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University of Arizona vs. Arizona State University: Which Is Right For You?

What’s Covered:

 

Both established in 1885, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University are two of Arizona’s public universities (the third being Northern Arizona University) governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. Their histories date back to before Arizona even became a U.S. state.

 

Each of these institutions has plenty to offer. U of A is a Forbes Best Value College, for one, and ASU is recognized as the most innovative school by U.S. News.

 

So, what sets them apart? And which one is right for you?

 

Learn more about the University of Arizona and Arizona State University and see your chances of acceptance.

 

U of A vs. ASU: A Quick Overview

 

 

U of A

ASU

Location

Tucson

Tempe

Campus Type

Urban

Urban

Undergraduate Enrollment

36,503

63,124

Acceptance Rate

84%

85%

U.S. News Ranking

103

117

Middle 50% SAT

1070-1310

1130-1360

Middle 50% ACT

21-28

22-29

Sticker Price (in state/out of state)

$30,150/$54,150

$30,628/$49,468

Need-blind, no-loan, or meets 100% demonstrated need?

   

 

ASU vs. U of A: A Closer Look

 

Location and Weather

 

Tucson is an ideal Southwestern city, with multicultural roots. Among other qualities, including an arts scene and Old West roots (think ranches, horses, and cattle), it offers natural beauty and plenty of opportunities for adventures, such as hiking and scenic drives. It was also the first city to earn be named a World City of Gastronomy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

 

Tempe is the site of ASU, and it has a vibrant arts scene, including the Tempe Festival of the Arts. People from all over flock to the Four Peaks Oktoberfest at Tempe Town Lake, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, and many other spectacular events. The ASU campus itself has plenty to offer, too, including the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed center for the performing arts.

 

Size

 

ASU is a much larger school — one of the largest institutions based on student body size — with more than 60,000 undergraduates and around 20,000 graduate students. The student-faculty ratio is 18:1.

 

U of A is somewhat smaller, with more than 35,000 undergraduates and nearly 10,000 graduate students. Meanwhile, the student-faculty ratio is 15:1.

 

Academics

 

At U of A, students can choose among 300 undergraduate and graduate degrees via 20 colleges and 23 schools across four campuses. Arts, humanities, and social sciences majors are particularly popular. Speech Communication and Rhetoric; Care, Health and Society; Journalism; and Education are just a few examples.

 

U of A also has a general education program that is university-wide. In addition to its in-person courses, the university offers a robust online program, ranked #7 Best Online Bachelor’s Program in the Nation by U.S. News, established in the 2015–2016 academic year.

 

ASU, likewise, has a strong online program, ranked #6 by U.S. News. It’s one of the older online learning programs, established in the 2006–2007 academic year.

 

ASU specializes in STEM majors, including Computer Science and Health and Wellness, while also offering programs in other specialties as well. As an indicator of its student satisfaction, the average freshman retention rate is 86% — the highest among public universities in Arizona. Like U of A, the university has a core General Studies program.

 

Housing

 

While most students — 81% — live off-campus at ASU, the university does have on-campus housing. Freshmen live on the campus of their major in close-knit residential college communities with people with shared interests and participate in programs and events tailored to their major. Upper-division students can also live on campus.

 

U of A, meanwhile, has a smaller percentage — 16% — living on campus. Still, the university offers dorms, some of which have Living Learning Communities, where you’ll live alongside students with shared identities or interests. Students are not required to live on campus, although most first-year students do.

 

Sports and Extracurriculars

 

The ASU Sun Devils thrive on the field and in the classroom. There are 26 varsity programs, with nine men’s and 11 women’s varsity teams competing in Division 1. 

 

Outside of the field, students have many extracurricular options, including more than 1,000 student clubs and organizations, such as the Outdoors Club and over 70 Greek-lettered organizations. Notable activities include the Homecoming Lantern Walk and Academic Bowl.

 

The Sun Devils’ chief rival is the U of A Wildcats. Like ASU, U of A competes in many D1 sports and is particularly known for its football team.

 

The university is home to 26 fraternities and 23 sororities. Additionally, there are numerous students organizations and clubs, from Dolce Accapella to the Marine Awareness & Conservation Society.

 

Culture and Diversity

 

In fall 2020, ASU announced that it was welcoming its most diverse class ever, with 47% of first-year students coming from minority backgrounds. Twenty-three percent of the student body are first-generation students, and individuals come from all 50 states, three territories, 230 tribal nations, and 136 nations.

 

ASU seeks out a diverse student body, with students from a variety of backgrounds, religions, gender identities, and sexual orientations. To that end, the university offers plenty of resources, from a Committee for Campus Inclusion to gender-neutral bathrooms and gender-inclusive housing.

 

Similarly, U of A also reported that it was enrolling its most diverse class ever in fall 2020, with 48% of students self-reporting as non-white. The university employs a data-driven approach, bringing together students with diverse backgrounds. Nearly a third of students are first-generation. 

 

The university also focuses on LGBTQ inclusion, offering such resources as the Institute for LGBTQ studies, which conducts research, programming, and more.

 

How to Decide Between U of A and ASU

 

Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State Universities offer a unique educational experience for their students, but they have different strengths.

 

Choose U of A if:

 

  • You want to pursue a humanities or arts program.
  • You prefer smaller class sizes and a closer-knit environment.
  • You’d like to study in a quintessential, “cool,” Southwestern city.

 

Choose ASU if:

 

  • You want to pursue a STEM major.
  • You’d like to study solely online in a well-established program.
  • You’re interested in attending school in an artsy, vibrant city.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

Want to attend U of A or ASU? For these and other colleges and universities, it’s important to understand your chances of admission. Using CollegeVine’s chancing engine, you will be able to predict your odds of acceptance. This free tool takes into account your grades, test scores, extracurriculars, and more — plus gives you tips on how to improve your profile.


Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.