Online Degrees In Arkansas (AR)

Online degrees in Arkansas

Arkansas has unemployment at a record low. Jobs are increasing, but economic forecasters warn that the state’s economic growth could stall and employers could seek other locales to set up shop if it can’t rapidly increase its number of qualified workers. The state’s leaders are scrambling to meet this demand, attract more workers to the state and stem the worrisome declines in college enrollment. They’ve developed a master plan to increase postsecondary attainment and remove some of the barriers students face in earning those crucial credentials, which employers so desperately need.

Online degree programs in Arkansas can prove an important piece of this puzzle. Not only do online programs offer more flexibility than traditional programs, but they are frequently more affordable. This guide is to show you the many benefits of Arkansas colleges that offer online degree programs.

To meet workforce demand, the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board (AHECB) set a goal of 60 percent postsecondary attainment in Arkansas by 2025. The state’s attainment rate still sits at 41.5 percent — several points below the national average of 47.6. Meanwhile, a severe shortage of qualified workers looms. Employers in construction, manufacturing and even health care have expressed concern about a looming shortage of skilled workers. The American Action Forum projects that Arkansas will experience a shortage of 80,000 workers with bachelor’s degrees by 2029.

But in a state where more than one-third of residents live in rural areas, and only 15 of the state’s 92 postsecondary institutions are rurally located, earning these needed credentials proves challenging. Additionally, with no need-based financial aid, affordability is a challenge.

Online education in Arkansas could be an important solution. With online degrees, students need not travel to their preferred schools, and they can complete coursework at times convenient with their existing schedules; for many returning students, these would otherwise be barriers to earning degrees. Also, many Arkansas colleges that offer online degree programs charge flat rates per credit hour to online students, regardless of whether they live in or out of state, and online students are not charged fees for campus-based services.

Plus, research demonstrates that salaries increase and unemployment decreases with each level of education beyond high school, which should make earning that online degree even more appealing.

Whether you are looking to return to school and move into a higher-paying position or career or headed to college for the very first time, you might have different priorities when selecting online degrees in Arkansas. This list of the top 10 Arkansas colleges that offer online degrees is designed to make your selection process easier. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), our methodology sorts colleges according to such details as cost, student support services, financial aid awards and more.

1
Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas
Helena, AR
https://www.pccua.edu
Average in-state tuition
$2,520
No. of online programs
2
% of students in distance education
15%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,916
Admissions Rate
N/A%
Graduation Rate
N/A%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
2
Arkansas Northeastern College
Blytheville, AR
https://www.anc.edu
Average in-state tuition
$2,240
No. of online programs
5
% of students in distance education
52%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,278
Admissions Rate
N/A%
Graduation Rate
N/A%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
University of Arkansas Community College-Hope
Hope, AR
https://www.uacch.edu
Average in-state tuition
$2,250
No. of online programs
5
% of students in distance education
40%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,432
Admissions Rate
N/A%
Graduation Rate
N/A%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden, AR
https://www.sautech.edu
Average in-state tuition
$3,240
No. of online programs
8
% of students in distance education
36%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,571
Admissions Rate
N/A%
Graduation Rate
N/A%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
Black River Technical College
Pocahontas, AR
https://www.blackrivertech.edu
Average in-state tuition
$2,256
No. of online programs
2
% of students in distance education
47%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,764
Admissions Rate
N/A%
Graduation Rate
N/A%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
6
South Arkansas Community College
El Dorado, AR
https://www.southark.edu
Average in-state tuition
$2,328
No. of online programs
4
% of students in distance education
47%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,889
Admissions Rate
N/A%
Graduation Rate
N/A%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
7
Southern Arkansas University Main Campus
Magnolia, AR
https://www.saumag.edu0
Average in-state tuition
$6,840
No. of online programs
16
% of students in distance education
53%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,578
Admissions Rate
69%
Graduation Rate
41%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
Arkansas State University-Main Campus
Jonesboro, AR
https://www.astate.edu/
Average in-state tuition
$6,300
No. of online programs
38
% of students in distance education
56%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,145
Admissions Rate
77%
Graduation Rate
48%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
9
Ozarka College
Melbourne, AR
https://www.ozarka.edu
Average in-state tuition
$2,160
No. of online programs
13
% of students in distance education
63%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,045
Admissions Rate
N/A%
Graduation Rate
N/A%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
No
10
North Arkansas College
Harrison, AR
https://www.northark.edu
Average in-state tuition
$2,304
No. of online programs
7
% of students in distance education
49%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,197
Admissions Rate
N/A%
Graduation Rate
N/A%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

NCES’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data about the number of online education programs offered at Arkansas colleges helped us to create this helpful list of the top online degree programs in Arkansas. Note that these programs may be offered fully or only partially online.

