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Community colleges in Arkansas offer programs in a wide range of fields, with special incentives for jobs the state defines as in-demand. Some in-demand industries in Arkansas include transportation, business, hospitality, and healthcare.
In addition to a variety of technical colleges, the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University offer two-year program options. Students may be drawn to the climate and outdoor opportunities in Arkansas, or to the low cost of living. Read on to explore top two-year schools in the state and find out more about what you can expect if you decide to attend an Arkansas community college.
Why Study in Arkansas?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 20 public two-year community colleges in Arkansas offer educational opportunities. Students can find part-time and full-time program options, and can attend either in person or online, depending on the program. Some colleges even offer self-paced programs, which are great for working students and students with caregiving responsibilities or other time commitments.
Arkansas is likely to see growth in the next year. Former governor Asa Hutchinson announced in November 2021 a slew of new projects being built in the state. More than 500 companies have signed incentive deals with Arkansas since 2015, creating more than 25,000 new jobs. More than 118,000 jobs are expected to be created by 2028. Most of those jobs focus on providing services across the state.
Cost of Living
Every key measured cost of living index ranks below the national average in Arkansas. All metro areas aside from Little Rock enjoy an index in the 80s compared to a national average of 100. Median home prices hit $220,000 at the high end in northwest Arkansas. All other regions have median home costs around $150,000. Renters can expect to pay an average of $700.
Major metropolitan areas within a day's drive of Arkansas include Memphis, St. Louis, Dallas, and Oklahoma City.
Cultural and Community Offerings
Arkansas lives up to the nickname "The Natural State." Hot Springs and Eureka Springs are top tourist destinations with their warm natural springs. Outdoor recreation can be found in Arkansas' 52 state parks.
You can even find a beach in this landlocked state: Arkansas is home to 15 lakes with sandy shores nestled throughout its rolling hills. Arkansas also boasts an incredible food scene. Don't be surprised if you spot a movie star while dining out as the state is one of the top filming destinations in the South.
Arkansas experiences all four seasons but has a mild average temperature. Arkansas residents do have to deal with a lot of humidity. Warmer seasons may bring tornadoes to the state, so basic knowledge of severe weather preparedness is also important for those who live in the state.
Snow falls an average of 10-15 inches a year in the northern part of the state. Average temperatures range from high 30s to low 80s.
Top Degree Programs in Arkansas
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Arkansas Employment Outlook
Arkansas' location makes it an employee's dream state. Arkansas is located along one of the country's major transportation arteries. If you work in transportation, one of the state's top industries, you can enjoy a low cost of living while providing a vital service to people across the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average income in Arkansas as of May 2020 was $44,780.
5 Arkansas Jobs in Demand for 2022
Healthcare and Social Assistance
The state projects this sector of jobs will see large growth through 2028 with more than 31,000 jobs projected to be added. Home healthcare services are also expected to be high in demand. Associate degrees in a variety of health topics will help those interested in healthcare fields launch their career.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary: $53,370
- Job Growth Projection (2018-2028): 16%
Leisure and Hospitality
This industry expects a 13% growth through 2028. Event promoters, historical site workers, and recreational jobs are the largest growth areas. What isn't expected to be in demand is performers, artists, or writers. Arkansas community colleges offer a variety of degrees for those interested in restaurant management, hotel management, tourism, and other hospitality fields.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary: $38,470
- Job Growth Projection (2018-2028): 13%
Professional and Business Services
This supersector projects 18,000 jobs to be added by 2028, with computer systems designs driving that number along with scientific and technical consulting services. Students will need at least an associate of applied science in a particular area of interest for this job. Some top areas include IT, retail, industrial management, power plant technology, and horticulture.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary: $66,180
- Job Growth Projection (2018-2028): 13%
Specialty trade contractors are projected to be in high demand in Arkansas in the coming years. Construction management and construction technology associate degrees can be obtained at Arkansas' top community colleges. Contractors will need a license from the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary: $40,560
- Job Growth Projection (2018-2028): 12%
The financial sector in Arkansas could face a 10% growth by 2028. This includes jobs like financial analysts, insurance workers, credit counselors, and loan officers. Business associate degrees are offered at many community colleges and technical schools in Arkansas.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary: $66,180
- Job Growth Projection (2018-2028): 10%
Popular Career Paths in Arkansas
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Arkansas
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Best Community Colleges in Arkansas
Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas
With both online and on-campus programs in areas such as agriculture, business, criminal justice, and education, Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas ranks at the top of the best community colleges in Arkansas. Learners have the option to pursue an associate degree or certificate, complete freshman- and sophomore-level classes to transfer to a four-year institution, or take noncredit courses to hone a new professional skill.
