The Best College Towns In Arizona For 2021


Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our fourth time ranking the best college towns in Arizona.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and Arizona is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in Arizona are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in Arizona for 2021.

The 10 Best College Towns In Arizona For 2021

  1. Mesa, AZ
  2. Tempe, AZ
  3. Glendale, AZ
  4. Scottsdale, AZ
  5. Tucson, AZ
  6. Phoenix, AZ
  7. Chandler, AZ
  8. Flagstaff, AZ

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Mesa, Tempe and Glendale - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Mesa ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Even though there are only 8 cities on our list, you need to remember there are another 435 places in Arizona that don't even have a college. One might say you gotta be in it in to win it.

Read on to find out more or for more on Arizona check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In Arizona For 2021

Mesa, AZ
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 491,194
% Undergrad Pop.: 0.3% (5th best)
Median Rent: $988 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 541.8% (4th best)
Crime Rank: 3rd best
More on Mesa: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Mesa Community College, Arizona State University-Polytechnic, Pima Medical Institute-Mesa

Tempe, AZ
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 183,652
% Undergrad Pop.: 19.8% (best)
Median Rent: $1,114 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 537.5% (3rd best)
Crime Rank: 7th best
More on Tempe: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Arizona State University-Tempe, Rio Salado College, Western International University

Glendale, AZ
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 245,514
% Undergrad Pop.: 1.6% (4th best)
Median Rent: $958 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 584.5% (6th best)
Crime Rank: 8th best
More on Glendale: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Glendale Community College, Arizona State University-West, Arizona Automotive Institute

Scottsdale, AZ
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 246,026
% Undergrad Pop.: 0.2% (7th best)
Median Rent: $1,284 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 369.8% (best)
Crime Rank: 2nd best
More on Scottsdale: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Scottsdale Community College, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts-Scottsdale, Cortiva Institute-Scottsdale

Tucson, AZ
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
4
/10

Population: 539,216
% Undergrad Pop.: 5.2% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $825 (best)
Unemployment Rate: 835.5% (9th best)
Crime Rank: 9th best
More on Tucson: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Pima Community College, University of Arizona, Pima Medical Institute-Tucson

Phoenix, AZ
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
5
/10

Population: 1,610,071
% Undergrad Pop.: 0.3% (6th best)
Median Rent: $999 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 612.6% (7th best)
Crime Rank: 6th best
More on Phoenix: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Phoenix College, GateWay Community College, Paradise Valley Community College

Chandler, AZ
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 248,631
% Undergrad Pop.: 0.0% (8th best)
Median Rent: $1,246 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 408.1% (2nd best)
Crime Rank: 4th best
More on Chandler: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Golf Academy of America-Phoenix, International Baptist College and Seminary

Flagstaff, AZ
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 71,202
% Undergrad Pop.: 19.6% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $1,200 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 720.0% (8th best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Flagstaff: Real Estate | Cost Of Living | Crime Report

Colleges: Northern Arizona University, Coconino Community College, CollegeAmerica-Flagstaff

How'd we figure out the best college towns in Arizona?

To crunch our data on Arizona's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 8 places in Arizona with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In Arizona For 2021".

And it looks like Mesa placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in Arizona, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

For more reading, check out:

8 Best College Towns In Arizona

Rank City Population
1 Mesa, AZ 491194
2 Tempe, AZ 183652
3 Glendale, AZ 245514
4 Scottsdale, AZ 246026
5 Tucson, AZ 539216
6 Phoenix, AZ 1610071
7 Chandler, AZ 248631
8 Flagstaff, AZ 71202

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?