Arkansas is a state with incredible natural beauty, outdoor opportunities, and a culture that celebrates the freedom and creative spirit of America. The Natural State was built on deep cultural veins that combine the diverse peoples who settled here. As well, the rich indigenous cultures of more than 20 tribes are officially recognized by Arkansas.
To serve the 3 million people who call the state home, Arkansas has a network of public schools. In addition to the public schools, Arkansas boasts some high-quality private and parochial schools with robust academic and athletic programs. We have analyzed the data from Niche’s 2024 school rankings and US News Education’s national assessment. And based on what we found, we’ve assembled the six best public and private high schools in the state.
The Best Arkansas Public High Schools
Bentonville High School – Bentonville, AR
More than 3,000 students are enrolled at Bentonville High School, one of the best public high schools in Arkansas. It stands out as having a high teacher-student ratio, with one teacher for every 12 students. It offers a variety of AP classes and extracurriculars to help students develop their potential and make lifelong friendships.
Its renowned athletic programs give its students opportunities to compete at an exceptional level. The Tigers are always contenders for regional and national championships. They’ve won recognition as the third-best athletics program in the nation, according to MaxPreps. Despite not being as academically rigorous as some other schools on our list, Bentonville stands high in the rankings.
Bentonville High School is ranked #5 by US News & World Report and #7 by Niche among the best public high schools in Arkansas.
Greenbrier High School – Greenbrier, AR
Balancing the demands of robust academics with a strong athletics program, Greenbrier High School serves just under 800 students. This school provides numerous extracurricular opportunities for its students. Even more impressive, nearly two-thirds of its students take AP exams, unusually high numbers for a public school. The Panthers have modern sports facilities and dozens of coaches and supporting staff.
In our assessment, this balance between strong sports teams and a strong academic program makes Greenbrier one of the best high schools in Arkansas.
Greenbrier High School is ranked #7 by US News & World Report and #6 by Niche among the best public high schools in Arkansas.
Haas Hall Academy – Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Rogers, and Fort Smith, AR
As the only 5-for-1 deal on the list, Haas Hall Academy is another Arkansas high school with exceptional academic opportunities. Each of the five campuses shares the goal of developing students’ minds so they can succeed in college and beyond. As a charter school, Haas Academy is selective in its application process but keeps admissions fair. It uses a lottery system to choose from all qualified applicants. While the school doesn’t discriminate on sex, race, religion, or other demographics, it does give preference to its teachers’ children and siblings of current students. Due to the long waiting list, many of those who apply are encouraged to re-apply the next year.
Similar to Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts (ASMSA) below, Haas Academy is slightly lower in the rankings because of its athletics. It does offer athletics programs for interested students, so athletes can still enjoy the sport and camaraderie. However, since most of the accomplishments listed for its teams are around a decade old, the programs here just don’t compare to some other options on our list.
The reason that Haas is nevertheless a worthy contender is that its academic programs are incredibly robust. Students at the Haas Academy can earn significant amounts of college credit and develop social connections that will serve them for decades. In exchange for lower-quality athletics, the students get unique intellectual opportunities that just don’t happen at other high schools.
Haas Hall Academy is ranked #1 by US News & World Report and #2 by Niche among the best public high schools in Arkansas.
Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts – Hot Springs, AR
ASMSA has a national reputation for excellence in academics, punching above its weight to land in the top 25 public high schools in the nation. This school is the ideal starting place for those who want to enter the STEM fields. Kids who couldn’t stop playing with K’Nex or exploring the outdoors will find excellent opportunities here. Its inclusion of the arts gives students an added educational dimension that vocational schools can’t quite match.
Despite its reputation for academic and creative rigor, ASMSA’s athletic programs are not as advanced. While the administration at ASMSA ensures there are athletic opportunities for students, those opportunities are outsourced. ASMSA has partnered with nearby Hot Springs Public High School to allow its students to play as part of the Trojans. Despite the amazing opportunities for academics at ASMSA, outsourcing its sports program lowers its ranking significantly, in our opinion.
One unusual feature that ASMSA offers is that students live on campus and receive a “college-like” experience. Every day begins in the residence halls, includes plenty of opportunities for socializing, and offers schedules tailored to each student. We think that the best thing about ASMSA is the chance to earn up to a year’s college credit free of charge. The rich extracurricular options also prepare students for similar opportunities at college.
Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts is ranked #1 by Niche among the best public high schools in Arkansas.
More Great Arkansas Public High Schools
- Bentonville West High School – Bentonville, AR
- Conway High School – Conway, AR
- Founders Classical Academy – Rogers, AR
The Best Arkansas Private and Parochial High Schools
Subiaco Academy – Subiaco, AR
Catholic schools have a longstanding tradition for excellence in both academics and athletics. While individual schools’ performance varies, Subiaco Academy ranks as the #1 Catholic school in Arkansas. It draws on more than 130 years of educational history and features some beautifully inspiring architecture. Founded in the Benedictine tradition, Subiaco is an all-boys school.
All students are considered on course to go to college, so all the academics at Subiaco aim to prepare students for college. This emphasis results in a 100% acceptance rate, so the question for graduating seniors is never “Will I go to college?” but rather “Where will I go to college?” Subiaco Academy fosters a great spirit of athleticism, balancing mental development with physical. The Trojans are a force to be reckoned with, as the basketball team is currently number one with a perfect 9-0 record as of early December.
Subiaco Academy is ranked #2 by Niche among the best private high schools in Arkansas.
Thaden School – Bentonville, AR
Emphasizing academics, Thaden School consistently prepares students for college. Unlike ASMSA and the Haas Academy, Thaden has a fully formed athletics program. Despite the team name, the Brainstormers aren’t slouches when it comes to performance on the court, track, or field. The school is new (founded in 2021), so it’s still finding its footing when it comes to developing its athletics culture, but with a full roster of sports to choose from and an enthusiastic team of coaches, Thaden is likely to make a big impact in the coming years.
Thaden is so new that US News Education hasn’t ranked it yet, but Niche has given it the title of overall best private school in Arkansas. We’re keeping an eye on this school to see what happens in the coming years, but it has definitely hit the ground running.
Thaden School is ranked #1 by Niche among the best private high schools in Arkansas.
More Great Arkansas Private and Parochial High Schools
- Pulaski Academy – Little Rock, AR
- The Episcopal Collegiate School – Little Rock, AR
- Mount St. Mary Academy – Little Rock, AR
Choosing Between the Best High Schools in Arkansas
The six best high schools in Arkansas offer students the chance to develop their minds and bodies at the same time. While some schools are better in one area than another, they all give ample opportunities for students to grow.
Ranging from the nationally recognized Bentonville sports program to the unique on-campus life at ASMSA, Arkansas has a diversity of exceptional high schools.
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