Arkansas is one of the most religious states in the country. More than 70% of resident adults identify as "highly religious” and nearly 80% consider themselves Christians. More than half of the population identifies as Evangelical Protestant, and more than half of the Protestant population identifies as Baptist.
More than 70% of adults in Arkansas identify as "highly religious” and nearly 80% consider themselves Christians Pew Research Center
The state of Arkansas is home to several Christian colleges and universities. These schools blend their commitment to faith with rigorous academic programming. Christian colleges in Arkansas provide a well-rounded, faith-centered education to religious students. Learners can contextualize their academic knowledge within a Christian framework. Due to the state’s demographics, there are many Baptist colleges in Arkansas, but students can find schools affiliated with several different denominations as well.
The vibrant cultural and spiritual environment found on many Christian campuses helps students grow in their faith while they pursue their degree. Campus-based worship services, campus ministries, volunteer opportunities, and Christian clubs build community while inspiring devotion. Most Christian colleges in Arkansas award associate and bachelor's degrees, and some also offer master's degrees, doctoral degrees, and post-master's certifications.
Online Christian Colleges in Arkansas
Attending an online Christian college comes with several benefits, including flexibility, affordability, and accessibility. In most cases, the course material, assignments, and faculty are the same for online and on-campus students, meaning distance learners pay less for the same level of quality. Christian online colleges allow students to create their own schedules to accommodate work and family obligations.
Distance learning is also significantly more affordable than attending school on campus. Outside of tuition, online students save money on costs like dorms, campus amenities, transportation, parking, dining halls, recreation services, and sporting events. Perhaps most significantly, the flexibility of an online Christian college allows students to keep their current employment while earning their degree. Some online Christian colleges offer digital spiritual support services for distance learners. Online students can stream worship services and connect with their peers through forums, counseling sessions, and chat groups.
Arkansas's Best Online Christian Schools
Harding educates nearly 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Both the largest private and largest Christian college in Arkansas, Harding associates with the Churches of Christ. Prospective students can complete some programs in Harding's Graduate School of Business online, including:
Students in the entirely online MBA program usually take 1-7 years to complete their degrees. All courses use an asynchronous format, providing students maximum flexibility as to when they finish work. In the information systems program, students can concentrate in either data analytics or information assurance and security.
Applicants to MBA or MSIS programs should possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Application materials include three recommendation letters and GMAT or GRE scores. Harding uses standardized test score cutoffs. MSIS students pay a slightly higher tuition rate than MBA students, a structure that also applies to dual-degree programs. This best Christian college in Arkansas does not award need-based grants or merit-based scholarships to online students at this time.
Harding University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Central Baptist College
CBC dates back to 1891, when the Arkansas Baptist State Convention founded a women's college, then known as Central College. Central College evolved into CBC in 1952. Since then, the college has expanded its academic offerings to include degrees in religion and liberal arts. Over 400 students attend courses on campus, while another 200 earn their degrees entirely online or in a hybrid format.
The Professional Adult College Education (PACE) program allows adult learners at CBC to earn their degrees entirely online. Courses meet once per week in the evenings so that students with full-time jobs can attend. PACE students who live near CBC's Conway campus can earn their degrees in a hybrid format. Available online degrees include:
CBC's online students use Canvas to access course content and submit assignments. Although courses feature synchronous learning, students who cannot attend class meetings can still review recorded lectures.
Prospective students submit standardized test scores or take placement tests to determine their English and math courses. This private Christian college in Arkansas charges the same credit-based tuition to all online students. The college proudly participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program to provide active military personnel and veterans additional tuition assistance. Students who refer prospective students to CBC can receive up to $500 in tuition assistance.
Central Baptist College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
John Brown University
In 1919, John E. Brown founded the university that bears his name in Siloam Springs. The university's mission was to provide an interdenominational education to students who could not otherwise afford a college education. Online and on-campus students receive a rigorous liberal arts education that emphasizes Christian teachings. On-campus students sign a pledge promising to refrain from immoral activities while enrolled at JBU. In 2019, JBU celebrated its centennial by hosting a year-long campus celebration.
JBU Online provides students seven exciting bachelor's completion programs:
Majors at JBU require approximately 60 credits, and students need 120 credits to graduate. All undergraduate students complete coursework in biblical studies, and students who did not take these courses as part of their associate programs may do so at this Christian college in Arkansas. Students can supplement their online educations by completing a minor in one of seven areas such as communication, leadership, or managerial accounting. A minor requires an additional 12 credits and can extend a student's education by one semester.
Applicants must possess an associate degree or at least 45 transferable hours that reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA. Some programs have additional requirements, like the RN-to-BSN program, which requires applicants to hold a valid nursing license in their home state. All students pay the same credit-based tuition rate. JBU does not award scholarships or grants to on-campus or online students.
