Best Public Colleges in Arkansas 2024

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Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in Arkansas provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

10 Best Public Colleges in Arkansas

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  1. University of Arkansas
  2. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  3. Arkansas State University
  4. University of Central Arkansas
  5. Arkansas Tech University
  6. Henderson State University
  7. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  8. Southern Arkansas University
  9. University of Arkansas at Monticello
  10. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith
  1. University of Arkansas
  2. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  3. Arkansas State University
  4. University of Central Arkansas
  5. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  6. Henderson State University
  7. University of Arkansas at Monticello
  8. Arkansas Tech University
  9. Southern Arkansas University
  10. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith
  1. Arkansas Tech University 94%
  2. University of Central Arkansas 92%
  3. University of Arkansas 83%
  4. Henderson State University 75%
  5. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 68%
  6. Arkansas State University 63%
  7. Southern Arkansas University 63%
  8. University of Arkansas at Little Rock 58%
  1. University of Arkansas 19 to 1
  2. Southern Arkansas University 18 to 1
  3. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith 18 to 1
  4. Arkansas Tech University 17 to 1
  5. University of Central Arkansas 15 to 1
  6. Arkansas State University 14 to 1
  7. Henderson State University 14 to 1
  8. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 14 to 1
  9. University of Arkansas at Little Rock 13 to 1
  10. University of Arkansas at Monticello 11 to 1
  1. University of Arkansas $7,666
  2. University of Central Arkansas $6,870
  3. Southern Arkansas University $6,750
  4. University of Arkansas at Little Rock $6,495
  5. Henderson State University $5,880
  6. Arkansas Tech University $5,736
  7. Arkansas State University $5,232
  8. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff $5,130
  9. University of Arkansas at Monticello $4,779
  10. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith $4,104
  1. University of Arkansas $7,875
  2. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith $7,092
  3. University of Arkansas at Monticello $6,631
  4. University of Arkansas at Little Rock $5,760
  5. Henderson State University $5,670
  6. Arkansas Tech University $5,414
  7. Southern Arkansas University $5,274
  8. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff $5,184
  9. University of Central Arkansas $5,063
  10. Arkansas State University $4,986
  1. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith
  2. University of Arkansas at Monticello
  3. Southern Arkansas University
  4. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  5. Henderson State University
  6. Arkansas Tech University
  7. University of Central Arkansas
  8. Arkansas State University
  9. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  10. University of Arkansas
  1. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith
  2. Southern Arkansas University
  3. Arkansas Tech University
  4. University of Arkansas at Monticello
  5. Henderson State University
  6. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  7. University of Central Arkansas
  8. Arkansas State University
  9. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  10. University of Arkansas
  1. University of Arkansas at Little Rock 58%
  2. Southern Arkansas University 63%
  3. Arkansas State University 63%
  4. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 68%
  5. Henderson State University 75%
  6. University of Arkansas 83%
  7. University of Central Arkansas 92%
  8. Arkansas Tech University 94%
  1. University of Arkansas at Monticello 11 to 1
  2. University of Arkansas at Little Rock 13 to 1
  3. Arkansas State University 14 to 1
  4. Henderson State University 14 to 1
  5. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 14 to 1
  6. University of Central Arkansas 15 to 1
  7. Arkansas Tech University 17 to 1
  8. Southern Arkansas University 18 to 1
  9. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith 18 to 1
  10. University of Arkansas 19 to 1
  1. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith $4,104
  2. University of Arkansas at Monticello $4,779
  3. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff $5,130
  4. Arkansas State University $5,232
  5. Arkansas Tech University $5,736
  6. Henderson State University $5,880
  7. University of Arkansas at Little Rock $6,495
  8. Southern Arkansas University $6,750
  9. University of Central Arkansas $6,870
  10. University of Arkansas $7,666
  1. Arkansas State University $4,986
  2. University of Central Arkansas $5,063
  3. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff $5,184
  4. Southern Arkansas University $5,274
  5. Arkansas Tech University $5,414
  6. Henderson State University $5,670
  7. University of Arkansas at Little Rock $5,760
  8. University of Arkansas at Monticello $6,631
  9. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith $7,092
  10. University of Arkansas $7,875

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. We’ve also found 7 high quality colleges offering online degree programs in Arkansas.

