Top Arkansas Nursing Schools and Programs

Updated August 8, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Explore the top available nursing programs in Arkansas, salary and job outlook for Arkansas nurses, and how to get your Arkansas license.

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Top Arkansas Nursing Schools and Programs
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There are more than 40 state-approved nursing schools in Arkansas. Because Arkansas is a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, graduates can apply for a multistate license to practice in any of the 37 participating states.

In Arkansas, you can enjoy a lower cost of living and an above-average job growth rate for registered nurses (RNs). This guide explores the best nursing programs in Arkansas, how to apply for a nursing license, and typical salary ranges, including the highest-paying cities in Arkansas for RNs.

Keep reading to learn more about the top nursing schools and programs in Arkansas.

The Best Nursing Schools in Arkansas

It can be hard to choose from the variety of private and state nursing programs in Arkansas. This guide can help you find the right program for your personal and career goals.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Arkansas, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

#1

Harding University

School Information
Location Searcy, Arkansas
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Christian-based Harding University offers a traditional bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and a hybrid accelerated BSN for undergraduates, along with master of science in nursing (MSN) tracks. 

Graduate students can opt for an MSN-master's entry into professional nursing or a MSN-family nurse practitioner. Programs prepare students for their licensing and certification exams.

Details:

  • Program(s): BSN; MSN
  • Campus: Searcy, AR
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $750 per credit hour for undergraduate students; $783-$1,131 per credit hour for graduate students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree or RN license, depending on track; online application; transcripts
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98.2% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $58,220 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#2

Ouachita Baptist University

School Information
Location Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 63%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Liberal arts-focused Ouachita Baptist University offers three pathways to a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN): an on-campus, four-year BSN; an online RN-to-BSN; and a dual-enrolled 

nursing associate/BSN partnership at OBU and Baptist Health College Little Rock.

BSN courses include community health, healthcare pathophysiology, leadership and management, and transcultural nursing.

Details:

  • Program(s): BSN; RN-to-BSN
  • Campus: Arkadelphia, AR
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $15,250 per year; $275 per credit hour RN-to-BSN
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; online application; transcripts; RN license for RN-to-BSN
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 9-12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
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#3

Ozarka College

School Information
Location Melbourne, Arkansas
Graduation Rate 56%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Ozarka College offers associate degrees and certificates, including an associate of applied science (AAS) in registered nursing for licensed practical nurses (LPNs). 

Courses cover nursing process, NCLEX-RN preparation, anatomy and physiology, and microbiology. The 66-credit program includes evening lectures and clinical practicums on the weekends. 

Ozarka also offers LPN and nursing assistant certificates. 

Details:

  • Program(s): AAS (LPN-to-RN)
  • Campus: Melbourne, AR
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $90 per credit hour for in-state students; $188 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: LPN credential; high school or GED transcript; online application
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 30 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $52,730 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#4

University of Arkansas Community College Rich Mountain

School Information
Location Mena, Arkansas
Graduation Rate 47%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Students at the University of Arkansas Rich Mountain can choose from several associate degrees, including an AAS in registered nursing for LPNs. Students attend interactive video courses in the evenings and complete clinical hours on the weekends. 

UA Rich Mountain's certificate options include practical nursing and nursing assistant. 

Details:

  • Program(s): AAS (LPN-to-RN)
  • Campus: Mena, AR
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $99 per credit hour for in-district students; $114 per credit hour for out-of-district students; $147 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: LPN license; 2.5 GPA in general education courses; high school or GED transcript; NLN nursing entrance exam scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
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#5

University of Arkansas

School Information
Location Fayetteville, Arkansas
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 66%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Hosting a top nursing school in Arkansas, the University of Arkansas Fayetteville offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a traditional BSN and bridge programs for RNs and LPNs. 

MSN students focus on becoming nurse educators, and doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree-seekers concentrate on clinical practice.

Details:

  • Program(s): BSN; LPN-to-BSN; RN-to-BSN; MSN; DNP
  • Campus: Fayetteville, AR
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $302-$964 per credit hour undergraduate; $438-$1,190 graduate 
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • BSN: transcripts; 3.0 GPA; personal statement; interview
    • LPN-to-BSN: current license; graduate of accredited LPN program; 2,000 hours of work experience
    • RN-to-BSN: RN license; AAS or diploma program; 1,000 hours of work experience or clinical proficiency score
    • MSN: BSN from accredited program; RN license; coursework in health assessment and statistics
    • DNP: graduate of accredited nursing program; 3.0 GPA; RN license; GRE scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes (traditional BSN only)
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.1% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $59,310 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#6

East Arkansas Community College

School Information
Location Forrest City, Arkansas
Graduation Rate 38%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

East Arkansas Community College offers an AAS-to-RN degree. The 62-credit curriculum includes courses in anatomy and physiology, clinical applications of medical surgical nursing, fundamentals of nursing, and mental health nursing. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can earn their degree through an accelerated track.

