University of Arizona vs. Arizona State University: Pros and Cons

There are 57 colleges and universities to choose from in Arizona. Two of the most commonly mentioned ones by students who are residing in the Grand Canyon State or thinking about moving to it to get their college degrees are the University of Arizona (UA) and Arizona State University (ASU), both of which are large public research universities.

The University of Arizona and Arizona State University have many things in common. For instance, they were both established in the late 1800s. Both UA and ASU are party schools and moderately selective, with acceptance rates of 84.6% and 86.5%, respectively. However, ASU has lower tuition than UA.

In the 2021 Best National Universities ranking by US News, the University of Arizona is number 97. On the other hand, in the same ranking by the same ranking site, Arizona State University is number 103.

Are you torn between UA and ASU? Don’t stop reading now because we will answer some of the most pressing questions that are likely to pop into the minds of any student who plans to apply to either of the two institutions.

Let’s kick things off by quickly comparing the two schools located in the state of Arizona:

LocationTucson, ArizonaTempe, Arizona
Campus typeUrbanUrban
Campus size392 acres664 acres
Founding year18851885
School typePublic research universityPublic research university
ReputationParty schoolParty school
Number of majors109350+
SelectivityModerately selectiveModerately selective
Acceptance rate84.60%86.50%
Retention rate81%88%
Graduation rate59.90%67.10%
Number of students35,80144,461
Average class size>15 students in 45% of classes>20 students in 35% of classes
Student-to-faculty ratio15:0120:01
ColorCardinal and navyMaroon and gold
MascotWilbur and Wilma WildcatSparky the Sun Devil
Number of varsity teams1826
Athletic affiliationNCAA Division INCAA Division I

As you can see, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University share a lot of things in common.

If you cannot decide which between the two you should send an application to, continue reading. Below, you will come across some of the key differences between UA and ASU in terms of selectivity level, minimum GPA requirement, admissions policies, cost of attendance and decision plans available.

Which School is Harder to Get Into?

Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University are somewhat selective institutions. The acceptance rate at UA is 84.6%. On the other hand, the acceptance rate at ASU is 86.5%. Between the two, applicants have slightly better chances of getting accepted into Arizona State University.

Students check out many things about colleges and universities before sending their applications to them. Looking at the acceptance rate gives them an idea of whether it’s an acceptance or rejection letter they are likely to receive.

The average acceptance rate at US institutions is 68%. This means that more than half of applying students gain admission into the majority of colleges and universities they apply to.

The acceptance rates at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University are so much higher than the national average.

Let’s check out the top 10 Arizona schools with the highest acceptance rates:

Chamberlain University-Arizona100%
DeVry University-Arizona100%
Xtylo Beauty College100%
Prescott College97.40%
The University of Advancing Technology87.40%
Arizona State University – Tempe86.50%
Northern Arizona University84.90%
The University of Arizona84.60%
Arizona State University – Polytechnic83.70%
Arizona State University – Downtown Phoenix81.90%

Now, let’s take a look at the top 10 schools in Arizona with the lowest acceptance rates:

Aveda Institute -Tucson32.70%
Ottawa University – Surprise43.20%
Arizona College – Tempe52.20%
Arizona State University – Skysong63.80%
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott65.70%
Arizona Christian University67.90%
Grand Canyon University76.00%
Arizona State University – West81.80%
Arizona State University – Downtown Phoenix81.90%
Arizona State University – Polytechnic83.70%

Related Article: University of Arizona vs. Arizona State University

GPA You Need to Get Into UA and ASU

To gain admission into the University of Arizona, applicants should have a GPA of 3.42 at least. On the other hand, applicants should have a minimum of 3.54 GPA to get accepted into Arizona State University. Having a strong overall application can help make up for a GPA that’s lower than required.

Admissions officers consider a lot of things when deciding the fate of applying students.

While it’s not the only factor taken into account, the GPA is something that can have a substantial impact on the outcome of the admissions process.

It’s a good idea for students applying to the University of Arizona to have a GPA of not less than 3.42. This means that they should have mostly B’s with some A’s in high school — C’s and D’s are best avoided if the goal is to attend UA.

