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Best Community Colleges in Arkansas

Students seeking an affordable education that will have them ready for the workforce should look closely at the best community colleges in Arkansas. These two-year schools are known for technical degrees and certificate programs that emphasize career readiness.

Plus, the top Arkansas community colleges offer transfer degrees that can be used as the foundation for a bachelor's degree at another institution. That helps make community colleges a smart choice for students regardless of whether they want to pursue a vocational or academic education.

Arkansas has 22 public community colleges that serve districts across the state. They enroll more than 800,000 students each year, and the nonprofit organization Arkansas Community Colleges notes their average tuition and fees is less than half that of a four-year university.

If you're wondering which of these 22 schools rise to the top, keep reading to see our picks for the top community colleges in Arkansas.

THE TOP 10 COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN ARKANSAS

1

College of the Ouachitas (Malvern)

With a campus in Malvern, College of the Ouachitas offers a mix of degree and certificate programs. Overall, there are more than 50 education options available that provide instruction in academic, technical and career-specific subjects.

As one of the best Arkansas community colleges, College of the Ouchitas is known for its highly regarded technical and professional programs. It has a dual enrollment option for local high school students and adult education classes for those who want to earn their GED. An Honors College is available for academically advanced students as well.

College of the Ouchitas is one of the state's online colleges and has online degree and certificate options for those who may not be able to study on-campus.

2

Arkansas State University-Mountain Home (Mountain Home)

Arkansas State University - Mountain Home isn't just one of the top community colleges in Arkansas. It's also a nationally ranked community college according to The Aspen Institute, a nonprofit organization.

The ASUMH mission is to enhance student lives by providing opportunities for diverse experiences, lifelong learning and academic accountability. It does that through programs offered in its three schools: arts and sciences, health sciences, and business and technology. Overall, there are more than 50 degrees and majors that help enroll approximately 1,500 students each year.

As a part of the Arkansas State University System, ASUMH was founded in 1995. It prides itself on having affordable tuition and excellent teaching. Its campus is in Mountain Home.

3

North Arkansas College (Harrison)

Whether you want to finish a certificate program in a year or earn a degree that can be transferred to a four-year school, you may find what you seek at North Arkansas College. The institution has more than 70 areas of study along with GED classes and community education programs.

Northark, as the school is often called, was founded in 1974. Since then, it has grown to become one of the best community colleges in Arkansas, and it proudly notes 95 percent of its students would recommend North Arkansas College to a family member or friend.

On its campuses in Harrison and Berryville, there are a number of extracurricular and athletic opportunities to enhance the educational experience. Northark also has several degree and certificate options for distance learners.

4

Northwest Arkansas Community College (Bentonville)

Northwest Arkansas Community College opened its doors in 1990 and has approximately 7,000 credit-seeking students enrolled. Like other top Arkansas community colleges, the school is committed to fostering life-long learning through its many academic and technical programs.

At NWACC, students can earn an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Arts-Teaching or an Associate of Applied Science. While the first three are suitable for transfer to a four-year school, the AAS degree is intended for those planning to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. Those who don't want to earn a degree can enroll in a certificate program. Online courses are available as well.

NWACC has its main campus in Bentonville and maintains learning centers in three other cities.

5

East Arkansas Community College (Forrest City)

Founded in 1967, East Arkansas Community College serves a district covering a large portion of the eastern side of the state. Its main campus is in Forrest City but there are several other learning locations spread across a five-county area.

As one of the best Arkansas community colleges, EACC strives to make it convenient and affordable for people to finish their education. Evening and online courses are available. Plus, the school has one of the lowest tuition rates in the state. There is even a discount available for students older than age 50.

EACC has five academic departments conferring degrees and certificates: allied health sciences, business and technology, humanities, mathematics/science and social science. Adult education and continuing education classes are also available.

6

Arkansas Northeastern College (Blytheville)

Arkansas Northeastern College says students can start here and then go anywhere. Thanks to its numerous education options, anywhere could mean going to a four-year school after earning a transfer degree or beginning a new career after completing a technical certificate program.

There are several reasons why ANC lands among the best community colleges in Arkansas. It has one of the lowest tuition rates in the state, and the college's diverse student body has an average age of 28, which could mean a variety of learners find they feel at home at Arkansas Northeastern College.

ANC was founded by a vote of the community in 1974. While its main campus is in Blytheville, it has grown to include four other learning centers elsewhere in the state.

7

Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (Helena-West Helena)

Although formally called Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, this institution may be best known simply as Phillips Community College. The school was created in 1965 and grown from fewer than 250 students in its first year to almost 2,000 enrolled now.

There are four academic divisions at PCCUA: allied health, applied technology, arts and sciences and business and information systems. There are adult education, continuing education and online courses available. Those interested in online colleges will find that Phillips Community College is one of the schools offering a fully online degree program.

Students who want to study on-campus have three choices at PCCUA. The school offers classes in DeWitt, Helena-West Helena and Stuttgart.

8

Ozarka College (Melbourne)

Ozarka College makes the list of top community colleges in Arkansas, but that's not its only claim to fame. The school says it's also one of the fastest growing small community colleges in the nation. Despite its growth, Ozarka maintains a low student-faculty ratio and has a commitment to providing personalized instruction.