Program Name
No. of online programs
Business/Commerce, General
16
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies
16
General Studies
15
Business Administration and Management, General
15
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse
10
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other
7
Early Childhood Education and Teaching
6
Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration
6
Educational Leadership and Administration, General
6
Crisis/Emergency/Disaster Management
5

Fortunately for Arkansas’ students, the state has mandated significant student support efforts to increase retention and improve the student experience. Most of the higher education institutions in the state are offering such supportive features as college coaches, student mentoring, academic alert systems and more. These efforts help create a quality experience for online students who may feel isolated or unsure about fulfilling requirements.

Another factor that assures quality is that 33 postsecondary institutions in Arkansas are members of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. This voluntary agreement among member states establishes oversight of distance education to ensure consistent program quality across state lines.

Individual schools in Arkansas have taken steps to ensure quality too. For example, the University of Arkansas Online participates in the Quality Matters (QM) program, a nationally recognized organization that promotes quality standards for online programs. Its programs and courses are designed according to the QM rubric for quality. And at Arkansas Tech University, its College of eTech oversees online course development with a rigorous vetting process for online course development, an extensive rubric for evaluating quality and faculty training in online teaching methods. Be sure to check with prospective schools about their own efforts to ensure quality.

As Arkansas’ higher education leaders work to attract more students, the steps they’re taking include using alternative methods for remedial instruction, encouraging schools to use the same course numbers to streamline transfers and boosting student support efforts. When you’re considering online degree programs in Arkansas, it may be helpful to seek colleges that have implemented these steps, which may increase your chance of success and reduce your overall education costs.

The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) also suggests you consider the following:

Expectations: What are your academic and professional goals, and what are your limitations (time and money)? Are there any face-to-face requirements? Do the program’s expectations align with yours?

Learning experiences: Do you prefer high levels of interaction or more solitary pursuits? What is it like to be a learner in this online program on a day-to-day basis? Are the online instructors experienced? Will the experience be what you’re hoping for?

Technology: What are the program’s technology requirements and can you adhere to them? Will there be sufficient technical support?

Cost: Costs for online programs vary widely. What costs are associated with the program, and can you afford them? (Financial aid information is below.)

The following list of top occupations in Arkansas comes from Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. This list may be helpful in selecting online degrees in Arkansas worth pursuing.

Occupation
Number of Workers
Average Salary
Office and Administrative Support Occupations149,010$35,090
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations128,920$34,540
Sales and Related Occupations121,600$35,930
Production Occupations117,690$35,030
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations110,010$22,550
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations80,540$69,160
Educational Instruction and Library Occupations77,710$46,590
Management Occupations65,430$91,880
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations58,040$43,580
Business and Financial Operations Occupations53,110$63,520
Healthcare Support Occupations51,850$27,080
Construction and Extraction Occupations44,900$39,630
Fast Food and Counter Workers40,720$20,780
Retail Salespersons38,330$26,480
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers36,680$44,250
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations33,930$25,930
Cashiers29,120$22,310
Protective Service Occupations27,320$38,310
Office Clerks, General26,540$31,450
Registered Nurses25,210$61,330

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Top Metropolitan Areas in Arkansas

According to the BLS, the occupations employing the greatest concentrations of people in Arkansas are office and administrative positions, sales occupations, production jobs, food preparation/serving positions and transportation/material moving jobs. Manufacturing is a key industry here, and jobs in this sector have been growing at a rate of three percent, which is three times the pace of total employment. Distribution and logistics is important here as well, with more than 80 distribution centers and 22 major trucking companies located in the state.

