Updated: November 25, 2021

Overview of Nursing Schools in Arkansas

  • There are 29 nursing schools in Arkansas. The CCNE accredits 8 nursing schools and the ACEN accredits 11 schools in Arkansas.
  • Typically, an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) will take between 18 to 24 months to complete, and a Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BSN) will take about 4 years to complete.
  • The average NCLEX passing rate range for ADN students in Arkansas is between 67.61% and 93.08%.
  • The average NCLEX passing rate range for BSN students in Arkansas is between 51.88% and 92.63%.
  • The average annual salary for registered nurses is between $52,080 to $111,220 a year.
  • Registered Nurses (RN) throughout the country and in Arkansas can expect a favorable job growth of 15 percent from 2016 to 2026 which much faster than the average for all occupations.

About Nursing Schools in Arkansas

Like most other states, the state of Arkansas is also not a stranger to the healthcare personnel shortage, especially in recent times. There are currently 25,300 RNs and 2,370 Nurse Practitioners working in the state, and these numbers are expected to rise by 13.5% and 31.5%, respectively, from the year 2018 to 2028. However, the state has recognized this need and has created an average annual opening of 1,850 RNs and 200 NPs.

One of the reasons why Arkansas is one of the ideal states for nurses is because it has implemented the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). It means that nurses from other states can practice in Arkansas without having to obtain a nursing license in Arkansas. The eNLC, however, is only for RNs and LPNs/LVNs, so Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APNS) should hold an individual state license in each state they wish to practice.

In addition to being an eNLC state, Arkansas also offers a lucrative salary for nurses that is based on their education and work experience. An RN with more than 20 years of experience can earn more than $82,000 annually, and an NP with the same experience earns more than $135,000 annually. 

When it comes to practice authority, NPs are authorized for Reduced Practice, which means that the state laws require NPs to have a career-long regulated collaborative agreement with other health providers in order for them to provide patient care. In other words, the law limits the setting of one or more elements of NP practice. 

Having said that, Arkansas is a great state for individuals seeking quality nursing education and career. Multiple nursing colleges provide degrees ranging from LPNs to Ph.Ds via affordable and accessible education. Here are some of the best nursing schools in Arkansas that are devoted to educating competent nurses who can uplift the nursing profession while providing quality patient care.

Online Nursing Programs Liked by Arkansas Nurses

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities beloww.

Nursing Programs Offered by Arkansas Nursing Schools

  • Registered Nursing: 29
  • Family Nurse Practitioner: 5
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: 2
  • Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: 2
  • Nurse Educator: 2
  • Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: 1
  • CNL: 1
  • Nurse Anesthetist: 1
  • Nursing Administration: 1
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: 1
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: 1
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: 1
  • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner: 1

Arkansas Nursing Schools with the Most Degree Types

Nursing Schools in Arkansas

In our Arkansas RN program guide, find rankings for both ADN and BSN Degree programs, tuition costs, NCLEX passing rates, and more. Research key Arkansas RN Program information to help you compare program metrics and to apply to best RN program for your career in nursing.

In the State of Arkansas, nurses are helping to change the face of healthcare. To ensure that they have the best education and preparation for future health care challenges, registered nurses need to graduate from a state-approved associate's degree in nursing program or a BSN degree program.

Nurses who graduate from an RN program can obtain certification in over 100 nursing specialties, go on to earn an RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree.

BSN degree holders have options to earn an Advance Practice Register Nursing (APRN) degree and become a Nurse Practitioner (NP), or earn an advanced degree for a career in any number of nursing leadership roles such Nurse Educator or Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Compare RN Programs ADN BSN
Number of Nursing Programs 24 12
Average NCLEX Passing Rate 82.19% 84.62%
NCLEX Passing Rate Range 67.61% to 93.08% 51.88% to 92.63%

Best Ranked Nursing Schools in Arkansas

Best Ranked RN Programs in Arkansas

To help nursing students in their search for a top RN program, the education experts at RNCareers.org publish their annual findings of the best nursing schools for both Arkansas and the country. Schools ranked on our list have proven their ability to educate highly competent nurses.

To create our rankings, we evaluated 16 ADN degree programs and 11 BSN degree programs in Arkansas. We obtained each institution’s first-time NCLEX-RN passing rates, the number of students taking the test, the program nursing accreditation and more. We then compared the results against other nursing programs in Arkansas to provide our state rankings. View our methodology

Best BSN Nursing Schools in Arkansas


Harding University - Searcy

  • 915 E. Market Ave., Searcy, AR - 72149-5615
  • (501) 279-4000
  • Grade: (A) 98.00%
  • Programs: Family Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: APRN Certificate, Bachelor, LPN to BSN, MSN, RN to MSN
Harding University is located in Searcy, Arkansas.  Carr College of Nursing was founded in 1975; their graduates are now working throughout the world.  Carr College of Nursing produces nurses who are not only prepared for entry-level nursing positions, but are also Christian servants.  Their students have the opportunity to join
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Southern Arkansas University Main Campus - Magnolia

