Enrolling in an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree program at an online college in Arkansas can provide you long-term benefits: improved job prospects and wage potential (BLS.gov). And in the short term, an online program's flexible format means you can study and work at your convenience, something especially important if you also have family responsibilities. Here are some highlights about online colleges in Arkansas:

  • Associate degree programs are available at 34 online colleges, bachelor's degrees can be earned at 16, and master's degree programs are available at 14 schools. Several faith-based schools also offer distance education programs.
  • The online colleges that offer the most degree programs via distance education in Arkansas include Arkansas State University, Strayer University-Arkansas, and University of Arkansas.
  • Although degree programs vary from school to school, the majority of colleges that offer online degree programs focus on business administration, marketing, psychology, and liberal arts.

The state of Arkansas is eager to help more people qualify for high-skill and high-wage jobs that can come by having a degree. To support that goal, its successful "Career Pathways Initiative" is specifically designed to provide educational opportunities to residents with lower incomes. If you think you might qualify, be sure to look further into this program.

For more information on online colleges in Arkansas, check our list of the best online colleges in the state. You can also find details on state-specific scholarships as well as other Arkansas resources for financial aid. This page can help you make an educated decision on an online degree program that is right for your needs.

What Makes a Good Online College in Arkansas?

Here at OnlineColleges.com, we've created several different rankings for the best online colleges in Arkansas. Each school that appears in our rankings was selected using many different relevant data points, and each has been accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body. The Higher Learning Commission is the primary accrediting institution for colleges and universities in Arkansas, but some smaller private and bible colleges may be accredited by other organizations, i.e. the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Students can visit our "What is College Accreditation?" page to learn more about why it is important to attend an accredited college. They also can visit the Arkansas Department of Higher Education for accreditation information specific to the state of Arkansas.

Students can use our rankings to help inform their decisions as they consider online colleges in Arkansas. Our rankings take into consideration key data points such as number of students enrolled in distance education classes, average cost of in-state tuition, number of online degree programs offered, and many other important factors that should be considered prior to enrollment. Learn more about why each of these factors is important by visiting the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section of our "About Us" page.


Best Online Colleges in Arkansas for 2019-20

To help distance learners find the school of their dreams, we have created a ranking of the best online universities in Arkansas using data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. Visit our methodologies page to learn more about how we use official data to evaluate schools.


Arkansas State University-Main Campus

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What is A-State like?

Ranking as our top online college in Arkansas for the another year, Arkansas State University began as an agricultural high school in 1909. The distance learning program started in the late 1990s and over time has grown to include online associate, bachelor's, master's and post-graduate programs.

What online programs are at A-State?

Students can choose from dozens of online options, including the online associate in general studies, which can serve as a stepping stone to numerous bachelor's programs. Online bachelor's programs include programs in criminology, sociology and social medial management, among others. Online master's programs focus on education, administration, management and communications. Numerous certificate and post-graduate programs round out the options for distance learners at A-State.

What online resources does A-State offer?

As one of the best online colleges in Arkansas, A-State offers numerous resources for success, including a comprehensive self-service portal, 24/7 tech support and library services with 24/7 research assistance. Each student is assigned a teaching assistant who can offer feedback and answer course-related questions.


Arkansas Tech University

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What is ATU like?

The third largest university in Arkansas, ATU maintains its spot on our list of best colleges in Arkansas for the second year in a row.

What online programs are at ATU?

Online associate degree and certificate programs start the offerings at ATU, including options in law enforcement, general studies, education, logistics and more. Students can move into a handful of online bachelor's degree programs in subjects such as emergency management and administration or the RN to BSN program. Those seeking the upper-division curriculum of a master's degree program can opt for business administration, health informatics and educational leadership, to name just a few.

Course materials are delivered via the Blackboard learning system.

What online resources does ATU offer?

All students at ATU enjoy the benefits of tutoring, one-on-one academic coaching, an academic advising center and customized strategies for student success. The Bridge to Excellence program connects freshman students to mentors who can help keep them on the right track during that crucial first year.


University of Arkansas at Little Rock

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What is UA Little Rock like?