However, according to statistics, the average GPA of students admitted into UA is 3.39.

Students sending applications to Arizona State University, on the other hand, should have a GPA of not lower than 3.54 in order to gain admission into the Tempe-based institution. This means that they need to have a combination of A’s and B’s in high school, with just a very few C’s.

U of A is a big school with a lot of school spirit. In addition to a wide range of offered majors and classes, there is so much to get involved in whether it be sports, clubs, greek life, etc. review

Worry not if you are unhappy with your GPA and you wish to attend either UA or ASU.

That’s because the GPA is not the only information on your application that will be taken into account. If the rest of your application is impressive, you might get a thumbs up from the admissions officers at the University of Arizona or Arizona State University.

Here are some important things to remember when applying to UA:

  • Assured admission. You are 100% sure to get accepted into the school if you attended a regionally accredited high school, meet core requirements, rank in the top 25 of the graduating class and have an unweighted GPA of not less than 3.0 in your core competency requirements based on your 6th semester grades.
  • Extracurriculars. The school’s admissions officers are interested in learning about an applicant’s passions, motivations and potentials. This is why they take into account extracurricular activities. What they are looking for are leaders and those with the ability to benefit from and contribute to the institution.
  • Optional materials. Unlike most other colleges and universities, many of the documents students have to send in together with their applications are optional when applying to UA. Some of them include SAT or ACT scores, personal essays and resumes. However, during the review process, students may be asked to submit them.

The following are what you need to keep in mind when applying to ASU:

  • Academic performance. Like the University of Arizona, Arizona State University is looking for students who rank in the top 25 of their graduating class. Those who do not meet this aptitude requirement may be assessed individually before the admissions officers make their decision.
  • Course competency requirements. To gain admission into ASU, applicants should have completed the following coursework: four years English, four years math, three years lab sciences, two years social sciences, two years same second language, one year fine arts or one year career and technical education.
  • Grades or college credit. High school grades may be self-reported in the application or the official copy of transcripts may be sent to Arizona State University. Students who have earned college credit should request the school to send their official transcripts to ASU.

Related Article: ASU Online vs. In-Person

SAT and ACT for UA and ASU

Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University have a test-optional admissions policy. In other words, their admissions officers do not consider SAT or ACT scores in the admissions process if they are not submitted. In some instances, UA and ASU require applicants to submit test scores.

A lot of colleges and universities in the US are test-optional, which is advantageous for applying students who are unhappy with their standardized test scores or were unable to take the SAT or ACT.

When applying to the University of Arizona or Arizona State University, you can choose between submitting your SAT or ACT score or keeping it to yourself. If you decide to submit your test score, it will be taken into account by the admissions officers when deciding. Otherwise, you will not be asked for your reason for not submitting your test score.

But just to give you an idea, here are the SAT or ACT scores of students admitted into UA or ASU:

Average SAT score1110 to 13601120 to 1360
Average ACT score21 to 2922-28

Despite being a test-optional school, 53% of students admitted into the University of Arizona submitted their SAT scores and 54% of them submitted their ACT scores during application.

On the other hand, 58% of students accepted into Arizona State University submitted their SAT scores and 58% of them submitted their ACT scores during application.

It’s true that students may or may not submit test scores when applying to UA or ASU. However, in some cases, the submission of SAT or ACT scores may be required.

For instance, international students need to submit their test scores. SAT or ACT scores may also be asked for course placement or as supplemental information.

Many colleges and universities are test-optional. Many of them also superscore SAT and ACT scores. Put simply, schools that superscore test scores consider only the highest section scores across all test dates and add them up.

However, both UA and ASU do not superscore SAT and ACT scores.

Related Article: Is Grand Canyon University a Good School?

Cost of Attendance: UA vs. ASU

The tuition at the University of Arizona as of the academic year 2021 to 2022 amounts to $12,700 for in-state students and $37,200 for out-of-state students. For the same academic year, the tuition at Arizona State University amounts to $10,710 for in-state students and $28,800 for out-of-state students.

