University of Arizona vs Arizona State University – if this question is in your mind, you’ve come to the right place. This article will explore these top universities and give you a great sense of the two.

Quick first look:

The University of Arizona (UA) and Arizona State University (ASU) are two major public universities in Arizona, USA.

The University of Arizona (UA) is in Tucson, about 110 miles from Phoenix. It’s known for its research programs, particularly in astronomy, space sciences, and medicine. It is also home to the prestigious James E. Rogers College of Law. It has four main campuses – Tucson being the main one. UA offers a more traditional campus experience with a strong school spirit and a close-knit community. Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona, surrounded by stunning desert landscapes and mountain ranges. This makes it a perfect setting for outdoor activities.

Arizona State University (ASU) is in Tempe, Phoenix. It’s known for its innovation, interdisciplinary programs, and entrepreneurship. Its main campus, the largest of its five, is in the heart of Tempe, about eight miles (13 mm) from downtown Phoenix.  offers a more urban campus experience across its multiple campuses, with strengths in business, engineering, and sustainability. Also, its location makes it easier to find internships and opportunities.

Both schools have strong athletic traditions and fierce rivalry in sports. UA has a strong basketball program, while ASU has a better football team. You may want to think about your particular sport of liking if this is a decisionmaker for you.

Choosing between two universities depends on factors like academic excellence, scholarship options, tuition fees, location, and the program – to name a few.

Here’s a more detailed look.


University of Arizona vs Arizona State University: A Quick Glance


The University of Arizona (UA) is in Tucson, Arizona. It is a prominent public research university founded in 1885. It’s known for its astronomy, engineering, and optical sciences academics, apart from its extensive research and community engagement programs.

Its main campuses are:

Main Campus (Tucson): This is the central hub, offering a wide range of programs with strengths in research, health sciences, and business.
Southern Arizona (Sierra Vista): Offers degree programs in education, computer science, humanities and the social sciences, to name a few.
Phoenix Biomedical Campus (Phoenix): Focused on health sciences and medical education, home to the College of Medicine-Phoenix. It also offers additional business, nursing, public health, law, and Pharmacy programs. It’s in downtown Phoenix.

UA also partners with many community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees to make college geographically accessible to students.

Arizona State University (ASU) is a renowned public research university in Tempe, Arizona. Known for its internship and research-extensive program with industry or government, it has five main campuses:

Tempe Campus: The main campus located in Tempe is known for its comprehensive research programs, engineering, business, and arts.

Downtown Phoenix Campus: Urban campus offering journalism, nursing, public service, and health programs.

West Valley Campus: Situated in northwest Phoenix, it focuses on interdisciplinary studies, liberal arts, and business.

Polytechnic Campus: Located in Mesa, specializes in technology, engineering, management, and aviation.

Lake Havasu Campus: A smaller campus near Lake Havasu City offers undergraduate degrees on personalized learning.

Here are the key differences between ASU & U of A.

A Quick Glance
Arizona State University University of Arizona
Established In 1885 1885
Ownership Public Research University Public Research University
Mascot Sparky Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat
Academics
ASU AU
US News Rankings 2024 105 National Ranking 115th National Ranking
Times Ranking 2024 182 Global Ranking 105th Global Ranking
QS World Rankings 2024 179 Global Ranking 285 Global Ranking
Number of Undergraduate Programs 400+ 150+
Number of Graduate Programs 450+ 150+
Top-Ranked Courses (US News)
  • Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Business
  • Production / Operation Management
  • Supply Chain Logistics
  • Nursing
  • Economics
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences
  • Business Programs
  • Computer Science
  • Management Information System
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Economics
  • Arts & Humanities
  • Social Sciences
Fees & Scholarships  
Avg Tuition Fee for BA/ BS Per Year Base Tuition – $34,398 Tuition Fee – $18,474 – $41,474
Avg Tuition Fee for MA/ MS  Per Year Base Tuition – $37,044 Depends on the Program
Scholarships Merit-Based Needs
Financial-Based Needs
Merit Tuition Scholarships
Eligibility Criteria 
Avg GPA 3.00 3.53
SAT/ ACT Requirement ACT: 22 (24 nonresidents)
SAT: 1120 (1180 nonresidents)
Not Required
Acceptance Rate 90% 87%
English Requirements Cambridge English Exams TOEFL (79 iBT), IELTS (7),
Pearson PTE Academic (60)
Student Population  
Total 2023 144800 (Undergraduates and Graduates) 53,187 (Undergraduates and Graduates)
Avg Salary Package Depends on the Course Depends on the Course
Campus
Campus Location Tempe, Arizona Tucson, Arizona
Campus Type Urban Traditional

Let us look at academics, fees & scholarships, post-work opportunities & graduate employability.

