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School Rankings

Best Community Colleges in Arizona

Mercy Ugonna Njoku - February 20, 2022


Community colleges can help you acquire a quality college education and an associate degree has many benefits. Community college offers more affordable tuition prices than a four-year university and gives you a cheaper way to further your educational journey. Also, with flexible class schedules, you can comfortably work while pursuing a transfer degree or certificate.

Arizona may be known for the Grand Canyon and its natural beauty, but it also has a bustling college environment with many affordable schools. If you’re interested in starting a career or getting academic training from one of the community colleges in this state, find out the best community colleges in Arizona and the best academic major to pursue in this state.

How We Defined Our Arizona Community College Rankings

All the community colleges in Arizona have unique features of student life. In addition to your specific college needs, you should find colleges that offer you a wide range of affordable tuition prices and career services as part of their certificate or degree programs. Our college ranking takes into consideration a couple of standard factors that we believe should be present in all onsite and online colleges.

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Based on our school rankings, any two-year school you choose should come with affordable tuition rates, high graduate and transfer rates, regional accreditation, and financial aid programs.

A school should also include student services, diverse certificate and associate programs, and availability of career training so you can take advantage of opportunities. If you’re ready to discover our top Arizona community college picks, read on.

The Top 10 Community Colleges in Arizona

  1. Phoenix College
  2. Gateway Community College
  3. Dine College
  4. South Mountain Community College
  5. Carrington College
  6. Mesa Community College
  7. Paradise Valley College
  8. Cochise College
  9. Rio Salado College
  10. Scottsdale Community College

The Best Community Colleges in Arizona: Explained

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Ranking colleges based on expertise is an ideal way to decide between the best community college and academic resources in Arizona.

1. Phoenix College

This diverse and inclusive college was founded in 1920 as Maricopa County Institution. Today, it offers quality education, career training, and transfer credits to over 9,500 students, through its 150 certificate and degree programs, with affordable tuition rates. Its tuition cost is as low as $85 per credit hour for county residents and $441 for in-state students. It also provides financial resources to students.

Best Phoenix College Programs

  • Associate of Science in Nursing
  • Associate of Arts in Visual and Performing Art
  • Associate of Science in Business, Entrepreneurism and Management
  • Associate of Science in Physics
  • Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies

2. GateWay Community College

GateWay Community College was the first technical college in Phoenix, Arizona and the first to integrate its skills acquisition centers into its college to promote job and career services. This college offers more than 160 certificates, degrees, transfer options, and workforce training to over 9,000 students. Its three-year transfer rate as of 2018 was 11.8 percent and its graduation rate was 11.6 percent.

Best GateWay Community College Programs

  • Associate of Science in Nursing
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Fine Arts
  • Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assisting
  • Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education

3. Diné College

Diné College was the first college to set the precedence for tribal college accreditation and control in the United States. This college was founded in 1968 and was initially created to promote academic performance amongst Navajo youths. It offers 19 associate degrees and 11 bachelor’s degrees. Diné College primarily has a Diné student body, and its admission policies favor Navajo Nation students.

Best Diné College Programs

  • Associate of Applied Science in Business Management
  • Associate of Science in Environmental Science
  • Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology
  • Certificate in Computer Technology

4. South Mountain Community College

South Mountain Community College is a Maricopa County college. It is known for its diversity and minimal admission requirements, as it serves mostly minority American students from different parts of Arizona, alongside international students.

This college makes education flexible for students as it offers both morning and evening classes for students, as well as both onsite and online learning. The goal of this college is to help students maximize their academic strengths and achieve their career goals.

Best South Mountain Community College Programs

  • Associate of Arts in Culture and Society
  • Associate of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts
  • Associate of Science in Computer Science
  • Certificate in Marketing
  • Associate of Applied Science in Management

5. Carrington College

Carrington College is a well-equipped and professional college headquartered in California but it has campus locations in several states, including Arizona. This college is institutionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

If you’re looking for a good private community college to attain academic certificates for a professional health career or occupational certificates for another field of study, Carrington may be your answer. This career training college provides student support and workshops, alongside student clubs.

Best Carrington College Programs

  • Associate of Science in Dental Assisting
  • Associate of Science in Medical Assisting
  • Associate of Science in Pharmacy Technology
  • Associate of Science in Nursing
  • Associate of Science in Electrical Technology

6. Mesa Community College

Mesa Community College is the largest of all the Maricopa Community Colleges . It prepares students for different fields of study and lets them earn community college credits for transfers into top colleges, within and outside Arizona. It provides students with career coaching services so they can navigate through the 195 bachelor’s, associate, and certificate programs offered. It also offers financial aid, career services, and veterans services.

Best Mesa Community College Programs

  • Associate of Performing Arts in Music
  • Associate of Science for Transfer: Computer Information Systems
  • Associate of Applied Science in Dental hygiene
  • Associate of Arts in Communication
  • Associate of Science in Welding Technology

7. Paradise Valley College

Paradise Valley College is a leading Maricopa County community college in Arizona. This school provides an engaging environment for students to explore their potential through immediate career launch or transfer, with numerous certificate programs available. Paradise Valley College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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Best Paradise Valley College Programs

  • Associate of Arts in Fine and Performing Arts
  • Associate of Science in Business, Entrepreneurialism and Management
  • Associate of Science in Health Sciences
  • Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity
  • Certificate in Law Enforcement

8. Cochise College

Cochise College offers students the chance to gain quality career education or transfer to four-year colleges at an affordable rate, with small class sizes. Founded in 1964, it has grown in size while maintaining a high educational standard. The faculty to student ratio is one to 16, even with a student population of over 10,600. Its class sizes facilitate one-on-one learning, meaning students will flourish in their major of choice.