Students and their parents vastly underestimate the actual cost of college, according to a CNBC article. Similarly, many of them struggle with how to pay for a degree.

The cost is one of the most important considerations when applying to colleges and universities.

According to, the average cost of tuition at private colleges and universities is equivalent to $37,650.

On the other hand, at public institutions, the average tuition for in-state students is $10,560 and the average tuition for out-of-state students is $27,020.

The in-state and out-of-state tuition costs at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University, both of which are public schools, are higher than the national average tuition costs at public institutions.

Still, the tuition at either of the two institutions situated in Arizona are cheaper than the national average tuition costs at private schools.

Here’s a breakdown of the estimated cost of attending UA for one academic year:

Room and board$13,450$13,450
Books and supplies$900$900
iCourse fee$100$100
UA Cost of Attendance

Now, let’s take a look at the breakdown of the estimated cost of going to ASU for one academic year:

Initiated fees$633$633
Room and Board$8,878$8,878
Loan fees$72$72
ASU Cost of Attendance

Financial aid packages help bring down the cost of going to college.

At the University of Arizona, about 68% of its students have some form of grant aid. The average amount of cash awarded to each student is $10,475.

On the other hand, around 79% of students at Arizona State University receive some form of grant aid. The average amount of cash each one of them is equivalent to $11,598.

Arizona State is a surprisingly rigorous university, academically, with well-reputed programs across a many disciplines. The greatest downside, it seems, would be how spread-out the campus is, which entails the need for reliable transportation (like a car or bike). review

Early Decisions

The University of Arizona doesn’t have early decision. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Students who apply and are admitted early have benefits to enjoy. Arizona State University does not offer early decision, either. However, it has priority decision, allowing students to enjoy perks, if accepted.

Some students, especially those who have set their hearts on going to their preferred colleges and universities, apply early decision.

Other than allowing them to know the decision of admissions officers ahead of everybody else, applying early decision may also increase their chances of receiving acceptance letters from their chosen schools.

Unfortunately, neither UA nor ASU offers early decision, unlike many higher education institutions in the nation.

Students who are interested in earning their degrees from the University of Arizona are encouraged by the public land-grant research university in Tucson, Arizona to apply as early as they can.

Applications start on July 1 — as mentioned earlier, applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The processing of applications takes two to four weeks.

It’s a great idea to apply to UA as soon as you have decided to go there. That’s because students who apply early and gain admission into the school, too, can have first access to their preferred:

  • Orientation dates
  • On-campus housing applications
  • Scholarship Universe, which is UA’s exclusive scholarship-matching service.

Like the University of Arizona, Arizona State University also doesn’t have early decision. However, it has priority decision, which is kind of similar to early decision.

Making priority decision different from early decision is the fact that it’s not binding.

This means that if you apply to ASU priority decision and then get accepted, you don’t have to withdraw your applications from other colleges and universities and attend the public research university in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

So, in other words, you can still choose to attend another school and not get penalized for it.

Arizona State University’s priority decision starts on November 1. It’s a good idea to apply to ASU as early as you can via this decision plan to enjoy the following perks:

  • Early receipt of an admission decision
  • Ability to secure the most financial aid possible

Just Before You Apply to UA or ASU

There are many colleges and universities in Arizona. Two of those that a lot of college-bound kids and college transferees often put on the top of their list are the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

UA and ASU share a lot of things in common.

For instance, they are both public research universities founded in the late 1800s. These institutions located in the Grand Canyon State are party schools, too. They are both moderately selective, although applicants have slightly higher chances of gaining admission into ASU due to a little higher acceptance rate.

While there are similarities between the two institutions, there are also differences.

For instance, it’s slightly cheaper for in-state students to attend Arizona State University than the University of Arizona. On the other hand, it’s slightly more affordable for out-of-state students to go to UA. Also, a larger percentage of ASU’s student population receives some form of grant aid.

Take your time when choosing between the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of going to each one of them.

While you’re at it, consider checking how UA and ASU fare against other colleges and universities located in Arizona for the smartest choice that you can possibly make.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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