The Best Online Colleges in Arkansas | TheBestSchools

by Blake Huggins

Updated August 22, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Online schools in the Natural State offer new students and working professionals a convenient way to build new skills and advance their careers through bachelor's degrees, two-year programs, and graduate-level study.

Earning a college degree in Arkansas can qualify you to enter the workforce in some of the state's top fields. Many schools feature online options and continue to expand their programming to meet rising demand. The best online colleges in Arkansas offer multiple degrees to meet the needs of new students and working professionals.

Our ranking identifies the best online colleges in Arkansas with criteria like affordability, flexibility in delivery, and program availability. Each school listed also holds accreditation, a key indicator of quality and value. Learn more about these rankings and explore your options for online college in Arkansas below.

The Best Online Online Colleges in Arkansas

  1. University of Arkansas Global Campus

    Fayetteville, AR



    The University of Arkansas, a land-grant and space-grant research institution, is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System. It has a long history beginning in 1871, which is evident with the presence of multiple historical sites on the campus grounds. The university has 10 academic colleges and provides more than 200 degree programs. The student body is over 25,000 students strong.

    The University of Arkansas Global Campus provides online bachelor, master, doctoral and certificate programs. Some of their online bachelor’s degrees include human resources and nursing. Available master’s degrees include business administration, educational leadership and agriculture. Online doctoral degrees include educational leadership and nursing. Online certificate options include psychology and information systems.

    Online student resources include an online career development center, library, scholarly article database, writing center and enhanced learning center.

  2. University of Arkansas at Little Rock

    Little Rock, AR



    The University of Arkansas at Little Rock, founded in 1927 is a space-grant research institution. The university has seven academic colleges, eight campuses and serves more than 12,000 students. It also offers almost 200 degree programs.

    The University of Arkansas at Little Rock features a study abroad program which counts China, Costa Rica, Argentina, France, England, Austria and Spain among its partner countries.

    The university’s online programs include various bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in many areas of study. Some of the bachelor’s degrees obtainable online include interdisciplinary studies and speech, while online options for master's degrees include education and criminal justice.

    Resources available to the university’s online students consist of online library services that include live chat with a librarian, a research article database, a disability resource center and technical support.

  3. Arkansas State University

    Jonesboro, AR



    Arkansas State University, founded in 1909, was originally an agricultural school. It was one of four created by a state resolution to train those interested in farming. Since then, this modest agricultural school has blossomed into a respected university with over 20,000 students, nearly 200 degree programs and 11 academic colleges.

    Arkansas State University offers a variety of online degree programs featuring bachelor, master, doctoral and certificate programs. Some of the online bachelor’s degrees available include sociology and nursing. Master’s degree options include business and homeland security. Doctoral degree offerings include education and nursing. Available certifications include topics in education and healthcare. Arkansas State University also possesses a few degree and certificate programs available exclusively online.

    Arkansas State University’s online students have access to an online library, research article database, 24/7 technical support and an online job board.

  4. University of Central Arkansas

    Conway, AR



    Best known for its stellar occupational therapy, physical therapy and education programs, the University of Central Arkansas first opened its doors in 1907. Almost 15,000 students attend the university today for its 80 academic majors in the business, natural sciences, education, arts, mathematics, liberal arts and behavioral sciences. The university’s honors college has earned national recognition for its excellent quality.

    The University of Central Arkansas’ offers close to 30 online bachelor, master, doctoral, educational specialist and certificate programs. Online bachelor’s degree offerings include nursing and business. Master’s degree offerings include economy and education. The two doctoral degrees available online are in nursing and educational leadership. Options for online certificates consist of multiple topics in education.

    Online students have access to a variety of online resources, including academic advising, library, academic journal database, veterans’ services, career services, disability services and 24/7 technical support.

  5. Arkansas Tech University

    Russellville, AR



    One of the best online colleges in Arkansas, ATU offers associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. In addition to the 120+ programs available through ATU’s campuses in Russellville and Ozark, the school offers online programs in education, nursing, and emergency management.

    Freshman applicants should have a 2.0 GPA and a 19 on the ACT. Transfer applicants must have a 2.0 GPA, and those with fewer than 24 credits must submit high school transcripts and test scores. Candidates who do not meet these requirements may still receive conditional admission. Students from Massachusetts are currently ineligible for ATU’s online programs.

  6. Southern Arkansas University

    Magnolia, AR



    Southern Arkansas University ascended from a humble agricultural school founded in 1909 to a university with over 3,500 students. The university favors a familial atmosphere with small class sizes and multiple family-oriented events throughout the year. It also has a 2 + 2 program for select areas of study and provides over 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

    There are many non-degree and master’s programs available online at Southern Arkansas University. The university’s online offerings consist primarily of various topics in education, but the university provides master’s degrees in business and kinesiology.

    Students also have access to a variety of online resources. Some of these include an online library with a scholarly article database, student support services, disability services, technical support and employment resource center.

  7. Ouachita Baptist University

    Arkadelphia, AR



    Founded in 1886, Ouachita Baptist is a liberal arts college located in Arkadelphia. The university serves over 1,500 students each year and hosts 60 academic programs. Ouachita offers two majors online, a BA in business administration and an AA and BA in Christian studies. Both bachelor’s degrees require 120 credits, including a one-credit orientation to online learning that covers topics such as Ouachita’s academic resources.

