Business Schools in Arkansas


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Syracuse University’s online MBA through the Whitman School of Management is designed to give students the analytical and decision-making skills they need to advance their careers in today’s business environment

[email protected], the online MBA from American University is designed for domestic and global business professionals who want to start or advance their career.

You’ll find over 45 schools in Arkansas with business programs. Programs offer a wide array of majors, specializations and degree types, including MBA programs available entirely online.

Marketing Degree Programs in Arkansas

State of Arkansas’s Marketing Industry

Arkansas’s mix of agriculture, manufacturing and healthcare shielded its economy (somewhat) from the great recession. Its recovery began in 2009 and, after a loss of momentum in 2011, is on track to continue. A robust energy sector is prompting a fair amount of optimism.

You may have heard of some of the four Fortune 500 companies that make Arkansas their home: Wal-Mart Stores, Tyson Foods, Murphy Oil and Dillard’s. Even in the uncertain economy, Wal-Mart alone harvested $446,950 million in revenue in 2011, according to Morning Star.

Arkansas’s marketing industry rises and falls with the success of big companies like these. Only two of its firms made Inc.’s Top 5000 list of America’s fastest growing private companies in the advertising and marketing sector in 2012: Mitchell Communications Group and CognitiveData (owned by Merkle).

Job Prospects for Arkansas Marketing Graduates

Expect to find a fair degree of competition for marketing jobs in the land of opportunity. Arkansas’s Department of Workforce Services is forecasting only mediocre job growth for market research analysts, marketing managers and PR specialists from 2008-2018.

Median annual incomes are also lower than national figures. This isn’t surprising when you take into account Arkansas’s fairly reasonable cost of living, but it may affect your decision-making process.

While scouting for job openings with Arkansas’s Fortune 500 giants, recent graduates might also want to check out thriving digital agencies, such as Rockfish Interactive. In 2012, Inc. named it the country’s No. 4 job creator in the advertising and marketing industry.

Arkansas Schools for Marketing

There are eleven accredited marketing schools in Arkansas clustered near or north of Little Rock. Here are two for comparison:

1. University of Arkansas (UA) (

UA offers a huge range of degree options, including a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a marketing or retail major, a Bachelor of Science in international business with a marketing major, an MBA with a retail marketing track and a doctorate in business administration with a marketing concentration.

Ranked #51 in “Best Business Schools” by U.S. News & World Report in 2013, the Sam M. Walton College of Business has established an executive-in-residence program as well as the Center for Retailing Excellence.

2. Arkansas State University (ASU) (

ASU offers a Bachelor of Science with a major or minor in marketing, and an MBA (on-campus or online).

ASU’s College of Business doesn’t appear on the U.S. News & World Report rankings, but it is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In 2009, the university dedicated the Delta Center for Economic Development, built to house its business graduate programs.

Professional Marketing Organizations in Arkansas

Professional marketers in Arkansas can take their pick of a number of advertising and marketing associations around the state. Many sponsor regular social and networking events.

Business Degree Programs in Arkansas

Home to some of the most successful businesses in nation, many of Arkansas’ CEOs, CFOs, marketing managers, HR managers, and other businesses professionals got their start with a formal education from one of the state’s top business schools. The executive level leadership of Walmart, who have made the enterprise the leading company on Fortune 500’s list of top businesses in the nation for many consecutive years, is the most commonly cited example of strong business leadership in Arkansas. However the state is home to many other companies with qualified business school graduates at the helm.

While the Walton family is Arkansas’ – if not the nation’s – best example of hereditary business prowess, having a grounded education with an MBA will ensure you have the necessary skills to be a competitive business leader based on your own merits.

Major multinationals aren’t Arkansas’s only source of bragging rights. Small businesses in Arkansas employ roughly half of the state’s entire private-sector workforce – around 480,000 according to the federal Small Business Administration (SBA).

Businesses with less than 100 employees make up 35 percent of these small businesses. As a qualified associate with a bachelor’s in business administration (BBA) or MBA, you will play an important role in ensuring the state’s new businesses succeed.

