Best Colleges in Arkansas

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Updated on July 6, 2023
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in August 2019 Arkansas had an unemployment rate of 3.9%, a record low for the year. Of the state's top eight career fields, three -- office and administrative support, education, and management -- boast average salaries that exceed the statewide average for all occupations. Earning a bachelor's degree can be instrumental in working toward a high-paying position, though some career paths require a master's.

Finding the right school for you can be challenging. To aid in your decision-making process, we've compiled a ranking that highlights Arkansas's top 20 colleges and universities. The following institutions offer excellent programs, valuable student support services, and affordable tuition rates. This article also highlights schools' online learning options, admission requirements, and scholarship opportunities. Use the embedded links to visit each school's website to learn more. There, you can find contact information for counselors who can answer any questions you may have.

Best Colleges in Arkansas

  1. University of Arkansas - Fayetteville, AR
  2. Harding University - Searcy, AR
  3. Arkansas State University - Jonesboro, AR
  4. Williams Baptist University - Walnut Ridge, AR
  5. John Brown University - Siloam Springs, AR
  6. Ouachita Baptist University - Arkadelphia, AR
  7. University of Central Arkansas - Conway, AR
  8. University of Arkansas at Little Rock - Little Rock, AR
  9. Hendrix College - Conway, AR
  10. Arkansas Tech University - Russellville, AR
  11. Lyon College - Batesville, AR
  12. Southern Arkansas University - Magnolia, AR
  13. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff - Pine Bluff, AR
  14. University of Arkansas-Fort Smith - Fort Smith, AR
  15. Henderson State University - Arkadelphia, AR
  16. Central Baptist College - Conway, AR
  17. Ecclesia College - Springdale, AR
  18. University of the Ozarks - Clarksville, AR
  19. Crowley's Ridge College - Paragould, AR
  20. University of Arkansas at Monticello - Monticello, AR

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Ranking Accredited Colleges in Arkansas

Best Colleges in Arkansas

  1. University of Arkansas

    Fayetteville, AR



    The top public college in the state, the University of Arkansas offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, as well as certificate programs. U of A offers a wide variety of career-oriented programs, including bachelor's programs in agricultural business, architecture, and brewing science. Learners can also earn a certificate in one of 36 areas, such as criminal law or project management.

    U of A's online degrees appeal to all learners, charging all online students the same in-state tuition rate. Online programs use asynchronous formats, benefiting students with full-time jobs or other responsibilities. Online programs feature options not available to on-campus students, including licensure and endorsement programs for Arkansas teachers.

    Prospective undergraduates can submit the U of A application or the Common Application. The university offers scholarship opportunities for freshmen, transfer students, and out-of-state learners. Active-duty military personnel and veterans qualify for an additional $4,000 in financial aid in addition to federally funded tuition benefits.

  2. Harding University

    Searcy, AR



    A private institution, Harding University affiliates with the Churches of Christ and offers undergraduate and graduate programs in dozens of fields, including broadcast journalism, graphic design, and international studies. In addition to the main Searcy campus, the university operates a school of theology in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Distance education at Harding offers certificates and degrees in the Bible and ministry. Outside of class, learners can participate in student life by joining one of the university's many clubs and organizations. Religious organizations include the Association of Christians in Architecture and the J.E.S.U.S. Project. Students can also participate in one of six semester-long study-abroad opportunities.

    Harding does not accept GED certificates. Undergraduate applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores, while application requirements for graduate programs vary. Harding awards up to $11,000 per year in scholarships to incoming learners who possess excellent grades and standardized test scores.

  3. Arkansas State University-Main Campus

    Jonesboro, AR



    Situated in Jonesboro, Arkansas State University educates over 14,000 students each year. Bachelor's degrees at this Arkansas university include agricultural studies, electrical engineering, and interdisciplinary - family studies. Online learners can choose from 30 degree and certificate options, and the fully online master's program in teaching qualifies graduates for initial Arkansas teaching licensure.

    A-State students can visit the Career Management Center to attend job fairs, receive resume critiques, or practice interviewing skills. Other student services include personal and academic counselors who work with learners in one-on-one and small-group settings.

    A-State requires a minimum 2.75 high school GPA or 600 GED score. Applicants who do not meet this requirement may still gain conditional admission. Incoming degree-seekers without a minimum 21 ACT score must take the COMPASS exam to determine initial English and math course placements. Financial aid opportunities include four institutional scholarships.

  4. Williams Baptist University

    Walnut Ridge, AR



    Williams Baptist University awards undergraduate and graduate degrees in Christian ministries, business, and education through 14 academic departments. The university features one entirely online program -- a bachelor's in criminal justice -- which requires that applicants possess an associate degree. Professors at WBU instruct all courses from a Christian perspective.

    On-campus students attend religious services each week. WBU also boasts 18 varsity sports and intramural teams, and campus traditions include volunteering, on-campus job fairs, and homecoming in the fall.

    WBU prefers applicants with at least a 2.6 high school GPA and a minimum score of 20 on the ACT or 1030 on the SAT. The university does not accept GED certificates. Incoming degree-seekers can receive up to $12,000 per year in financial aid if they have excellent ACT or SAT scores.