Here are the major occupations in some of the state’s biggest metropolitan areas:

Little Rock: The capital and largest city of Arkansas, Little Rock is in the center of the state, at the crossroads of Interstates 30 and 40. It’s also home to a national airport and a U.S. Customs Port of Entry. Transportation, distribution and logistics are important occupations here. It’s also the site of many area hospitals and medical facilities as well as schools and colleges, so health care and education have some of the highest concentrations of employees in the city. Other major occupations include management/business/financial and production jobs. DXC Technology, a technology company that works with Medicaid programs, is expanding its facility in Conway, just north of Little Rock, and is planning to add 1,200 jobs to the area.

Fayetteville – Springdale – Rogers: In this northwest Arkansas metro area, manufacturing is a key industry, with employers such as the Tyson Foods, Inc. Manufacturing Automation Center located in Springdale. The largest segment of jobs (28 percent) are in information, finance, insurance, real estate, professional, management and administration. Wholesale trade, retail, transportation and warehousing jobs comprise 20 percent of employment.

Memphis, TN-AR-MS: Because Memphis is located at the extreme western edge of Tennessee, part of Arkansas comprises its metro area. West Memphis, AR, at the intersection of Interstates 55 and 40, is the site of major economic growth. Both Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and Southland Gaming & Racing are both expanding their operations here. In the entire metro area, the largest employment concentrations, according to the BLS, are in transportation/material moving, sales, food preparation/service and health care, with production occupations not far behind.

Though the state currently has no need-based financial aid programs, leaders are working hard to make college affordable for students. One such effort includes the 2017 formation of a grant program called ArFuture, which was designed to increase the education and skills of Arkansas’ workforce affordably. Students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) or other regionally high-demand fields can receive grant funding to cover tuition and fees for qualifying certificate and associate degree programs at the state’s public institutions. It’s available on a first-come, first-served basis. Students must have graduated from an Arkansas high school (or equivalent, in state). Funding may be renewed until the student graduates.

The Arkansas Department of Higher Education also has created resources to assist students in receiving financial aid. These include the Arkansas YOUniversal system, a one-stop shop where students can apply to more than 25 scholarships with one application, and Fund My Future, a free statewide college planning service intended to make the college planning and scholarship process easier for students. Additionally, individual schools and programs as well as private organizations may offer grants and scholarships based on certain eligibility criteria. Be sure to check prospective schools to learn what might be available.

Scholarship Listing

Arkansas Higher Education Opportunity Grant
No. of Awards
50
Deadline
June 1
Max. Award Amount
1,000
Renewable
Yes
Criteria
Applicant must be a United States citizen or permanent resident who is an Arkansas resident for at least 12 months prior to application for the grant. Applicant must be enrolled in an approved institution of higher education and enrolled in a program of study that leads towards a bachelor's degree. FAFSA and certification that applicant is drug-free are required.
More
American Legion Department of Arkansas High School Oratorical Scholarship Program
No. of Awards
3
Deadline
December 31
Max. Award Amount
2,000
Renewable
No
Criteria
Applicants must be high school students under the age of 20 who are U.S. citizens or legal residents and residents of the state. Students first give an oration within their state and winners compete at the national level. The oration must be related to the Constitution of the United States focusing on the duties and obligations citizens have to the government. It must be in English and be between eight and ten minutes. There is also an assigned topic which is posted on the website, and it should be between three and five minutes.
More
Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship
No. of Awards
N/A
Deadline
June 1
Max. Award Amount
3,500
Renewable
Yes
Criteria
Applicant must be in good academic standing and be in need financial aid. FAFSA and State Farm paperwork are required in addition to application that must be submitted to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
More
Sheffield Nelson UALR Law School Scholarship
No. of Awards
N/A
Deadline
March 1
Max. Award Amount
3,000
Renewable
No
Criteria
Applicant must be attending the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law.
More
Sheffield Nelson & Ted McCastlain Scholarship
No. of Awards
N/A
Deadline
March 1
Max. Award Amount
3,000
Renewable
No
Criteria
Applicant must be a graduating senior from Brinkley High School.
More

Although there is no standard entrance exam required by all colleges and universities in Arkansas, it’s common for schools to require an SAT or ACT score as part of their admissions packages, including University of Central Arkansas or University of Arkansas at Little Rock. However some schools, like Southern Arkansas University Tech or North Arkansas College, have open admissions policies and require no test scores. Consult your prospective school’s admissions office to learn what’s required.


 

Sources:

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Methodologies and Sources