Arkansas is full of things to see, from the hiking trails of the Ozark mountains to the Clinton Presidential Library. People don’t usually think of universities and colleges when they think about Arkansas, but the best universities in Arkansas have produced some of the brightest minds in academics, politics, and business.
In this article, we’ll share our pick of the top 10 universities in Arkansas and some of the most popular degree programs. We’ll also cover admission requirements and financial aid opportunities for students in graduate and undergraduate programs. Read on to learn about the most prestigious universities in Arkansas.
What Are the Best Universities in Arkansas?
The best universities in Arkansas are the University of Arkansas, Harding University, Arkansas State University, and Arkansas Tech University. These universities are the best in Arkansas because they are focused on student success, have modern facilities, and have accredited programs.
How Many Universities Are in Arkansas?
There are 27 universities in Arkansas. Community and private colleges are not included in this list. Universities are different from colleges in that they also offer graduate degrees and have strong research programs. Community and private colleges are usually smaller and tailored to undergraduate students.
What Are the Biggest Universities in Arkansas?
The biggest universities in Arkansas are the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University, Arkansas Tech University, University of Central Arkansas, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The biggest university in Arkansas, the University of Arkansas, has 27,562 students enrolled.
Largest Arkansas Universities by Enrollment
- University of Arkansas | 27,562
- Arkansas State University | 13,106
- Arkansas Tech University | 10,829
- University of Central Arkansas | 10,335
- University of Arkansas at Little Rock | 8,899
Arkansas University Rankings: What Are the Top 10 Universities in Arkansas?
|1||University of Arkansas||Fayetteville||70%|
|3||Arkansas State University||Jonesboro||54%|
|4||University of Central Arkansas||Conway||49%|
|5||Arkansas Tech University||Russellville||46%|
|6||Southern Arkansas University||Magnolia||40%|
|7||University of Arkansas at Little Rock||Little Rock||40%|
|8||Henderson State University||Arkadelphia||37%|
|9||University of Arkansas at Monticello||Monticello||33%|
|10||University of Arkansas Fort Smith||Fort Smith||26%|
How We Defined Arkansas University Rankings
Our ranking of the 10 best Arkansas universities is based on the graduation rates of top schools in the state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). In coming up with our list of 10 Arkansas universities, we also consulted rankings conducted by US News & World Report and Times Higher Education, which you can reference in the expanded list below.
The Best Colleges and Universities in Arkansas, Explained
In the next section, we’ll cover the best colleges and universities in Arkansas in detail with general information about each school, vital statistics, and details about popular programs offered. We sourced all our information about the school and the programs offered from each school’s official website.
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Arkansas University Admission Requirements
The admission requirements to attend university in Arkansas are a high school diploma or GED. Many schools require a high school GPA of 2.0 or higher, and some schools also require SAT and ACT scores. Certain special degree programs will have additional requirements, like an audition for a music performance degree.
Admission Requirements for Universities in Arkansas
- High school diploma or GED
- GPA of 2.0 or higher
- SAT or ACT scores
- Interview, audition, or portfolio (varies by program)
How to Apply to Arkansas Universities
Once you’ve decided which schools to apply to, the next step is to fill out an application form. You can find an online version on each school’s official website. Next, pay the application fee, send in your transcripts from high school and any college-level courses, and submit your official test scores. Once all that’s done, wait for a reply from the school and start applying for financial aid.
Arkansas Universities Admissions Process
- Fill out an application.
- Pay the non-refundable application fee.
- Submit official transcripts.
- Send in official test scores.
- Apply for financial aid.
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Why Study in Arkansas?
You should study in Arkansas because you can get an affordable education in a beautiful location. Arkansas is also a great place to study because of the exciting college sports culture on campus. If you love spending time outside or going to big games, you’ll enjoy going to school in Arkansas.
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Arkansas is a beautiful state surrounded on all sides by other great states to visit. To the north is Missouri, to the east are Mississippi and Tennessee, and to the west are Oklahoma and Texas. Arkansas has two prominent mountain ranges, the Ozarks and Ouachita mountains.