UA Cossatot is an open enrollment institution, meaning that anyone with a high school diploma or an equivalent credential can take classes. Some programs may require students to take the ACCUPLACER or a similar placement exam. This exam determines whether applicants need remedial or preparatory courses prior to enrolling in a degree or certificate program.
In addition to offering significant tuition discounts to Arkansas residents, UA Cossatot provides a 50% tuition waiver to military personnel, veterans, and their families. The college's foundation also awards scholarships to students on the bases of academic achievement, financial need, and area of study.
UA Cossatot holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Arkansas Community College-Hope
The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana aims to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to work and succeed in the 21st century. In addition to traditional associate and certificate programs, the college offers a preparatory academy for advanced high school students, industry outreach coursework in subjects like workplace safety and forklift training, and programs in computer literacy and job readiness.
UAHT features an "open door" admission policy for members of its community, though specific courses or programs of study may have additional entrance requirements. Most incoming students must take the ACCUPLACER exam, which is available both online and at a testing center on campus.
Students can choose from more than 300 online courses in areas such as fundamentals of accounting, effective business plan writing, and webpage design. Fully online degree programs are available through partnerships with other schools in the University of Arkansas system.
UAHT holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas
At Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, students can take classes at any of the college's three campuses in Phillips County to best fit their schedules and commutes. Through the University of Arkansas online consortium, learners can pursue an associate of arts degree at a distance, completing coursework in subjects like world literature, microeconomics, and anatomy and physiology.
In addition to its diverse academic offerings, PCCUA provides a variety of financial aid programs. For example, prospective students who scored 25 or higher on the ACT can apply for the chancellor's scholarship, an award that covers the full cost of tuition and fees for an entire academic year. The college also offers technical achievement awards to support students who excelled in a high school occupational curriculum.
Prospective students must have either a high school diploma or GED. You must also submit results from either the ACT or ACCUPLACER exam.
PCCUA holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Arkansas Northeastern College
Boasting the lowest per-credit tuition cost in the state of Arkansas, Arkansas Northeastern College provides an easy and affordable way to continue your education or prepare for a specific career path. ANC also prides itself on its diverse student body, with more than 70% female students and 30% students of color.
ANC offers four associate degree programs, including two specifically designed for learners who plan to transfer to a four-year college or university. The college also provides technical certificates and certificates of proficiency in subjects like air conditioning and refrigeration, computer information systems, and industrial electrical systems. The majority of these programs are available fully or partially online.
Students applying to ANC must hold either a high school diploma or GED. You also must take a placement test if you do not have scores from the ACT or another standardized entrance exam. The college also encourages all incoming students to complete a career planning survey and meet with an academic or career advisor.
ANC holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Arkansas Community College Rich Mountain
The University of Arkansas Rich Mountain serves the educational needs of Polk, Montgomery, and Scott counties in eastern Arkansas. Students from across the state also benefit from the college's rich array of distance education offerings, including fully online associate programs in computer science and business administration.
The college's transfer success center provides individual guidance and support to learners planning to pursue a bachelor's degree at a state college or university. In addition to matching students with advisors, the center hosts a transfer checklist, a list of four-year institutions that hold transfer agreements with UA Rich Mountain, and a database of scholarship opportunities specifically available to transfer students.
UA Rich Mountain requires incoming students to have either a high school diploma or GED. Applicants must also submit results from either the ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER to determine if they must enroll in developmental or English as a second language (ESL) classes.
