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Online Colleges in Arkansas

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Arkansas’ education officials report a statewide effort among colleges and universities to increase online offerings. The common goal is to improve graduation rates. It is estimated that 350,000 Arkansas adults have completed college coursework but have not earned a degree. By boosting online educational opportunities, Arkansas schools plan to improve this rate of degree attainment. The state’s major institutions are greatly expanding their online offerings each year. The result is a broad range of options for potential distance learners.

But before we dive into our list of best online schools in Arkansas for 2016, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Arkansas today.


A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Arkansas

In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Arkasas had 52 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 33 public schools, 14 nonprofits and 5 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 11,638 at public schools, 2,545 at private nonprofits and 135 at private for-profits.

Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $7,870, while the out-of-state average was $18,150. This affordable in-state tuition beats the rate of 35 other states, making Arkansas one of the more affordable options for degree seekers.

As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Arkansas awarded $8.3 million in need-based grants and $130.7 million in non-need grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 13.9% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education.

Further boosting programs and financial aid, Arkansas officials recently announced that the U.S. Department of Education Student Support Services Program is awarding $2 million in funding for Arkansas Higher Education. The funds will provide support for at least nine colleges and universities throughout the state.


The State of Online Higher Education in Arkansas

The NCES estimates that at least 9.2% of students enrolled in Arkansas’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 71.8% were reported to be undergraduates and 85.2% were found to be living in Arkansas.

The number of online students continues to grow due to statewide efforts to enhance opportunities. The Arkansas Distance Learning Association is dedicated to promoting and leading initiatives for distance learning in the state. The association hosts annual conventions to promote these initiatives. Managing all financial aid programs and overseeing budgets and development, the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) continually works to nurture both online and on-campus initiatives throughout the state.

Two recent enterprises have given online education in Arkansas a massive boost. By offering easy access to coursework in a variety of fields, the 100% online eVersity has opened its “doors” and is positioned to greatly enhance online learning opportunities in Arkansas as part of the University of Arkansas System. Similarly, the new eTech College hopes to offer a streamlined process to encourage online learning. A top goal of these projects is to reach Arkansas distance learners who started college but never completed their degree.

Arkansas is also a member of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus, an initiative that lets students sift through an impressive directory of online programs throughout the southeast U.S. SREB also has strong aid initiatives. Services like the Academic Common Market/Electronic Campus and the Regional Contract Program for Health Professions let students fully enroll in a selection of out-of-state programs while paying in-state rates. While the program selection is small and the admissions criteria strict, for qualified students these are incredible opportunities.


Best Online Colleges in Arkansas

Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Arkansas. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing our best of Arkansas, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Arkansas or our index of popular in-state scholarships.

Want to know what it takes to make our rankings? Check out our distinct approach.

Methodology

To determine the best online colleges in each state, we examined the factors most important to prospective students: Academic quality and reputation, online program strength, and cost and student aid. At the most basic level, we use the following formula to determine the best online colleges: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. Of course, there's more to these calculations than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about the process we use to rank schools.

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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

1
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Little Rock
$7,094
$16,871

An Online Education at University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Delivering more than 300 online courses through the Blackboard platform each semester, UALR has truly adopted online learning as the future of higher education. Blackboard student support and an online student orientation help familiarize students to the virtual classroom. Communication with instructors occurs primarily through email, however Blackboard offers many resourceful tools to enhance the online learning experience and help keep students organized. The Ottenheimer Library provides access to research materials such as scholarly journals, e-books, databases and more. Specific scholarships for transfer, senior and military students are available for qualifying individuals.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing Completion
  • Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Management
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resource Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Health, Human Performance, and Sport Management - Emphasis in Health Education and Promotion

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Education in Learning Systems Technology
  • Master of Education in Reading
  • Master of Arts in Counseling

The Master of Arts in Counseling requires just one three-day on-campus workshop. Several online programs are offered in an accelerated format, which are structured into 7 or 8 week long courses with a week off in between each course, allowing students to concentrate on one course at a time. However, most of the online programs are delivered in a typical 17-week long format.

