Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Arkansas [2022 Guide]


Updated October 25, 2022

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According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are approximately 44,500 nurses working in the state of Arkansas. Despite that number, however, Arkansas is already experiencing a shortage of nurses. As of 2015, Arkansas was facing a shortage of 24 percent, with that number expected to increase to 34 percent by 2020, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. One of the reasons for this anticipated shortfall is the retirement of many current nurses.

The following page outlines the initial licensure requirements and renewal process for registered nurses and advanced practice nurses specifically in Arkansas. Read on to learn what you'll need to do in order to practice nursing in the state and to explore the different nursing schools in Arkansas that can help you meet your career goals. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Top Nursing Schools in Arkansas


Methodology +


The top nursing programs listed in this state's ranking were determined by comparison of three primary, equally-weighted criteria including

  • Student-to-faculty ration
  • In-state tuition
  • Graduation rate

Additional details for each school were included:

  • Count of programs available
  • Public and not-for-profit schools
  • Normalized on a 100 percent curve

The methodology used for tie-break is as follows...

  • Ties are broken based on lowest average net price for full-time, first-time undergraduates paying in-state tuition (average cost of tuition and expenses after grants and scholarships).
  • If necessary, the lowest in-state tuition rate is used as a second tie-break

2-Year Schools

  1. Arkansas State University

    Jonesboro, AR

  2. Arkansas Tech University

    Russellville, AR

  3. University of Central Arkansas

    Conway, AR

  4. University of Arkansas at Little Rock

    Little Rock, AR

  5. University of Arkansas at Monticello

    Monticello, AR

  6. Southern Arkansas University

    Magnolia, AR

  7. Henderson State University

    Arkadelphia, AR

  8. University of Arkansas

    Fayetteville, AR

  9. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

    Pine Bluff, AR

  10. Harding University

    Searcy, AR

4-Year Schools

  1. University of Arkansas Community Hope - Texarkana

    Texarkana, AR

  2. Phillips Community College

    Helena, AR

  3. Arkansas Northeastern College

    Blytheville, AR

  4. Arkansas State University - Newport

    Newport, AR

  5. North Arkansas College

    Harrison, AR

  6. Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas

    De Queen, AR

  7. Baptist Health Schools-Little Rock

    Little Rock, AR

  8. University of Arkansas Community College - Batesville

    Batesville, AR

  9. Ozarka College

    Melbourne, AR

  10. South Arkansas Community College

    El Dorado, AR

Explore Arkansas Nursing Schools

For those interested in becoming a nurse, there are several different nursing schools in Arkansas, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, to help individuals achieve their goals. The search tool below can help aspiring nurses vet academic options and find the right Arkansas nursing school.

Understanding Nursing Licensure in Arkansas

Arkansas requires all nurses to be licensed before practicing, including registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, licensed practical nurses and psychiatric technician nurses. Just as with other states, Arkansas has its own unique requirements for nurse licensure. According to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing (ASBN), the following are the eligibility requirements for becoming a nurse, renewing a nursing license and/or becoming a licensed APRN.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Graduate from an approved nursing program with a minimum of an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Complete an initial licensure application (usually done online)
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Register and pay for the appropriate National Council Licensure Exam for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN)
  • Successfully pass the NCLEX-RN exam
  • Complete a fingerprint card and INA Search ID for criminal background check
  • Make payment of applicable licensure application fees
  • Possess a valid social security number
  • Possess a physical mailing address and valid e-mail address
  • Obtain verification of completion of an approved nursing program
  • Have an official transcript sent directly from one's nursing school to the ASBN
  • If licensed in another state, nurses can become licensed in Arkansas through the licensure endorsement process

Renewing an RN License in AR

Licenses may be renewed up to 60 days before expiration

Make payment of appropriate renewal and late fees, if applicable

Complete requisite continuing education requirements, which includes: either 15 hours of accredited practice-oriented activities, nationally recognized certification or recertification, or completion of at least one college credit hour in nursing with a C grade or better

Licenses must be renewed every other year

Renewal cannot be done online if:

  • The license has been expired for more than five years
  • The applicant has been a convicted of a crime
  • The primary state of residence is Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, or any “compact” state other than Arkansas

Licensure Requirements for Arkansas APRNs

Even though most nurses in Arkansas are RNs or LPNs, there are many advanced practice nurses who work in specialized areas. These APRNs are subject to additional licensing standards, such as:

  • Hold a current Arkansas RN license or an RN license from a compact state
  • Completion of an accredited advanced nursing practice master's or doctorate level program
  • Verification of nursing certification sent directly to the ASBN
  • Prescriptive authority must be applied for separately, following issuance of APRN license

Additional information concerning licensure for APRNs in Arkansas can be found on the ASBN website.

Nursing by the Numbers in Arkansas

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the registered nursing profession is expected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024. This is more than twice as fast as the national average for all occupations. The following tables illustrate wages for those working in the state of Arkansas.

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Arkansas

AreaHourly Median WageAnnual Median Wage
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway$28.73$59,760
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers AR-MO$26.71$55,550
South Arkansas nonmetropolitan area$26.05$54,170
Fort Smith AR-OK$25.95$53,970
Hot Springs$25.47$52,970
West Arkansas nonmetropolitan area$25.16$52,320
East Arkansas nonmetropolitan area$24.19$50,320
Pine Bluff$24.08$50,100
Central Arkansas nonmetropolitan area$23.72$49,330

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Arkansas vs. National Numbers

Resources & Associations for Arkansas Nurses

American Psychiatric Nurses Association – Arkansas Chapter

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) is the premier professional organization for psychiatric and mental health nurses in the United States. Their Arkansas branch has the goals of promoting the psychiatric and mental health nursing profession within Arkansas, including dissemination of nursing research and facilitating the networking of mental health and psychiatric nurses.

Arkansas Nurse Practitioner Association

The interests of nurse practitioners in Arkansas are promoted and protected by the Arkansas Nurse Practitioner Association (ANPA). The ANPA promotes high standards for nurse practitioners in Arkansas and lobbies on behalf of nurse practitioners at all levels of Arkansas government.

Arkansas Nurses Association

The Arkansas Nurses Association (ARNA) is the sole professional organization in Arkansas that represents all registered nurses. The ARNA helps registered nurses by looking out for and promoting the professional and physical well-being of all nurses who practice in Arkansas.

Arkansas School Nurses Association

The Arkansas School Nurses Association (ASNA) advocates on behalf of those in the nurse education profession. The ASNA aims to ensure quality nursing education is delivered to students, as well as improve the status of nursing education in Arkansas.

Arkansas State Board of Nursing

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing (ASBN) is responsible for setting the standards for all licensed nurses in the state of Arkansas. The ASBN also handles nursing discipline for violations of nursing guidelines and rules.Little Rock Black Nurses Association of Arkansas

The Little Rock Black Nurses Association (LRBNAA) is a non-profit organization with the goal of promoting and helping meet the health care needs of blacks and other minorities in Arkansas. The LRBNAA also works to reduce racial disparities in both health care and the Arkansas nursing profession.

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