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 Arkansas State University-Main Campus RANKING SCORE 78.75 COST GRADUATION RATE 45% LOCATION 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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2 University of Arkansas RANKING SCORE 73.75 COST GRADUATION RATE 64% LOCATION 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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3 Arkansas Tech University RANKING SCORE 72.71 COST GRADUATION RATE 35% LOCATION 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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4 Southern Arkansas University Main Campus RANKING SCORE 69.38 COST GRADUATION RATE 35% LOCATION Magnolia, AR

Southern Arkansas University is located in the city of Magnolia, on the state’s southern border. The university serves around 4,700 students, more than 1,200 of whom take online classes. The school’s emphasis on providing individual attention, small class sizes, and global learning helps make it one of the top online schools in Arkansas.

Founded in 1909 as the Third District Agriculture School, SAU continues to honor its history with several strong programs in agricultural education, animal science, plant science, and agricultural business. Students can choose from 80 other degree programs, including online bachelor’s tracks in nursing and management. Faculty deliver distance classes in synchronous and asynchronous formats. Students enrolled in online programs pay the same tuition as their on-campus peers. Applicants must submit their SAT or ACT scores and high school transcripts. Transfer students should hold at least 15 college-level credits and have a minimum GPA of 1.5.

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5 University of Arkansas at Little Rock RANKING SCORE 60.63 COST GRADUATION RATE 30% LOCATION 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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6 Central Baptist College RANKING SCORE 59.38 COST GRADUATION RATE 29% LOCATION Conway, AR

While Central Baptist College began as a women’s college in 1892, the school now serves both men and women. With a campus in the centrally-located city of Conway, CBC's close-knit community is home to just over 800 students. This Christian college provides discounted tuition to students enrolled in its distance programs and is one of the most affordable online colleges in Arkansas.

CBC offers several online bachelor’s degrees in business administration, church administration, human resource management, leadership and ministry, management information systems, organizational management, and psychology. Students undecided about their goals can earn an online bachelor’s degree in general studies, which features coursework in business, social sciences, history, English, and Christianity. Online coursework is taught in synchronous and asynchronous formats. Distance learners without prior college experience should submit their SAT or ACT scores and high school transcripts. Students who hold previous college credit must submit transcripts from all colleges they previously attended.

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7 John Brown University RANKING SCORE 58.54 COST GRADUATION RATE 65% LOCATION Siloam Springs, AR

Founded in 1919 and located in Siloam Springs, John Brown University is a Christian school that serves around 2,600 students. More than 10% of the university’s students participate in distance learning programs. JBU’s low tuition rates and its commitment to financial aid make it one of the leading online schools in Arkansas.

Students at JBU can pursue online bachelor’s degrees in business administration, liberal arts, management accounting, organizational leadership, or psychology. Online classes last eight weeks and begin in January, March, June, August, and October. Online coursework is taught asynchronously. Distance learners enrolled in online programs pay lower tuition than students who attend class on-campus, and the majority of CBU’s online students receive financial assistance through grants, loans, and/or employer reimbursement. To enroll in an online program, students must have completed at least 45 college-level credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0. Once enrolled, students typically complete CBU’s online programs in 15 to 20 months.

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8 University of Central Arkansas RANKING SCORE 57.08 COST GRADUATION RATE 42% LOCATION 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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9 Ouachita Baptist University RANKING SCORE 53.13 COST GRADUATION RATE 70% LOCATION Arkadelphia, AR

Ouachita Baptist University is a Christian school located in Arkadelphia. This university serves around 1,500 students and maintains an average class size of 18 pupils. With more than 20 study abroad programs, the school also focuses on providing global learning opportunities. Additionally, Ouachita provides over $35 million in scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study opportunities each year; 97% of its students receive financial aid. Tuition for online classes is half that of on-campus classes, making Ouachita one of the most affordable online schools in Arkansas.

The university offers online associate and bachelor’s degrees in Christian studies and an online bachelor’s degree in business administration. Coursework in these programs is fully online, and new terms begin every eight weeks. To apply, students must have a minimum GPA of 2.75. Applicants should submit their high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores.

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10 Ecclesia College RANKING SCORE 48.13 COST GRADUATION RATE 12% LOCATION Springdale, AR

Located in Springdale, Ecclesia College is a small Christian school that focuses on community service, Christian outreach, and flexible education opportunities. Ecclesia’s status as one of the most affordable online schools in Arkansas is largely due to the fact that tuition for online classes costs nearly 50% less than tuition for on-campus coursework. Ecclesia also offers the state’s only work learning program, which helps students gain practical experience in the workplace and allows them to receive discounted tuition.

Ecclesia offers online associate degrees in biblical studies and general studies, as well as bachelor’s degrees in biblical studies, Christian leadership, political science, business administration, and psychology and counseling. Faculty deliver all online classes asynchronously over the course of eight-week terms. To apply, students should submit a reference, their high school transcripts, and SAT or ACT scores. Incoming students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0.

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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 RANKING SCORE 75.63 COST GRADUATION RATE 43% LOCATION 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 RANKING SCORE 70.00 COST GRADUATION RATE 42% LOCATION 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 RANKING SCORE 66.88 COST GRADUATION RATE 61% LOCATION 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 RANKING SCORE 63.75 COST GRADUATION RATE 63% LOCATION 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 RANKING SCORE 56.88 COST GRADUATION RATE 38% LOCATION 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.