At its start in 1975, the college was known as the Ozarka Vocational-Technical School. While originally focusing on vocational training alone, the institution has branched out to provide a variety of degree programs. It changed its name to Ozarka College in 1999. Today, students can earn transfer degrees, technical degrees, technical certificates and certificates of proficiency from the school.

More than 1,000 students attend Ozarka College, and approximately 90 percent receive financial aid to make their education more affordable.

9

Arkansas State University - Beebe (Beebe)

Arkansas State University - Beebe offers programs intended to meet the needs of both traditional students and those looking for online colleges. The school has a robust catalog of degree programs, including several that can be earned via online courses.

Students enrolling in ASU-Beebe can choose from either a degree program or a certificate program in diverse fields such as automotive technology, nursing and agriculture. As part of the Arkansas State University System, the community college also offers its students the opportunity to earn bachelor's and graduate degrees from Arkansas State on the Beebe campus. Workforce training and adult education are available as well.

ASUB was founded in 1927 and now operates campuses in Beebe, Heber Springs, Searcy and the Little Rock Air Force Base.

10

University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (Morrilton)

The community college at Morrilton has been operating since 1961 although it didn't join the University of Arkansas System until 2001. Nearly 2,000 students are enrolled in career training and degree programs at the school.

At the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, students can take advantage of a rich experience that includes access to a number of student clubs and organizations, hands-on training, intramural sports and a variety of support services. In addition to having an affordable tuition rate, the UACCM offers more than a dozen scholarships for its academic and technical programs.

Like other top Arkansas community colleges, UACCM prides itself on fostering a friendly, supportive atmosphere on its campus. In addition to Morrilton, the college maintains adult education centers in Perryville, Conway and Clinton.

Transferring Credits in Arkansas

If you're earning a technical degree or completing a certificate program, the workplace will likely be your next stop after graduation. However, those who earn a transfer degree, such as an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science, may find it beneficial to continue their education at a four-year school.

A state law -- Act 182 from 2009 -- ensures all credits earned by someone completing a transfer degree from a public college are accepted by public four-year schools. As a result, graduates of the best community colleges in Arkansas may be admitted to a university as a junior rather than a freshman.

Even private four-year schools often transfer credits from Arkansas community colleges and apply them toward a bachelor's degree. The Arkansas Course Transfer System is administered by the state's Department of Higher Education to help students determine if and how credits transfer from one school to another.

Before you can begin the process of transferring credits though, you need to know where you want to go next. Start your search today by exploring the best four-year colleges in Arkansas.

Methodology

We ranked community colleges in Arkansas. The schools were ranked on multiple factors related to educational opportunity, student performance and student services.

 Each school was scored on a 10-point scale, using the following six data points:

  1. The percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  2. Cost of attendance, based on the average net price for students receiving scholarship and grant aid, and the total cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  3. Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  4. The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  5. The transfer-out rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  6. Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2016

a.       Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
b.      Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
c.       Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students’ children
d.      Whether the school offers any kind of alternative tuition plan. These may include, but aren’t limited to, payment plans or guaranteed rates.

Article Sources
  • Where it All Comes Together, Arkansas Community Colleges, Accessed June 2018, https://www.arkansascc.org/
  • About College of the Ouachitas, College of the Ouachitas, Accessed June 2018, https://www.coto.edu/about_us
  • About ASUMH, Arkansas State University - Mountain Home, Accessed June 2018, https://www.asumh.edu/about-asumh/about.html
  • About Us, North Arkansas College, Accessed June 2018, http://www.northark.edu/about-us/index
  • Frequently Asked Questions, Northwest Arkansas Community College, Accessed June 2018, https://nwacc.edu/web/lss_admissions/faq
  • About EACC, East Arkansas Community College, Accessed June 2018, https://www.eacc.edu/about-EACC
  • About ANC, Arkansas Northeastern College, Accessed June 2018, http://www.anc.edu/aboutanc/index.htm#ANC_at_a_Glance
  • The ANC Advantage, Arkansas Northeastern College, Accessed June 2018, http://www.anc.edu/ancadvantage/index.htm
  • History, Phillips Community College, Accessed June 2018, http://www.pccua.edu/about/history/
  • Enrollment Summary, Ozarka College, Accessed June 2018, https://drive.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https://otc.ozarka.edu/files/pdf/quickfacts/201718_Fall.pdf?n=1
  • Our History, Ozarka College, Accessed June 2018, https://www.ozarka.edu/history.cfm
  • About Ozarka, Ozarka College, Accessed June 2018, https://www.ozarka.edu/aboutus.cfm
  • History of ASU-Beebe, Arkansas State University - Beebe, Accessed June 2018, http://www.asub.edu/about-us/history-of-asu-beebe.aspx
  • About UACCM, University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, Accessed June 2018, http://www.uaccm.edu/About_UACCM/About_UACCM.htm
  • University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, University of Arkansas System, Accessed June 2018, https://www.uasys.edu/campuses-affiliates/two-year-colleges/morrilton/
  • ACTS FAQs, Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Accessed June 2018, https://www.adhe.edu/institutions/academic-affairs/colleges-universities/transfer-information-for-students/acts-faqs
  • Transfer Articulation & Partnership Agreements, Arkansas State University, Accessed June 2018, http://www.astate.edu/a/academic-affairs-and-research/agreements/
  • Transfer of Credit, University of Arkansas, Accessed June 2018, https://catalog.uark.edu/undergraduatecatalog/academicregulations/transferofcredit/
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/