EACC also provides training for LPNs and nursing assistants.

Details:

  • Program(s): AAS (LPN-to-RN)
  • Campus: Forrest City, AR
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $88 per credit hour for in-county students; $98 per credit hour for out-of-county students; $118 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Nursing application; official transcripts; 2.8 GPA; HESI exam scores; for LPN-to-RN an LPN license and work experience for those six months past graduation
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 63.6% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $57,320 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#7

Arkansas State University-Main Campus

School Information
Location Jonesboro, Arkansas
Admission Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 53%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Nursing programs at Arkansas State University offer online and on-campus learning options. Students can enroll in an associate of applied science in nursing (AASN), a BSN, or an MSN program. MSN learners can choose a nurse practitioner, a nurse administration, or a nurse educator track. 

A-State also lists a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) and doctorate in nurse anesthesia.

Details:

  • Program(s): AASN; LPN-to-AASN; RN-to-AASN; BSN; RN-to-BSN: MSN; DNP
  • Campus: Jonesboro, AR
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN); Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs
  • Tuition: 
    • Undergraduate: $218 per credit hour for in-state and online students; $450 per credit hour for out-of-state students; $265 accelerated tracks
    • MSN: $277 per credit hour for in-state and online students; $554 per credit hour for out-of-state students
    • DNP: $333 per credit hour
    • DNP-nurse anesthesia: $10,000 per fall and spring semesters; $5,000 for summer semester
  • Admission Requirements: Degree or diploma, depending on program; RN license/certification (except for traditional AASN and BSN); transcripts
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes for on-campus programs and immersions
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.1% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $54,770 for associate graduates, $58,140 for bachelor's graduates, and $135,610 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#8

University of Arkansas Community College-Morrilton

School Information
Location Morrilton, Arkansas
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 37%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton focuses on technical, professional, and health-related programs. UACCM offers an RN degree for LPNs that results in an AAS.

The 66-credit curriculum features nursing process coursework and clinical practicums.

UACCM also offers a nursing assistant certificate, an LPN, and, in partnership with University of Central Arkansas, an RN-to-BSN. 

Details:

  • Program(s): AAS (LPN-to-RN)
  • Campus: Morrilton, AR 
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $92 per credit hour for in-county students; $102 per credit hour for out-of-county students; $130 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: LPN license; ACT score of 15 or ACCUPLACER score of 230; NACE score of 60; high school or GED and college transcripts; 2.5 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $55,290 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#9

Arkansas State University-Mountain Home

School Information
Location Mountain Home, Arkansas
Graduation Rate 52%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Committed to providing affordable, accessible education, Arkansas State University Mountain Home offers a bridge program for LPNs and paramedics to earn their AAS in registered nursing.

The 60-credit program combines online learning with in-person instruction and clinical hours.

Other ASUMH nursing tracks award certificates for nursing assistants, LPNs, and pre-nursing.

Details:

  • Program(s): AAS - LPN/paramedic-to-RN
  • Campus: Mountain Home, AR
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $98 per credit hour for in-state students; $165 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: HESI and ACCUPLACER reading scores; a "C" in prerequisites; cumulative 2.5 GPA; LPN or EMT-P license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.9% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $47,260 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#10

Southern Arkansas University Main Campus

School Information
Location Magnolia, Arkansas
Admission Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 44%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

A regional institution, Southern Arkansas University offers a 120-credit BSN. The curriculum features course topics like nursing research for evidence-based practice, leadership and management, and pharmacology.

SAU's nursing program emphasizes experiential learning in its simulation lab and community healthcare facilities. Focus areas include acute care, community health, maternal/newborn, and pediatrics. 

Details:

  • Program(s): BSN
  • Campus: Magnolia, AR
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $225 per credit hour for in-state students; $399 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: High school or GED transcripts; HESI exam scores; 2.0 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 48 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.3% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $55,150 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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Featured Online MSN Programs

Best Arkansas Nurse Practitioner Programs

#1

Harding University

School Information
Location Searcy, Arkansas
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Harding University prepares learners who hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing for career advancement and other opportunities. The school is well-established as a leader in graduate education, offering 30 master's degrees among programs. The MSN family nurse practitioner program is designed for nursing students who want a traditional graduate school experience.