Students at the best colleges in Arkansas can access a number of need-based and merit-based financial aid options. Both in-state and out-of-state students can benefit from federal financial aid programs. In-state financial aid options include the Arkansas Governor’s Scholarship and the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship.
Student life at many of the best universities in Arkansas revolves heavily around athletics and competitions. The University of Arkansas Razorbacks are members of the Southeastern Conference and participate in the first division of the NCAA. Non-student athletes can also participate in intramural sports leagues.
More Arkansas University Rankings: What Other Universities Are the Best in Arkansas?
There are many ways to organize the best universities in Arkansas, so below we have Arkansas university rankings based on the type of school and learning format. We also cover the best colleges in Arkansas for international students.
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Top Arkansas Universities by Major
Another way to look at Arkansas university rankings is by popular undergraduate majors. This section will cover which universities in Arkansas provide the best programs in computer science, nursing, business, engineering, and law.
Tuition Costs for Arkansas Universities
The average undergraduate cost of tuition and fees for public universities in Arkansas is $18,223 per year for in-state students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Meanwhile, out-of-state students pay an average of $21,460 and, private university students in Arkansas pay an estimated $32,388.
Most Affordable Universities in Arkansas
- Arkansas State University | Tuition: $218.00/credit. Undergraduate, in-state students pay $218.00 per credit hour for tuition, while undergraduate, out-of-state students pay $450.00 per credit hour.
- University of Central Arkansas | Tuition: $231.66/credit. The tuition rate for in-state undergraduate students is $231.66 per credit, and out-of-state students pay an additional $231.66 per credit. Fully online undergraduate students pay $285.00 per credit hour.
- Henderson State University | Tuition: $245.00/credit. Undergraduate students at Henderson State University pay $245 per credit if they’re residents of Arkansas or $337.00 per hour if they’re not residents of the state.
- University of Arkansas | Tuition: $255.51/credit. In-state, undergraduate students generally pay $255.51 per credit hour, unless they are enrolled in nursing or architecture. Out-of-state students pay $591.81.06 per credit hour.
- Harding University | Tuition: $750/credit. Harding University is a private institution, so there isn’t a different tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students.
How to Pay for Your Chosen School Path
Financial Aid Options for the Best Universities in Arkansas
Going to college can be expensive. Tuition and fees, room and board, and transportation costs add up quickly. Fortunately, there are financial aid options to help students reduce their financial burden. Students in Arkansas can use scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs to help cover the cost of their education.
Financial Aid for Arkansas Universities: A Summary
- Federal Financial Aid Programs. There are many federal student financial aid programs in the form of grants and federally subsidized student loans. You only need to fill out one application to apply for all programs, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Work-Study Jobs. The federal work-study program is a form of financial aid where students can work at on-campus jobs part-time. Reach out to your school’s financial aid office and look for high-paying work-study jobs.
- Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF). The mission of ASPSF is to provide financial assistance to single mothers and fathers so that they can continue their education. Residents of Arkansas who are unmarried or divorced, have custody of a minor, and don’t have a prior bachelor’s degree are eligible for this scholarship.
- Arkansas Health Education Grant (ARHEG). Graduate students in a medical or veterinary field who are accepted to a university outside of Arkansas are eligible to apply for the ARHEG.
- Arkansas Workforce Challenge. This grant is for graduates of Arkansas high school or GED programs who are training to work in high-demand fields such as information technology and healthcare.
Arkansas University Eligibility Requirements: Who Qualifies for Financial Aid at Arkansas Universities?
- Arkansas residents
- Full-time students
- Students with demonstrated financial need
- Children or family of veterans
- Students with high records of academic achievement
Private Arkansas Universities With Good Financial Aid
- Harding University. Students at Harding University are eligible for a wide range of financial aid options. Around $60 million in aid is distributed each year, and 96 percent of undergraduate students received some form of financial aid.
- John Brown University. This university has financial aid options for both on-campus and online students. These financial aid options include state and federal grants and scholarships as well as privately funded scholarships based on merit, need, and program of study.