University of Arizona vs Arizona State University: Academics


Arizona State vs University of Arizona – which is better in academics? First things first, both are globally reputed and offer a range of degree programs within a supportive environment.

At UA, students can choose from 300 undergraduate and graduate degrees via 20 colleges and 23 schools across four campuses. Arts, humanities, and social sciences majors are particularly popular.

On the contrary, ASU specializes in STEM majors, including Computer Science and Health and Wellness, while also offering programs in other specialties as well
Before discussing academics in detail, let us look at the constituent schools and colleges.

Constituent Schools & Colleges

Arizona State University

  • W. P. Carey School of Business
  • Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
  • Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
  • Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
  • College of Global Futures
  • College of Health Solutions
  • Barret: The Honors College
  • College of Integrative Sciences and Arts
  • Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
  • The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation
  • Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions
  • Thunderbird School of Global Management

University of Arizona

  • College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences
  • College of Applied Science & Technology
  • College of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture
  • College of Education
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Fine Arts
  • Graduate College
  • WA Franke Honors College
  • School of Information
  • College of Humanities
  • James E. Rogers College of Law
  • Eller College of Management
  • College of Medicine Tucson
  • College of Nursing
  • Wyant College of Optical Sciences
  • R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy
  • Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
  • College of Science
  • College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
  • College of Veterinary Medicine

Overall Rankings

Global Rankings
Arizona State University – Tempe University of Arizona – Tucson
156 (US News & World Rankings) 108 (US News & World Rankings)
156 (THE Rankings) 180 (THE Rankings)

Acceptance Rate

The acceptance rate can vary yearly. However, both universities have high acceptance rates, making it easier for students to get admission.

Arizona State University

ASU has an acceptance rate of 90%. Half the applicants are selected based on SAT (1120 and 13670) or ACT scores (19 and 27)

University of Arizona

U of A has an 87% acceptance rate, and half of the applicants are selected based on SAT (1140 and 1370) or an ACT score (21 and 29)

Research Opportunities

ASU and UA have several research facilities for undergraduates and graduates across different domains.

Arizona State University

ASU’s innovative and cutting-edge technological facilities – make it easy to collaborate and research on various topics. It also has research-extensive programs along with the industry and government. The university has been ranked 182 for its research quality.  Take a look at some notable facilities:

  • Biodesign Institute is known for its extensive and interdisciplinary research in healthcare and sustainability. Some famous projects are related to bioengineering and environmental health.
  • Decision Theatre integrates computers and data analytics to create research projects that help in visualization, creativity, and decision-making.
  • GIOS, an acronym for the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, is known for its climate, energy, and urban development research.

University of Arizona

Students engage in many research projects with reputed faculty. UA is home to widely-known research centers and institutes. Some well-known facilities include:

  • Biosphere 2 provides opportunities for students to study ecosystem and environmental changes. The research center is known for lifelong learning and research outcomes.
  • WRRC, or Water Resources Research Centres, is known for its water sustainability projects. Some related topics are groundwater recharge and monitoring water quality.
  • Kitt Peak National Observatory has a collection of the largest astronomical telescopes worldwide – enabling students to use well-equipped technologies.

Semester vs Quarters

Both universities follow a semester system. Here, an academic year constitutes the fall and spring semesters. Each semester typically spans around 15 weeks. Students earn credits for completing courses, and the academic calendar has a traditional semester format with defined start and end dates for each semester.

What are the top three courses to study at Arizona State?


Engineering

Ira A. Fulton Schools is ranked 41 and globally recognized as one of the best schools for engineering by US News Rankings. The driving factors are entrepreneurial opportunities and hands-on exposure, to name a few.