Faculty have a lot of experience teaching graduate education, serving as instructors and mentors. It examines the subject from a variety of perspectives, combining practical and theoretical instruction to build a significant understanding of the field. Graduates qualify to pursue a variety of high-level positions, change careers, or pursue a terminal degree.

Affordability is a key benefit at this institution, which charges Arkansas residents and out-of-state students about $13,372 per year. School staff can help learners explore financial aid opportunities like scholarships, grants, and loans to help fund their degree. Enrollees can work with staff at the academic advising and career services departments to map out their degree and career.

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How to Choose a Nursing Program in Arkansas

When considering different nursing programs in Arkansas, you might factor tuition and other costs, the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) pass rate, which can indicate program quality, and admission requirements.

You might also think about financial aid options, the program's format (especially for online nursing schools), clinical placement options and assistance, and the curriculum. This guide only lists accredited programs, since nursing accreditation is important to help you achieve your goals.

Why Become a Nurse in Arkansas

Arkansas is an NLC state, so you can get a multistate license when you attend nursing school in Arkansas. The number of RN jobs is projected to grow 13.5% between 2018 and 2028. Because most counties in Arkansas are medically underserved areas (MUAs), you can receive scholarships or loan forgiveness for nurses for working in these locations. The Arkansas Nurses Foundation offers scholarships as well.

Though Arkansas has many rural settings, you can still enjoy major city attractions in Little Rock and Bentonville. These cities offer a growing music, arts, and food scene. If you enjoy outdoor activities, especially hiking or fishing, Arkansas includes many state parks and other outdoor attractions.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Arkansas

The Arkansas cost of living index is 90.9, considerably below the national index of 100. While the average RN salary is $63,640, below the national median of $75,330, and the average nurse practitioner salary is $106,210, compared to the median of $111,680 nationally, your salary will go further than in most other parts of the country.

The number of RN jobs is projected to grow 13.5% between 2018 and 2028, more than the national projection of 9%. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects in Arkansas a surplus of 9,800 nurses from 2014-2030.

Because Arkansas is an NLC state and these projections do not factor the number of nurses leaving healthcare during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, attending nursing school in Arkansas might result in many more job opportunities.

As the largest metropolitan area in Arkansas, Little Rock also pays the highest average RN salaries. Unincorporated areas offer lower salaries, all under $60,000. Because Arkansas has so many MUAs, many areas in Arkansas are eligible for loan forgiveness state programs for nurses.

The Arkansas Department of Health offers information on available scholarships and loans to help your salary go even further.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in Arkansas
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Average Salary for RNs
Little Rock — North Little Rock — Conway $69,060
Fayetteville — Springdale — Rogers $63,830
Pine Bluff $62,310
Jonesboro $62,080
Hot Springs $62,030
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2020

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Arkansas

To earn an RN license in any state, you must graduate from nursing school, pass the NCLEX-RN examination, and complete a background check. To become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you must have an RN license, earn board certification, and pass a background check as well. Arkansas has additional requirements for APRNs.

RN Requirements

Just as in all states, you must first become licensed as an RN to practice by completing an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program and passing the NCLEX-RN. If you attend nursing school in Arkansas and are eligible to apply for licensure by examination, you should apply to the state board of nursing around 60 days before you graduate.

APRN Requirements

To earn an APRN license, you need a master of science in nursing or doctor of nursing practice and board certification. You must also pass a criminal background check and have an unencumbered RN license.

The state board of nursing requires at least 2,000 hours of experience as an RN to apply for APRN licensure. Most APRN nursing schools in Arkansas require or strongly encourage at least 2,000 hours for admission, so most graduates can apply immediately.

APRNs must apply separately for prescribing authority.

Other Top Nursing Programs in Arkansas

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Arkansas


What is the salary range for nurses in Arkansas?

According to the BLS, RN salaries in Arkansas range from $44,660-$82,480, with an average salary of $63,640. NP salaries range from $82,810-$135,020, with an average $106,210 salary.

How many licensed nurses are in Arkansas?

There are 25,300 licensed RNs in Arkansas and 2,730 NPs. There are also 13,128 licensed practical nurses, 4,551 APRNs, and 55 licensed psychiatric technician nurses, a total of about 181.5 nurses per 10,000 in the population, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

How long does it take to become a nurse in Arkansas?

It takes approximately two years to earn an ADN and four years to earn a BSN. Processing time varies for a license, but you can apply to the state board of nursing for a temporary license for an additional fee.

What is the NCLEX-RN pass rate in Arkansas?

The NCLEX-RN pass rate for nursing schools in Arkansas is 82.3%, compared to 84.4% nationally. BSN nursing programs in Arkansas generally have a higher pass rate than ADN programs.

Find Nursing Programs in Other States

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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