  5. John Brown University

    Siloam Springs, AR



    An interdenominational Christian university in Siloam Springs, John Brown University educates over 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Popular undergraduate majors include accounting, chemistry, and computer science. The school offers 18 graduate programs in fields like cybersecurity, healthcare administration, and international business. Additionally, JBU features five bachelor's degrees that learners can complete entirely online.

    Faith plays a significant role in student life at JBU, with the university hosting optional religious services multiple times each week and frequently inviting guest speakers. Student ministries at JBU feature small-group meetings, retreats, and mission trips. Mission trips take place during academic vacations, often taking degree-seekers to cities across the United States.

    JBU requires applicants to submit evidence of a high school diploma and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer credits must reflect a minimum 2.5 GPA. A private institution, this Arkansas university charges the same tuition rate to all learners regardless of residency. Incoming degree-seekers with excellent grades and test scores automatically receive the Trustee's Award, earning $12,000 per year if they stay in good academic standing.

  6. Ouachita Baptist University

    Arkadelphia, AR



    A member of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, Ouachita Baptist University delivers degrees and pre-professional programs in dozens of areas. The university features degrees in biblical languages, Christian media, and worship ministry, among other programs that train the next generation of lay and ordained ministers. Online degrees include associate and bachelor's programs in Christian studies as well as a bachelor's in interdisciplinary studies.

    Academically gifted students at OBU can apply to the Carl Goodson Honors Program, which requires an additional 13 credits of honors courses. Learners in the program benefit from priority course and housing registration, travel grants, and networking events. All honors program participants also complete service-learning projects.

    Admission requirements for this Arkansas university include a minimum 2.5 high school GPA and a 20 ACT or 1020 SAT score. There is no additional application to qualify for a merit scholarship, which awards recipients up to $18,500 per year.

  7. University of Central Arkansas

    Conway, AR



    A public university located in Conway, the University of Central Arkansas features undergraduate degrees in six fields, including business, fine arts and communication, and health and behavioral sciences. The graduate school features master's and doctoral degrees in areas like communication sciences, history, and mental health counseling. The Schedler Honors College admits incoming undergraduates who possess a minimum 3.5 high school GPA. Honors students automatically receive a $5,000 scholarship and a private dorm room.

    Student life at UCA provides undergraduate and graduate degree-seekers with multiple opportunities to network, collaborate, and socialize outside of class. Learners can choose from more than 200 recognized student organizations.

    Undergraduate applicants submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Some applicants to this Arkansas university who do not meet the GPA cutoff may still receive conditional admission. UCA boasts dozens of institutional scholarships. Degree-seekers need only submit one form to apply for all university-funded scholarship opportunities.

  8. University of Arkansas at Little Rock

    Little Rock, AR



    At the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, students can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree through one of six schools in areas like business, law, and communication. Undergraduates can choose from more than 60 majors as well as dozens of online degree options. Graduate programs train the next generation of business, communication, and education leaders.

    Outside of class, degree-seekers can join one of 73 registered student organizations such as the Aikido Club, the Writers Network, or the Graduate Student Association. Counseling resources at this Arkansas university include small-group and one-on-one sessions. Learners can also submit anonymous tips if a peer needs help.

    Applicants with GED certificates receive unconditional admission if they also score at least a 19 on the ACT. To apply for financial aid, incoming undergraduates must submit FAFSA results and the Trojan SMART Application by the December 1 priority deadline.

  9. Hendrix College

    Conway, AR



    A private college affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Hendrix College educates over 1,300 learners on its Conway campus annually. All students gain a liberal arts education and take interdisciplinary courses that blend liberal arts topics during their freshman year. As learners progress through the four-year program, they select an academic focus, similar to the way students at other colleges select a major. With its unconventional undergraduate curriculum, Hendrix does not offer any online degrees.

    The learning commons at Hendrix provides students with one-on-one academic advising and tutoring resources, and the college introduces new degree-seekers to student life through a one-week orientation session during the fall semester. Popular clubs and organizations include the Environmental Concerns Committee, the Climbing Coalition, and the Culinary Club.

    Hendrix does not accept GED certificates. Applicants must submit high school transcripts, recommendation letters, and an essay. The college's Tuition Advantage program provides significant cost savings to academically gifted degree-seekers.

  10. Arkansas Tech University

    Russellville, AR



    An excellent choice for students planning to enter a STEM profession, Arkansas Tech University awards associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees as well as professional certificates. This Arkansas university offers multiple bachelor's programs in the biological sciences, computer and information science, and electrical engineering. Online programs at ATU include an associate in law enforcement and an RN-to-BSN program.

    At ATU, degree-seekers nearing graduation can sign in online to apply for jobs and set up on-campus interviews. Other student support services include theLink, a unique search engine that connects learners to tutors, organizations, and campus events.

    Prospective students can apply for the spring or fall semester. Applicants should have a minimum score of 19 on the ACT and at least a 2.0 high school GPA. Transfer credits must reflect a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA. This Arkansas university boasts multiple scholarships, many of which incoming learners receive automatically if they meet GPA and test score cutoffs.

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