Contact Information

2801 S University Ave
Little Rock, AR 72204
(501) 569-3000

Arkansas State University

2
Arkansas State University
Jonesboro
$7,510
$13,120

An Online Education at Arkansas State University

ASU delivers its eLearning material via the Blackboard Learn course management system. Teachers are able to customize their courses by recording their own lectures using Tegrity, creating course blogs, wikis or journals, guiding class discussion threads and by administering online tests with Respondus. Another online tool called Live Text is used as a repository for all of a student's online coursework. On a weekly basis, students are expected to listen to podcasts, submit assignments, review their grades and interact with their instructor and classmates. Technology support is available for online students 24/7.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Disaster Preparedness/Emergency Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Educational Theory and Practice
  • Master of Science in College Student Personnel Services
  • Master of Public Administration
  • Master of Special Education, Gifted, Talented and Creative
  • Master of Science in Sports Administration

The majority of the master's programs take between 18 to 24 months to complete. Several certificate programs in the subject areas of education and health, some of which result in an Arkansas license, may may be obtained completely online as well. Potential applicants residing outside of Arkansas should refer to the State Program Approvals document to confirm ASU is authorized to deliver distance education in their home state.

Contact Information

2105 E. Aggie Road
Jonesboro, AR 72401
(870) 972-2100


Acclaim for online programs

  • #12on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online MBA Programs

John Brown University

3
John Brown University
Siloam Springs
$22,734

An Online Education at John Brown University

JBU’s web-based learning is conducted through Blackboard, for which JBU offers tutorials to help students familiarize themselves with submitting assignments, participating in discussion boards, checking emails and accessing course materials in the virtual classroom. Typically students are expected to login to their courses a minimum of three times per week in order to complete assigned readings, take part in follow-up discussion threads, post questions, submit written coursework and complete projects. Students’ progress is assessed via timed, online quizzes and tests. Instructors may be contacted through the Blackboard platform, but students may use email or phone if needed.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Liberal Arts
  • Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management (degree completion)

Curious applicants can preview a sample course.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • MBA in Leadership and Ethics
  • MBA in International Business
  • MBA Global Continuous Improvement
  • MS in Leadership and Ethics
  • MS in Higher Education Leadership

Technical support for other contemporary online tools such as Wimba for web-conferencing can be found on the JBU website as well. Access to the Library, Writing Center and Career Development Center are just a few of the resources provided to online students.

Contact Information

2000 W University St
Siloam Springs, AR 72761
(479) 524-9500


Acclaim for online programs

  • #107on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs

Arkansas Tech University

4
Arkansas Tech University
Russellville
$5,598
$10,374

An Online Education at Arkansas Tech University

By using the web-based course management system Blackboard, ATU’s online students have access to learning tools such as TurnItIn, Respondus, Tegrity recordings (for lectures), wikis, instant messaging with audio and video, blogs and discussion forums. In addition to video tutorials found in the Virtual Training Center, a demo Blackboard course can be viewed to help orient unfamiliar individuals to the LMS.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
  • RN to BSN

Students should note that approximately 50% of the Early Childhood Education coursework is available online and the program is only available to those participating in ATU’s partnership with Ozark Community College and North Arkansas Community College. The nursing program requires an on-campus orientation one week before the program begins.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Science in College Student Personnel
  • Master of Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Science in Business Administration

Accelerated degree tracks, for those interested in earning their bachelor’s degree quickly, can be completed completely online in as little as 18 months. Transfer credits and prior learning credits may be applied towards these programs. ATU does not currently have permission to deliver distance education in several states; students residing outside Arkansas should refer to this list before applying.

