Colleges and Universities in Arizona

Education in Arizona

According to 2013 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of Arizona is home to 6,626,624 residents, 26.6 percent of whom held at least a bachelor’s degree granted in 2008-2012. Meanwhile, a recent report from the Lumina Foundation shows approximately 35.8 percent of the state’s working age population held at least an Associate’s degree in 2011. Although that figure seems small, it actually represents an improvement from 2008 when only 34.4 percent of the state’s working age population held an associate degree.

Several other pieces of data help create a full picture of educational attainment in Arizona. For example, the Lumina Foundation study shows that an additional 26.81 percent of the state’s working age population had some college experience in 2011, but no degree. And when you add the percentages of adults with college experience but no degree, associate degree holders (8.96 percent), bachelor’s degree holders (17.68 percent), and graduate degree holders (9.12 percent), more than 62 percent of the state’s working age adults have either earned a degree or were in some stage of educational attainment in 2011.

Fortunately, there are plenty of colleges in Arizona where students can pursue a new degree or complete an ongoing one. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports there are 68 colleges and universities in Arizona where students can earn an associate degree and another 48 schools where students can earn a bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, NCES data shows colleges and universities in Arizona awarded 153,625 four-year degrees and 50,708 two-year degrees during the 2011-12 school year.

Number of Institutions in Arizona

Online education in Arizona

Because of the flexibility of online programs, many students are turning to online colleges in Arizona. In fact a large number of colleges and universities in Arizona have begun offering online degree programs to meet demand, or tailored existing programs so they could be offered in a flexible, online format.

Online and hybrid programs in Arizona can be especially valuable to students who need to continue working while they continue their studies or those who have a family to take care of. The ability to complete a paper or assignment outside of the traditional 9-5, Monday-Friday school schedule can make all the difference to someone who has a full schedule yet wants to continue their studies. Additionally, online schools in Arizona make it possible for students who live in rural areas and those without transportation to earn a degree without making drastic changes to their lifestyle.

U.S. News & World Report provides listings of a number of highlight online schools and programs in Arizona:

Top careers in Arizona

The state of Arizona is home to both large metropolitan areas and sparsely populated rural areas. That being said, it’s also home to a wide range of careers that cater to both big industry and the service economy.

Many careers in Arizona are expected to experience steady demand, although certain careers could see higher increases in employment than most. According to U.S. Department of Labor CareerOneStop data as well as wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following careers in Arizona could see a dramatic boost in employment in the coming decade:

OccupationTop RegionsWhy It’s HotNecessary SkillsRelevant Degrees
Diagnostic Medical SonographersAccording to BLS data, the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area was home to 970 diagnostic medical sonographers in 2013, while the Tucson area was home to 120.Using ultrasound equipment and various medical devices, diagnostic medical sonographers help doctors and other healthcare professionals diagnose illnesses and injuries. Due to the overall demand in this field, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment for diagnostic medical sonographers could increase by as much as 55 percent from 2012 to 2022.

The fact that workers can typically begin this career with an Associate’s degree is also an attractive feature for those who want to enter the workforce as quickly as possible.

Since diagnostic medical sonographers work with patients who may be in pain, they are typically required to have excellent listening skills, patience, and the ability to remain professional at all times. Manual dexterity and physical stamina also help since diagnostic medical sonographers often spend long hours on their feet.

According to O*NET OnLine, diagnostic medical sonographers also need critical thinking skills in order to come up with unique solutions to common problems faced in the career. An excellent understanding of scientific principles also helps as well since many aspects of this career require the use of scientific rules to solve problems.

Earning a degree in sonography or diagnostic medical sonography is a great way to get started in this career. And as the BLS reports, most workers in this field are only required to earn an associate degree in order to gain employment. A degree in cardiovascular and vascular technology may also get one’s foot in the door in this career.
Interpreters and TranslatorsAlthough interpreters and translators are likely spread throughout the state, the regions in Arizona that employ the most interpreters and translators are the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale (780) and Tucson (740) regions.Interpreters and translators help to bridge the gap between individuals who speak different languages. And due to the growing number of non-English speakers in the United States, the demand for these professionals is on the rise. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment for interpreters and translators in Arizona could increase by as much as 50 percent during the decade leading up to 2022.Cultural sensitivity, patience, and listening skills are crucial for the job since interpreters and translators work with different types of people and personalities. In addition, interpreters and translators with computer skills are also in high demand due to an increased use of technology in this field. As O*NET points out, knowledge of laws, legal procedures, and government regulations can also be helpful for interpreters and translators who work with individuals who need help navigating our complex legal system.

The ability to monitor clients and provide assessments is also helpful for translators who are helping others learn English or a foreign language.

According to the BLS, interpreters and translators typically need to hold a Bachelor’s degree to gain employment, although the main requirement for this career is fluency in at least two languages. A degree in English or Spanish is a good start for those who want to begin this career, as are courses in reading and writing comprehension.
Cost EstimatorsThe following regions in Arizona employed a large number of cost estimators in the state in 2013 as well: Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale (3,360), Tucson (490), Prescott (150), Southeast Arizona nonmetropolitan area (90), Flagstaff (80), Yuma (70), and Lake Havasu City (40).Using advanced math, cost estimators help businesses create realistic plans for their expenses as they build buildings or provide a product or service. Because of the many projects that cost estimators are needed to assist with, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment for cost estimators in Arizona could increase by as much as 45 percent from 2012 to 2022.Excellent math skills are a must for this career, as are time management skills, technical skills, and a keen attention to detail.

Since cost estimators may also be required to perform high level budgeting tasks, an understanding of excellent financial management practices is also in order. Of course, sound judgment and excellent decision-making skills are also required for this position.

