2021 Best Colleges in Arkansas Badge

2021 Best Colleges in Arkansas by Salary Score

By the GradReports team | Updated 3/1/2021

The following list features the best schools in Arkansas based on our Salary Score. This score indicates whether alumni from one school tend to have higher salaries than alumni with the same major at other schools. We calculated this score for each school by comparing the median alumni salary for each program at that school to the median alumni salary for the same program at other schools. Arkansas has a relatively low cost of living, so graduates of in-state schools may earn less because of lower living expenses. Even so, the top two schools on this list — John Brown University and the University of Arkansas — score above the median U.S. Salary Score at 65.17 and 56.63, respectively.

To be considered for our state rankings, schools must offer and provide data for at least 8 bachelor's programs. This list includes all eligible schools in Arkansas. You can click on a school's name to view individual program scores. Read our methodology to learn more about how schools were ranked.

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Our Salary Score™ is based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Salary Score
#1 #1 John Brown University Siloam Springs Siloam Springs $29,720 65.17
#2 #2 University of Arkansas Fayetteville Fayetteville $9,656 56.63
#3 #3 Harding University Searcy Searcy $23,148 37.45
#4 #4 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock Little Rock $8,366 32.20
#5 #5 Ouachita Baptist University Arkadelphia Arkadelphia $31,180 30.50
#6 #6 University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Fort Smith Fort Smith $6,168 30.29
#7 #7 University of Central Arkansas Conway Conway $9,778 27.96
#8 #8 Henderson State University Arkadelphia Arkadelphia $7,560 23.55
#9 #9 Arkansas State University Jonesboro Jonesboro $7,456 23.24
#10 #10 Southern Arkansas University Magnolia Magnolia $9,680 21.16
#11 #11 University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Pine Bluff Pine Bluff $8,668 20.93
#12 #12 Arkansas Tech University Russellville Russellville $8,071 20.07
#13 #13 University of Arkansas at Monticello Monticello (and 1 other) Monticello (and 1 other) $8,431 19.82

2021 Best Colleges in Arkansas Highlights

Siloam Springs
Salary Score 65.17
Annual Tuition $29,720
Graduation Rate 71%

The three programs at John Brown University (JBU) with the top a Salary Score are business administration, management, and operations (86); accounting and related services (83); and engineering (74). The program with the highest median salary is engineering, with an annual median salary of $66,940. Graduates of the construction management program report the second-highest salary, at $65,950.

School Overview

JBU is a small, Christian, private nonprofit university. The university is located in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, a small town bordering Oklahoma. Students wishing to study abroad may be interested in JBU’s Irish Studies program, which allows them to live in a university-run residency hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The university offers a variety of scholarships and grants, with an average financial aid package of $15,400 per year.

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Salary Score 56.63
Annual Tuition $9,656
Graduation Rate 69%

The highest Salary Score at the University of Arkansas (U of A) belongs to the design and applied arts program, whose score of 98 indicates that its alumni tend to earn more than graduates of similar programs at other schools. Another high-scoring design-related field is apparel and textiles, with a score of 95. Other high-ranking programs include music (88) and food science and technology (84). The field with the highest salary is chemical engineering, with graduates reporting a median annual salary of $73,720.

School Overview

The U of A is a large public university located in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The university offers a wide array of study-abroad opportunities and several scholarships specifically for students who choose to study in another country. U of A is in the top 3% of universities in the country based on amount of research and is the only Tier One research institution in the state. It features more than 50 research centers which each have its own dedicated faculty and staff.

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Salary Score 37.45
Annual Tuition $23,148
Graduation Rate 69%

Harding University's top three undergraduate programs based on Salary Score are pastoral counseling (87), accounting and related services (86), and Biblical studies (84). Graduates of these programs report median annual salaries of $32,380, $57,320, and $33,990, respectively. The field with the highest median salary is computer science, at $69,340. Although this program's Salary Score of 53 doesn't rank as high as other programs at the school, 100% of its alumni were employed a year after graduating.

School Overview

Harding University is a small, Christian, private, nonprofit school located in Searcy, Arkansas, a small city about an hour from Little Rock. Students are required to attend chapel services and take Biblical courses. Harding offers study-abroad programs for students who want to learn on the ground in places such as Latin America, Zambia, Greece, and more. Students in the College of Bible & Ministry department can visit the Linda Byrd Smith Museum of Biblical Archeology.

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