Founded in 1927, University of Arkansas at Little Rock has moved up from No.5 on last year's ranking list to No.3 on this year's list -- a notable and praiseworthy improvement.

What online programs are at UA Little Rock?

The university offers dozens of fully online degree and certificate programs, with the added bonus of transparent tuition rates per credit hour. Students can choose from programs such as the B.B.A. in management, the M.S. in information science or the M.S. in criminal justice.

Most online programs at UA Little Rock offer courses in an accelerated format, as well as through asynchronous learning, thus making them very flexible for the schedules of working adults. Course materials are typically delivered via the Blackboard learning system.

What online resources does UA Little Rock offer?

In addition to robust Blackboard and tech services, students can also enjoy personalized assistance through the Ottenheimer Library, the online writing lab and the disability resource center. The Military Student Success Center is available for active duty and veteran college students, while students of all stripes can access reading resources (or show their school spirit!) through the online bookstore.


Southern Arkansas University-Main Campus

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What is SAU like?

Established in 1909, Southern Arkansas University was named the highest return on investment of all colleges in Arkansas by the U.S. Department of Education. Much of that is driven by robust scholarship options for students, including for those students who choose to study online. It's no surprise, then, that SAU makes our list for the second year in a row.

What online programs are at SAU?

Online students at SAU take courses through the Blackboard learning system, where they can tailor their experience through individual courses or engage in degree programs that are entirely online.

Bachelor's degree programs in management and nursing are available at the undergraduate level. The master's level is where the school shines, with programs in fields like education, business, computer science and agriculture. Certificate and endorsement options create avenues for further specialization for those who already hold a degree.

What online resources does SAU offer?

Off-campus students can enjoy many of the same resources as their on-campus counterparts, such as academic advising, the Magale Library and a writing center. Student Support Services are there to help those who are struggling, and tech support is available 24/7. Disability support services and the Employment Resource Center round out the online resources available.


University of Arkansas-Fort Smith

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Number of Programs Offered
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What is UAFS like?

Debuting on our list this year, UAFS is home to a campus history that spans almost a century, as well as more than 100 student organizations.

What online programs are at UAFS?

Students can earn their M.S. in healthcare administration through fully online courses at UAFS. Other options include:

  • Online associate programs in imaging sciences and criminal justice
  • Online bachelor's programs in applied science, business administration, dental hygiene and organizational leadership
  • Online certificate programs in areas such as nursing and business

Taught through Blackboard, many courses are asynchronous, though some have synchronous elements.

What online resources does UAFS offer?

Advising, financial aid help and career services are open to all students. Many other services are available for certain populations of students, such as those who have engaged in military service (veteran or active duty) or those with disabilities.


University of Arkansas

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What is U of A like?

With perks like being a Carnegie research facility, well over 200 programs to choose from and of course, the legendary "Calling of the Hogs" that can give even distance learning students a serious shot of school spirit, there's a reason more than 27,000 students call U of A home. And they're in good company -- numerous celebrities, politicians, authors and sports stars are Razorback alumni.

What online programs are at U of A?

There are dozens of online offerings at U of A, from certificate programs to doctorate programs. Students have the unique option of choosing semester-based online courses or self-paced courses, which run about 12 weeks per course.

A few examples include the online bachelor's in communication, accounting or nursing; the online master's in food safety, engineering and a variety of education paths; and doctorates and specialist programs in education. Numerous minors are also available fully online, such as those in criminal justice or journalism.

What online resources does U of A offer?

The University of Arkansas Global Campus maintains resources for online students regardless of their chosen format, such as Blackboard tech support, library services, academic advising, a Career Development Center and even opportunities for health insurance designed for online students.


John Brown University

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Number of Programs Offered
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What is JBU like?

This private Christian college in the northwest corner of the state was founded in 1919. It's a smaller institution than some of its counterparts, with just under 2,500 students in the 2017-18 school year, almost 300 of whom chose to study online.

What online programs are at JBU?

Fully asynchronous classes and five start dates throughout the year make it easy for students to pursue their education without sacrificing their other commitments.

