Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, Arkansas has 12 public colleges, 13 private non-profit schools, and one private for-profit institution.


    In-state students in Arkansas can expect to pay $9,250 on average per year to attend college at a public undergraduate institution, according to College Board.


    For the 2020-21 school year, the average financial aid package for a full-time undergraduate student was $14,800 in the U.S.

Our Research

This list features some of the best brick-and-mortar schools in Arkansas. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The colleges on our list are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a reputable organization that examines the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of education programs in the central United States.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for on-campus students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

The Top 50 Colleges in Arkansas

Intelligent Pick
University of Arkansas
Best for Study Abroad
Harding University
Best for Liberal Arts
Hendrix College
Best Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Ouachita Baptist University
Best Christian Institution
John Brown University
Best Private Institution
University of the Ozarks
Most Affordable
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Best Public Institution
Arkansas State University
Philander Smith College
Best Student Support Services
University of Arkansas at Fort Smith

Williams Baptist University

Arkansas Tech University

Central Baptist College

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

University of Central Arkansas

Lyon College

Southern Arkansas University


What You Should Know About Graduating From College in Arkansas

When choosing a future occupation, it’s important to consider the fastest growing industries in the state where you’re studying. As of October 2021, the top five industries in Arkansas were trade, transportation, and utilities; goods-producing; government; education and health services; and manufacturing.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree will have the best luck finding a job in one of the top growing occupations in Arkansas. This includes fundraisers, museum technicians and conservators, operations research analysts, materials engineers, and logisticians.

Before applying for a job in Arkansas, it helps to know who the top employers are within the state. The following employers are some that made it into the top 150 — Walmart Inc., the University of Arkansas Finance and Administration Departments, Sam’s West Inc., Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Ok Foods, and Cooper Tire Distribution Center.

What’s Next?

If you’re planning on attending college in Arkansas, you can get help paying for your education with federal and state financial aid. Here’s a list of resources that detail some of the grants, scholarships, and loan opportunities for undergraduate students:

  • Arkansas Department of Higher Education. The Arkansas Department of Higher Education offers information on available state and federal aid programs. They also provide information on how to transfer financial aid from one school to another and how to put financial aid on hold.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal Student Aid is provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Types of aid include work-study, loans, scholarships, and grants. Learn more about eligibility at FAFSA4caster, or apply online at FAFSA.
  • CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop is sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s a searchable database that lets students search for financial assistance by type of aid, application deadline, monetary award, and qualifications. You can filter by degree type and the state where you plan to go to college.