John Brown University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Ouachita Baptist University
From its Arkadelphia campus as well as online, OBU educates approximately 1,600 undergraduate students in eight schools. Students can select from 64 majors and benefit from low student-teacher ratios. This private Christian college in Arkansas holds membership in the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
OBU offers three online degrees:
Each degree uses the same core curriculum, featuring coursework in the contemporary world, survey of the Bible, and world literature. To stay in good academic standing, students maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and complete all major courses with a C grade or higher. Students in either Christian studies program analyze spiritual formation, philosophy, and theology, among other topics essential to ministerial careers. Finally, all programs include an introduction to online learning course to help students succeed.
Prospective students can apply for summer, fall, or spring admission. Freshmen applicants submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer applicants submit official college transcripts. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate and fees. Both in- and out-of-state students may qualify for scholarships or grants.
Ouachita Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Williams Baptist University
Since 1941, WBU has provided students a rigorous liberal arts education that emphasizes Christian values. The university recently started an online program that does not require students to attend any courses on WBU's Walnut Ridge campus. The university affiliates with the Southern Baptist Convention.
WBU offers one online bachelor's degree: a bachelor of science in criminal justice. In this degree-completion program, practicing law enforcement professionals can advance their educations and careers. An asynchronous curriculum provides students maximum flexibility so they can watch lectures and complete homework as their schedules allow. Curriculum highlights include coursework in police administration, criminological theory, and juvenile justice. Students complete five internships at their job sites as well. Students who need general education courses to fulfill graduation requirements may take them online.
Prospective students must work in law enforcement and possess adequate transfer credit. This Christian college in Arkansas considers applicants without law enforcement experience on a case-by-case basis. Applicants ages 24 or older may apply as nontraditional students, which exempts them from some application requirements. All students pay a flat per-semester tuition rate. WBU awards academic scholarships to students who earn a minimum 17 score on the ACT.
Williams Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
What Christian Colleges are in Arkansas?
Finding the Right Christian College
Students should consider several factors when pursuing the right Christian college for their academic goals and lifestyle needs. These factors include location, campus size, degree options, and campus culture. When selecting a Christian college in Arkansas, students should consider how the school's location and surrounding community align with their interests and personality. Is the campus rural or in a city? Is the surrounding community safe? Does it offer certain amenities a student might require (hospital, grocery store, pharmacy, etc.)? Students should also research the school's values and make sure these values align with their lifestyle. Some Christian schools require students to attend chapel and perform regular community service. Students should understand and be willing to meet their school's expectations.
When selecting a Christian college in Arkansas, students should consider how the school's location and surrounding community align with their interests and personality.
Students should also investigate whether a school caters to their academic priorities. Not every school offers every major. Some schools only offer undergraduate degrees, while others focus on graduate education. Students should also consider what kind of education the school provides. Does the school offer liberal arts degrees? Are the school's degrees ministry or Bible-focused? Students interested in pursuing their degree online should check that the school provides resources to distance learners. Can online learners access digital worship services, libraries, advisors, tutors, and technical support? Students should carefully consider these factors when choosing a Christian college in Arkansas.
Seminary Schools vs. Bible Schools
There are a few key differences between seminary schools and Bible schools. Seminaries prepare students to enter high-level occupations in the church. Bible colleges provide Christian students with a Bible-focused education while not necessarily preparing them for careers in ministry or church service. Students serious about becoming ministers, counselors, or church administrators should pursue their education at an accredited seminary school. Students interested in learning more about the Bible and exploring their faith in a classroom setting should consider a Bible college.
Seminaries and Bible colleges also differ in that seminaries typically grant graduate-level degrees while Bible colleges typically offer two-year and four-year degrees. Some Bible colleges prepare students for graduate-level coursework at a seminary. A few schools even offer dual programs that combine the Bible school and seminary experiences.
Accreditation for Christian Colleges
When researching Christian colleges in Arkansas, it's important to check whether the school is accredited. Christian colleges in Arkansas receive accreditation from three types of accrediting agencies: regional, national, and specialized. Regional and national accreditation are types of institutional accreditation, meaning they apply to a whole college. Regional accreditation is generally considered more prestigious than national accreditation. While most schools and employers will honor credits earned from a regionally accredited school, not all regionally accredited schools or employers will honor credits earned from a nationally accredited school. In addition, some financial aid may not qualify at nationally accredited schools.
The main regional accrediting agency for Christian colleges in Arkansas is the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools; the main national accrediting agency is The Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation.
Specialized accreditation applies to a specific program, curriculum, or school within an institution. The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools typically accredits theological or religious programs. To check whether a Christian college is accredited, students can consult the U.S. Department of Education's database.
Career and Salary Expectations
Students pursuing a degree at a Christian college in Arkansas should understand the career and salary outlooks for professionals in their state. As of May 2017, the annual mean wage for Arkansas employees in all occupations was $40,530. Salaries for most jobs will fluctuate, however, depending on their location: in the Fayetteville area, for instance, the mean annual wage for May 2017 was $45,830 while in the Fort Smith area it was $37,120. As of March 2018, the unemployment rate in the state was 3.8%, slightly less than the overall U.S. unemployment rate of 4.1%.
