Arkansas’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in Arkansas.

Arkansas’s Best Private 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.

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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.


What are Arkansas’s Colleges & Universities?

Arkansas’s Best Overall

What is a public college? And what is the difference between a private and public college?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models — one is a private company with private funding; the other is owned by the state and receives both state and federal funding to operate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs. public college, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a four-year degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a four-year public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually.

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This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 10 private universities in Arkansas that satisfy the following three conditions:

  1. It must be a private, non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. Its graduate rate must be above 30%.
  4. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.

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

Methodology

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.

Best Private Colleges & Universities in Arkansas

  1. #1

    Hendrix College

    Conway , AR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/29

    What is Hendrix College known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • History
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Lyon College

    Batesville , AR

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    What is Lyon College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    Ouachita Baptist University

    Arkadelphia , AR

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    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
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    John Brown University

    Siloam Springs , AR

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/26

    What is John Brown University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    Philander Smith College

    Little Rock , AR

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Philander Smith College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    Harding University

    Searcy , AR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/25

    What is Harding University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Medical
    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    University of the Ozarks

    Clarksville , AR

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/20

    What is University of the Ozarks known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. #8

    Crowley's Ridge College

    Paragould , AR

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Crowley's Ridge College known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    REQUEST INFO
  9. #9

    Williams Baptist University

    Walnut Ridge , AR

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    970/20

    What is Williams Baptist University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/19

    What is Central Baptist College known for?

    Central Baptist College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    REQUEST INFO

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Photot By Chris Pruitt - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0