UA Rich Mountain holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville
The University of Arkansas Community College - Batesville strives to make transferring credits to a bachelor's program at a four-year college or university as easy as possible. The college offers more than 60 "2+2" associate programs in fields like business economics, criminology, and strategic communications. Eight university partners in the state have agreed to accept all credits from these programs, provided students maintain a certain GPA in all their courses.
The college also participates in the Interstate Passport Network, a consortium of regionally accredited institutions that allow for the seamless transfer of credits between member schools. By earning a "passport," UACCB students can transfer credits to colleges in California, Illinois, Oregon, and a host of other states.
To apply to UACCB, you must submit your high school or GED transcripts, along with the results from a standardized entrance exam like the ACT or ACCUPLACER. Incoming students can access a variety of academic support and financial aid services.
UACCB holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Since its founding in 1974, North Arkansas College has offered associate degrees, technical certificates, business and industry training, and education courses to residents of Boone County and nearby counties. Through articulation agreements with 10 four-year institutions in the state, Northark also provides students with an affordable way to begin working toward a bachelor's degree.
In addition to offering certificates in subjects like biomedical technologies and small business management, Northark gives learners the opportunity to earn fully online associate degrees in accounting or business administration. The majority of courses in these distance education programs are asynchronous, meaning learners can watch lectures and complete assignments entirely on their own schedules.
Applicants must hold either a high school diploma or GED. They also must take either the ACT or ACCUPLACER exam. Prospective students can also apply for a variety of scholarships based on academic excellence, strong test scores, community service, or financial need.
Northark holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Arkansas State University-Mountain Home
Mountain Home, AR
In addition to its strong academic programming, Arkansas State University - Mountain Home provides students with a wealth of support services. For example, the college pairs learners with dedicated coaches who help them evaluate career opportunities. Coaches also help students improve their resumes, hone interview skills, and identify internship opportunities and job leads.
Though ASUMH offers many on-campus certificates and degrees, the college's one fully online option is the associate of arts program. This degree satisfies the general education requirements of most four-year institutions in Arkansas, making it easy for students to continue their education in fields such as social work, psychology, and secondary education. Learners must maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 to receive transfer credit.
Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. The college also requires incoming students to take either the ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER to determine their readiness for college-level study.
ASUMH holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Arkansas State University-Newport
Arkansas State University - Newport provides students with the option to take classes in person, online, or through a hybrid learning format that combines the convenience of distance education with the structure and support of the classroom experience. Learners can also choose to earn a certificate of proficiency, technical certificate, or one of four associate degrees in fields as varied as agricultural technology, food services management, and criminal justice.
The college provides a variety of non-degree learning opportunities as well. For example, the IGNITE Academy allows high school students to earn college-level credits while working toward their high school diploma. ASUN also offers GED prep courses to learners without a high school diploma.
While there are no admission requirements for non-degree programs, students pursuing a certificate or associate must submit high school or GED transcripts and results from a college entrance exam. ASUN provides academic and financial aid counseling to all incoming students.
ASUN holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Arkansas State University-Beebe
With more than three dozen different areas of study, Arkansas State University - Beebe offers certificates and associate degrees to prepare students for careers in a wide variety of fields, such as early childhood education and law enforcement. The college also offers four fully online degree programs, including an associate of arts specifically designed for learners seeking to transfer to a four-year college.
Applying to ASUB requires a high school diploma or equivalent as well as results from an entrance exam like the ACT, SAT, or COMPASS. All applicants are also considered for a suite of scholarship programs. Incoming students with an ACT score of 27 or higher can have their full tuition covered by the college's Chancellor Scholarship, while applicants with an extensive community service record can receive up to $1,000 through the Leadership Scholarship.
ASUB holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
East Arkansas Community College
Forrest City, AR
For more than 50 years, East Arkansas Community College has worked to ensure that students from its five-county service area have access to affordable and high-quality learning opportunities. Today, learners from across Arkansas can take advantage of the college's online offerings as well.
EACC offers degree and certificate programs in areas such as auto body repair, drafting and design, emergency medical technology, and residential construction and carpentry. Roughly 70% of EACC graduates secure employment within one year of earning an associate degree. Students preparing for certain high-demand occupations, like registered nurse, have a first-year employment rate of nearly 90%.