  • 100 E. University, Magnolia, AR - 71753
  • (870) 235-4000
  • Grade: (A) 97.00%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate, Bachelor
Even with more than 80 degrees and programs and more than 4,000 students studying on the campus, Southern Arkansas University Main Campus still maintains a 17 to 1 student-teacher ratio. The Nursing department mimics a small-town atmosphere so that students feel at home and know that they are supported by
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Arkansas State University - Jonesboro

  • 2105 E. Aggie Road, Jonesboro, AR - 72401
  • (870) 972-2100
  • Grade: (A) 93.33%
  • Programs: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthetist, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate, Bachelor, MSN, Post Master's NP Certificate
The College of Nursing and Health Professions in Arkansas State University is dedicated to providing quality education to students, graduates, and healthcare providers in a variety of health disciplines, including nursing. The college has collaborated with the community and other organizations to ensure that the students excel in education, research
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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

  • 2801 S University Ave, Little Rock, AR - 72204
  • (501) 569-3000
  • Grade: (A) 92.33%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate, Bachelor
University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) s located in Little Rock, Arkansas.  They offer multiple types of RN programs - an RN program, a BSN program, an online RN to BSN program, and an LPN or paramedic to to RN program.  The Department of Nursing is the largest department at
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Henderson State University - Arkadelphia

  • 1100 Henderson Street, Arkadelphia, AR - 71999-0001
  • (870) 230-5000
  • Grade: (A) 91.67%
  • Programs: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, Nursing Administration, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate, Bachelor, MSN
The nursing program at Ellis College of Arts and Sciences in Henderson State University is dedicated to providing students with the education and experience needed to pursue a career in nursing. The college provides professional nursing education in a caring environment that allows students to develop as compassionate careers and
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University of Central Arkansas - Conway

  • 201 Donaghey Ave, Conway, AR - 72035-0001
  • (501) 450-5000
  • Grade: (A) 91.00%
  • Programs: Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, CNL, Family Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: APRN Certificate, Bachelor, LPN to BSN, MSN, MSN to DNP, Post Master's NP Certificate, RN to MSN
University of Central Arkansas is located in Conway, Arkansas.  Their BSN program was founded in 1967 in response to the closure of a neighboring school's BSN program. The School of Nursing at the University of Central Arkansas boasts small class sizes, the variety of facilities available and the number of
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Best ADN Nursing Schools in Arkansas


Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas - Helena

  • 1000 Campus Drive, Helena, AR - 72342-0785
  • (870) 338-6474
  • Grade: (A) 94.30%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas provides high-quality, accessible and affordable educational opportunities and skill development to students. The nursing program at the college prepares students to work as professional nurses providing safe, quality, evidence-based nursing care in the global healthcare scenario.  By the time that they complete
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Arkansas Northeastern College - Blytheville

  • 2501 S Division, Blytheville, AR - 72316-1109
  • (870) 762-1020
  • Grade: (A) 93.70%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Arkansas Northeastern College is a two-year college that provides flexible schedules and courses so that students can get a quality education while also attending to their other responsibilities. The college boasts its small and highly interactive classrooms equipped with the latest multimedia internet technology. This college also has one of
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National Park College – Hot Springs (National Park Community College)

  • 101 College Dr, Hot Springs, AR - 71913
  • (501) 760-4222
  • Grade: (A) 91.70%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
National Park College is located in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.  They offer multiple nursing programs - an LPN program, an RN program, and an LPN to RN program.  Unique to National Park College is the High School to ASN track.  The high school student applies in their senior year
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Northwest Arkansas Community College-Bentonville

  • One College Drive, Bentonville, AR - 72712-5091
  • (479) 986-4000
  • Grade: (A) 91.70%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Northwest Arkansas Community College is located in Bentonville. Their nursing program is ideal for a variety of student types, as some of their classes are available online. In addition, classes are also offered at their other campuses in Springdale or Farmington. NorthWest Arkansas Community College offers more than 300 scholarships
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Additional Listings of the Top Arkansas Nursing Programs

Online RN Programs in Arkansas

Today, there are very few disadvantages to earning an online RN degree. With advances in online learning coupled the need to educate more nurses because of the nursing shortage, many nursing schools are offing online nursing programs.

For nurses needing to complete clinicals, nursing programs usually help a nurse to find one.

Be sure to choose an accredited program that meets quality standards set by either the ACEN or CCNE accrediting agencies. An accredited online RN Nursing program will help ensure that your units pass can transfer to another accredited college and help you in gain employment. Learn more about online RN programs.

APRN Programs in Arkansas

RNs who wish to become advanced practice registered nurses will want to pursue any number of avenues to earn Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Earning a Master of Science in Nursing consists of graduate-level coursework and clinical practice for those nurses who wish to direct patient roles such as a nurse practitioner. You can also pursue indirect patient roles such as teaching or leadership roles, or become involved in policy, state-wide health initiatives or community engagement. There are many clinical and non-clinical avenues that an RN with MSN can pursue.Learn how to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) and research schools in Arkansas offering the following high paying nurse practitioner specialties:

Learn about Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree.

