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Best Online Colleges in Arkansas

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 12/16/2021
2020 Best Online Colleges in Arkansas Badge

Many online colleges in Arkansas are dedicated to preparing students for future employment within the state. Our ranked list of the best online schools in Arkansas includes annual tuition rates and mid-career alumni salary information so prospective college students can evaluate a degree’s initial cost against the potential return on investment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management, healthcare, and education are among the most popular professional occupations, and the schools on our list offer degrees in all of these subjects.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 University of Arkansas $6,159 $87,100
# 2 #2 Harding University $21,344 $80,000
# 3 #3 Southern Arkansas University $6,420 $73,300
# 4 #4 Ouachita Baptist University $9,750 $73,700
# 5 #5 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences $4,500 $71,500
# 6 #6 Central Baptist College $13,350 $72,000
# 7 #7 University of Arkansas at Little Rock $8,400 $69,100
# 8 #8 John Brown University $12,750 $68,400
# 9 #9 University of Central Arkansas $8,550 $67,700
# 10 #10 Arkansas Tech University $6,960 $67,300
# 11 #11 University of Arkansas at Monticello $5,979 $61,200
# 12 #12 University of Arkansas-Fort Smith $5,130 $55,900
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

Online Colleges in Arkansas Ranking Details

For each school, we conducted manual research to provide prospective students with more details about the schools' online programs. Explore online degrees offered and accreditation information below.

#1 University of Arkansas

  • Annual Tuition: $6,159
  • Median Salary: $87,100
  • Locations: Fayetteville
  • Accreditation: HLC

Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas was an equal-opportunity institution from its very beginning, welcoming all races and genders. Today, it is a statewide university system that offers a broad range of degree and certificate programs, more than 45 of which are available either primarily online or 100% online. Most courses are administered via the Blackboard online learning system, and some are self-paced, meaning they can be completed without the traditional semester-based deadline. Online graduates are welcome to walk at the ceremony with their peers and will also have their names etched into the school’s famous Senior Walk, a four-mile sidewalk engraved with graduates’ names. Fields of study include business administration, agriculture, education, engineering, and nursing.

#2 Harding University

  • Annual Tuition: $21,344
  • Median Salary: $80,000
  • Locations: Searcy
  • Accreditation: HLC

Originally established in 1924, Harding University is named in memory of the preacher, teacher, and Christian educator, James A. Harding. Besides several individual courses offered in an online format, distance learning at Harding is concentrated in two departments: the Graduate School of Business and the Center for Distance Education in Bible and Ministry. The Graduate School of Business offers online master’s degree programs in business administration, teaching, marriage and family counseling/therapy, nursing, and information systems. Certificate programs are also offered in subjects such as data analytics and security. Through its Center for Distance Education in Bible and Ministry, the university offers online degree and certificate programs designed for ministers, elders, and church members interested in expanding their knowledge within the Christian academic tradition.

#3 Southern Arkansas University

  • Annual Tuition: $6,420
  • Median Salary: $73,300
  • Locations: Magnolia
  • Accreditation: HLC

Originally founded in 1909 as the Third District Agricultural School, Southern Arkansas University (SAU) today offers 80 degree programs, many of which are available online. The university has an especially varied selection of master’s degree programs, including a Master of Education in gifted and talented education and a Master of Science in agriculture. Many of these master’s programs can be completed in as little as 18 months. SAU also offers more than 350 individual online courses, so students may customize their own hybrid online and on-campus programs.

#4 Ouachita Baptist University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,750
  • Median Salary: $73,700
  • Locations: Arkadelphia
  • Accreditation: HLC

Founded in 1888, Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) is focused on Christian liberal arts education. It offers two 100% online degree programs—associate and bachelor’s programs in Christian studies—as well as an online bachelor’s degree completion program in interdisciplinary studies to help students make the most of college credit they’ve already earned. To help set first-time online students up for success, OBU offers an Orientation to Online Learning course through which students can earn one hour of credit. This course introduces students to other online students and teaches them how to manage their time, access tutoring and library resources, and navigate the online learning management system.