In addition to providing the third-lowest tuition of any community college in Arkansas, EACC operates more than a dozen scholarship programs. For example, the school's Academic Achiever Scholarship provides a 100% tuition waiver to incoming students with an ACT score of 23 or higher.
EACC holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Arkansas Community College-Morrilton
University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton prides itself on providing affordable tuition, small class sizes, and exceptional academic support services, including both individual and group tutoring for its students. The college offers programs of study in areas such as HVAC technology, surveying, welding, and industrial mechanics. UACCM also offers a fully online associate degree in general studies and hybrid degrees in education, business, and computer information systems.
The college features a rolling admission policy that allows prospective students to apply throughout the year. Applicants must submit official copies of their high school transcripts or GED scores, along with results from a standardized entrance exam. Depending on their exam scores, some students may be required to take remedial coursework prior to being admitted to the college.
UACCM offers more than a dozen academic and technical scholarships, some of which cover the full cost of tuition and fees. Active-duty military personnel, veterans, and their families also receive an in-state tuition discount, regardless of residency status.
UACCM holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Unlike some community colleges in Arkansas, Ozarka College does not require prospective students to have a high school diploma or GED to apply. However, learners may need to take an entrance exam in order to earn admission into particular programs.
Ozarka offers both technical certificates and associate degrees. Technical programs prepare students for careers in fields like licensed practical nursing, while associate programs equip learners with the skills needed for more advanced roles such as registered nurse. The college also offers a general education associate degree for students who want to easily transfer credits to a bachelor's program at a four-year institution.
The school offers numerous academic and need-based scholarships. The New Horizon Scholarship, for example, specifically caters to students with a GED, while the Ozarka Regional Foundation Scholarship provides aid to students who maintained at least a 2.5 GPA during high school.
Ozarka holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
In addition to a rich array of in-person programs, College of the Ouachitas offers two online associate degrees ideal for students with work or family responsibilities. The associate in general studies, usually sought by those planning to transfer to a four-year college or university, is available fully online. The associate program in early childhood education requires distance learners to complete a supervised teaching experience in their own community.
On the COTO campus in Malvern, students can also explore subjects like business technology, computer science, and medical office administration. All learners, including online learners, benefit from support services like academic advising, individual and group tutoring, mental health counseling, and career guidance.
Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED, though COTO does not require incoming students to take an entrance exam. The college offers several institutional scholarships, including awards specifically for GED graduates and single parents.
COTO holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
NorthWest Arkansas Community College
With more than 55 degree and certificate programs, Northwest Arkansas Community College helps position graduates for careers in health, education, business, hospitality, and technology. Many students choose NWACC because it offers a convenient and affordable way to begin working toward a bachelor's degree.
Roughly 200 classes and nine programs at the college are available fully online, with many additional certificates and degrees offered in a hybrid format. Online students watch recorded lectures and contribute to class discussions primarily on their own schedule. NWACC also provides online tutoring and remote consultations with academic and career advisors.
Applicants generally must have a high school diploma or GED, though the college makes exceptions based on test scores, professional experience, and other extenuating circumstances. Once admitted, students can apply for more than 130 scholarships awarded on the basis of academic achievement, immigration status, military service, and career aspirations.
NWACC holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Arkansas
Community colleges in Arkansas train students for the most in-demand jobs across the state. These two-year colleges frequently offer the lowest tuition in the state and an associate degree may be enough to qualify for many of the top jobs needed in Arkansas.
According to NCES, 20 public two-year community colleges in Arkansas offer educational opportunities.
The University of Arkansas offers four-year degrees and higher at its Fayetteville Campus. Students can transfer to the University of Arkansas after community college if they meet the requirements. The University of Arkansas also offers online programs through eVersity, where students can earn certifications or associate degrees.
The state is home to 20 public community colleges, according to NCES, which are sometimes also called "junior colleges."
Two-year colleges in Arkansas are also called community colleges. Other names for a two-year college also include junior college, technical school, vocational school, and trade school.