Paradise Valley Community College


Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC) is a two-year college in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s one of ten colleges, two skill centers, and multiple satellite locations which comprise the Maricopa County Community College District. The district was established in 1962 with a single college and has since grown to become the largest provider of post-secondary education in the state of Arizona – and the largest community college district in the U.S. in terms of enrollment.The district’s colleges and centers offer comprehensive professional, occupational, special interest, and continuing education curricula as well as innovative, award-winning programs that have been replicated at other community colleges across the nation.

Despite its name, PVCC is located in Northeast Phoenix some distance from the actual town of Paradise Valley. PVCC was originally founded in 1985 with classes temporarily held at Paradise Valley High School. The school district gave the college its present name, and construction of the campus began in 1986. PVCC operated as an extension of Scottsdale Community College until it gained independent accreditation in 1990. PVCC is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association. The college mascot is the puma, and the school colors are sand and turquoise.

PVCC has expanded in both campus size and enrollment along with the development of the north Phoenix area. The main campus is nestled in a quiet neighborhood, easily accessible from both SR51 and Loop 101. A branch campus, PVCC at Black Mountain, opened in August 2009. PVCC serves over 9,000 students enrolled in degree programs, along with more than 4,500 residents taking advantage of continuing education opportunities. However, students won’t get lost in the crowd because PVCC has small class sizes with a low teacher-to-student ratio (average class size is 26).

From traditional college physics to the cutting-edge course Introduction to Programming iPhone Applications, PVCC has it all! With 64 degree and certificate programs, you will be sure to find the path that’s right for you whether you want a broad general education, a solid academic foundation that will transfer to the state universities, if you want to enter an occupation immediately upon graduating, if you are seeking career advancement or professional development through a certificate program, or if you are simply looking for personal intellectual enrichment.

Students can learn a skill to begin a new career or complement an existing one by completing one or more certificate programs in areas such as: EMT, Fire Science, Early Childhood Education, Journalism, International Business, Microsoft Technology, Music Business, Nurse Assisting, Practical Nursing, Personal Trainer, Programming & System Analysis, Organizational Management, Retail Management, Small Business, Sound Design, Technical Theatre, and Web Design.

Associate Degree programs include: Associate in Arts (AA); Associate in Fine Arts (AAFA); Associate in Elementary Education (AAEE); Associate in Business (ABUS); Associate in General Studies (AGS); and Associate in Science (AS). PVCC also offers 21 Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees which are two-year occupational degrees requiring 60-64 credits.

The Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC) is another available program of study. This curriculum does not result in a degree, but helps students fulfill 35 semester hours of lower-division general education requirements before transferring to a four-year college in Arizona. Students who complete the AGEC core curriculum at PVCC are guaranteed admission to all three Arizona state universities with a smooth transfer of lower division credits. Differing tracks are tailored to students looking to pursue degrees in the liberal arts (AGEC-A), business (AGEC-B), or math and science (AGEC-S).

The Associate in Transfer Partnership (ATP) degree was developed specifically for students who have an identified major and have selected the baccalaureate degree-granting institution to which they intend to transfer. The lower division course degree requirements of the major are jointly planned and agreed on by the community college and the institution to which the student plans to transfer.

Alternatively, through an agreement between the Maricopa Community Colleges and Northern Arizona University (NAU), you can continue your education toward a bachelor’s degree after completing your associate’s degree – while still attending the community college! The 90/30 program allows you to transfer up to 90 college credits from the community college toward a B.A. or B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS). This allows you to save on the overall cost of your bachelor’s degree by paying the lower community college tuition rates. Then you will need only 30 hours of credit from NAU to complete the bachelor’s degree requirements.

PVCC has a highly qualified faculty dedicated to teaching and student achievement. As of 2009, the campus had 117 full-time residential faculty and 444 adjunct faculty, most of whom have advanced degrees in their field of expertise. Even the fitness instructors have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in exercise science, and the individualized attention they provide is like having your own personal trainer at no extra charge. PVCC is dedicated to helping students reach their goals in every way.