Online NP Programs Liked by Arkansas Nurses

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Arkansas RN Licensing Requirements

The state of Arkansas has strict requirements candidates must meet in order obtain licensure as an RN.

Those applying for licensure in Arkansas through an endorsement must have completed an approved nursing program in a different state. International students who completed a program similar to a program in Arkansas may also apply for licensure. However, they must have proof of eligibility for licensure in the country they graduated from. They must also prove that they can read, write, and speak English through the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools. This does not include English-speaking countries such as Canada, Australia, and England.

Arkansas State Board of Nursing

Arkansas Nurses Association
University Tower Building
1123 S. University, Suite 800
Little Rock, AR 72204-1619
Phone: (501) 686-2700
Fax: (501) 686-2714

RN License by Exam

The first and most direct path to obtaining licensure is through examination. Candidates need to register for the NCLEX-PN exam through Pearson VUE.  In addition to completing the exam, candidates  must also complete the following steps:

Complete a State-approved nursing program:

In order to become eligible for state licensure through the state of Arkansas, candidates must have completed high school as well as a preparation program approved by the state. Applicants who have completed a program in a different state have the possibility of being eligible for licensure if the Arkansas State Board of Nursing believes they are qualified. Nursing programs must have been approved by the Department of Higher education and hold accreditation from a recognized body.

Complete online application for licensure:

Every candidate must apply for licensure through the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. They must also gain permission to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) before taking the exam. This should be completed about two months before graduation from a nursing program.

Complete a criminal background check:

First-time applicants must complete a background check at both the state and federal levels. When this has been completed, the applicant must also submit a fingerprint that will be forwarded to the Arkansas State Police. Licenses may be denied on the basis of disciplinary history or criminal background.

RN License by Endorsement

One can obtain licensure through endorsement if they already have a license in one of the other 50 states. Out of state candidates have the opportunity to work using a temporary permit while they are working on gaining their endorsement.

Candidates who have had their license for less than five years will need to provide documentation stating they have practiced for 1,000 hours or completed a program in an approved accredited university.

RN License for Nurses Educated Abroad

Candidates who are educated abroad also have an opportunity to obtain licensure as long as they provide transcripts that reflect a similar education.

RN Salaries in Arkansas

According to a survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the prospects for BSN graduates were better in the southern parts of the country. This does not mean that by attending a school in the south automatically guarantees you a job. It also does not mean that you won’t be able to find a job by not attending school in the south. The participants in the survey were college deans who indicated that 82% of their graduates had job offers right after graduation. Healthcare is a necessity. However, like every other industry, it has been affected to some degree by the broken economy. There are some nurses who will refuse to relay retirement. There is a long-term need for professional nurses that will never cease.

Arkansas Registered Nursing Salaries

Below is a table of the hourly mean RN Salary and the annual median wage in all the metropolitan areas in the state of Arkansas. By looking at this table, you will notice that the annual median wage in Fayetteville metropolitan area has the highest annual median wage. However, Little Rock has the highest number of employed RNs.

The average salary for a nurse in Arkansas is $60,755. The top-paying industries are nursing care facilities and outpatient hospital centers. Nursing homes pay the lowest wages at $49,000 per year on average. The highest paying industry is general medical and surgical hospitals with an average annual wage of $73,000 per year.

Nurse Anesthetists are the highest paid nurses in Arkansas while Nursing Assistants or CNAs are the lowest.

Registered nurses that have a bachelor's degree typically earn more than registered nurses who only have an associate's degree or higher level diploma as well as those without any college education at all. In addition to salaries being impacted by educational attainment levels, they also vary based upon geographic location within the state of Arkansas with some areas having significantly lower wages than others due to the shortage of jobs available in these regions.

Area NameEmploymentHourly WageAnnual Wage
East Arkansas Area1,130$27.65$57,510
Fort Smith2,180$28.47$59,220
Hot Springs1,010$29.82$62,030
Little Rock9,550$33.20$69,060
North Arkansas Area2,620$28.54$59,360
Pine Bluff740$29.96$62,310
South Arkansas Area1,520$26.87$55,880
West Arkansas Area1,130$27.05$56,270
Total / Averages25,220$29.21$60,755

Arkansas Nursing Salaries by Experience

OccupationEmployment1 to 4 Years5 to 9 Years10 to 19 Years20+ Years
Nursing Instructors540$23,600$50,170$72,040$82,040
Registered Nurses25,300$44,660$53,490$73,630$82,480
Nurse Anesthetists-$62,330$93,800--
Nurse Practitioners2,730$82,810$90,610$119,480$135,020
LPN / LVN11,540$32,160$35,790$48,120$52,650
Nursing Assistants18,560$21,510$22,980$29,780$32,410

Projected Needed for Nurses in Arkansas

Occupation20182028Change%ChangeAvg. Annual Openings
LPN / LVN12,41013,7401,33010.71,130
Nurse Anesthetists3704508021.630
Nurse Practitioners1,9702,59062031.5190
Nursing Assistants18,81021,2302,42012.92,490
Nursing Instructors73090017023.380
Registered Nurses26,27029,8203,55013.51,850

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