The state of Arkansas – the Natural State, as their official nickname would have it – faces the same healthcare challenges as many other Deep South states, particularly when it comes to reaching rural areas with adequate care. The biggest challenge for Arkansawyers is getting enough nurses to fill the gap; while the job market is steadily growing, the state is more than 1000 nurses short, and even with more than 2000 getting their RN licenses every year, there are not enough nurses to meet the needs of Arkansas’ people.
With this unprecedented need, the best nursing schools in Arkansas are working to make nursing education more accessible, flexible, and convenient. One important way they’re doing that task is by designing fully online and hybrid RN to BSN degree programs. Working nurses in Arkansas have a wealth of opportunities to get their bachelor’s degree without having to quit their jobs, relocate, or disrupt their family life. That’s what TopRNtoBSN wants to celebrate with our ranking of the best online RN to BSN programs in Arkansas.
How We Ranked the Best Nursing Schools in Arkansas Online
Before TopRNtoBSN editors could rank the best online RN to BSN programs in Arkansas, we had to research the many nursing schools and programs in the state. While there were many ways to become an RN, fully online and hybrid programs were our focus. With our initial list, we ranked programs according to 3 features: Employment Rate, Student Reviews, and Tuition Cost, with data from College Scorecard, Niche, and IPEDS. These three factors, taken in equal weight, tell students their online BSN will be trusted, help them advance, bring a higher salary, and make a real improvement in their career.
1. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – Little Rock
When you are looking for the best nursing schools in Arkansas, you may want to evaluate the online RN to BSN program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. The online degree program offers an accelerated degree for working nurses. It allows you to obtain your bachelor of nursing from a CCNE accredited program when it fits your schedule, and advance in your education without giving up your career goals.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences stands out for its focus on helping students reach their career goals. The degree program takes measures to help students accomplish their goals by providing the training they need through an online format. As a fully online program, it gives you enough flexibility to reach your goals and develop the leadership skills you need to advance in your career.
2. University of Arkansas – Fayetteville
The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville offers a fully online RN to BSN program for working nurses. The degree program recognizes the increased demand for nurses with a bachelor’s degree among employers and it strives to help hospitals and employers reach their goals by providing the education students need to finish their degree. The University of Arkansas is a top-tier research institution and one of the best nursing schools in Arkansas, offering quality education to students in its RN to BSN program.
A key way the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville stands out from other programs is its focus on high-quality education. The degree program is CCNE accredited and the school has a top-tier research program that allows students to learn from staff who are on the cutting edge of nursing research and training. As a research institution, the program teaches students from the most up-to-date information to ensure that you are prepared for the challenges of working in a fast-changing environment.
3. Arkansas Tech University – Russellville
Arkansas Tech University in Russellville is one of the best nursing schools in Arkansas. Arkansas Tech’s online RN to BSN degree program recognizes that you need the training to stay up-to-date with your nursing education. That is why it offers five online core classes and two online electives in nursing. You are also required to take two courses with practical or clinical training through your local community to ensure that you are capable of handling the challenges of your work environment. The focus on practical skills helps you with your long-term goals.
The way Arkansas Tech University stands apart from other programs is its focus on practical skills. The program requires students to go through a clinical training program as part of their degree. That allows you to practice the skills you develop in your online classes and apply them to patient care. The program is also ACEN accredited and offers quality education to students.
4. University of Arkansas at Fort Smith – Fort Smith
When you want to advance in your career, the online RN to BSN program degree program at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith helps with your goals. The online degree program is CCNE accredited and approved by the Arkansas Board of Nursing. The degree program focuses on teaching students practical skills they need to advance in their career by ensuring students are able to provide high-quality patient care. The program also works around your experience and previous training to ensure that you are able to handle the challenges of your career.
The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith stands out from other programs by offering a flexible education through its online courses. The online classes allow you to work at your own pace and develop the skills you need to handle the challenges of your work. It also focuses on developing critical thinking skills you need for your career and long-term plans. By developing your critical thinking skills at one of the best nursing schools in Arkansas, you will be able to handle the pressures of working in a fast-paced environment.
5. University of Central Arkansas – Conway
The University of Central Arkansas in Conway is one of the best programs for your RN to BSN. The bachelor’s degree program is fully online and offers an accelerated pace for students who want to finish their bachelor’s degree within 12 months. If you have an associate’s degree and work as a registered nurse, then you can finish your degree in 12 months and start working at a higher level in your career. UCA’s CCNE-accredited accelerated program helps you reach your education goals in a short amount of time.
The way the University of Central Arkansas stands out from other programs is its flexibility. While students can focus on the accelerated degree program and finish a bachelor’s degree within one year, they also have the option to take classes part-time and take longer for their degree. It is also an online program that allows you to work around your schedule as a nurse.
6. Arkansas State University – Jonesboro
Arkansas State University’s online RN to BSN program is designed for students who want to obtain their bachelor’s degree and advance in their career. The degree program allows students to complete their degree at an accelerated pace and it offers flexible start dates to allow students to work on their degree when it fits their schedule. It allows you to start in any month that fits your needs and you can take the seven-week courses back-to-back until you finish your degree in a 12 month period.
The way Arkansas State University in Jonesboro stands out from the best nursing schools in Arkansas is their flexible hours and start-dates. You can start your degree when you have time and are ready to take on the program. You can also work around your current schedule as a nurse and other personal obligations that may limit your time. ACEN accredited program that allows you to start working on your degree when it fits your schedule and when you have time. It gives you the flexibility to focus on your goals for your long-term career plans and allows you to finish your degree when you are available.
