Online schools in Arizona

Wherever in the country you live, you've probably heard of a least a few of the online colleges in Arizona. Institutions in the Grand Canyon State have been breaking new ground in online education for more than a decade, and some of the most widely known and well-regarded programs are headquartered in the cities of the desert West.

Reference libraries, tutoring centers and other helpful elements of scholastic infrastructure can make life easier for students at campus-based and online schools in Arizona, and cities with considerable student populations tend to support development of such resource networks. The six metro areas in Arizona where the largest numbers of students live, according to enrollment data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), are Tempe, Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Mesa and Glendale.

Even though the country's largest university by enrollment is based in Phoenix, the home cities of Arizona's two main research universities take the top spots for student population. Courses offered by the University of Phoenix can be taken by anyone in the world, just like those offered at all online schools in Arizona, so enrollment data doesn't accurately represent the student population of its home city.

To find out more about the state, its educational options and potential careers, explore the different sections of this guide. They include:

• Online education in Arizona
• Major industries & in-demand degrees
• Colleges in Arizona

Students interested in a more complete list of Arizona-based institutions offering online degrees can start by exploring this map, which shows the location of all colleges with online offerings in the state, based on 2014 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Once you identify schools that are located nearby, it's easy to explore what online degrees might be offered near you. (Mobile users will need to visit the full Schools.com site to use the map.)

Online colleges in Arizona

Whether they're traditional campuses with distance education programs or fully digital institutions without a single brick-and-mortar class requirement, online schools in Arizona work to offer degree programs that help students reach their academic and professional goals. The flexibility of location and scheduling available to online students can be a big plus, and the benefits of moving from lecture to lecture without subjecting yourself to the punishing sun of the desert climate can be more valuable than you might think.

One campus-based school that has wholeheartedly embraced online education is Arizona State University in Tempe, where highly regarded graduate programs in business, education, engineering, public administration and law have been offered on campus for years. Several online offerings at Arizona State cracked the top 25 in their fields in 2015, according to U.S. News and World Report, and the digital graduate programs in business and criminal justice are not only tops among online colleges in Arizona — they're ranked among the five best in the U.S.

The University of Arizona has also had considerable success with its online programs, particularly those in administration, management and other business disciplines at the master's level. The Tucson school's graduate degrees in nursing and engineering also placed highly on the U.S. News rolls in 2015, each ranking among the top 40 nationwide, and the school as a whole came in at No. 64 among global universities.

Online-focused schools in Arizona

There are also a few dedicated online colleges in Arizona that offer degrees in the virtual classroom as their primary focus. Northcentral University, for example, headquartered in Prescott, Arizona, delivered regionally accredited coursework to more than 13,000 full- and part-time students in 2014 without maintaining a single traditional campus location.

The University of Phoenix, although it does maintain close to 100 campuses nationwide, has online enrollment that far outpaces attendance at its brick-and-mortar locations. According to the NCES, more than 374,000 students were registered as members of its online student body in 2013, while even the largest of its campus locations barely topped 10,000 students the same year.

The quality of programs available at fully online schools has been formidable in recent years, also; the online bachelor's degrees offered at both University of Phoenix and Northcentral made the 2015 U.S. News rankings list, at Nos. 82 and 158 respectively.

The University of Phoenix, although it does maintain close to 100 campuses nationwide, has online enrollment that far outpaces attendance at its brick-and-mortar locations.

Other great options for online bachelor's degrees

Arizona students don't have to stay in-state when seeking an online degree, either. Many traditional institutions in other states make provisions for non-resident students applying to their distance education programs, sometimes offering rates equivalent to or only a few dollars steeper than their in-state tuition and fee charges.

The best online bachelor's degrees in the country are available at Pennsylvania State University, according to U.S. News, and students at Penn State World Campus pay flat tuition rates by program regardless of their residency status. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which operates a satellite campus in Prescott, also features online undergraduate degrees that placed in the top five for 2015.

Best degrees to get in Arizona

Arizona has one of the fastest growing economies in the U.S., according to analysis by the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES). Overall employment growth in the state is projected at nearly 22 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is approximately double the average growth expected at the national level.

Even in such a favorable job market, some careers show better prospects for educated students than others. Here are a few of the best degrees for students at online schools in Arizona, determined by cross-referencing regional workforce data with occupational information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    • Among the fastest-growing fields both statewide and nationwide is diagnostic medical sonography, which is projected to grow 55 percent at the state level by 2022 and create around 700 brand-new jobs in the regional career market. Sonographers in Arizona earned a mean annual income of $77,000 in 2014, well above the state average of $44,580. Employers often prefer candidates with an associate degree or postsecondary certificate in sonography, and professional certification may also be required for some positions.
      • Digital distance learning can be great for prospective students with a busy professional schedule, and the master of science in nursing degrees available at online colleges in Arizona have scarcely ever faced occupational demand as high as exists today. Jobs for nurse practitioners and nursing educators are expected to increase 40 and 42 percent respectively by 2022, and Arizona nurse practitioner salaries averaged $102,720 in 2014.

      If your skills and experience are more business-inclined, a degree in finance can help you capitalize on the needs of Arizona's current labor market.