The school offers online degree programs that allow students to complete their bachelor's pursuit in psychology, organizational leadership, politics and ethics, liberal arts, communication or business administration. The RN to BSN program rounds out those opportunities. There are also many online minors available, such as those in business and accounting.

What online resources does JBU offer?

Library services, tutoring, a writing center and more are available to JBU students. The university also offers robust online learning tools, such as downloadable textbooks, online flashcards, tutorials and more.


University of Central Arkansas

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Number of Programs Offered
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What is UCA like?

Over 11,000 students study at the University of Central Arkansas every year, including those who attend through UCA Online.

What online programs are at UCA?

Online students interested in completing their bachelor's degree can do so through UCA, with programs in general studies, nursing, addiction studies and more. Meanwhile, master's programs abound for those who have already finished a bachelor's degree, in subjects such as education, health sciences and nursing, as well as the MBA program. Nurses who want to further their career may pursue the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. And there are numerous certificate programs available as well for those who want to brush up on particular skills or fields.

Online courses at UCA are delivered via Blackboard.

What online resources does UCA offer?

UCA Online offers 24/7 technical support, a program coordinator to help online students manage issues other than those with courses, assistance with getting financial aid and a streamlined applications process.


Harding University

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Number of Programs Offered
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What is Harding like?

Nestled between Little Rock and Memphis, Tennessee, Harding University is a private liberal arts university that over 5,000 students call home.

What online programs are at Harding?

Harding University's Center for Distance Education in Bible and Ministry is home to the online bachelor's degree program in ministry, as well as certificate programs in biblical studies and Christian ministry. Dual credit programs give high school students the option to earn credit for courses in Christianity and ethics before even entering college. The time to complete the courses in these programs varies, with some only a few weeks long and others on a semester schedule.

What online resources does Harding offer?

Harding offers academic advising and career services for on-campus and off-campus students. Tech support is available, as well as instructors' support in ministry, ethical issues and more. Students who need information or help with classes can also contact the Department of Bible and Ministry.


University of Arkansas at Monticello

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Number of Programs Offered
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What is UAM like?

UAM debuts on our list of the best online degree programs in Arkansas this year.

What online programs are at UAM?

Though most of the online programs at UAM are at the master's level, UAM was recently approved to offer a 100 percent online bachelor's program in education studies. The online master's programs at this school include those in teaching, education, physical education and coaching, and fine arts.

Courses are taught on a full semester schedule via the Blackboard learning management system.

What online resources does UAM offer?

In addition to robust Blackboard support, UAM online students can expect library services, computer help and assistance with proctored testing. The Office of Academic Computing is designed to help distance learning students, and an academic advisor is assigned to each student through the Student Success Center.

Affordable Online Colleges in Arkansas for 2019-20

Financial Aid Resources in Arkansas

What Grants and Scholarships are Available in Arkansas?

Student Loans in Arkansas

Arkansas has moved away from offering state-specific student loans, and thus redirects students to federal and private loan options instead. Students should first seek out all scholarship and grant opportunities available to them before deciding to take out a loan. If you decide to utilize the federal loan program, you will need to fill out the FAFSA and provide information about your family's financial situation in order to qualify.

For more information about how student loans work, check out the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Arkansas

Costs for Out-of-State Students in Arkansas

Plenty of non-resident students choose to get their higher education in Arkansas. At the University of Arkansas, for example, more than half the 2018 freshman class came from outside the state.

Out-of-state students often have to pay higher tuition rates, and that can pose a challenge. If you're relocating to Arkansas for a military assignment, you might be eligible for in-state tuition rates immediately. Otherwise, you'll have to live in the state for six consecutive months to be considered an Arkansas resident by many schools.

Fortunately, many of the state's colleges and universities offer ways to reduce the cost of out-of-state tuition. At the University of Arkansas, the New Arkansan Non-Resident Tuition Award Scholarship is available to all incoming students meeting certain academic benchmarks. The state also participates in the Academic Common Market which waives out-of-state tuition rates for certain students enrolling in specialized fields.

If you're relocating to Arkansas for a job, you might want to wait until you obtain residency status before starting classes. If that's not possible, talk to your school's financial aid office to see what programs are available to out-of-state students. You can also review these ways to minimize out-of-state tuition.