Masters Degree Programs in Arkansas- Our Top 3 School Picks

Masters Degree Programs in Arkansas

Overview of Master's Education in Arkansas

With 10 public and three private and/or religious-based institutions offering graduate degrees (as of 2013), as well as several online schools that accept students from Arkansas, students looking to earn master’s degrees in this state should find many options. Based on 2011 U.S. Census data, roughly 7 percent of Arkansas residents between the ages of 25 and 64 have graduate or professional degrees, which is several points lower than the national average (luminafoundation.org, 2013).

Typically, to enroll as a graduate student in Arkansas, students need to have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, as well as successfully completed an admissions process that may involve an essay, practical experience or other requirements. Other admissions criteria include earning a minimum GPA, a 3.0 for example.

Popular Master’s Degrees in Arkansas

Agriculture Master's Degrees in Arkansas

Those looking into master’s degrees may want to consider studying an agriculture-related field. According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (discoverarkansas.net, 2013), the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector is expected to add 756 new jobs during the 2010-2020 period. The  Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metropolitan area has one of the highest employment level and concentration of animal scientists in the country (bls.gov/oes, 2013). Many Arkansas master's programs are available to students who need advanced training. For example, agricultural, food, or animal scientist positions may require graduate work, with many even requiring doctoral degrees. Arkansas masters programs in this field range in topic from agriculture and biological sciences to agricultural, food and life sciences; crop, soil and environmental sciences; and animal sciences.

Nursing Master's Degrees in Arkansas

According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, 2,338 new nursing jobs are expected to be added in Arkansas between 2010 and 2020, the fifth most among all occupations (discoverarkansas.net, 2013). Not all nurses need a graduate education to practice, but those seeking leadership positions may benefit from the advanced training, and nurses wishing to become an advanced practice nurse must earn a master’s. Students can find numerous on-ground and online masters degrees in Arkansas for nursing, from RN-to-MSN programs to nurse anesthesia programs.

Popular Schools in Arkansas for Earning a Master's Degree

In fall of 2011, total graduate student enrollment in all sectors of Arkansas higher education (public and independent colleges and universities) was 20,763 according to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. Schools with the highest full-time graduate enrollment were the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Arkansas State University at Jonesboro and University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

In addition, the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University and the University of Central Arkansas have all received high marks from U.S. News & World Report (usnews.com, 2013).

  • University of Arkansas: This university, with six campuses around the state, is ranked 134th among national universities, 67th among the country’s top public schools, and 14th among the top up-and-coming schools. Luminaries Bill and Hillary Clinton each have been among its graduate school faculty, and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock hosts numerous public lectures, programs and town hall-type meetings year-round.
  • Arkansas State University: The 10-campus Arkansas State University System is ranked 56th among regional universities and the 24th best public school in the country. Its online master's degree programs also perform well, with the nation’s 11th best online graduate business program and 20th best online graduate education program.
  • University of Central Arkansas: This Conway, Arkansas school ranks 60th among regional universities, 26th among the top public schools, and its various health care graduate programs draw attention, too, ranking 44th for physical therapy and 83rd for occupational therapy.

Note: Most current rankings as of August 2013

Employment Outlook in Arkansas

The unemployment rate in Arkansas, as of June 2013, was 7.3 percent, which was slightly lower than the national rate of 7.6 percent (bls.gov/eag). Potential jobs for graduates of Arkansas masters degree programs in agriculture include animal scientist, which is expected to see 7 percent job growth between 2010 and 2020 (discoverarkansas.net, 2013). These Arkansas professionals earned a mean annual wage of $59,770 in May 2012 (bls.gov/oes, 2013).

Meanwhile, graduates of master’s programs in nursing could go on to become advanced practice nurses or nurse administrators. In Arkansas, registered nurses earned $55,360 in May 2012, and jobs are projected to grow by nearly 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, higher than the state average (bls.gov/oes, 2013; discoverarkansas.net, 2013).


Sources:
Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, "A Lifetime of Learning: Arkansas Colleges and Universities," by Leigh Ann Golden, 2013, http://www.arkansas.com/relocate/education/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Animal Scientists, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191011.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Agricultural and Food Scientists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/agricultural-and-food-scientists.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economy at a Glance, Arkansas, Aug. 19, 2013 http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.ar.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2012 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Arkansas, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ar.htm#19-0000
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Registered Nurses, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
Arkansas Department of Higher Education, "Comprehensive Arkansas Higher Education Annual Report," Dec. 2012, http://www.adhe.edu/institutions/Pages/2012AnnualComprehensiveReport.aspx
Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Long-Term Projections, Accessed Aug. 20, 2013 http://www.discoverarkansas.net/cgi/dataanalysis/?PAGEID=94
Graduate School at Arkansas State University, Accessed Aug. 20, 2013, http://www.astate.edu/college/graduate-school/
Lumina Foundation, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Arkansas, 2013 http://www.luminafoundation.org/stronger_nation/report/#arkansas
The Graduate School at University of Arkansas, Accessed Aug. 20, 2013, http://grad.uark.edu/
University of Central Arkansas, Quick Facts, Accessed Aug. 20, 2013, http://uca.edu/president/quick-facts/
U.S. News & World Report, Education, Arkansas State University, Accessed Aug. 20, 2013, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/arkansas-state-university-1090
U.S. News & World Report, University of Arkansas, Accessed Aug. 20, 2013, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-arkansas-1108
U.S. News & World Report, University of Central Arkansas, Accessed Aug. 20, 2013, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-central-arkansas-1092

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