Best Online Colleges in Arkansas

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Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBest Collegesin Arkansas2017
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Arkansas is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). As a result, the state works more actively and closely with policymakers, colleges, and schools to continuously improve education in Arkansas. In 2013, the state passed the Digital Learning Act, which created standards around online courses for students K-12 participating in distance learning. The state’s rationale behind focusing on primary and secondary education is that it prepares students for greater success in a postsecondary educational environment.

The state’s investment in online education also reaches online colleges in Arkansas. The state’s 2015 Public School Fund allocated money to support distance learning programs and standards to improve course offerings available to students throughout the state. The Public School Fund’s projected budget for distance learning in the 2016-17 school year is around $4 million.

While college tuition increases have affected Arkansas, the jumps in cost have not been overwhelming in comparison to other states. In 2014, tuition and fees at public four-year colleges increased by 2% from 2013. In Arkansas, tuition and fees at public two-year colleges were 7% higher than in 2012-13. Their steady tuition rates in combination with their strong push for online education access through legislation provides viable distance learning options for college students in Arkansas.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of Arkansas 76.25 60% Fayetteville, AR

The University of Arkansas was founded in 1871 and is located in Fayetteville, overlooking the Ozark Mountains. As one of the state's main partners for education and economic development, this university is a major provider of graduate-level instruction. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classified it as one of the 108 schools in the nation to get "highest research status". That status places the University among the top 2 percent of colleges and universities nationwide. UAR Online's programs lead to degrees in a full range of academic levels: Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral. In addition, online students can earn credentials in specialist areas as well as certifications and licenses. The University of Arkansas's online students use the Blackboard Learn course management system. Online students who graduate have the same status as on-campus Razarbacks with their names engraved on the three miles of sidewalks known as Senior Walk.

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2 Arkansas State University-Main Campus 66.88 39% Jonesboro, AR

Arkansas State University, founded in 1909, is a catalyst for statewide progress serving the Delta and Mid-South regions. ASU is located in Jonesboro, which is the regional hub of Northeast Arkansas for healthcare, entertainment, business, and industry. The city is located in a low-lying area called Crowley's Ridge formed by the 1812 earthquake. ASU's online learning curriculum offers one of the oldest online degree programs in Arkansas. The online courses include programs in 24 majors covering 11 BA and 20 MA degrees and certifications. Online students access course materials and instructor help sessions using the Blackboard Learn platform. One of the more unique online Masters programs that ASU offers is the Master in Public Administration curriculum. AState's online learning program includes an assortment of interactive resources for off-campus students to match the wide range of on-campus activities that foster leadership, multicultural, and international student services for on-campus students.

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3 University of Arkansas at Little Rock 66.56 19% Little Rock, AR

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) is located in the state's capital city and holds a designation as "doctoral/research intensive" by the Carnegie Foundation. The research mission focuses on providing big data for the thriving business center and the developing historical collections. The UALR Online community is built around earning undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as catering to semester-length and accelerated courses. UALR's online curriculum offers a large catalog of courses and several accredited degree and certificate programs. The online program supports 22 accredited degree and certificate programs and more than 450 courses. The University of Arkansas uses the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Electronic Campus platform. UALR instructors are resident faculty also teaching the same courses on campus. The only difference is the delivery method, which is designed to enhance the online learning environment.

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4 Arkansas Tech University 62.50 41% Russellville, AR

Arkansas Tech University, founded in 1909, is located in Russellville, and is among the fastest growing universities in the state. The campus resides between the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains near Lake Dardanelle State Park. Students enrolled in ATU's eTech online learning program can pursue Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's degrees. Five BA programs lead to degrees in Emergency Management, Nursing, Business Management, Professional Studies, and History. Seven content areas are offered as Master's Degrees, which mostly center on education and leadership disciplines. One exception is an MA curriculum in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. ATU's eTech program integrates learning activities with other distance learners to make the online experience feel less isolated. Students in ATU's online learning program use the Blackboard Course Management platform.

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5 University of Central Arkansas 58.44 41% Conway, AR

The University of Central Arkansas was established in 1907 in Conway, some 30 miles outside of Little Rock. The school carried numerous names prior to achieving university status in 1975. The Diversity and Community philosophy encourages inclusiveness of all students through multiple support services. Its UCA Online program embraces a philosophy that focuses on students first, which gives off-campus students direct contact with program coordinators to ensure support needs are met. This includes use of the Blackboard web-based Course Management System (CMS). UCA's online learning provides a wide range of course offerings leading to Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees. The BA/BS Degrees concentrate on Addiction Studies, Professional Studies in Health and Safety, Nursing studies, General Business, and Insurance & Risk Management. The Master's Degree offerings focus mostly on Health and Behavioral Sciences, Nursing,Teaching, and community/health services.

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More About Online Colleges in Arkansas

While tuition increases and spending cuts on education are the norm around the country, Arkansas bucks both trends. Tuition has climbed slower in Arkansas than in most states, and state appropriations for education have risen over the last six years. With costs even lower in online education than for residential students, now is an excellent time to pursue an online degree in Arkansas.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in Arkansas for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.

NCES Report

According to an NCES report from 2012, nearly 20,000 students (9.2% of Arkansas’s postsecondary enrollees) in the state attend college exclusively online.

  • 71.8% of these students were undergraduates
  • 50% attended four-year public schools
  • 3.3% attended private, not-for-profit colleges
  • 85.2% of these students lived in Arkansas
  • 11.6% of distance learners lived elsewhere in the U.S.

As is the case throughout the country, colleges and universities in Arkansas have recently expanded their online offerings. Several schools throughout the state offer fully online degrees, and a few of the larger schools offer graduate programs online as well. In total, 45 different schools in Arkansas offer some form of online education.

Additionally, the University of Arkansas system recently approved eVersity, an entirely online program offering educational opportunities to working professionals. The state’s educational board intends for professionals with some college experience to use the program to complete their degree.

Best Online Colleges in Arkansas of 2016
Rank School Location
1 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
2 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock, AR
3 John Brown University Siloam Springs, AR
4 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR
5 University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Fort Smith, AR
6 University of Central Arkansas Conway, AR
7 Ouachita Baptist University Arkadelphia, AR
8 Arkansas Tech University Russellville, AR
9 Central Baptist College Conway, AR