The Tangible Effects of Educated Business Leaders in Arkansas

Strong leadership is just as important for large businesses as for small ones. Arkansas’s business school graduates are at the helm of some of the nation’s leading companies as ranked by Fortune 500 in 2015:

  • Walmart – Headquartered in Bentonville, $163.63 billion in profits, $265.34 billion valuation
  • Tyson Foods – Headquartered in Springdale, $864 million in profits, $15.57 billion valuation
  • Murphy USA – Headquartered in El Dorado, $244 million in profits, $3.30 billion valuation
  • Murphy Oil – Headquartered in El Dorado, $906 million in profits, $8.29 billion valuation
  • Dillard’s – Headquartered in Little Rock, $332 million in profits, $5.62 billion valuation
  • JB Hunt Transport Services – Headquartered in Lowell, $375 million in profits, $9.95 billion valuation

Arkansas’s future business leaders can use the following information from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, organized by sector, to plan and develop their professional careers (2013):

  • Manufacturing – $16.4 billion GSP generated, 157,444 employees in this sector, $8.50 billion in payroll
  • Real estate – $10.87 billion GSP generated, 45,584 employees in this sector, $355 million in payroll
  • Management of companies and enterprises – $4.44 billion GSP generated, 32,575 employees in this sector, $3.84 billion in payroll
  • Health care and social assistance – $8.94 billion GSP generated, 179,641 employees in this sector, $7.59 billion in payroll
  • Government – $15.15 billion GSP generated, 235,336 employees in this sector, $12.36 billion in payroll
  • Information – $7.80 billion GSP generated, 18,276 employees in this sector, $1.01 billion in payroll
  • Transportation and warehousing – $4.96 billion GSP generated, 66,731 employees in this sector, $3.09 billion in payroll

Arkansas State University – Jonesboro

U.S. News & World Report ranks Arkansas State University’s online MBA program among the top in terms of admissions selectivity, as well as in student services and technology, and in student engagement and accreditation. The program is even ranked first in faculty credentials and training. This program is designed for working professionals; 100 percent of its students are employed when they start the program, and you can work with faculty to customize your program to fit around your work schedule. All programs are built around an approach that is global and technology-driven. The Arkansas State University’s College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Southern Arkansas University

Southern Arkansas University (SAU) offers its MBA program in several formats: a part-time night program to accommodate students with full-time jobs, an online program and a combination of both online and on-campus classes. Each option is accredited by the AACSB. The 30-hour program is broken into 24 hours of core classes in subjects such as accounting, economics, organizational theory and strategic management, as well as six hours of electives.

John Brown University

John Brown University is a private university offering working professionals an online MBA program; 93 percent of students are employed when they enroll. This online program offers the same courses as the on-campus degree and the school is known for using cutting-edge interactive technologies to ensure a hands-on experience at any distance. The university’s MBA program offers several areas of concentration including leadership and ethics, as well as international business. For Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club associates, a Global Continuous Improvement concentration is also offered. While almost exclusively online, the MBA program requires time spent in residency which can be fulfilled through professional academic seminars, in a traditional classroom or via an international studies trip.

Harding University

Harding University’s online MBA program touts two advantages: first is the flexibility of learning from home while continuing to work; second is the opportunity to network with students in many industries from around the world. Harding works to make online learning interactive, not just between students and faculty, but also between students, whether they are in Arkansas or Asia. The online degree program requires the same courses and the same texts as the on-campus degree program. The time commitment is considerable: you must be able to log in to classes five out of seven days each week in two six-week blocks each semester.

University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas is home to the Walton College Graduate School of Business. The Walton MBA is not yet offered online; however, the program is highly rated and, because it is offered at a state institution, it is a relative bargain. The rigorous program includes 38 semester hours, which can be completed by attending classes just one Saturday per month for two years, as well as an optional short-term study abroad program. The program focuses on consumer packaged goods and retailing. Among the many accolades it has earned are high ranks from U.S. News & World Report and Businessweek.