6 Best Community Colleges in Arizona in 2022

On the hunt for the best community colleges in Arizona? Learn everything you need to know about them from this list of the best in 2022.

TCM Admin

21st October 2022

Community colleges can sometimes get a bad rap, and there’s no denying that there is some stigma associated with them. However, the truth is community colleges can offer many benefits, such as lower tuition costs, off-campus housing, more flexible scheduling, and smaller class sizes. You can generally also transfer your credits to a four-year university should you choose to earn your bachelor’s degree.

It’s no wonder that many are now choosing to earn their core and general class credits at community colleges, especially when tuition costs hover around $50-$200 per credit. Upon earning all their credit, they then transfer to a four-year institution that has credit transfer agreements with the community college they earned their credits from.

If you’re thinking about attending one of the best community colleges in Arizona, the list below will show you some of the best available in 2022.

Should You Attend Community College in Arizona?

Yes, you should — especially if you’re looking for a more affordable learning experience that can still provide you with the education you need to start your career.

Many community colleges also have transfer agreements with four-year universities, which can allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree much more affordable.

There are a few more reasons why you might want to attend one of the best Arizona community colleges, such as:

  • Lower costs all around, whether living on or off-campus
  • An interactive learning experience with smaller class sizes where an instructor can provide a more personalized experience
  • The availability of career training, adult learning centers, and counseling services to help set you up for success after you graduate (make sure you choose an institution that offers these!)
  • Availability of various programs

Of course, tuition will only really be much cheaper for you if you already live in Arizona, with yearly in-state tuition hovering around $2,220 on average. If you’re not from Arizona, you may want to consider a community college in your home state to help you cut costs further.


If you’d rather attend a four-year college but still save on some costs, consider online colleges in Arizona.

How We Chose the Best Community Colleges in Arizona

We used various criteria to determine which community colleges in AZ to include on this list. Naturally, each institution will have its own advantages and disadvantages, but we looked for colleges that:

  • Have affordable tuition rates to help make learning more accessible to all
  • Are regionally accredited to ensure the quality of education
  • Have good transfer and graduation rates
  • Offer various financial aid opportunities and payment methods
  • Offer student and career services
  • Have a good selection of programs, whether certificate or associate

The colleges on this list can serve as a starting point during your hunt for the best community college in Arizona. As always, weigh the pros and cons of each institution and compare what each one offers before you ultimately make your decision!


6 Best Community Colleges in Arizona

Phoenix College

Top Programs:

  • Associate of Science in Nursing
  • Associate of Science in Physics
  • Associate of Science in Business, Entrepreneurism and Management

Graduation Rate: 15% (2015 cohort, graduated in 2018)

Transfer Rate: 29% (2015 cohort)

Tuition Cost: In-state $85 per credit, out-of-state $472 per credit, more information here

Accreditation: HLC

Phoenix College was originally founded in 1920 as one of the first Maricopa County institutions offering higher education. Today, it has a diverse student body and offers an inclusive experience on top of its quality education and career training services, making it one of the best community colleges in Phoenix.

As of writing, Phoenix College has over 9,500 students enrolled in its 150 certificate and degree programs. If you’re concerned about whether this college is accredited, you’ll be happy to know it is regionally accredited by the HLC. You can find out more about Phoenix College’s transfer partner institutions here.
>> Learn More About Phoenix College


Eastern Arizona College

Top Programs: 

  • Nursing Assistant Certificate
  • HVAC Technician Certificate
  • General Studies Associate
  • Registered Nurse Associate

Graduation and Transfer Rate: More information here

Tuition Cost: In-state $1,395 per semester, Out-of-state $1,395 per semester plus $4,350 out-of-state fee; more information here

Accreditation: HLC

Eastern Arizona College is located in Graham County, Arizona. It provides its student body with a quality education backed up by a regional Higher Learning Commission accreditation. This college holds the distinction of being the oldest community college in the state. It is also the only Arizona Community College that has a marching band.
>> Learn More About Eastern Arizona College


Gateway Community College

Top Programs:

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

Graduation Rate: 11.6% (2018, over three years)

Transfer Rate: 11.8% (2018, over three years)

Tuition Cost: In-state $174 per credit, Out-of-state $523 per credit; More information here

Accreditation: NECHE 

Gateway Community College was established in 1968 and is now one of the ten accredited Maricopa County Community Colleges. It received its regional accreditation from NECHE or the New England Commission of Higher Education. GCC was the very first technical college in the city of Phoenix. Here, you can choose from over 160 programs (both certificates and degrees). It has over 9,000 enrolled students, all of whom are entitled to workforce training during their time at the institution.