A Bachelor’s degree in construction management, engineering, or building science is a good way to get your foot in the door as a cost estimator. However, the BLS reports that experience in the construction industry is one of the most important requirements.
Occupational Therapy AssistantsAccording to BLS data, the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area was home to 440 occupational therapy assistants in 2013, while the Tucson area was home to 60.Occupational therapy assistants provide meaningful help to occupational therapists and their patience. Typical job duties include helping patients with therapeutic treatments, teaching patients how to use equipment, and recording their progress. Because occupational therapy is increasingly seen as a low-cost alternative to surgery for many patients, the need for this type of care is on the rise. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that, because of the demand, employment for occupational therapy assistants might increase by as much as 44 percent during the decade leading up to 2022.Beyond educational attainment, occupational therapy assistants need to have compassion and flexibility, as well as an attention to detail and ability to work with a wide range of personalities.

As O*NET reported, occupational therapy assistants also need a certain level of social perception in order to avoid uncomfortable situations with patients and understand why they react the way they do. Of course, sound judgment is a good skill for occupational therapy assistants to have as well since they often need to make quick decisions in regards to the task at hand. Time management skills are also required for this career since occupational therapy assistants typically need to juggle multiple patients and perform their job duties in a timely manner so that other patients can be seen promptly.

The BLS states occupational therapy assistants typically need to earn an Associate’s degree from an accredited occupational therapy program in order to gain employment.
Dental HygienistsAlthough dental hygienists are spread throughout the state, many of them were clustered in the following areas in 2013: Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale (2,550), Tucson (690), Flagstaff (100), North Arizona nonmetropolitan area (60), Yuma (40).Dental hygienists clean teeth and examine patients in preparation for their visit with the dentist. Because of our growing population and an increase in demand for dental care, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment for dental hygienists will increase 44 percent in Arizona from 2012 to 2022.According to the BLS, dental hygienists need physical stamina, interpersonal skills, and manual dexterity in order to perform on the job.

According to O*NET, dental hygienists also need a basic understanding of X-ray machinery so that they can perform X-rays on patients and accurately produce results. Since new technology is introduced to the field of dentistry quite often, dental hygienists who can actively learn and progress also have an advantage.

Dental hygienists need to earn an Associate’s degree in order to gain employment, as well as certification in certain states. Dental hygiene programs can be found in many technical schools and colleges in Arizona, and a two-year program is typically the minimum requirement.

Arizona financial aid

Figures from The College Board show tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year schools came in at slightly over $10,000 for the 2014-15 school year for in-state Arizona residents, slightly higher than the national average of $9,139. A further analysis illustrates how tuition for various institutions has changed over the years:

  • Public 2-year in-state institutions

    • 2004-05: $1,393
    • 2014-15: $2,438
  • Public 4-year in-state institutions

    • 2004-05: $5,130
    • 2014-15: $10,398
  • Private nonprofit 4-year institutions

    • 2004-05: $24,117
    • 2014-15: $28,504

Arizona Tuition and Fee Costs

Fortunately, the state of Arizona has plenty of potential financial aid options for students who need help paying for the rising costs of higher education. The Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education lists the following resources on their website:

Federal grants:

  • Pell Grants: federal aid funds that do not have to be repaid. Certain income requirements apply.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: grants reserved for students with an exceptional need for financial aid. Like Pell Grants, they do not need to be repaid.
  • Federal Work-Study Program: provides jobs where students can earn a real income that can be used to pay college tuition.

Federal Loans:

  • Federal Perkins Loan: low-interest loans for students who meet certain income requirements. Expired as of 9/30/17, although Congressional bills have been introduced that support its extension.
  • Federal Stafford Loan: fixed-rate loans available to students who meet certain requirements.
  • PLUS Loans: loans available to parents of dependent children attending college.

State scholarships and grants:

  • College Access Challenge Last Stretch Scholarship (CACS): a need-based scholarship program designed for students who are pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. Certain requirements apply.
  • Math, Science, Special Education Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program (MSSE): a need-based forgivable loan geared to students who plan to teach in public schools in Arizona.
  • Arizona Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program (AzLEAP): a state matching program designed for students who meet certain income requirements and criteria.

A wide range of athletic scholarships might also be available to students who attend colleges in Arizona and meet certain criteria, in addition to other scholarships which are school-based. Of course, aside from the items mentioned on this list, there are other types of aid which may be available as well depending on your unique situation. Students interested in learning more should fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and contact their school of choice for additional information.

To find out more about some of the schools and programs available in Arizona, be sure to check out the ones featured in our school listings below.

Article Sources


  • A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, Arizona,
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employement and Wages, May 2013: “Interpreters and Translators,”, “Cost Estimators,”, “Diagnostic Medical Sonographers,”, “Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides,”, “Occupational Therapy Assistants,”, “Dental Hygienists,”,
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition: “Interpreters and Translators,”, “Interpreters and Translators,”, ” Diagnostic Medical Sonographers,”, “Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides,”, “Dental Hygienists,”, “Cost Estimators,”
  • O*NET OnLine, November 20, 2014: “Diagnostic Medical Sonographers,”, “Interpreters and Translators,”, “Cost Estimators,, “Occupational Therapy Assistants,”, “Dental Hygienists,”
  • “CareerOneStop,” U.S. Department of Labor,
  • Best Online Programs, U.S. News & World Report Rankings, February 2015,
  • Federal Aid, Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education,
  • National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator,
  • Postsecondary Completers and Completions: 2011-2012, U.S. Department of Education,
  • tate and County QuickFacts, United States Census Bureau, Arizona,
  • “Trends in College Pricing 2014,” College Board,
  • Types of Financial Aid, Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education,
school listing icon
Our Partner Listings