Best Online Colleges in Arkansas

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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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Young college students and experienced professionals alike can benefit from attending an online college. Whether you’re seeking a higher income, greater expertise, or a more rewarding career, an online program can help you pursue your academic interests and professional ambitions. Today, with so many online options available, it is important for prospective distance learners to consider both their educational goals and their budget to help them find the right program.

Our affordability methodology considers value-driven metrics and ranks schools that have low tuition rates, as well as proven graduation rates and employment outcomes that provide a high ROI for students. For students in Arkansas, there are plenty of opportunities to find an affordable program locally. While distance education provides more flexibility than an exclusively residential curriculum, there are still plenty of advantages to attending a local online college, including access to lower tuition prices and local scholarships. If you’re considering going back to school, and are thinking about studying online, the following list of cheap accredited online colleges in Arkansas will help you start your search.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of Central Arkansas 75.63 43% Conway, AR

Offering more than 25 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, the University of Central Arkansas aims to provide accessible degree options to students who have jobs and families. Most courses are delivered asynchronously, so students can create their own schedule. All online students are able to pay a flat in-state tuition rate, making UCA one of the most affordable online colleges in Arkansas for out-of-state students. All freshman applicants to UCA should have a high school GPA of at least 2.75, in addition to a 21 on the ACT or a 1450 on the SAT. Transfer applicants must have completed at least 24 credits of college credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0. UCA also boasts 2+2 transfer agreements with most Arkansas community colleges.

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2 Arkansas Tech University 70.00 42% Russellville, AR

Located in Russellville, Arkansas Tech University’s eTech department offers over 25 online certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs. Coursework in all eTech programs is asynchronous, with no scheduled class times or meetings. Students can access course materials 24/7 through Blackboard. Applicants who have a 2.0 high school GPA, a 600 GED score, a 19 ACT score, or a 990 ACT score receive unconditional admission to ATU. Transfer students must have earned at least 24 credits and a minimum GPA of 2.0 at their previous institutions. Although out-of-state students are not able to pay in-state tuition, eTech is still one of the most affordable online colleges in Arkansas, since out-of-state tuition rates are relatively low.

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3 University of Arkansas 66.88 61% Fayetteville, AR

Located in Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas is one of the flagship colleges in Arkansas. The school’s renown extends to its online department, which offers more than 15 programs, ranging from certificates to doctorates. Each program utilizes asynchronous learning, but in two different ways -- while the instructor sets the pace in some degree paths, some programs are completely self-paced, allowing students to complete the material entirely at their convenience.

As the state’s main university, the school’s admissions requirements are stricter than most. All freshman applicants should have a high school GPA of at least 3.0 and a minimum ACT score of 22. The school offers a wide variety of scholarship and financial aid options to students who are accepted, making UA one of the most affordable online colleges in Arkansas.

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4 John Brown University 63.75 63% Siloam Springs, AR

A small, interdenominational, private liberal arts school located in Siloam Springs, John Brown University offers online bachelor’s degrees in five areas: business administration, liberal arts, management accounting, organizational leadership, and psychology. Unlike some other colleges in Arkansas, all of JBU’s programs can be completed quickly; students can graduate in 15 to 20 months. Courses are asynchronous and last eight weeks each. Since John Brown’s degrees are all completion programs, students need at least 45 college credits to qualify for admission. Applicants can earn credit from exams, accredited courses, and professional development experience. All of JBU’s online programs offer a flat, per-credit tuition rate that allows out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition. JBU is one of the few affordable online colleges in Arkansas that is Christian-based.

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5 Arkansas State University-Main Campus 56.88 38% Jonesboro, AR

One of the largest colleges in Arkansas by enrollment, Arkansas State University -- known locally as A-State -- offers 35 undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate, and certificate programs online. The Jonesboro school is also one of the most affordable online colleges in Arkansas, as out-of-state students are able to pay in-state tuition as long as they are residents of the US. A-State is also exceptionally transfer friendly: transfers may apply up to 90 approved credits toward their degree. To be competitive candidates for admission, freshman applicants -- or applicants with less than 24 college credits -- should have earned a high school GPA of 2.75 and an ACT score of 21 or an SAT score of 990. Transfer applicants who have completed 24 college credits must have earned a minimum GPA of 2.0.

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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