Since being initially chartered in 1907 as the Arkansas State Normal School for teacher training, the University of Central Arkansas has evolved into the state’s fourth largest comprehensive four-year public institution. UCA is headquartered on a main 262-acre suburban campus in the town of Conway within just a half hour’s drive from Little Rock. Each year, UCA enrolls more than 12,300 undergraduates and 1,500 graduates in its six distinct colleges. An increasing number of the University of Central Arkansas’ over 80 academic programs are being offered in online and hybrid formats. According to the U.S. Secretary of Education, UCA provides an “Ivy League education at a bargain basement price.”
Thanks to its long-standing commitment to excellence, UCA has been ranked as the 68th best regional college and 29th top public university in the South by the U.S. News and World Report. In 2010, Newsweek featured the University of Central Arkansas as the 23rd “Most Desirable Large School” in the entire United States. UCA is continually included within the Princeton Review’s Best 380 Colleges. Forbes magazine has also ranked UCA as the 54th best college in the South and 121st top research university nationwide. Following the motto “Front and Center,” the University of Central Arkansas offers the amenities of a large college with a low student-faculty ratio of 17:1 for personalized learning.
University of Central Arkansas Accreditation Details
Recently reaffirmed for 10 years, the University of Central Arkansas was granted accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA). This is the regional accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for serving the Midwest. Furthermore, the College of Education has been given the gold standard of excellence from the Council on Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Approval has been extended from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). The COE follows the Arkansas Department of Higher Education Standards to fulfill certification requirements too.
University of Central Arkansas Application Requirements
Even though UCA has an acceptance rate of 94 percent, incoming applicants are held to strict admissions criteria before enrollment. Graduate students seeking to attend the online school counseling program must already possess an accredited four-year baccalaureate degree from a U.S. institution or foreign equivalent. Having a background in education, counseling, social work, or psychology is preferred. Candidates must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 credits of undergraduate studies. Graduates are required to perform well on the GRE with a minimum score of 142 verbal, 142 quantitative, and 3.5 writing. Applicants for the Add-On Track must also have valid teaching certification with passing Praxis exam scores.
Prior to the posted annual deadline, interested students wishing to enroll at the University of Central Arkansas must submit the following materials to the graduate school:
- Completed online admissions application
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency
- Payment for the $25 non-refundable fee
- Official college transcript forms
- Entrance exam score results via code 6012
- Three letters of professional reference
- Documentation of current teaching licensure
Tuition and Financial Aid
Tuition rates for online courses at the University of Central Arkansas are calculated per credit hour. Graduate students pursuing the online school counseling program can expect to pay $417.35 for each credit. For maintaining full-time enrollment, the cost will be $3,756.15 each semester. Non-resident students living outside of Arkansas must pay an additional $243.04 for each graduate credit. This would add up to $5,943.51 per semester. It’s estimated that the total program costs would be $20,032.80 for Arkansans and $31,698.72 for out-of-state students. Online students will benefit from saving up to $5,998 each academic year in room and board.
For help affording these expenses, 79 percent of matriculated students at UCA receive some form of financial aid. Filing the FAFSA form prior to the April 1st deadline is key. Borrowing money through Federal Perkins, Federal Direct, Grad PLUS, and private/alternative loans is possible, but should be limited to avoid debt. Free gifted money can be available for qualifying students with the Pell Grant, FSEOG Grant, TEACH Grant, or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Students living near campus could fund their tuition through graduate teaching or research assistantships. In-state residents may receive the Arkansas Governor’s Scholarship or Go Grant. The University of Central Arkansas Foundation provides ample scholarships too.
Online Degrees Available
Through UCA Online, busy working adults have the ability to receive the same high-quality education via Blackboard with 24/7 technical support. Online learners can access course assignments anytime of the day and from anywhere with high-speed Internet connection. At this time, students can select from three bachelor’s, 15 master’s, one doctoral, one specialist, and five graduate certificate programs for online completion. Since there’s greater freedom in course scheduling, UCA is able to accommodate learners with full-time careers and family obligations. Within the College of Education, graduate students could pursue the:
Master of Science (M.S.) in School Counseling
Built around the ASCA National Model, the Online Master of Science (M.S.) in School Counseling program at the University of Central Arkansas strives to train competent school counselors with the mental health expertise to become leaders, collaborators, and advocates in K-12 school systems. Graduate students develop the knowledge for designing, implementing, and maintaining effective school counseling initiatives for the optimal academic development of all youth. There are two distinct tracks offered. The Initial Licensure Track is designed for individuals without an Arkansas teaching license, whereas the Add-On Licensure Track is offered to teachers seeking added credentials in school counseling.
This dynamic 48-credit program is offered in a primarily online format with occasional required face-to-face Saturday seminar sessions at the Conway campus. Synchronous class sessions are conveniently scheduled in eight-week sections. Coursework will delve into key 21st century topics on multicultural counseling, career development, developmental guidance, learning assessment, group-based interventions, counseling theory, school organizational leadership, and mild to moderate disabilities. Aspiring school counselors must also complete one semester of field practicum and a two-semester internship in a local district. Upon completion, graduates will have the qualifications to take the Praxis Exam for School Counselors.
Similar online degrees are available for earning an affordable Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Reading, or Master of Science (M.S.) in School Leadership and Administration at a distance from the University of Central Arkansas.