One of its major USPs is accelerated programs – ASU provides combined engineering programs, allowing undergrads to gain both degrees in a shorter period.

The eight academic departments at the school are:

  • School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering
  • School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence
  • School of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering
  • School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment
  • School of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Materials Engineering
  • Polytechnic School
  • School of Engineering of Matter, Transport, and Energy
  • School of Integrated Engineering

Business

Arizona State University is home to the W.P. Carey School of Business, which is internationally recognized and ranked of 32nd (US News & World). It is also accredited by the AACSB (the gold standard of business school accreditation).

The school has tie-ups and partnerships with leading business companies, industry, and government agencies. Students get many opportunities to network, get internships, and get mentorship opportunities.

The school offers a curriculum to prepare students for a rapidly competitive and changing business landscape. The school has seven academic departments to deliver high-quality education. Here are the departments:

  • Department of Accountancy
  • Department of Finance
  • Department of Management
  • Department of Marketing
  • Department of Supply Chain Management
  • Morrison School of Agribusiness and Resource Management
  • Center for Entrepreneurship

Computer Science

A division of Fulton – School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision System Engineering – consistently has high rankings. Its courses have been globally ranked 41st for computer science.  The driving factors for such rankings are international reputation, research-extensive opportunities, and practical training – to name a few.

ASU’s computer science research institute – The Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC), is known for its strong focus on human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence.

Undergraduate degrees

  • BA in Computer Science
  • BS in Computer Science
  • BSE in Computer Science Engineering
  • BSE in Engineering Management
  • BSE in Industrial Engineering
  • BS in Informatics
  • BS in Software Engineering

Graduate degrees

  • MS/PhD in Computer Engineering
  • MS/MCS/PhD in Computer Science
  • MS/PhD in Data Science, Analytics and Engineering
  • MS/PhD in Industrial Engineering
  • MS in Robotics and Automation Systems
  • MS in Software Engineering

What are the top three courses to study at the University of Arizona?


Nursing

The College of Nursing at the University of Arizona constantly demonstrates a high quality of education and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Additionally, the school is known for its clinical practice excellence and teaching methods. It emphasizes practical hands-on exposure at all levels (local, national, and international).

It also has strong connections and partnerships with more than 300 healthcare organizations nationally, and it has impressive placements. In such partnerships, students gain exposure while working with many underserved patients.

Programs offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • PhD in Nursing

Business

The Eller School of Management offers highly-ranked business programs. Its emphasis on experiential learning opportunities helps students train for the professional world. Of 124 best business schools (US, 2024), it’s ranked at 50th. The part-time MBA is ranked 60th nationally (US).

It has consistently high rankings due to its focus on entrepreneurship, and industry connection – making it a preferred choice for students wanting high-quality business learning and education. The college offers programs that will help the student to effectively analyze data. Its focus on experiential learning and internships gives students practical experience even before they graduate.

The school offers degrees in business analytics, communication, finance, international, life science, supply chain management, and marketing – to name a few.

Arts & Humanities

Globally recognized as one of the best schools for arts and humanities by US News Rankings, ASU’s College of Humanities is ranked 58th. It is known for offering interdisciplinary programs and majors within this field – allowing students to study multiple disciplines.

The college provides various opportunities to have real-world exposure via projects or research. The degrees are designed to improve students’ critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Not just restricted to fields of education, business, government, and law – the College of Humanities provides more options. It offers courses in  history, philosophy & religion, modern & ancient languages, media, performing arts, and many more.

Alumni

Arizona State University

The network is more widespread compared to UA, with over 500,000 worldwide. It offers a diverse community of professionals in industries and sectors.

University of Arizona

More than 300,000 students are part of Arizona’s community – to connect the wildcat community to alma mater, each other, and current students. They always strive for personal development via lifelong learning and educational opportunities.

University of Arizona vs Arizona State University: Fees & Scholarships


As a prospective student, you might have questions about tuition and other additional fees. Costs are one of the major factors you should consider before choosing between universities. We will also be covering financial aid: scholarships.