Indeed, online students can earn their degree at one of the state’s two largest universities, the University of Arkansas or 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. It is possible to study these subjects both through traditional and online degree programs in the state of Arkansas.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

Roughly 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. Both traditional and online students can pursue degrees that merge religious studies with fields like chemistry and history.

Tuition rates at each of the state’s 12 private schools vary greatly. Arkansas’s private colleges and schools cost anywhere between $9,000 and $46,000. Many of these private colleges boast high graduation rates and small class sizes.

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

With so many affordable schools and competitive on-campus and online 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 the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, 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 bachelor’s 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. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

Arkansas's Best Public Colleges Badge
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This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 10 public universities in Arkansas. To be included in our list of the best public colleges in Arkansas, shcools must receive direct funding from the state, be fully accredited, and offer a broad range of bachelor’s degress.

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Best Public Colleges in Arkansas 2023

  1. #1

    University of Arkansas

    Fayetteville , AR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    30K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/26

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Arkansas

    Cost of Degree: $9,656
    Expenses: $18,644
    Starting Salary: $52,700
    Cost Recoup Time: 11 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    University of Arkansas’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • General Business
    • Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Human Resources And Workforce Development Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Human Development And Family Sciences
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/23

    Career Outlook for degree at Arkansas State University

    Cost of Degree: $7,456
    Expenses: $17,097
    Starting Salary: $36,600
    Cost Recoup Time: 13 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    Arkansas State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Organizational Supervision
    • Required Credits: 125
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Digital Innovation
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Disaster Preparedness/Emergency Management
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Creative Media Production
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BGS in General Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Political Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Strategic Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    Nursing: RN to BSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/23

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Central Arkansas

    Cost of Degree: $9,778
    Expenses: $14,870
    Starting Salary: $42,500
    Cost Recoup Time: 11 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    University of Central Arkansas’s Online Degrees

    BBA in General Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Insurance And Risk Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Management Information Systems
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Analytics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BGS in General Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing Rn To Bsn
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  4. #5

    Arkansas Tech University

    Russellville , AR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    12K

    Career Outlook for degree at Arkansas Tech University

    Cost of Degree: $8,071
    Expenses: $14,130
    Starting Salary: $38,600
    Cost Recoup Time: 11 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Arkansas Tech University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    Arkansas Tech University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Organizational Leadership
    Degree Concentrations
    • Agriculture Business
    • Child Development
    • Inter-College
    • Public Relations
    • Industrial/Organizational Psychology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Agriculture Business
    • Public Relations
    • Criminal Justice
    • Child Development
    • Inter-College
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice And Criminology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Emergency Management And Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BFA in Creative Writing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in English
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in History
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Political Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BPS in Professional Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing Rn To Bsn
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. #6

    Henderson State University

    Arkadelphia , AR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1007/21

    Career Outlook for degree at Henderson State University

    Cost of Degree: $7,560
    Expenses: $19,534
    Starting Salary: $40,400
    Cost Recoup Time: 12 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    900/16

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

    Cost of Degree: $8,574
    Expenses: $13,776
    Starting Salary: $30,600
    Cost Recoup Time: 13 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    5K

    Career Outlook for degree at Southern Arkansas University

    Cost of Degree: $9,580
    Expenses: $15,765
    Starting Salary: $39,000
    Cost Recoup Time: 12 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Southern Arkansas University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    Southern Arkansas University’s Online Degrees

    BBA/MBA in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 150
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  8. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    33%

    Student body

    3K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Arkansas at Monticello

    Cost of Degree: $8,431
    Expenses: $13,342
    Starting Salary: $35,800
    Cost Recoup Time: 12 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Arkansas at Monticello known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Graduation

    26%

    Student body

    6K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Arkansas–Fort Smith

    Cost of Degree: $6,418
    Expenses: $15,576
    Starting Salary: $35,000
    Cost Recoup Time: 12 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Arkansas–Fort Smith known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Arkansas–Fort Smith’s Online Degrees

    BA in Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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Arkansas’s Best Public College in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utilized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. University of Arkansas
  2. Arkansas State University
  3. Henderson State University
  4. University of Central Arkansas
  5. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  6. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  7. Southern Arkansas University
  8. Arkansas Tech University
  9. University of Arkansas–Fort Smith
  10. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Check out our directory of public colleges throughout the U.S. for a look at the top public colleges in every state.

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