      • If your skills and experience are more business-inclined, a degree in finance can help you capitalize on the needs of Arizona's current labor market. Job growth of 37 percent is expected for personal financial advisers in Arizona by 2022, and the mean annual salary in the field came to $77,020 statewide in 2014. Depending on the segment of finance in which you're looking to specialize, employers also may consider candidates with degrees in economics, accounting, business administration or law.
        • Arizona is also one of the states where a degree in mathematics or statistics can be put to effective use in multiple sectors the workforce, thanks to expectations of robust employment growth among cost estimators, statisticians and market research analysts. Mean annual salaries for all three fields produced above-average figures in 2014 — each falling between $58,000 and $80,000 for the year — and job growth projections in the three fields average to about 40 percent between 2012 and 2022.
          • Degrees in computer science and information technology are finding themselves applicable in a rising number of professional contexts, as computing technology becomes increasingly essential to modern business practices. Jobs for computer systems analysts and information security analysts are projected to see respective increases of 28 and 37 percent between 2012 and 2022, leading to nearly 1,000 new jobs for tech-savvy Arizona residents. Mean annual salary figures for both professions topped $83,000 in 2014, with average pay for systems analyst positions nearly doubling the statewide occupational average for the year.

            While there's no degree anywhere in the country that can serve as a guarantee of employment upon graduation, taking the time to focus your education on the needs of a growing industry might give employers an easier time of recognizing your value when you're applying for that first job in your chosen field.

            Arizona colleges

            Getting the right degree at the right school can make a lot of difference when it comes to your prospects in the workforce and your enjoyment of the university experience. Here are a few details about some of the traditional and online schools in Arizona, including a list of notable degree programs available at each:

            Institution name Online degrees? Top programs
            University of Arizona Yes Entrepreneurship, earth sciences, information systems, graduate education (online), graduate business (online), graduate engineering (online), medicine, law, nursing, public health, social psychology, rehabilitation counseling, mathematics, physics, pharmacy, economics, public affairs,
            Arizona State University Yes MBA (online), graduate criminal justice (online), graduate education (online), graduate engineering (online), graduate business (online), city management, supply chain management, nursing, law, photography, ceramics, public affairs
            Northern Arizona University Yes Physical therapy, graduate education (online), nursing, graduate nursing (online), biological sciences, speech-language pathology, history, political science, engineering
            Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott Yes Aerospace engineering, aeronautical science, astronomy, meteorology, cybersecurity, forensic biology, computer engineering, intelligence studies, industrial psychology
            Southwest University of Visual Arts No Illustration, animation, advertising, photography, interior design, graphic design, landscape architecture
            University of Phoenix Yes Graduate nursing (online), business administration (online), management (online), health care administration (online), psychology (online), education (online), criminal justice (online)
            Northcentral University Yes MBA (online), graduate education (online), marriage and family therapy (online)

            As technology advances, more institutions may join the ranks of online schools in Arizona. The result may be increased opportunities for students from all walks of life to earn an advanced education regardless of whether they are able to attend classes on campus.

            However, there's no reason to wait to get started on your degree. You can request more information from the online colleges in Arizona listed below to learn more about your learning options.

            1. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed May 24, 2015, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=AZ&ic=1+2&en=700&of=1&od=0&pg=3
            2. Highest Enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed May 24, 2015, http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=74
            4-9. Overall Rankings, U.S. News and World Report, accessed May 25, 2015: Arizona State University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/arizona-state-university-104151/overall-rankings; University of Arizona, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-arizona-104179/overall-rankings; Northcentral University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/northcentral-university-444130/overall-rankings; University of Phoenix, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-phoenix-online-campus-372213/overall-rankings; Northern Arizona University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/northern-arizona-university-105330/overall-rankings; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/embry-riddle-aeronautical-university-prescott-104586/overall-rankings;
            10. Best Online Bachelor's Programs, U.S. News and World Report, accessed May 25, 2015, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/bachelors/rankings
            11. Tuition Estimator, Penn State World Campus, accessed May 25, 2015, http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/tuition-and-financial-aid/tuition-estimator
            12. About Northcentral, Northcentral University, accessed May 25, 2015, http://www.ncu.edu/about-northcentral
            13. Degrees, Northcentral University, accessed May 25, 2015, http://www.ncu.edu/degrees
            14. Northcentral University, IPEDS Data Center, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed May 25, 2015, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/InstitutionProfile.aspx?unitId=afafafacaeab
            15. Campus Locations, University of Phoenix, accessed May 25, 2015, http://www.phoenix.edu/campus-locations.html
            16. University of Phoenix - Online Campus, IPEDS Data Center, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed May 25, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/institutionprofile.aspx?unitId=aeb2adadacae
            17. Fastest-Growing Occupations, Career InfoNet, accessed May 25, 2015, http://www.careerinfonet.org/oview1.asp?printer=&next=oview1&level=Overall&optstatus=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=04&jobfam=&group=1&showall=yes
            18. Arizona, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_AZ.htm
            19-23. Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 25, 2015: Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists, www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm; Personal Financial Advisors, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Personal-financial-advisors.htm; Cost Estimators, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/cost-estimators.htm; Market Research Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm;
            24. Degrees & Programs, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott, accessed May 25, 2015, http://prescott.erau.edu/degrees/index.html
            25. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide, accessed May 25, 2015, http://worldwide.erau.edu/
            26. Programs, Southwest University of Visual Arts, accessed May 25, 2015, http://www.suva.edu/programs.php
            27. Colleges & Schools, University of Phoenix, accessed May 25, 2015, http://www.phoenix.edu/colleges_divisions.html

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