Arizona State University

Fees

Fees  Undergraduate Graduate
Base Tuition $34,398 $37,044
UG College Fees $1,910
Graduate Student Support Fee $270
Student-Initiated Fees $743 $743
Course Materials $1,320 $1,908
International Student Fee $200 $200

Some Scholarships

  • William C Jenkins History Teaching Fellowship Endowment by the Helios Education Foundation
  • World War II Studies Student Support Fund
  • ASU Canon Solutions America Environmental Equity Scholarship
  • Hilda Allred Women in STEM Scholarship

University of Arizona

Fees

The fees for studying undergraduate degrees: $18,474 – $41,474
The graduate degree fees are: $34,000

Scholarships

  • Incoming First-Year and Transfer Tuition Awards
  • Scholarship Universe
  • Dorrance Scholarship Program
  • Arizona Flinn Scholar
  • Funding for Indigenous Wildcats
  • Speciality ABOR Tuition Waivers

University of Arizona vs Arizona State University: Student Life & Post-Graduation Opportunities


This section of the article will explore other aspects like campus location, student life, and post-graduation opportunities.

Location

Both universities are located in Arizona but in different regions. Arizona is home to many reputed universities. Additionally, there will be opportunities to dive into natural beauty and witness a culturally diverse area. The climatic conditions make it the preferred destination for people who want to work or study.

Arizona State University

The main campus of Arizona State is in Tempe, Arizona – a part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. ASU also has several campuses in Downtown Phoenix, Mesa, and Glendale. Tempe is more developed than Tucson in terms of urbanization.

Regarding weather and climatic conditions, summers are hot, with temperatures exceeding 100°F and sometimes heat waves. Winters are mild, with temperatures 70s°F in the day. There is minimum rainfall – the city enjoys sunshine year-round.

University of Arizona

Tucson is home to one of the oldest and most well-known universities – UA. The city’s rich culture is influenced by Native American, Hispanic, and Old West roots. Tucson has attractions like the Sonoran Desert and Santa Catalina Mountains, which are close to the university. Students can also go for outdoor activities like stargazing or hiking.
Summers are hot, with temperatures close to 102°F. Tucson has an elevation of approximately 2,389 feet, resulting in cooler temperatures.

Campus Settings

Arizona State University

The main campus is spread over a large area, featuring modern buildings for academics and recreational facilities. There is a diverse student population in this urbanized campus setting. It is easier for students to get access to travel and city facilities. This campus is the largest of all ASU campuses in terms of size and student population.

University of Arizona

UA campus provides a more traditional experience. The campus promotes community strengthening via clubs for diversity and engagement. It features a blend of buildings – both historic and modern.

Student Population

Arizona State University

According to the website’s facts and figures, for 2023-24, the student number stood at 79,593. In terms of student enrollment – the Tempe campus alone had 57,144 students. The Downtown campus had the second-highest 10,608. As far as gender distribution is concerned, there are more male students (51%) than female students (49%).

University of Arizona

UA had a slightly smaller student body of 53,187 in Fall 2023. The student enrollment of the Tucson campus had the highest enrollment of 40,533. It is followed by Arizona International 9,164.

Housing

For college students, it is critical to choose the right accommodation. Housing options impact students’ overall experience, social life, and academic success. Both universities offer different options for students.

Arizona State University

Housing options from ASU will build strong connections for a lifetime – outside the classroom.

  • Residential Halls is a traditional dormitory-style living arrangement with shared rooms and spaces.
  • Special Interest Housing – Students sharing similar interests or academics can live together and participate in shared activities.
  • Off-Campus Housing – If students want an off-campus option, ASU will also help them find roommates and navigate agreements.

University of Arizona

UA majorly provides dorms of different sizes, shapes, and locations – for housing on campus. Take a look at the dormitory options:

  • Arizona-Sonora Hall
  • Árbol de la Vida
  • Arizona-Sonora Traditional Hall
  • Apache-Santa Cruz Hall
  • Babcock Inn
  • Colonia de la Paz
  • Coronado Hall
  • Likins Hall
  • Manzanita-Mohave Hall
  • Maricopa Hall
  • Pima Hall
  • Posada San Pedro
  • SkyView
  • Yavapai Hall
  • Villa del Puente

Sports and other extracurricular student activities

Arizona State University

Sports are an integral part of ASU and hugely contribute to students’ engagement and social life. Sun Devils Intramural Sports competes at the NCAA – Division 1 Level. The official mascot for the program is Sparky. Many tournaments keep happening, which will help students to be physically active and make friends. Students take pride in the achievements of this program.
ASU offers a diverse range of extracurricular activities, including:

  • Student Clubs and Organizations
  • Honor Societies
  • Student Government
  • Intramural and Club Sports
  • Arts and Performance Groups
  • Media and Publications

University of Arizona

AU is home to 500 student-athletes competing in 20 different sports. As a part of campus recreational activity, sports enhance the students’ overall health. Athletes at AU are known for their stiff competitiveness.