- Ouachita Baptist University. The state, the federal government, and the school all provide financial assistance to students at this private institution. There are five levels of merit scholarship based on a student’s high school GPA, from 2.0 through 4.0. The school also has two emergency funds where students can borrow up to $100 to be paid back within one month.
Universities in Arkansas That Provide Financial Aid to Out-of-State Students
- Arkansas State University. This university has scholarships and financial aid for in-state, out-of-state, and international students. The Financial Aid & Scholarships Office has a long list of programs that students can apply for, including the A-State Achievement Scholarship and A-State Heritage Grant.
- Arkansas Tech University. Arkansas Tech University’s Tech $ense helps students understand federal financial aid, scholarships, and loans so they can make a plan to pay for college. Students can also submit a special consideration request if they’ve experienced a major change in their financial situation that isn’t reflected in their current financial aid package.
- University of Arkansas. The Office of Financial Aid at the University of Arkansas has financial counselors to help students work through federal, state, and university financial aid programs. Financial aid opportunities are available to incoming freshmen, transfer students, military and ROTC students, state residents, and non-state residents.
How to Apply For Financial Aid and Scholarships for Arkansas State Universities
- Apply for admission at the schools of your choice.
- Submit the FAFSA.
- Contact each school’s financial aid office to learn which grants and scholarships you are eligible for.
- Compare financial aid packages from each school where you are accepted.
- Apply for Arkansas state scholarships (residents only).
- Apply for privately funded scholarships and grants.
Demographics of Universities in Arkansas
The demographics of universities in Arkansas are about 70 percent white students and 30 percent students of color. Black, Hispanic, and students of two or more races are the second, third, and fourth largest demographics, respectively.
Diversity Statistics for Universities in Arkansas
- White: 69.5%
- Black: 15.9%
- Hispanic: 7.5%
- Asian: 2.0%
- Pacific Islander: 0.1%
- American Indian: 0.7%
- Two or More Races: 4.2%
Arkansas Employment Outlook for University Students
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Arkansas has a total workforce of 1,331,300 civilians. The unemployment rate is relatively low, at just 3.3 percent. Graduates of the best colleges in Arkansas will find employment easily.
The median earnings of all jobs in Arkansas is $17.64 per hour. The highest-paid professions in the state are psychiatrists, judges, pediatricians, dentists, and physicians who earn from $76.82 to $94.27 per hour.
5 In-Demand Arkansas Jobs
According to BLS, the most in-demand jobs in the country are in the healthcare sector which has a projected job outlook of 32 percent for medical and health-related fields. In Arkansas, healthcare professionals are in high demand alongside other highly educated professionals.
Is a University in Arkansas Right for You?
Yes, a university in Arkansas is right for you if you are looking for an affordable college where you can balance your education with a social life. Many institutions in the state have affordable tuition and fees and an above-average acceptance rate, which makes earning a degree achievable for many different kinds of students.
When it comes to Arkansas’ public universities, the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville is a top-tier research institution. It is on the exclusive list of Carnegie Foundation-designated Tier One research institutions.
How to Get Into the Best Colleges and Universities
Best Universities in Arkansas FAQ
Yes, Arkansas has universities with good art degrees. These universities include the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Harding University, the University of Arkansas at Monticello, and the University of Central Arkansas.
Yes, universities in Arkansas are relatively easy to get into. All of the colleges on our top 10 best universities in Arkansas have an acceptance rate of over 50 percent. Two schools on our list, the University of Arkansas at Monticello and the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, have an open admissions policy, which means that almost any student with a high school diploma or GED can study there.
Yes, Arkansas is a good place to live. Arkansas is full of beautiful landscapes and natural sights, and it is a great place to live for people who like spending time outside. The state also has a relatively low cost of living and plenty of job opportunities.
Students applying as freshmen to the University of Arkansas flagship campus in Fayetteville need to have a grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The University of Arkansas campuses in Monticello and Fort Smith have an open admissions policy, so students with lower GPAs can attend.
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