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Online Colleges in Arkansas

Most Affordable Online Colleges
   Page Contents

Arkansas needs more college graduates. According to a report from the nonprofit Lumina Foundation, Census figures suggest 29.3 percent of Arkansas' working-age adults had at least a two-year degree in 2012, which put the state considerably behind the 39.4 percent national average.

Minimizing this attainment gap is one of Arkansas' key economic goals, and with good reason: the Lumina Foundation projects that at least 60 percent of U.S. jobs will require some postsecondary education by the year 2025. If Arkansas' degree attainment rate continues to grow at the current rate, the state will fall nearly 24 percent short of this goal. This could limit the state's ability to attract employers (and the jobs they bring with them).

A 2013 report from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) suggests that one of the fastest ways to improve earnings in Arkansas is through education. The state's participation in SREB online learning initiatives, like the Electronic Campus, allows Arkansas students to quickly find online classes from all across the South. Arkansas also participates in the SREB's Academic Common Market, which allows students in participating SREB member states to enroll in online classes from out-of-state colleges at in-state rates. In other words, Arkansas recognizes the power of online learning, and is willing to invest the funds and policies necessary to grow online options within its borders.

Many of the most prominent online colleges in Arkansas are actually traditional brick-and-mortar institutions — like the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University and Arkansas Tech — that see web-based learning as a tool for serving even the busiest or most remote students. There are also a number of national online colleges and career schools that serve Arkansas students, expanding residents' options considerably. These schools were often among the first to adopt online learning and still tend to offer more online degree options than their campus-based counterparts. The key is to find the right program for your goals, learning style and budget.

Most Affordable Online Colleges in Arkansas

The following list ranks schools in Arkansas that offer online degree programs at the lowest tuition costs.

1

University of Arkansas-Fort Smith

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,336
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
13.67%
Institution Type
Public

About

The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith launched its first online course in the year 2000, and its online course catalog has grown significantly since then. Today all UAFS academic colleges save the College of Education offer online courses, including the Colleges of: Applied Science and Technology; Business; General Studies; Health Sciences; Humanities and Social Science; Languages and Communication; and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Select hybrid courses require some campus-based instruction, but most are completely web-based. Nursing students can even complete their RN to BSN degrees 100 percent online. Note that students must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average to enroll in online courses at UAFS.

School Website: 
GO
2

Arkansas Tech University

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$5,016
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
37.21%
Institution Type
Public

About

eTECH is Arkansas Tech University's online learning program, which allows students to earn select undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas like Education, Emergency Management, and Nursing, completely online. ATU also offers an accelerated Bachelor of Professional Studies degree, which reduces students' length of study to as little as 18 months. Students enrolled in eTECH courses have access to round-the-clock technical support, additional computer-based training courses through the Virtual Training Center, and other academic and career support services, including financial aid advising.

School Website: 
GO
3

Arkansas State University-Main Campus

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$5,760
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
48.62%
Institution Type
Public

About

Arkansas State University offers a diversity of online courses and degree options across a number of disciplines, including education and public administration. Students can earn a Bachelor's of Interdisciplinary Studies degree in one of five separate disciplines: technology, criminology, communications, health and physical education. According to ASU's official website, its online graduate degrees in Business and Education rank among the best in the nation, as rated by U.S. News & World Report. ASU says it is committed to providing convenient online courses taught by "dedicated, highly qualified faculty," allowing students to complete their degrees "in the shortest possible time."

School Website: 
GO
4

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$5,768
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
41.1%
Institution Type
Public

About

According to its official website, UALR is committed to offering online students the full college experience, but with the flexibility they need to complete their educations while tending to family, work and other school responsibilities. UALR offers several undergraduate and graduate degrees online, including a handful of unique, accelerated programs that operate on an expedited seven-week system rather than the usual semester system. UALR is a member of the national Quality Matters program — a program designed to certify the quality and methodology of institutions' online courses.

School Website: 
GO
5

University of Central Arkansas

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$5,918
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
20.47%
Institution Type
Public

About

UCA Online allows the University of Central Arkansas' to serve students from all across the country (or globe), all from the comfort of home. Primary areas of study include Education, Health and Behavioral Sciences, and Liberal Arts. According to the school's official website, UCA Online students have access to the same faculty, affordable tuition rates and financial aid resources as students who report to the classroom. The program also promises a low student-to-professor ratio, even online.