Contact Information

Administration Bldg 200; 1509 N Boulder Ave
Russellville, AR 72801-2222
(479) 968-0389

University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

5
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
Fort Smith
$4,528
$10,072

An Online Education at University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

Using the well-known learning management system Blackboard, UAFS delivers both synchronous and asynchronous online programs. Combining Blackboard with tools such as interactive video, UAFS's distance learning programs strive to provide students a truly unique and high quality online learning experience. Instructors and students communicate primarily through chat rooms and discussion groups via the Blackboard interface, where quizzes, exams, assignments, wikis, blogs and grades can also be found. Students new to online learning are required to take a mandatory online orientation.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Animation Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Imaging Sciences Management
  • RN to BSN Degree Completion Track
  • Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Administration

Additionally, dozens of courses can be taken either fully online, in a hybrid format that reduces class time by at least a third or via a web-enhanced format with regular on-campus meetings. UAFS also offers flexible degree programs with online and evening classes for busy working adults. Academic, need-based and specific achievement scholarships are available for transfer, nontraditional and online students through UAFS.

Contact Information

5210 Grand Ave
Fort Smith, AR 72913-3649
(479) 788-7000

University of Arkansas

6
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville
$7,818
$19,074

An Online Education at University of Arkansas

Blackboard Learn is the online platform used by U of A to deliver its distance education. Via this web-based portal, students can post their assignments, participate in discussions, email their instructors, blog and collaborate with their classmates. Students are generally evaluated with either proctored exams, online tests or projects. Resources for online students include access to the U of A library system, The Quality Writing Center, the Enhanced Learning Center and the Career Development Center. Although asynchronous, online courses are paced by the instructor through the establishment of unit deadlines in the syllabus.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Resource and Workforce Development Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Executive Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Arts in Secondary Mathematics
  • Master of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Laws in Agricultural and Food Laws
  • Master of Science in Food Safety
  • Master of Science in Operations Management
  • Master of Science in Engineering
  • Master of Science in Nursing

In addition to the graduate and undergraduate level programs, numerous certificates, licensures, minors, specialist and doctoral programs can be completed fully or primarily online. Self-paced courses, also known as correspondence courses, are another web-based option and they do not require admittance into U of A. The school currently has approval to deliver distance programs in all states.

Contact Information

Administration Building 425
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(479) 575-2000


Acclaim for online programs

  • #148on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
  • #35on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs
  • #29on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs

Central Baptist College

7
Central Baptist College
Conway
$13,350

An Online Education at Central Baptist College

By way of the course management system WebStudy, CBC delivers a variety of degrees online. Most course material is delivered through audio recordings, videos, lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations and active participation in both synchronous and asynchronous discussion forums. Students can contact their instructors directly using Skype, email or messaging.

All online courses follow a strict schedule that requires students to regularly submit assignments and login at least once per week. Typically lasting 5 weeks each, courses can be accessed 24/7, allowing students the flexibility to complete their coursework on their own timeframe, so long as they meet the instructor's deadlines.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Leadership and Ministry
  • Bachelor of Business Administration

CBC offers a Professional Adult College Education (PACE) program for busy working adults seeking a degree. PACE offers an alternative to traditional offerings by holding classes once a week in the evening.

Contact Information

1501 College Avenue
Conway, AR 72034
(501) 329-6872

University of Central Arkansas

8
University of Central Arkansas
Conway
$7,595
$13,340

An Online Education at University of Central Arkansas

UCA Online uses Blackboard Learn to provide students and instructors with access to digital course materials. The school takes pride in offering online students the same educational and financial aid opportunities as their on-campus counterparts. The only difference between online and on-campus programs is the delivery method; an online degree at UCA has the same requirements and credits hold the same weight. UCA provides 24/7 access to online technical support and ensures that the lines of communication between students and their teachers and program coordinators are always open.

UCA is authorized to award online credits and degrees in 39 states, and students who live in one of the member states of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) are eligible to take online courses from any of the participating schools.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • RN to BSN
  • Bachelor's of Business Administration in General Business

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master's of Business Administration
  • Master's of Science in Community and Economic Development
  • Master's of Science in Health Sciences

UCA also offers 13 hybrid graduate degrees: 12 at the master's level and one at the doctoral. With the exception of a couple campus visits for intensive training, these programs can be completed online.

Contact Information

201 Donaghey Ave
Conway, AR 72035-0001
(501) 450-5000


Most Affordable Online Colleges in Arkansas

Below you’ll find a list of online colleges in Arkansas sorted by lowest tuition rates.