Gateway Community College has the distinction of being the only one in Maricopa County that has a Valley Metro Light Rail stop right within its campus.

>> Learn More About Gateway Community College


Paradise Valley College

Top Programs:

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

Graduation Rate: 22% (2018)

Transfer Rate: 33% (2018)

Tuition Cost:

  • In-state $85 per credit hour
  • In-state senior $42.50 per credit hour
  • Out-of-state $85 + $356 surcharge = $441 per credit hour
  • Distance learning $241 per credit hour
  • More information here

Accreditation: HLC

Located in Phoenix, Arizona, Paradise Valley Community College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. It also has another campus in Scottsdale, Arizona, which opened in 2009. This college was founded in 1985, and its classes were initially held at Paradise Valley High School until the construction of its main campus was completed in 1987. Today, Paradise Valley Community College offers quality education in an engaging and inclusive environment. 

PVCC offers certificate and degree programs in nine fields of interest, including behavioral and human sciences, education, computer and information technology, applied technology, and more!
>> Learn More About Paradise Valley College


Cochise College

Top Programs:

  • Associate of Arts in General Studies
  • Associate of Science in Computer Science
  • Associate of Science in Computer Programming
  • Associate of Business in Business Administration

Graduation and Transfer Rate: More information is provided in this report

Tuition Cost: In-state cost per credit is $91. The cost for online studies (in-state) is the same. For more information on all costs, see this PDF

Accreditation: HLC

After being established in 1964, Cochise College has continued to grow while continuing to maintain its educational standard. Cochise College offers an HLC-backed education within financial reach, thanks to its affordable tuition fees and rates. Students here receive a personalized education thanks to smaller class sizes. There are currently over 10,000 students enrolled at this institution, where many certificates and degrees are on offer.
>> Learn More About Cochise College


Diné College

Top Programs:

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

Graduation and Transfer Rate: More information is available in this PDF report

Tuition Cost: $55 per credit hour, $660 full-time; more information here

Accreditation: HLC

Diné College has the distinction of being the first accredited collegiate institution in the US to be tribally controlled. It was first established in 1968 under the name Navajo Community College but was later renamed Diné College. This institution was established because The Navajo Nation wanted a higher education institution that encouraged its Navajo youth to be not just contributing members of the Navajo community, but also contributing members of the world.

>> Learn More About Diné College


Frequently Asked Questions

Does Arizona have good community colleges?

Certainly! Arizona has plenty of good community colleges that allow you to fund your education through various means. The state’s community colleges also have varying educational fields and programs, so you can choose something that you truly want to learn about. Enrolling in these colleges ensures safe yet engaging learning environments taught by expert professors. Many of the good schools you’ll find also have great student services available to help support your learning experience.

How much is community college in Arizona?

When studying at a community college, you can generally expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 for each credit hour. According to this 2021 report by the Education Data Initiative, the average tuition cost for in-state learning at a community college is $3,400, while out-of-state learners can expect to pay around $8,210. In Arizona specifically, the average cost of community college per year runs at $2,220 for in-state, $8,310 for out-of-state, and $14,430 on average to live on-campus for the duration.

Are community colleges free in AZ?

Unfortunately, unless you somehow have a full scholarship, community colleges in Arizona (or anywhere, really) are not free. The good news, however, is that most community colleges make it easier for students to learn by offering scholarships and more affordable loan options. Community Colleges also accept FAFSA. If you are a student with financial needs, starting your college education at a community college can save you a lot of money by offering low tuition and decent financing options.

What is the cheapest college in Arizona?

Cheap doesn’t always mean low quality, and the same applies to the community colleges Arizona has to offer. If you’re looking for the most affordable college education in Arizona, consider Diné College. At this institution, tuition is particularly low, at $55 per credit hour. You can pay as low as $660 for full-time education. Diné is HLC-accredited and accepts various payment options. More information is available here.

If you’d like to save money on college, consider one of the best online colleges. Want to save even more? Check out this list of the cheapest online colleges throughout the country.

Do Arizona community colleges have university transfer agreements?

Yes! Many universities have transfer agreements with Arizona community colleges. For example, The University of Arizona has agreements with many community colleges allowing for a transfer of up to 64 credits in most cases. UA lists its partner institutions by area, so you can look at which schools to consider.


Earning a college-level education doesn’t have to put you in a lifetime of debilitating debt. 

There’s no denying that you can save a lot of money by going to one of the best community colleges in Arizona. You can even use your community college education as a stepping stone to a more affordable four-year education, as long as you ensure your choice college has transfer agreements with universities. 

We hope that this list has helped you figure out which community colleges in AZ to consider!

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