7. Henderson State University – Arkadelphia
When you want to attend one of the best nursing schools in Arkansas with an online RN to BSN program, Henderson State University in Arkadelphia is a good option for your goals. The online RN to BSN degree program from Henderson State offers flexible schedules that allow you to continue working as a registered nurse while you finish up your bachelor’s degree. It also recognizes that you may have family obligations, so you can work at a pace that fits your situation.
Henderson State University in Arkadelphia stands out for its CCNE accredited program and focus on providing a quality level of education for nursing students. While the majority of the course work is finished online, the program does require students to complete their residency at the school’s campus at the end of the program to ensure they fully understand the concepts and practical application of knowledge in a clinical setting.
8. Southern Arkansas University – Magnolia
When you’re looking for an online program that offers flexibility for your schedule, the online RN to BSN at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia provides the training you need for your goals. The degree program focuses on students who are working as a registered nurse and have completed an associate’s degree or a diploma in nursing and want to advance in their education and career. It focuses on building on the foundation of your previous education and your work experience to improve your abilities in your field.
Southern Arkansas University stands out from the other best nursing schools in Arkansas by offering an ACEN accredited program that allows students to transfer from other RN to BSN programs, providing flexible scheduling and opportunities. The school does allow students in other RN to BSN programs to transfer credits for an accelerated degree process. You can also focus on developing your critical thinking skills and your communication skills to help with your goals to work as a leader in nursing.
9. University of Arkansas at Little Rock – Little Rock
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers an online RN to BSN program with a focus on leadership and critical thinking that allows you to take on the challenges of your career as a nurse. The ACEN accredited RN to BSN program prepares registered nurses for the challenges of taking on a leadership role in their career. The degree program does not only focus on the practical skills you need as a nurse. It also teaches the basics of economics, leadership, and advocacy to ensure that you are prepared to advance in your career and take on more responsibilities as a nurse.
The way the University of Arkansas in Little Rock differs from other programs is its focus on leadership and the flexible hours. The fully online program allows you to work around your schedule as a nurse or other personal obligations. It also provides a well-rounded education to help you take on leadership roles and develop the skills you need for effective communication in a medical setting.
How Do I Become an RN in Arkansas?
For those who are living in the Arkansas area and looking to become an RN, they must complete several educational requirements before becoming registered through the Arkansas State Board of Nursing.
- Choose the Institution and Program for your nursing degree
- Meet program requirements that include courses and clinical experiences
- Successfully pass the NCLEX exam
Before receiving an Arkansas nursing license, the student must consider the program in which they desire; Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). The Arkansas nursing programs include a variety of RN programs in Arkansas and fast track nursing programs in Arkansas for those who want a more accelerated version. With the fast track nursing programs in Arkansas, students can work through the academic courses required much quicker than others. The race for the degree for these students, however, is not one of speed, but of completing what is required by the Arkansas state board of nursing officials.
Each program requires a different set of requirements in order to receive approval through the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. Once the student has taken the required courses and the required clinic hours within a medical facility, the student will move forward with taking the NCLEX exam and received the required score needed by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. Upon completion of this exam and applying for a license, nurses will be eligible to become full RNs.
How is the Job Market for Nursing in Arkansas?
Nursing jobs in Arkansas are on the rise, with each year seeing close to 15% in growth and demands. This is not unlike other states in the Midwest, and across the nation as a whole. The entire nursing profession, including nursing in Arkansas, is seeing a rise with the growth of the medical field. RN jobs in Arkansas are required for a variety of medical facilities, that include everything from nursing homes and assisted living facilities to hospitals and urgent care facilities. For someone who is seeking RN jobs in Arkansas, they have the ability to find something quickly.
For those seeking Arkansas nursing jobs, they can find a demand for RN jobs in Arkansas and have the ability to negotiate their positions. Based on their competitive requirements and salary compared to other states, RN jobs in Arkansas can be negotiated by candidates to fit their financial needs. With the growth at approximately 15% over the last few years and continuing to rise with the addition of several hundred jobs annually, those who are currently in a program or looking to pursue RN jobs in Arkansas will be able to seek out employment for nursing in Arkansas.
How Much Do Nurses Make in Arkansas?
For those who have recently completed a nursing program in Arkansas, a new grad RN salary in Arkansas may find these entry-level salaries to be around $28.28 annually, or approximately $58,000. While this salary is slightly lower than the national average, this salary is still a competitive one for Arkansas. This is a competitive salary for those who have recently graduated from an RN program and are just entering the workforce. These new grad RN programs refer to those two-year RN programs which are different from the BSN programs. They can expect this salary to continue to grow with experience and as they gather certifications and specializations.
Since the BSN program is more in-depth and requires additional education for the RN licensure, the BSN salary in Arkansas at entry-level is higher than the new grad RN salary by approximately several thousand dollars. This salary gives BSN graduates a bit of an edge up on their salary. In addition to salary increases, these BSN graduates have a better foundation for the medical industry and are marketable to a variety of medical facilities. This also allows their salary to be negotiated when applying for the open RN positions throughout Arkansas. The larger areas around Arkansas show higher average salaries for that specific region due to the increasing demand for RN nurses in these areas.