U of A offers a diverse range of extracurricular activities, including:

  • Student Clubs for Robotics and Culture – to name a few
  • Honor Societies
  • Performing Arts Groups for Dance and Comedy – to name a few

Strong Greek Influence

Arizona State University

  • Vibrant Greek community with active fraternities and sororities.
  • Organizes events like Greek Week and philanthropy initiatives.
  • Emphasizes values of leadership, scholarship, and diversity.

University of Arizona

  • Strong Greek presence with fraternities and sororities.
  • Hosts events like Greek Week and philanthropic activities.
  • Promotes values of brotherhood/sisterhood, scholarship, and services

Internships/Coops

UA and ASU provide internship opportunities that specialize in different areas. It depends on the student’s preferences, academic programs, and future careers.

Arizona State University

Concerning internships and coop programs, students at ASU gain access to more internship opportunities at major corporations and government agencies in and around Phoenix.
US News recognizes its internship and coop programs, giving it a rank of 21 for the year 2023. The driving forces are real-world exposure and strong connections within healthcare, finance, aerospace, and hospitality – to name a few.

University of Arizona

UA, located in Tuscan, has more internship opportunities in bioscience, sustainability, tourism, mining, and defense within the Tucson region. Students intern at research and healthcare facilities based in Tucson or the surrounding.

Work Opportunities

Arizona State University

The Global Employability University Ranking & Survey (GEURS) 2024, ranks ASU at 34th among global universities and 13th in the US for employable graduates. With such impressive rankings, ASU has risen above Chicago University, UCLA, and Dartmouth.

ASU has produced graduates who work with giant companies like Deloitte, Honeywell, American Express, and PepsiCo – to name a few.

Global Employability University Ranking (2023-24) – Times Higher Education (THE)- recognizes ASU as the 34th Best University for Graduate Jobs.

In terms of the average salary package – here’s one example. W.P. Carey School of Business graduates are said to earn salaries ranging from $50,000-$70,000 annually.

University of Arizona

As per data from the University of Arizona, graduates get employed within two years of finishing their degree. The top employers were Adobe, Intel, Walmart, and Deloitte, to name a few.

Employment for 2023 –  within ten months of completing graduation (website):
92.98% overall employment rate
89.4% employed in full-time
2.72% unemployment for those unemployed and seeking

ASU has higher rankings for graduate employability; however, the average salary package provided to UA’s graduates is higher. For example, an MBA graduate’s average salary is $94,848 with an additional signing bonus.

Summary - To Help You Decide


If you want to make a quick decision between Arizona and Arizona State University, here’s a summary to help you make a final decision.

Consider ASU if:

  • You’re looking for a more urban experience in a bigger, more vibrant city
  • You want to pursue business or engineering courses
  • Extensive research programs with government interest you
  • You want to study in a bigger university with a large student population
  • You want affordable and easily accessible accommodation
  • You are looking for better internship opportunities (no. 21, US News)
  • You prefer sunshine throughout the year

You can consider UA if

  • You want to study in a more traditional environment in a relatively smaller city
  • You are inclined towards astronomy and optical science courses
  • You are interested in pursuing research in bioscience, tourism, and sustainability
  • You are good with being in a dormitory
  • You’re looking for more diverse internship programs (in terms of numbers)
  • You want to be a part of strong-knit communities
  • You prefer a slightly cooler climate and love the outdoors

While these can be factored into your decision, the ultimate call rests on whether the course curriculum and the learning outcomes meet your career plans. The most significant part of your research is to compare courses, syllabi, electives, faculty, and research facilities of your preferred degree program, speak to current students, and then decide on which university better suits your needs.

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