#5 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

  • Annual Tuition: $4,500
  • Median Salary: $71,500
  • Locations: Little Rock
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is the state’s only teaching hospital and the only health sciences university in Arkansas. Through the College of Health Professions, students who meet the general education requirements may enter degree completion programs to earn bachelor’s degrees in several medical specialties, including diagnostic medical sonography and nuclear medicine imaging sciences. Students who are able to attend some on-campus classes also have a multitude of online and hybrid course options available to them. Coursework is administered via the Blackboard system and offered synchronously or asynchronously throughout the year.

#6 Central Baptist College

  • Annual Tuition: $13,350
  • Median Salary: $72,000
  • Locations: Conway
  • Accreditation: HLC

Located in Conway, Arkansas, Central Baptist College (CBC) is owned and operated by the Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas. To provide opportunities for working adults to earn college degrees, CBC offers a Professional Adult College Education (PACE) program. Online and hybrid courses in the PACE program are delivered using CBC’s Canvas learning management system and Zoom technology. Students can complete work and view classroom lectures from any location with an Internet connection. Online degree programs are available at the associate and bachelor’s levels and include subjects such as military technologies, church administration, leadership, and business administration.

#7 University of Arkansas at Little Rock

  • Annual Tuition: $8,400
  • Median Salary: $69,100
  • Locations: Little Rock
  • Accreditation: HLC

Founded in 1927, University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers many of its 203 programs 100% online, including undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. Additionally, many degree programs can also be completed with a hybrid of online and on-campus courses. UA Little Rock’s online courses are taught by the same faculty as on-campus courses, but they are generally asynchronous, meaning that students can complete the coursework anytime and anywhere with a stable internet connection. Fully online students enjoy discounted rates, because although they have full access to UA Little Rock’s academic resources, such as the Ottenheimer Library and Blackboard Student Support, they do not pay for access to non-academic resources, such as the fitness center. Fields of study include psychology, criminal justice, business, communication, education, and social work.

#8 John Brown University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,750
  • Median Salary: $68,400
  • Locations: Siloam Springs
  • Accreditation: HLC

Founded in 1919, John Brown University (JBU) is a private Christian institution that still subscribes to its longstanding value statement, “Christ Over All.” However, it has no denominational affiliation and admits students of any faith. For distance learners, JBU offers an online undergraduate program designed to help students who already have some college credit earn their undergraduate diplomas. Although some previous college credit is required for admission, students who do not yet meet the minimum requirement of transferrable credit are encouraged to contact the JBU admissions department to learn what steps they can take to become eligible. Bachelor's degrees are offered in fields such as business administration, liberal arts, and nursing. Master's degree options include education, cybersecurity, and outdoor program management.

#9 University of Central Arkansas

  • Annual Tuition: $8,550
  • Median Salary: $67,700
  • Locations: Conway
  • Accreditation: HLC

Founded in 1907, the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) offers flexible online programs at all levels, including certificates, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Their certificate program may require some campus visits. Students can access their coursework and materials anytime, from anywhere with an internet connection, via the Blackboard system. Although online students learn asynchronously (at any time of day), the programs are not self-paced; each course has deadlines within eight-week term periods. UCA matches each online student with a program coordinator who is available via email and phone to provide support for all matters outside of courses.

#10 Arkansas Tech University

  • Annual Tuition: $6,960
  • Median Salary: $67,300
  • Locations: Russellville
  • Accreditation: HLC

Arkansas Tech University (ATU) opened in 1909 as a small school enabling rural youth to gain a high school diploma and learn better agricultural practices. Since then, it’s grown to offer a broad selection of on-campus and online degree and certificate programs. ATU’s College of eTech is run by staff who specialize in the university’s online learning programs, helping instructors develop online courses and assisting students with navigating the Blackboard online learning system and other resources. Associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs are offered through the College of eTech. Fields of study include education, criminal justice, business administration, and nursing. Various flexible options also make it possible for students to customize their education, such as enrolling in a certificate program and then applying that credit toward a full degree.

