To identify the Best Colleges in Arizona for 2017-2018 we averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with thousands of real student review scores from around the web to produce a unique College Consensus rating for each school. You won’t find a more comprehensive ranking of the top colleges and universities in Arizona anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
Colleges & Universities in Arizona
Arizona has one of the lowest populations in the US, but is one of the largest states geographically, so special measures are necessary; regional campuses and online degree programs are particularly important under those conditions, as are community colleges for meeting technical and trade education needs.
Of course, the biggest story in higher education is Arizona State University 61 , which has transformed on-campus and online education and made an international name for itself, but options are growing for Arizonans. At this time, the College Consensus has scored only the four regionally-accredited, four-year colleges and universities in the state, but as Arizona’s still-young higher education system matures, look for the field to widen.
These are the top Consensus colleges for the Grand Canyon State.
University of Arizona
Arizona’s flagship, public research institution, the University of Arizona was the first college founded (1885) in what was then the Arizona Territory, many years before Arizona was even admitted as a state. Today, the pioneer spirit is still strong with UA, which is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top public universities in the nation. UA is a top ten institution for Hispanic and Latino students, and takes pride in its deep engagement with the community of Tucson and the state in general.
UA has a vision to be on the forefront of educational and research innovation, as their status in the top 25 of research expenditures nationally demonstrates. From interdisciplinary research to corporate partnerships, UA puts a premium on creating knowledge and value. But UA is also committed to sending students out into the real world for experiential learning opportunities – the 100% Engagement Initiative guarantees that all UA students will take part in internships, community service, or other hands-on learning experience during their time at UA. All of UA’s work pays off, giving graduates confidence that theirs will too.
Arizona State University-Tempe
Arizona State University is viewed widely as the model of the 21st century university, a major urban research institution that became a leader by rethinking all of the elements of higher education – selective admissions, hyper-specialization, ivory-tower isolation – and turning them on their head. By opening the doors, embracing interdisciplinary research and learning, and establishing wide-ranging corporate and government partnerships, ASU has earned U.S. News & World Report recognition as the most innovative university in the nation.
ASU is also one of the most entrepreneurial schools in the US, ranked #2 for start-ups born on campus. Students are drawn into cutting-edge research, from engineering and computer technology to healthcare and sustainability, and sent onto the job market with the confidence of knowing their experience has prepared them for the complexities of the real world of work. Online education has also become one of ASU’s signatures, allowing the university to reach farther and do more than any competitor.
Prescott College was founded in the spirit of experiment and radical vision, with the ambitions of the Congregationalist Church and an educational conference sponsored by the Ford Foundation’s Fund for Post-Secondary Education, Business and Industry coming together in 1963 to start a Harvard of the West based on the most current, forward-thinking educational concepts. An unconventional educational community, Prescott is dedicated to meeting the challenges of the modern world head-on, with diverse viewpoints, an environmental philosophy, and a fearless optimism.
As an experimental educational model, Prescott has pioneered many unusual and productive methods, including optional grades, narrative (rather than numeric) student evaluations, and collaborative, interdisciplinary learning. What works at Prescott may not work everywhere, but for the creative, self-motivated, and ambitious students Prescott attracts, the freedom to create their own curricula and tie learning to activism makes for an education that is not only affirmative, but revolutionary.
Northern Arizona University
A large, public research institution in Flagstaff, AZ, Northern Arizona University was founded in 1899 as a normal school, or teacher’s college, for the Arizona Territory. From a town frequently ranked as one of the most loved college towns in America, or from NAU’s substantial slate of online degree programs, NAU’s diverse student body finds career-centered programs designed for professional success. NAU is one of the nation’s leading educators for Native American students – after all, nearly a quarter of Arizona is reservation land – as well as a major contributor to college degrees for Hispanic students.
NAU life revolves around students, though the school’s profile as a research institution has grown in recent years. Some of NAU’s most respected programs include business, offered by the Franke College of Business, and engineering, ranked in the top 50 nation-wide by U.S. News & World Report. NAU was also a pioneer in developing academic programs in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, reflecting Arizona’s highly tourism-centered economy. For practical degree programs that will translate directly into job market success, Arizona students look to NAU for an affordable, reputable option.