    Online courses begin every eight weeks, and freshmen applicants only need to submit their transcripts and standardized test scores. Transfer applicants should submit all college transcripts.The school charges tuition per credit hour and payment plans are available. All distance education students pay the same rate regardless of residency. Approximately 97% of Ouachita students receive financial aid, making it one of the most affordable online schools in Arkansas.

  8. University of Arkansas at Monticello

    Monticello, AR



    UAM maintains three campuses in Monticello, McGehee, and Crossett. Like most other online colleges in Arkansas, the school offers a bachelor’s degree and several master’s degrees. Options are available in education and fine arts. All graduate programs in the school of education are available online, including the master of educational leadership, the master of arts in teaching, and the master of physical education and coaching.

    Prospective students can apply for fall, spring, or summer admission. Undergraduate applicants should submit all transcripts and entrance exam scores, while graduate applicants should submit college transcripts and GRE scores.

  9. University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

    Fort Smith, AR



    Located in the second-largest city in the state, UAFS is one of the 18 institutions in the University of Arkansas system. The school offers seven distance education programs in areas such as business administration, nursing, and organizational leadership. Unlike most online colleges in Arkansas, the school hosts online programs in dental hygiene and imaging sciences. In addition to fully online courses, UAFS also offers hybrid and web-enhanced classes.

    Academic advisors are divided by major, so students can get information specific to their degree and future profession. Both freshmen and transfer applicants must submit transcripts and test scores, and transfer students must have a 2.0 GPA.

  10. John Brown University

    Siloam Springs, AR



    John Brown University, a private, interdenominational, Christian liberal arts school provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. John Brown University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. The school provides academics within a distinctly Christian community. The university has approximately 2,500 students.

    John Brown University provides online bachelor’s degrees in subjects including liberal arts and accounting, as well as master’s degrees in ethics and business.

    Online students have access to a listing of online resources, including an online library and online journal article database.

Best Online Colleges

Online Online Colleges in Arkansas Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Online Colleges in Arkansas

Employment in Arkansas

The highest-paying and most common occupations in Arkansas align with some of the state's top industries: aerospace and defense, business, manufacturing and transportation, and software development. Each career listed below delivers mean earnings well above the $44,780 average in Arkansas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that just 23% of workers in the Natural State hold college degrees. While the current unemployment rate in Arkansas is 4.4% — one percentage point lower than the national rate — college-educated professionals fare even better. BLS figures indicate that both earnings and employment rise with educational attainment.

It also costs less for professionals to live and work in Arkansas. The cost of living index, which factors in expenses like utilities and housing, is just 79.0 statewide (for comparison, the national average is 100). A low cost of living makes work for recent Arkansas graduates even more lucrative, especially for the careers listed below.

The following information includes the highest-paying roles employing more than 1,000 individuals in Arkansas. Salary information applies specifically to Arkansas, while job growth data pertains to the United States as a whole.

Highest-Paying Careers in Arkansas
Career Annual Mean Salary (2020) Projected Job Growth (2020-2030) Education Required
Family Medicine Physicians $209,370 3% Doctorate
Sales Managers $138,030 7% Bachelor's
Postsecondary Education Administrators $114,970 8% Master's
Computer and Information Systems Managers $114,770 11% Bachelor's
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The following data reflects the highest-paying roles employing more than 2,900 professionals in Arkansas. Salary figures apply specifically to Arkansas, while job growth data refers to the United States as a whole.

Most Common Careers in Arkansas
Career Annual Mean Salary (2020) Projected Job Growth (2020-2030) Education Required
Financial Managers $112,190 17% Bachelor's
General and Operations Managers $91,530 8% Bachelor's
Medical and Health Services Managers $89,700 32% Bachelor's
Software Developers $87,720 22% Bachelor's
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Online Associate Degrees and Community Colleges in Arkansas

The Arkansas Community Colleges system includes 22 schools that feature associate degrees. Most only last two years, which makes it easy for learners to earn degrees in manufacturing, computer information systems, engineering, and business administration.

Online availability at these schools continues to expand amid the pandemic — an ideal option for working professionals and busy learners looking to maintain balance. After graduating, earned credits can easily transfer to four-year schools across the state.

Online Graduate Degrees in Arkansas

Many schools in Arkansas also offer online graduate degrees for individuals interested in continuing their education. If you're looking to advance in one of the state's top job sectors — like finance or healthcare — a graduate degree can strengthen your qualifications, equipping you for roles with higher pay and more responsibility.

Students pursuing online degrees at Arkansas schools will experience different class structures and learning formats than campus-based offerings. The key difference lies in course delivery. The best online colleges in Arkansas use synchronous or asynchronous methods to accommodate different learning styles and work schedules.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges in Arkansas

Is Online College Cheaper in Arkansas?

Yes — especially if you live in the state. Many schools offer reduced tuition rates for in-state residents. Some also feature flat-rate tuition for non-residents.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Degree in Arkansas?

Most students complete associate degrees in two years or less. A bachelor's degree can take up to four years. Individuals with transfer credits can finish faster.

What Is the Most Popular Degree in Arkansas?

Business and marketing, engineering, health professions, and communication-related fields all rank among the most popular majors at large state schools like University of Arkansas.

Portrait of Blake Huggins

Blake Huggins

Blake Huggins is a Boston-based writer and researcher with roots in north Texas and southern Oklahoma. He holds degrees in religion and philosophy and writes widely on higher education, healthcare, and the humanities broadly conceived. He earned a PhD from Boston University and has taught college courses in philosophy, writing, and composition.

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