Arkansas’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Here are the best colleges and universities in Arkansas, categorized into two lists – research universities and liberal arts colleges – to help you find the right kind of school for you.

Arkansas’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Arkansas

Colleges and universities in Arkansas are uniquely affordable, with just under half providing tuition rates of $9,000 or less. Included in this list are the state’s two largest universities, the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University. Though students can find some overlapping degree programs at the two schools, each has its specialties. For example, students hoping to pursue degrees in architecture, agriculture, or business may want to consider the University of Arkansas, while those interested in biology, nursing, or political science may want to attend Arkansas State University.

Additionally, about one third of the schools in Arkansas have a religious affiliation. Student populations at these schools range from just under 200 students up to 5,000, and allow students to pursue degrees merging religious studies with fields like chemistry and history. While tuition at each of the state’s 12 private schools varies greatly, costing anywhere between $9,000 and $46,000, many of these colleges boast high graduation rates and small class sizes.

While Arkansas is perhaps best-known and loved for countless lakes, Hot Springs National Park, and the United States’ only active diamond mine. The Natural State houses many higher education institutes where students can earn associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a full range of disciplines.

With so many affordable schools and competitive degree programs, students attending school in Arkansas have the luxury of combining their individual budget needs with their desired degree paths. For more information on attending school in Arkansas, check out some of the state’s top schools.

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Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Arkansas's best colleges and universities?

The best colleges pound for pound!

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call Concentrated Influence. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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15 Best Colleges & Universities in Arkansas

  1. Hendrix College
    #1

    Hendrix College

    #1514 institution's overall influence
    #995 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1275/29

    Conway, AR

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    What is Hendrix College known for?

    Hendrix College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Physics
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. University of Arkansas
    #2

    University of Arkansas

    #458 institution's overall influence
    #1356 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/26

    Fayetteville, AR

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    What is University of Arkansas known for?

    University of Arkansas's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Lyon College
    #3

    Lyon College

    #5048 institution's overall influence
    #696 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1114/24

    Batesville, AR

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    What is Lyon College known for?

    Lyon College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Ouachita Baptist University
    #4

    Ouachita Baptist University

    #3962 institution's overall influence
    #1342 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/24

    Arkadelphia, AR

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    What is Ouachita Baptist University known for?

    Ouachita Baptist University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • History
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Arkansas State University
    #5

    Arkansas State University

    #1449 institution's overall influence
    #1472 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1113/24

    Jonesboro, AR

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    What is Arkansas State University known for?

    Arkansas State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Education
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. John Brown University
    #6

    John Brown University

    #4063 institution's overall influence
    #1471 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1237/26

    Siloam Springs, AR

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    What is John Brown University known for?

    John Brown University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Education
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Henderson State University
    #7

    Henderson State University

    #2398 institution's overall influence
    #841 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    33%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1054/22

    Arkadelphia, AR

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    What is Henderson State University known for?

    Henderson State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Psychology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Nursing
    • Education
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Philander Smith College
    #8

    Philander Smith College

    #3457 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    <1K

    Little Rock, AR

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    What is Philander Smith College known for?

    Philander Smith College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Harding University
    #9

    Harding University

    #2523 institution's overall influence
    #177 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/25

    Searcy, AR

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    What is Harding University known for?

    Harding University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. University of Central Arkansas
    #10

    University of Central Arkansas

    #2557 institution's overall influence
    #1029 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/24

    Conway, AR

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    What is University of Central Arkansas known for?

    University of Central Arkansas's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. Southern Arkansas University
    #11

    Southern Arkansas University

    #3251 institution's overall influence
    #1310 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/21

    Magnolia, AR

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    What is Southern Arkansas University known for?

    Southern Arkansas University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Education
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. University of the Ozarks
    #12

    University of the Ozarks

    #7948 institution's overall influence
    #927 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $24K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    <1K

    Clarksville, AR

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    What is University of the Ozarks known for?

    University of the Ozarks's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Crowley's Ridge College
    #13

    Crowley's Ridge College

    #10216 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    <1K

    Paragould, AR

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    What is Crowley's Ridge College known for?

    Crowley's Ridge College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
  14. Williams Baptist College
    #14

    Williams Baptist College

    #13271 institution's overall influence
    #1347 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    35%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/19

    Walnut Ridge, AR

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    What is Williams Baptist College known for?

    Williams Baptist College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. Arkansas Tech University
    #15

    Arkansas Tech University

    #9029 institution's overall influence
    #1227 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    9K

    Russellville, AR

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    What is Arkansas Tech University known for?

    Arkansas Tech University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

Find the Best Schools in Arkansas for your Major

Anthropology

Biology

Business

Chemistry

Communications

Computer Science

Criminal Justice

Earth Sciences

Economics

Education

Engineering

History

Law

Literature

Mathematics

Medical

Nursing

Philosophy

Physics

Political Science

Psychology

Religious Studies

Social Work

Sociology

Resources for College-Bound Students

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