Various 2- and 4-year colleges and universities in Arkansas offer nursing training. Practical nursing programs are typically offered through undergraduate certificate programs. Registered nurse training programs are commonly available at the associate and bachelor's degree levels. Master's degree and graduate certificate programs provide advanced practice nurse training, preparing students for roles such as nurse practitioner, nurse manager or nurse educator.
Some degree programs are designed for existing licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants or registered nurses; other programs are available in an accelerated format to existing nursing professionals. Depending on the school and program, courses may be available in an online format.
Nurses who wish to practice in Arkansas must first graduate from an educational program approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. They must then earn a license by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). All undergraduate programs mentioned prepare students for the NCLEX. The 10 largest schools in the state offering nursing programs are listed below.
Arkansas State University - Beebe
Arkansas State University in Beebe is a 2-year school offering an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing through the College of Nursing and Health Professions. Individuals may enroll as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), but students are trained to become Registered Nurses (RNs). All associate's degree students are required to complete courses in mental health, medical/surgical and maternal/child nursing, in addition to general education classes. A bachelor's degree in nursing may also be pursued for current RNs.
Arkansas State University - Main Campus
The main campus of Arkansas State University is located in Jonesboro. Founded in 1909, this school caters to nearly 14,000 students. The College of Nursing & Health Professions offers undergraduate degrees, as well as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The Associate in Applied Science in Nursing program takes 4 semesters to complete and trains students to work on a team in a variety of different settings. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program has many different tracks, depending on the background of the applicant. Individuals with no prior education or experience may enroll in the traditional track, while current LPNs or RNs may work toward their BSN in an accelerated path. There's also a second degree option for those who have earned a bachelor's degree in another discipline.
The MSN program is for nurses who wish to pursue advanced study or who intend to continue on to earn a doctoral degree. Students may major in family nurse practitioner or in adult health nursing, which includes concentrations in clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator or nurse administration. Post-master's certificates are also available in these emphases.
Arkansas Tech University
Located in Russelville, Arkansas Tech University boasts individualized education and has one of the highest graduation rates in the state. The Department of Nursing has a BSN program that takes 8 semesters of liberal arts, prerequisite and upper-division nursing courses to complete. There's also a MSN in Nursing Administration and Emergency Management program available, which prepares students for careers in leadership or emergency management. Many courses are available in an online format.
Based in Searcy, Harding University is a Christian school dedicated to integrating education and a commitment to the Bible. The Carr College of Nursing was founded in 1975 and offers a 4-year BSN program. Current RNs or LPNs may enroll in an accelerated track to earn their degree. Students may participate in health care mission trips to places such as Guatemala, Haiti, and Africa to bring health care to impoverished nations.
NorthWest Arkansas Community College
NorthWest Arkansas Community College is a 2-year school in Bentonville that boasts a high pass rate on the NCLEX-RN examination. The Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program includes coursework such as nursing care of adults, psychiatric/mental health nursing, nursing care of childbearing families and family-centered pediatric nursing. Individuals who are currently working in the health care field may take a 'Bridge to RN' course and receive credit for their prior coursework.
Pulaski Technical College
Located in North Little Rock, Pulaski Technical College was originally founded as a vocational school in 1945. Students may work towards a Certificate in Practical Nursing in 11 months. There's also a non-traditional track available, in which students may earn the certificate in 22 months. The coursework includes a NCLEX-PN review course.
University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas is located in Fayetteville, and it's Eleanor Mann School of Nursing provides students with undergraduate and graduate programs in nursing. The BSN program trains students to work in a variety of different settings, such as hospitals and schools. Nursing coursework includes pharmacology, mental health and illness, health assessment and life span development. Current RNs may enroll in an accelerated BSN program that's available entirely online.
The 4-semester MSN program is also available online and requires a concentration in nurse educator. Part-time students are given 6 years in which to complete their degree. The online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is meant for those individuals who wish to focus on clinical research. Students with either a BSN or MSN may enter this degree program.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
This Little Rock school joined the University of Arkansas system in 1969. The Associate of Science in Nursing program typically takes 4 semesters to complete. Current LPNs or qualified paramedics may enter the accelerated track. The BSN program is intended only for current RNs to work towards their degree. The curriculum is comprised of both on-campus and online classes.
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The Fort Smith campus of the University of Arkansas offers undergraduate nursing programs through its College of Health Sciences. Individuals who are interested in becoming LPNs may earn a technical certificate that prepares them for the NCLEX-PN licensure examination. There's also a BSN program available that teaches students the communication, leadership, and management skills needed to work as RNs. Current RNs may complete their BSN online.
University of Central Arkansas
The University of Central Arkansas, located in Conway, enrolls more than 11,000 students each year. The university's Department of Nursing programs are approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The traditional bachelor's degree program is designed for students who have not yet become RNs; however, specialty tracks are available for licensed RNs and LPNs who want to earn their bachelor's degrees. Students enrolled in the BSN program take classes in health assessment, maternity nursing, caring for children/families and pharmacology.
The MSN program is meant for students who are RNs and who already hold a bachelor's degree. Specializations include primary care adult/gerontology nurse practitioner, primary care family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and clinical nurse leader. A potential Doctor of Nursing Practice program is pending the approval of the Higher Learning Commission.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Nursing Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Arkansas State University - Beebe||2-year, public; fringe town|| Associate in Applied Science in Nursing,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
|Arkansas State University - Main Campus||4-year, public; small city|| Associate of Applied Science in Nursing,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing
|Arkansas Tech University||4-year, public; remote town|| Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing in Nursing Administration and Emergency Management
|Harding University||4-year, private not-for-profit; distant town||Bachelor of Science in Nursing||$19,845*|
|NorthWest Arkansas Community College||2-year, public; small city||Associate of Applied Science in Nursing||$3,238 in-district*
|Pulaski Technical College||2-year, public; small city||Certificate in Practical Nursing||$5,252 in-state*
|University of Arkansas||4-year, public; small city|| Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
|University of Arkansas at Little Rock||4-year, public; midsize city|| Associate of Science in Nursing,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
|University of Arkansas - Fort Smith||4-year, public; small city|| Technical Certificate in Practical Nursing,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
|University of Central Arkansas||4-year, public; distant town|| Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing
Source: *NCES College Navigator