Want to know what it takes to make our rankings? Check out our distinct approach.

Methodology

Our list of the most affordable online colleges is based on in-state yearly tuition, or annual tuition rates if a school does not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students. Tuition rates are based on a full course load each semester or term. All colleges on the list offer at least one bachelor's degree completion program available entirely online. Those institutions with the lowest tuition are ranked highest, providing prospective students with a true list of the most affordable online colleges in their state.

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University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

1
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
Fort Smith
$4,528
$10,072

Arkansas Tech University

2
Arkansas Tech University
Russellville
$5,598
$10,374

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

3
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Little Rock
$7,094
$16,871

Arkansas State University

4
Arkansas State University
Jonesboro
$7,510
$13,120

University of Arkansas

5
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville
$7,818
$19,074

Harding University

6
Harding University
Searcy
$552
$13,248

Central Baptist College

7
Central Baptist College
Conway
$13,350

John Brown University

8
John Brown University
Siloam Springs
$22,734


Scholarships and Financial Aid in Arkansas

Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholars

Deadline: February 1, 2017
Scholarship Amount $10,000 See Scholarship

This scholarship is open to freshmen entering college in Arkansas. To be eligible, students must have a minimum ACT score of 32 or SAT score of 1410. In addition, applicants must have either a minimum GPA of 3.5, or be a National Achievement/ Merit finalist. Funds are administered by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Arkansas Governor’s Scholars Award

Deadline: June 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $4,000 See Scholarship

A highly competitive academic scholarship, this award is granted annually to one graduating high school senior in each Arkansas county. Applicants must have a minimum ACT score of 27 or GPA of 3.5. Selection based on academic record, test scores, and leadership. Funds are provided by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Blue and Gold Scholarship

Deadline: March 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $3,300 See Scholarship

For freshmen entering Southern Arkansas University, the Blue and Gold Scholarship requires applicants to have a minimum composite ACT score of 24 to 26, or SAT equivalent. The award amount is determined by financial need, and may be up to $3,300 per semester.

Chancellor’s Merit Scholarship

Deadline: November 15, 2016
Scholarship Amount $10,000 See Scholarship

Awarded to Merit finalists who name the University of Arkansas as 1st choice to the National Merit Corporation

Leadership Incentive Award

Deadline: March 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $2,550 See Scholarship

Open to freshmen entering Southern Arkansas University. Applicants must have a 3.25 GPA, a composite ACT of 20-23, and must be recommended by a high school principal, counselor or teacher. Recipient is expected to attend Leadership Academy in August prior to registration at the university.

Nontraditional Student Scholarship

Deadline: April 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $2,500 See Scholarship

Southern Arkansas University offers this scholarship to incoming students who graduated from high school five or more years ago, and have completed at least one semester of college coursework. To be eligible, students must have a GPA of 2.75 or higher. This award is renewable for one semester.

Presidential Scholarship

Deadline: March 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $5,500 See Scholarship

For freshmen entering the University of Arkansas. Applicants must have a composite ACT score of 30 or higher, or be a National Merit Competition finalist or semi-finalist.

Top 10% Scholarship

Deadline: March 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $2,550 See Scholarship

This scholarship is available to freshmen entering Southern Arkansas University. Applicants must be in the top 10% of their graduating high school class, and have a composite ACT score of 19 to 23. Award amount is determined by financial need, up to $3,300 per semester.

University Scholarship

Deadline: March 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $4,500 See Scholarship

This scholarship is open to freshmen entering the University of Southern Arkansas. The scholarship amount is determined based on the amount of other aid the recipient qualifies for. Maximum award is $4,500 per semester. A composite ACT score of 27-29 (or SAT equivalent) is required.

Valedictorian/Salutatorian

Deadline: March 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $2,550 See Scholarship

This award is for entering freshmen at Southern Arkansas University who were valedictorians or salutatorians of their graduating high school class. Composite ACT score of 19-23 is required.


Higher Education Resources in Arkansas