According to data from the 2016 IPEDS report (published in November 2017), most online bachelor’s degrees offered in 2016 in Arkansas were in business administration and management:

Business Administration and Management

In Arkansas, employment growth in this profession is moderate. According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, long term projections show an increase of 11% in the total number of jobs between 2014 and 2024. Wages decreased by 6% from 2011-2016.

Top Careers in Business Administration and Management

In Arkansas, what were the top careers in 2016 for people who had a degree in business administration and management?

Career Name Number of Jobs Average Annual Wage
General and Operations Managers 20,680 $84,770
Managers, All Other 3,540 $106,470
Management Analysts 3,520 $60,690
Chief Executives 2,710 $104,130
Sales Managers 2,650 $120,240
Administrative Services Managers 1,850 $86,620
Industrial Production Managers 1,700 $92,400
Construction Managers 1,590 $76,550
Social and Community Service Managers 1,330 $54,300
Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers 1,290 $105,160
Cost Estimators 1,140 $57,340
Business Teachers, Postsecondary 620 $88,350
Career Outlook for General and Operations Managers in Arkansas

Data source: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may not be available for every year.

Wages - General and Operations Managers (2011 - 2016)

Data source: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may not be available for every year.

Best Schools for Business Administration

In Arkansas, the best online business administration and management bachelor’s degrees are offered by:


Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration

Employment growth in this profession in Arkansas is strong. According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, long term projections show an increase of 185% in the total number of jobs between 2014 and 2024. Wages decreased by 3% from 2011-2016.

Top Careers in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement

In Arkansas, what were the top careers in 2016 for people who had a degree in criminal justice/law enforcement administration?

Career Name Number of Jobs Average Annual Wage
Managers, All Other 3,540 $106,470
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives 1,410 $53,790
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary 80 No Data
Career Outlook for Management in Arkansas

Data source: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may not be available for every year.

Wages - Managers, All Other (2011 - 2016)

Data source: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may not be available for every year.

Best Schools for Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement

In Arkansas, the best online criminal justice/law enforcement administration bachelor’s degrees are offered by:


Business/Commerce

Employment growth in this profession in Arkansas is moderate. According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, long term projections show an increase of 11% in the total number of jobs between 2014 and 2024. Wages decreased by 6% from 2011-2016.

Top Careers in Business and Commerce

In Arkansas, what were the top careers in 2016 for people who had a degree in business/commerce?

Career Name Number of Jobs Average Annual Wage
General and Operations Managers 20,680 $84,770
Managers, All Other 3,540 $106,470
Management Analysts 3,520 $60,690
Chief Executives 2,710 $104,130
Sales Managers 2,650 $120,240
Administrative Services Managers 1,850 $86,620
Industrial Production Managers 1,700 $92,400
Construction Managers 1,590 $76,550
Social and Community Service Managers 1,330 $54,300
Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers 1,290 $105,160
Cost Estimators 1,140 $57,340
Business Teachers, Postsecondary 620 $88,350
Career Outlook for General and Operations Managers in Arkansas

Data source: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may not be available for every year.

Wages - General and Operations Managers (2011 - 2016)

Data source: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may not be available for every year.

Best Schools for Business and Commerce

In Arkansas, the best online business/commerce bachelor’s degrees are offered by:


General Studies

Employment growth in this profession in Arkansas is moderate. According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, long term projections show a increase of 9% in the total number of jobs between 2014 and 2024. Wages decreased by 40% from 2011-2016.

Top Careers in General Studies

What were the top careers in Arkansas in 2016 for people who had a degree in general studies?

Career Name Number of Jobs Average Annual Wage
Postsecondary Teachers, All Other 710 $55,900
Career Outlook for Postsecondary Teachers in Arkansas

Data source: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may not be available for every year.

Wages - Postsecondary Teachers, All Other (2011 - 2016)

Data source: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may not be available for every year.

Best Schools for General Studies

In Arkansas, the best online general studies bachelor’s degrees are offered by:


Early Childhood Education and Teaching

In Arkansas, employment growth in this profession is moderate. According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, long term projections show an increase of 8% in the total number of jobs between 2014 and 2024. Wages increased by 12% from 2011-2016.

Top Careers in Early Childhood Education

In Arkansas, what were the top careers in 2016 for people who had a degree in early childhood education and teaching?

Career Name Number of Jobs Average Annual Wage
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education 3,160 $31,700
Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education 1,700 $45,850
Career Outlook for Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education in Arkansas

Data source: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may not be available for every year.

Wages - Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education (2011 - 2016)

Data source: Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may not be available for every year.

Best Schools for Early Childhood Education

In Arkansas, the best online early childhood education and teaching bachelor’s degrees are offered by:

  • No schools in Arkansas currently offer an online bachelor’s degree program in teaching.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Colleges in Arkansas of 2017
Rank School Location
1 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
2 Arkansas State University-Main Campus Jonesboro, AR
3 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock, AR
4 Arkansas Tech University Russellville, AR
5 University of Central Arkansas Conway, AR

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