Online Colleges in Arkansas

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Arkansas is setting its sights high when it comes to higher education. In the past, Arkansas has been successful in recruiting and enrolling college students, but graduation rates have been low.

Online Colleges in Arkansas

To help encourage degree completion, the state has set a long-term objective of reaching 60% post-secondary attainment by 2025. Their stepping stone plan, “Closing the Gap 2020,” focuses on shorter-term goals, such as:

  • Improving college readiness
  • Reducing remedial enrollment
  • Concentrating on adults and underserved populations
  • Improving affordability

One significant step in the right direction was the new funding formula that links college and university funding to performance measures such as graduation rates, rather than enrollment numbers.

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These ambitious goals and significant changes make it clear that Arkansas values higher education and wants to see students succeed.

Overview of Higher Education in Arkansas

 Two students studying together online

The state of Arkansas has 53 degree-granting institutions for students to choose from, according to a 2018-2019 report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Of the 53, 33 are public, 18 are non-profit and 2 are for-profit institutions. Data from the NCES shows the average cost of tuition and fees at a 4-year public institution is $8,391 for Arkansas residents and $20,825 for those out of state. Both are below the national average.

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The Arkansas Division of Higher Education (ADHE) serves as the administrative staff for the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The ADHE is a 12-member team that works closely with the state’s public colleges and universities. They review academic programs, administer state financial aid programs, review and make recommendations about institutional budgets, and collect data on academic programs.

The ADHE also works with the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a 15-state collaboration focused on sharing resources and initiatives to improve higher education. Through this organization, Arkansas residents are able to pursue degrees at participating states and pay in-state rates.

About Online Colleges in Arkansas

college building in Arkansas

Sometimes college students drop out because it’s difficult to balance school, work, and family. Accredited online colleges offer programs that provide a convenient alternative, allowing students to fit classes in when their schedules allow. According to 2018 data from the NCES, 13.5% of Arkansas undergraduate students are enrolled in fully online degree programs. Another 24.6% participate in a hybrid of online and on-campus classes.

The University of Arkansas, for example, offers around 40 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as a number of certifications, specialists and licensure programs. US News and World Reports has consistently ranked the school among the “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs,” and many of the school’s online graduate programs have been recognized as well!

Likewise, students at Arkansas State University can choose from online programs in nearly any field — liberal arts, business, criminal justice, nursing, and education. There are online programs at the certificate, undergraduate and graduate level, as well as degree completion opportunities. But robust online education offerings aren’t exclusive to large public universities. Private schools offer online and hybrid learning options, too.

Harding College, a private Christian institution, offers 10 completely online programs, primarily at the master’s degrees and certifications. Ouachita Baptist University has online undergraduate programs in Christian studies, interdisciplinary studies, nursing, and organizational leadership.

Scholarships and Financial Aid in Arkansas

Scholarships and Financial Aid in Arkansas

There is plenty of financial aid available to college students in Arkansas. First, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA gives you access to all kinds of aid – federal, state, and private! The money is awarded to applicants on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to apply right away. The application will be available to you on October 1st of the year before you plan to attend.

To complete the FAFSA, you will need to provide income, assets, taxes, and other financial information for you and your parents (unless you’re considered “independent”). This information will be used to determine how much and what kinds of financial aid are offered to you.

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The ideal type of financial aid is a grant or scholarship, which is money that does not have to be repaid. This aid is often awarded to those who demonstrate financial need or academic excellence but may also be given out based on intended major, geographic region, specific achievements or talents, etc.

Here are some grants and scholarships available to Arkansas residents:

Grant/Scholarship Name Grant/Scholarship amount
Academic Challenge Scholarship Graduated schedule of award
Arkansas Future Grant (ArFuture) Covers public school tuition and fees
Arkansas Health Education Grant (ArHEG) In-state tuition rates at out-of-state schools
Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship Pays tuition, fees, room and board up to $10,000 per year
State Teacher Education Program (STEP) Up to $4000 per year / Up to 3 years
Teacher Opportunity Program (TOP) Covers out-of-pocket tuition and fees paid up to $3000 per year
Workforce Challenge Scholarship Cost of certificate/program up to $800


You can find more information about the scholarships above as well as scholarships for dependents of law enforcement officers, military dependents, single parents, and more on the ADHE website.

To search for others, try using scholarship search websites such as Fastweb.com. The college(s) you are interested in is another great resource, as schools often have their own financial aid programs. The financial aid office can tell you about those.

Finally, be sure to check out Arkansas’s state-wide college planning tool, “Fund My Future.” This is a free resource providing scholarship searches, FAFSA assistance, financial aid checklists, scholarship application tips and so on. Many of these tools are available to the public already, but the information provided here is specific to Arkansas students and organized on one site.

List of Online Colleges in Arkansas

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University has multiple start dates throughout the year and offers accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. The programs are designed with working students in mind. A-State students can choose from a wide variety of degrees, such as a BA in Communication Studies, a BS in Radiologic Sciences, or an MAT in Special Education.

Arkansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Arkansas Tech University

Arkansas Tech University

Arkansas Tech University is committed to helping all nature of students get the education they want. ATU’s online programs are designed to fit with students’ schedules, whether they work or have families. ATU offers endorsements like Dyslexia Therapist, bachelor’s degrees in fields like history, and master’s degrees in fields like emergency management and homeland security.

Arkansas Tech University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Central Baptist College

Central Baptist College

Central Baptist College’s online program is called Professional Adult College Education (PACE). It’s designed specifically for working adults. Students can earn bachelor’s degrees in fields like business administration, leadership, ministry, human resource management, and more. Courses start every 5 weeks. CBU students have the option of attending fully online or hybrid classes.

Central Baptist College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Harding University

Harding University

Harding University aims to give its students all the preparation needed for their careers while staying rooted in the Christian faith. While courses at Harding are online, students may be required to visit campus one or more times, depending on their program. The university offers certification, licensure, and bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in a variety of fields, including ministry, kinesiology, and sports administration.

Harding University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Henderson State University

Henderson State University

Henderson State University’s online program focuses on master’s and specialist degrees for current or prospective teachers.

Henderson works with in-service teachers and their schedules to make earning a master’s degree possible. Students can pursue their master’s in fields like special education, developmental therapy, educational leadership, and sports administration. Henderson also offers a specialist program in educational leadership.

Henderson State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

John Brown University

John Brown University

John Brown University was ranked the #1 best online college in Arkansas by the College Consensus. JBU strives to provide students with a quality education through a Christ-centered program. JBU students have the potential to earn their master’s sooner with the school’s 4+1 bachelor’s and master’s programs. Degrees in marketing, psychology, cybersecurity, and more are offered.

John Brown University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Ouachita Baptist University

Ouachita Baptist University

Ouachita Baptist University is a Christian-centered university offering online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Programs start three times a year, and courses are 8 weeks long. Most of the degrees can be earned fully online. Undergraduate programs include a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies or Organizational Leadership. Graduate programs include Applied Behavior Analysis and Education.

Ouachita Baptist University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Southern Arkansas University

Southern Arkansas University

Southern Arkansas University offers online degree programs for a variety of learners, from working students to graduate students to retirees. SAU also has training programs for those who need assistance with digital learning. Courses are 7 weeks long. Students can earn degrees like a BBA, an MBA, an MA in Teaching, or an MS in Science in Agriculture.

Southern Arkansas University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith

University of Arkansas Fort Smith

The University of Arkansas—Fort Smith’s online programs are rigorous and are intended for students dedicated to getting a degree. Online courses may be asynchronous, synchronous, or hybrid. UAFS offers a limited number of certificates and associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Students can earn degrees in areas like criminal justice, organizational leadership, and healthcare administration.

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Arkansas – Little Rock

University of Arkansas Little Rock

The University of Arkansas—Little Rock offers online degree programs for undergraduate and graduate degrees. All courses are fully online and asynchronous. UA Little Rock is well-known for its Master’s in Social Work program. Students can also earn degrees in several other fields including nursing, learning systems technology, and business analytics.

UA Little Rock is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Arkansas – Monticello

University of Arkansas Monticello

The University of Arkansas—Monticello is an NC-SARA-approved institution, meaning its online degrees should be recognized by most states. Most of UAM’s distance learning programs are entirely online, but some require students to come to campus for certain things, like exams. UAM students can earn degrees online in fields like music, forestry, and debate.

The University of Arkansas – Monticello is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff

University of Arkansas Pine Bluff

The University of Arkansas—Pine Bluff offers online degree programs with 20 different start dates throughout the year. Each course is a little under 12 weeks long. All online students pay in-state tuition, even non-residents. Students can choose between self-paced and more traditional courses in fields like English, community college leadership, and construction management.

The University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Students at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences can take degree completion courses in several medical fields. For most programs, students are required to have an associate degree. Students can complete degrees in fields like cardio-respiratory care and diagnostic medical sonography. Students can earn a full bachelor’s degree in nuclear medicine imaging sciences.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Central Arkansas

University of Central Arkansas

The University of Central Arkansas is committed to helping students earn degrees online through support from professors and program coordinators. All students pay flat-fee tuition. Courses are either 8 or 16 weeks long. There’s no distinction between online and on-campus degrees. Students can earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees in fields like addiction studies and nutrition.

The University of Central Arkansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Williams Baptist University

Williams Baptist University

Williams Baptist University strives to give students a Christ-centered and affordable college education. WBU currently offers one online degree program, a BS in Criminal Justice. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, with 45 hours spent in content-area courses. The curriculum consists of courses such as Criminological Theory and Terrorism and Counterterrorism.

Williams Baptist University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Conclusion

student taking online examination

The higher education options in Arkansas are excellent, and they’re set to get even better! The funding to restructure and their ambitious goals for degree attainment prove that Arkansas is committed to helping college students complete their degrees and achieve long-term success.

You can also view our Online Colleges in Arizona and Online Colleges in California guides for more options. 

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.