School Website: 
Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$5,918
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
20.47%
Institution Type
Public
6

Southern Arkansas University-Main Campus

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$6,300
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
42.75%
Institution Type
Public

About

According to its official website, ASU's online learning system was designed to support undergraduate students completing general education courses and other degree requirements, graduate students whose jobs and family responsibilities make college difficult, non-traditional students who stand to benefit from "the freedom and ease of online access," and even retirees pursuing personal enrichment. Each semester more than 1,200 students enroll in more than 350 online courses across a wide breadth of disciplines. Online students have access to the same student support services afforded campus-based students, including tutoring, academic and career counseling, and graduation and retention support.

School Website: 
GO
7

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$7,485
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
30.45%
Institution Type
Public

About

According to its official website, UALR is committed to offering online students the full college experience, but with the flexibility they need to complete their educations while tending to family, work and other school responsibilities. UALR offers several undergraduate and graduate degrees online, including a handful of unique, accelerated programs that operate on an expedited seven-week system rather than the usual semester system. UALR is a member of the national Quality Matters program — a program designed to certify the quality and methodology of institutions' online courses.

School Website: 
GO

College Accreditation in Arkansas

Choosing the right degree to pursue is an important process students should put a lot of thought into. It's equally important to enroll in a college or university that's accredited through a nationally recognized accrediting body.

Accreditation shows students that the school meets predetermined quality standards. Their institution's educational programs have been peer-reviewed and approved by the accrediting body.

There is one main accrediting body for most community, technical, religious colleges and public and private universities in Arkansas:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

If students wish to check how their prospective college is accredited they can look up member institutions at the accrediting body mentioned above, or they can check with the Department of Education.

School Interviews

Carolyn Mosley
It takes self-discipline and good time management skills to be successful in online courses.

Dr. Carolyn Mosley

Dean of the College of Health Sciences

University of Arkansas-Fort Smith

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at your school?

The College of Health Sciences has offered the Bachelor of Science in Imaging Science (BSIS) - Management and the Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program since 2004 as fully online programs. The Master of Science in Healthcare Administration (MHCA) will be offered as a fully online program fall 2015 once final approval is granted from the Higher Learning Commission.

The BSIS program targets graduates of Associate of Applied Science Radiography programs who want to receive a bachelor's degree. It provides the educational foundation for registered radiographers to expand their career opportunities while providing the community with quality healthcare practitioners in the imaging sciences. The RN to BSN online program provides educational mobility for associate degree and diploma prepared nurses and the foundation for graduate education in nursing. This flexible track makes possible the opportunity for registered nurses to receive 35 credit hours for previous nursing education and experience. We plan to begin offering an online Master of Science in Healthcare Administration degree program in the fall.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in an online degree program?

Students sometimes assume that an online version of a course will be easier than its in-class counterpart. This is not the case. Learning online can offer many benefits that a traditional face-to-face class doesn't, but it also introduces some challenges. It takes self-discipline and good time management skills to be successful in online courses. Online courses can be effective for certain types of learners. While many students do well learning in an online environment, others prefer traditional methods of instruction. Prior to enrolling in online courses, students should assess their learning skills, preferences, and personal situations carefully.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

As more and more individuals need to work while going to school, it is expected that the interest in online education will increase.

 
Article Sources

Sources:

  1. A Stronger Arkansas Through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, 2014, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/downloads/pdfs/arkansas-brief-2014.pdf
  2. Academic Common Market, Southern Regional Education Board, http://www.sreb.org/page/1304/academic_common_market.html
  3. Arkansas State University, http://degree.astate.edu/
  4. Arkansas Tech University, http://www.atu.edu/etech/
  5. Ashford University, http://www.ashford.edu/
  6. C2ER, The Cost of Living Index, http://www.coli.org/
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  9. Economy at a Glance: Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO, Bureau of Labor Statistics, June, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.ar_fayetteville_msa.htm
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  17. Participating Institutions Academic Year 9/21/2014 - 12/31/2015, Electronic Campus, Southern Regional Education Board, 2014, https://secure.electroniccampus.org/student/scripts/institutions/institutions.asp
  18. Participating States, Academic Common Market, Southern Regional Education Board, 2014, http://home.sreb.org/acm/states.aspx
  19. Southern Arkansas University, http://web.saumag.edu/online/
  20. Regional Accrediting Organizations 2016-2017, Council for Higher Education Accreditation, accessed January 2017, http://chea.org/Directories/regional.asp
  21. University of Arkansas, Fort Smith, http://uafs.edu/distancelearning/welcome-distance-learning-university-arkansas-fort-smith
  22. University of Arkansas at Little Rock, http://ualr.edu/online/
  23. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, http://nursing.uams.edu/academic-programs/
  24. University of Central Arkansas, http://uca.edu/online/
  25. U.S. Department of Education, The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation
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Article Sources