Best Cochise College Programs

  • Associate of Science in Computer programming
  • Associate of Arts in General studies
  • Associate of Business in Business Administration
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Computer Science

9. Rio Salado College

At Rio Salado College, you get the chance to choose from over 135 on-site and online programs taught by experienced instructors. This college provides you with adequate virtual resources and resource guides to facilitate your online study.

You’ll get to schedule your own study time and connect with your peers through a virtual workshop, or within Rio Salado’s online lounge community. You’ll also receive university-level career and counseling services as part of your certificate or online degree program.

Best Rio Salado College Programs

  • Associate of Arts in Business
  • Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity
  • Certificate of Completion in Data Analytics
  • Certificate of Completion in Corrections
  • Associate of Applied Science in Corrections and Detention

10. Scottsdale Community College

Scottsdale Community College offers more than 100 academic degrees and 60 certificates to its students. It was founded in 1970 as a two-year college and it continues to fulfill this role to over 10,000 students each year. This Maricopa community college offers its students educational opportunities that can enable them to launch successful careers after graduation or transfer credit to a four-year college.

Best Scottsdale Community College Programs

  • Associate of Science in Nursing
  • Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design
  • Associate of Applied Science in Marketing and Sales
  • Associate of Applied Science in Administration of Justice
  • Associate of Science in Computer Science

Other Arizona Community College Rankings

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Choose a community college in Arizona that will provide you with the resource guides you need to launch a career in your desired industry.

If you’re interested in schooling in Arizona but would prefer to study remotely, we’ve got you covered. The list below contains ideal online community colleges in Arizona that allow you to maintain a flexible schedule and provide you access to adequate online support services as a current student of their academic programs.

Best Online Community Colleges in Arizona

  1. Arizona Western College. This community college offers over 100 associate degrees and certificates in science, business, and the arts. It offers onsite classes for campus students, but you can also pursue an online associate degree through its online classes.
  2. Mesa Community College. Mesa’s online education program focuses on providing flexibility to undergraduate students through well-paced and accessible online classes using tools like video conferencing and Canvas.
  3. Central Arizona College. Central Arizona College offers effective online associate degree programs and certificate programs to community college students. These online academic programs include interactive career training and fundamental courses through online classes.
  4. Cochise College. Cochise College offers six weeks of online learning through its online classes. Classes are led by experienced instructors in academic programs covering liberal arts and sciences, ranging from web design to creative writing.
  5. Phoenix College. Phoenix College offers a broad range of credit and non-credit academic programs, as well as online support services for students who wish to balance their work and academic study.

Best Community Colleges for Engineering in Arizona

  1. Mesa Community College. The engineering program at Mesa Community College comes with multiple degrees and certificates. You can choose the certificate pathway, transfer degree pathway, or the applied degree pathway to pursue your education in electronics or aerospace engineering.
  2. Phoenix College. Phoenix College equips students with the knowledge they need to succeed as engineers in the STEM industry. Through an associate in science degree, with an emphasis in engineering, students are taught courses in mechanics, plane surveying, and dynamics.
  3. GateWay Community College. GateWay Community College is also an ideal choice to pursue an associate engineering and technology degree. This program offers school students the knowledge they need to solve complex engineering problems in the industry.
  4. Central Arizona College. If you’re interested in pursuing a computer information systems degree in a community college, then consider doing it at Central Arizona College. Students who choose this program are offered associate degrees and certificates in computer technology so they can begin achieving their academic goals.
  5. Arizona Western College. This college offers a two-year associate program in engineering. Students who pursue this degree program will receive training in areas such as science, math, computing, and programming .

Should You Attend Community College in Arizona?

Yes, you should attend community college in Arizona if you’re looking for an interactive educational experience. Attending community college in Arizona is ideal for a lot of reasons. For one, most of the programs are tailored to help students achieve their goals. Also, colleges provide career training, counseling services, funding opportunities, adult learning centers, and experienced instructors to boost the student’s chance of success.

However, another option for flexible online tuition is to attend a bootcamp program, particularly if you want to study a tech-related subject. Some of the best coding bootcamps allow you to get a certificate in under six months, and many come with guaranteed job offers.

Best Arizona Community Colleges FAQ

Does Arizona have good community colleges?

Yes, Arizona has good community colleges with multiple funding opportunities. A major aspect of this article listed the various community colleges that you can explore for your various educational programs. These colleges offer engaging and safe learning environments, expert instructors, and student services as part of their program offerings.

Are community colleges free?

No, they are not. However, most community colleges offer scholarships and affordable loan schemes for students who need financial assistance. If you’re interested, some of the programs listed in this article offer multiple financial aid programs as a part of their program packages, and tuition per semester is typically low.

What is the cheapest college in Arizona?

Dine Collegé, like Northland Pioneer College, has one of the lowest costs per credit hour. Currently, at Diné College, you could be charged $55 per credit hour and $660 for full-time tuition. If you wish to learn more about what Diné College has to offer its prospective students, read this article.

How much does community college cost in Arizona?

Typically, most community colleges cost around $50 to $200 per credit hour. According to the Education Data Initiative in 2021, the average tuition cost for community colleges in Arizona is $2,220 for in-state tuition and $8,310 for out-of-state tuition.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Mercy Ugonna Njoku

About the author: Mercy has a background in accounting and is a veteran content writer who holds a BSc in Business Management from Abia State University. In her writing, Mercy helps people navigate unfamiliar and complex situations in their professional lives so they can thrive. Her hobbies include drawing, working on startup projects, and engaging in discussions.

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