The student body at PVCC comprises about 55% women and 45% men. The percentage of students aged 19 and under (including dual enrollment high school students) is over 34%, while almost 16% of the student body is age 40 or over. Daytime enrollment is approximately 68% of the total, while night enrollment is strong as well.

Despite being a commuter college (parking is free, and there is a bus stop on campus), PVCC offers many ways for students to get involved in college life – including over 32 student clubs and organizations, Student Leadership Council, Peak Leadership Institute, Honors Program, Service Learning (volunteerism), sports, arts and cultural events. Opportunities are numerous for study groups, peer tutoring, faculty interaction, integration of assignments, group projects, and development of teambuilding skills.

PVCC athletic facilities include a state-of-the-art indoor fitness center, outdoor sports fields, tennis and handball courts. The eastern edge of the campus borders the Paradise Valley Golf Course, operated by Maricopa County. PVCC is affiliated with the National Junior College Athletic Association. The women’s cross-country team has won the national championship many times since their first in 1997, and the men’s team has carried two national titles.

The PVCC Center for Performing Arts, opened in 2005, contains stage facilities for drama and music performances. A 12-foot-high colorful horse sculpture titled “Gateway to a Life-long Journey of Learning” stands outside the building. The Center for Performing Arts Gallery also hosts several art exhibits annually including shows by faculty and students. Various art collections, including over 600 Western-themed pieces donated by faculty-emeritus Dr. Warren Buxton, and a set of life-size figures of Chinese warriors and horses like those discovered in 1974 near Xi’an, China, are on display in the Learning Resources Complex (LRC). The LRC contains the college library, computer labs, and tutoring center.

Stretching across the PVCC campus is a Scale Model Solar System, a detailed true scale model at 1:15,000,000,000 (1 to 15 billion). This means that every step you take in the model is equal to 15 billion steps in the actual solar system. The model solar system is set in a straight line spanning the length of four football fields (about a quarter of a mile), beginning with the Sun at the northwest corner of the J-Building and ending with Pluto near the south entrance of the Center for Performing Arts. When you stand at the Earth station and look at the Sun sphere, it will appear exactly the same size as the Sun does in the sky. There are fourteen learning stations along the way – two informational, one of the Sun, nine for each of the planets, and two for the two asteroid belts. In addition, there is a Telescope Dome on campus for astronomy events and star parties.

A new building for the study of life sciences at PVCC includes seven classrooms, six biology labs, and two anatomy/physiology labs (one of which is a cadaver lab), plus lab support spaces and administrative offices. The Life Science Building’s masonry and copper architectural design is a tangible symbol of its commitment to collaborative learning in the context of sustainable desert architecture. The xeriscape landscaping around the building relies only on natural rainfall for irrigation, and the sloping roof is equipped to collect rainwater. The roof has a white coating to reduce solar gain, and all of the labs and classrooms make use of daylighting to reduce energy usage. A large terrace provides a shaded outdoor gathering place divided into informal meeting spaces complete with tables, chairs, chalkboards, and ceiling fans.

In 2010, PVCC celebrated the grand opening of its newly renovated Q building, now home to the Math and Continuing Education departments as well as the Center for Teaching and Learning, which focuses on expanding and improving instruction to support learning and student success.

Personal or group walking tours of campus are available year-round. All tours are led by PVCC Ambassadors, a group of volunteer students. The walking tour includes visits to academic buildings, student services areas, the student union, and other attractions. Make sure to ask your guide what it’s like to study at PVCC. Guided walking tours last approximately 35-40 minutes and it is highly recommend that you call in advance to confirm that there will be someone available to give you a tour. For more information, see: You can also take a campus virtual tour here: For more information about PVCC, visit the college website:

Click here for a Homeschooler’s Guide to Paradise Valley Community College, in which a homeschool graduate tells about his experience at PVCC.



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