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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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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What are Arkansas’s Colleges & Universities?

Arkansas’s Best Overall

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. #1

    Hendrix College

    #1309 institution's historical influence
    #995 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/29

    Conway, AR

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    What is Hendrix College known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    University of Arkansas

    #306 institution's historical influence
    #1356 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    Fayetteville, AR

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    What is University of Arkansas known for?

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

    • Business
    • Law
    • Education
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Lyon College

    #6741 institution's historical influence
    #696 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    Batesville, AR

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    What is Lyon College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Ouachita Baptist University

    #3367 institution's historical influence
    #1342 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    Arkadelphia, AR

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    What is Ouachita Baptist University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Medical
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    Arkansas State University

    #1174 institution's historical influence
    #1472 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1116/24

    Jonesboro, AR

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    What is Arkansas State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    John Brown University

    #2692 institution's historical influence
    #1471 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/26

    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:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    Henderson State University

    #2339 institution's historical influence
    #841 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1044/21

    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
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Law
    • Communications
  8. #8

    Philander Smith College

    #2460 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Graduation

    34%

    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:

    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Harding University

    #2151 institution's historical influence
    #177 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $21K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/25

    Searcy, AR

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    What is Harding University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #10

    University of Central Arkansas

    #1389 institution's historical influence
    #1029 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/24

    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:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    Southern Arkansas University

    #3223 institution's historical influence
    #1310 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1067/21

    Magnolia, AR

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    What is Southern Arkansas University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    University of the Ozarks

    #5546 institution's historical influence
    #927 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/20

    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:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Crowley's Ridge College

    #8026 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Graduation

    39%

    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. #14

    Williams Baptist University

    #16116 institution's historical influence
    #1347 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    970/20

    Walnut Ridge, AR

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    What is Williams Baptist University known for?

    Williams Baptist University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Biology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    Arkansas Tech University

    #3339 institution's historical influence
    #1227 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    44%

    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:

    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

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