The BLS projects that, between 2016 and 2026, home health aide jobs will grow 47%, physician assistant jobs will grow 37%, and physical therapist assistant jobs will grow 31%.
Due to a large population of aging Baby Boomers who will require medical and social services, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs in industries like healthcare and social services will increase all across the United States. Jobs in alternative energy, including wind turbine technician and solar panel installer, will also grow. The BLS projects that, between 2016 and 2026, home health aide jobs will grow 47%, physician assistant jobs will grow 37%, and physical therapist assistant jobs will grow 31%.
Students interested in pursuing social service jobs or careers in community organizations should consult the table below for more information.
|Occupation||Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||670||$17.51||$36,430|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||70||$24.88||$51,760|
|Mental Health Counselors||770||$24.98||$51,960|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||1450||$17.14||$35,640|
|Healthcare Social Workers||1310||$20.86||$43,390|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||3550||$13.67||$28,440|
|Directors, Religious Activities and Education||90||$19.16||$39,850|
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Students attending a Christian college in Arkansas can pursue a variety of scholarship opportunities. In addition to national, regional, and local scholarships designed specifically for Christian students, the state of Arkansas also offers a selection of general scholarships for students.
The Ed E. and Gladys Hurley Foundation $1,000
Presbyterian Student Opportunity Scholarship $3,000
WMU Foundation Scholarships Varies
Harvey Fellows Program $16,000
United Church of Christ Leadership Development Scholarships Varies
Scholarships for Arkansas Residents
Academic Challenge Scholarship $1,000-$5,000
Governor's Distinguished Scholarship $10,000
Military Dependents Scholarship Varies
Arkansas Future Grant (ArFuture) Varies
Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund Varies
Find a Church in Your Community
There are several resources for Christian students wanting to find a church in their community. Two websites, Church Finder and USA Churches, offer organized online directories of churches in each state. The websites are free and are not affiliated with any particular Christian denomination.
Christian networking websites help Christian students connect with each other and find professional and academic opportunities. These sites also help students locate job opportunities in Arkansas and other states.
- The Christian Business Network The CBN connects Christian business professionals across the world. The site builds strong global networks, provides useful business services, and increases individuals' potential.
- Christian Legal Society The CLS provides support, advocacy, and networking opportunities for Christian lawyers and law students around the country. The society protects religious liberties and promotes religious justice for all.
- The American Association of Christian Counselors Through training, advocacy, and networking, the AACC helps Christian counselors, clinical professionals, lay church members, and pastors provide faith-based counseling to people in need.
Find Christian Ministries
Not all students can afford to attend a private Christian university. Luckily, Christian students at public universities can still connect with others through campus ministries. Many public universities in Arkansas offer at least one Christian ministry. Listed below are common Christian ministries, as well as a list of public Arkansas schools that feature at least one of these ministries on their campus.
- Campus Crusade for Christ Campus Crusade for Christ, also known as Cru, spreads the word of Christ on college campuses and beyond. Cru operates more than 2,000 campus ministries in the U.S. The ministry offers spiritual guidance and outreach programs.
- Chi Alpha Chi Alpha is a network of Christian ministries connecting Christian students on college campuses. Their five-fold approach includes prayer, worship, fellowship, discipleship, and mission.
- International Fellowship of Evangelical Students The IFES supports Christian students and Christian student movements. The fellowship develops student leadership and evangelism on college campuses across the globe. It also provides international aid and service.
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes Using sports as a way to connect with coaches and students at all levels, the FCA helps athletic Christians build a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ. The organization serves youth, high school, college, and professional athletes.
- Catholic Campus Ministry Association The CCMA connects campus ministers, enhances ministry on college campuses, and promotes community. The association provides care, support, and advocacy services for campus ministers.
- Lutheran Student Movement U.S.A. The Lutheran Student Movement U.S.A. connects Lutheran student leaders across college campuses in the U.S. The group hosts a national gathering each year.
- Reformed University Fellowship The RUF helps students imbue every area of their life with Christian ministry. The fellowship provides ministry services and church to college students around the world.
- UKirk UKirk offers professional support, resources, advocacy, and education to professionals engaged in campus ministry for the Presbyterian church. UKirk also connects Presbyterian ministries and ministers from different campuses.
- Baptist Collegiate Ministry Life The BCM ministries connects Baptist college students across the U.S. The organization shapes students into disciples and faith leaders in their academic communities.
Public Universities in Arkansas with Christian Ministries
- The University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas houses several active campus ministries, including Arkansas Cru, Razorbacks for Christ, Reformed University Fellowship, and Collegiate Discipleship Ministry.
- Arkansas State University: Arkansas State University offers a diverse selection of campus ministries, including Baptist Collegiate Ministries and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Standard Bearers provides a non-traditional approach to ministry. Journey College Ministry serves the greater Jonesboro community.
- University of Central Arkansas: The University of Central Arkansas offers more than 10 campus ministries. Options include Baptist College Ministry, Chi Alpha, Christian Student Fellowship, Pulse Campus Ministry, and Catholic Campus Ministry.