any online college in Arizona with the Department of Education (ED) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Subject-Specific Accreditation

Some academic departments or programs hold subject-specific or programmatic accreditation. Unlike institutional accreditation, subject-specific accreditation is optional. It usually means that the department or program meets exceptional standards or offers educational opportunities that match highly specific learning goals.

Some well-known examples of programmatic accreditors include:

You can learn about many other subject-specific accreditors using this CHEA resource. Some professions require you to earn a degree from a program with accreditation.

Top Accredited Online Colleges in AZ

#1 Best Accredited Online Colleges in Arizona

University of Arizona

  • Location-markerTucson, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,990
  • Out-of-state$33,273
  • Retention Rate83%
  • Acceptance Rate85%
  • Students Enrolled44,577
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment42%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Accredited Online Colleges in Arizona

Pima Community College

  • Location-markerTucson, AZ
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$2,028
  • Out-of-state$7,344
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled19,512
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment36%
  • AccreditationYes

How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited

You can typically find a program or school’s accreditation status through the institution’s website. Additionally, the CHEA directory and ED Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs offer easy-to-use resources to check accreditation.

The Impact of Accreditation When Transfering Credits

Accreditation significantly affects your ability to transfer credits between schools. If you complete courses at an unaccredited college, accredited schools will not recognize them. You will likely need to repeat those courses, delaying graduation and increasing your costs.

Accreditation Criteria for Licensing

Some professions require licensure. In some cases, licensing bodies require applicants to hold degrees from accredited programs.

Psychology is a good example. Some states will only issue psychologist licenses to graduates of doctoral programs accredited by the American Psychological Association.

Similar standards apply to institutional accreditation. Most regulated professions require that license-seekers hold academic credentials from schools with accreditations recognized by CHEA or the ED.

Choosing the Right Online College in Arizona

There’s a lot to consider when evaluating and comparing online colleges in Arizona. Including these five factors in your decision-making process may help you make the right choice:

1. Check Accreditation Status

Begin by consulting the ED or CHEA to confirm that the school holds up-to-date accreditation credentials. Then, look into programmatic accreditations if they apply. While programmatic accreditation isn’t a firm requirement, it may signal that an online program meets more rigorous standards.

2. Check Reciprocity Status

If you’re considering online colleges in Arizona but live in another state, you need to make sure your state will recognize your degree. This status is known as state reciprocity, and it uniquely applies to online education.

The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) will connect you with all the necessary information and resources to complete this important check.

3. Research Student Satisfaction Metrics

Next, look into data points like year-over-year retention rates and graduation rates. If a school is significantly lower than peer institutions in one or more of these categories, it may indicate a substandard student experience.

4. Evaluate Post-Graduation Outcomes

How well do students fare after graduating from the school or program? To find out, research post-graduation placement rates. These figures measure the percentage of students who land jobs or continue their education at higher levels after graduating. Higher scores indicate greater success.

5. Consider Concentrations and Specializations

If you’re interested in a specialized area of a broader academic discipline, look for online colleges in Arizona that support your goals. For instance, consider an online student looking to become a reading teacher. A specialized education degree in reading and literacy would better match that student’s learning goals than a generalist program.

Online College Resources for Arizona Students

Current and prospective online students in Arizona can use several resources to support their studies. The following links offer information on topics like financial aid opportunities and Arizona’s postsecondary education options.

  • Arizona Student Financial Aid Programs

    This state government resource connects Arizona college students with valuable funding opportunities. Options include grants, loan programs, and assistance partnerships. The Arizona Leveraging Education Assistance Partnership is its flagship initiative.
  • College Scorecard

    This resource helps students locate and compare schools based on key criteria. You can filter by field of study, admission rates, average costs, and more.
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission

    Before 2022, WSCUC was the regional accreditor for Arizona colleges, and most of the state’s leading institutions still hold accreditation. WSCUC resources can help you learn more about academic standards and other factors influencing accreditation outcomes.
  • Arizona Career Information System

    If you’re not sure how to pursue your career choice or if you’d like to know more about where the Arizona labor market may be headed, AzCIS can help. This University of Oregon-backed career information and planning portal has operated for more than half a century.

Shape your future with an online degree

Connect with a community of peers, and find a program that will allow you to continue your education in a fast and flexible way.