#11 University of Arkansas at Monticello

  • Annual Tuition: $5,979
  • Median Salary: $61,200
  • Locations: Monticello (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Arkansas at Monticello was established in 1909 as the Fourth District Agricultural School before becoming part of the University of Arkansas system in 1971. Hybrid online and on-campus programs are available to provide flexibility for students pursuing a degree. Five of the university’s graduate degree programs are available entirely online, including master's degrees in fine arts and physical education and coaching. An online Bachelor of Science in education studies is also offered entirely online. It is ideal for public school paraprofessionals; upon completion, they will have the ability to seek licensure through the UAM Teacher Residency Program. Students with an interest in sustainability will appreciate the university’s emphasis on environmental initiatives, including a focus on planting and protecting more than 1,400 trees on campus.

#12 University of Arkansas-Fort Smith

  • Annual Tuition: $5,130
  • Median Salary: $55,900
  • Locations: Fort Smith
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS) is a public institution that makes a number of individual courses available for online completion. They also offer several online degree programs at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. These can be completed 100% online as long as students follow the degree plans they set with their advisors. Courses are delivered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats through the Blackboard Learning Management System. For those who have served in the U.S. armed forces, UAFS offers priority registration and special resources, including a Veteran Resource Center and specialized student veteran advising.

Overview of Online Education in Arkansas

Since the mid-20th century, the state's economic reliance on farming has diminished, and Arkansas has sought to attract manufacturing and service-sector businesses to the region through tax incentives and other benefits. Notable names that have established business hubs here include Walmart, Frito-Lay, and Amazon. To support this economic growth with a skilled workforce, Arkansas has prioritized advanced education and vocational training.

Today, the Natural State is home to more than 40 institutions of higher learning. These include 10 public four-year universities, 12 private four-year universities, a network of 22 two-year community colleges, and one academic health center. At least one-fourth of these schools offer fully online degrees in a wide array of subjects. A recently enhanced state-wide course transfer system makes it easier for students to begin their college education at a two-year institution before transitioning to one of the four public colleges.

For college options in other locations, view OnlineU's best online college rankings by state or best online colleges by degree level.

How Much Do Online Colleges in Arkansas Cost

Based on data collected from 846 schools across all 50 states, we found that the median annual tuition fee for bachelor's degrees is $13,919. Meanwhile, the median annual tuition fee is $7,680 for the 12 Arkansas schools on our rankings list.

Students may reduce the overall cost of earning a degree by opting for an online education program, as they can be more affordable. Distance learners must still pay for books and supplies — like all students — and may even have to pay additional technology fees. However, they may be able to save on transportation and on-campus living expenses, such as room and board. Many schools charge online students the in-state tuition rate even if they live outside the state.

In recent years, Arkansas has made a demonstrable commitment to educating its future workforce by supporting students with financial aid. The state spends an average of $1,171 annually per student at the undergraduate level, which is higher than the national average of $1,051. Additionally, 19.4% of students at two-year schools receive an average of $4,815 in student loans, while 45% of students at four-year schools receive approximately $6,896.

Although it's not possible to go to college for free in Arkansas, some students may be able to fund nearly all of their tuition through federal and state aid. For example, students may be eligible for the Arkansas Future Grant if they are working toward an associate degree in STEM or another subject related to popular regional industries. Under this program, if a student's combined federal and state financial aid does not cover the full cost of tuition and fees, they may receive a grant for the remaining balance. If students are interested in state-provided financial aid programs, they must submit the Arkansas Division of Higher Education's YOUniversal System application.

For tips about online college, including scholarship information and expert advice, visit our resource hub.

Scholarship Opportunities

Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships

Awards up to $5,000 are granted to graduates of Arkansas high schools and enrollees of Arkansas colleges and trade schools. Eligibility requirements vary depending on a student's current grade level.

Governor's Distinguished Scholarships

This merit-based scholarship can reach up to $10,000. It’s intended for Arkansas high school students who have earned a minimum score of 32 on the ACT or a combined minimum score of 1410 on the SAT. Additionally, they need at least a 3.5 GPA or they must have been named either a National Merit Finalist or National Achievement Finalist.

Law Enforcement Officers' Dependents Scholarships

Arkansas residents may be eligible for up to four years of tuition, dorm expenses, and other fees if they are the children of public service employees, such as law enforcement officers, who have been killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.

Teacher Opportunity Program

Licensed teachers and administrators currently working in the Arkansas educational system may further their education with this grant that can reach up to $3,000.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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