Harding University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Harding University
Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, is a private university founded on Christian principles and...

Harding University

Searcy, Arkansas

Harding University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university located in Searcy, Arkansas. Committed to the pursuit of academic excellence and the establishment of strong spiritual foundations, the University attracts students representing all 50 states and 54 nations and territories.


Harding offers 10 undergraduate degrees in more than 100 majors and 14 pre-professional programs. Master’s degree programs are offered in business, clinical mental health counseling, education, marriage and family therapy, ministry, nursing, school counseling, speech-language pathology, and physical assistant studies. Doctoral programs are offered in Bible, education, pharmacy, and physical therapy.


Educated with a global perspective, nearly half of all students take advantage of an international experience through the Global Missions Experience; spring break missions; or study abroad programs in Australasia, Chile, England, France, Greece, Italy, and Zambia.

Student Profile

Fall 2016 Enrollment
4,411 undergraduate students
94% of undergrad students are full time
44% male — 56% female
71% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2016-2017 Academic Year
332 full-time faculty
157 part-time faculty
15 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2016
98% of first year students live on campus
71% of all students live on campus

School Location

Harding is located in Searcy, Arkansas, offering students a hometown feeling with easy access to major cities. The University is approximately one hour away from both Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, and two hours away from Memphis, Tennessee. Located in The Natural State, University students have many nearby options for recreation, such as the Little Red River, Pinnacle Mountain, and the Petit Jean State Parks for fishing, camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Arkansas is home to 52 state parks.

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices

First-Year Seminars and Experiences X
Common Intellectual Experiences X
Learning Communities  
Writing-Intensive Courses  
Collaborative Assignments and Projects X
Undergraduate Research X
Diversity/Global Learning X
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning  
Internships/Coops/Practicums X
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience X


82% of students began in Fall 2015 and returned in Fall 2016 (full time, first time freshmen)


65% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 6%
Hispanic/Latino 3%
Black or African American 4%
White 82%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1%
Asian 1%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 2%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 0%


Harding University is a member of the NCAA Division II Great American Conference. Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, tennis and track. Women’s sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross-country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track, and volleyball.

The 2016-17 athletic season was one for the record books, with Harding athletes claiming eight conference championships in football, men’s soccer, men’s track and field, women’s cross-country, women’s soccer, softball, women’s track and field, and volleyball. Additionally, the University’s football team advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinals, and women’s basketball ended their season in the Final Four.

Other Information

Harding is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The University also maintains specialized accreditation for its programs and has more than 50 degrees/majors offered by colleges, departments, and programs with specialized accreditation. These programs all benefit from the rigorous program review requirements in the accreditation process, the standards of which are based on national standardized outcomes.

Academic Programs

Accounting, Advertising, American Studies, Art, Athletic Training, Bible and Family Ministry, Bible and Ministry, Bible and Missions, Bible and Preaching, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Birth-Kindergarten Early Childhood/Special Education, Broadcast Journalism, Chemistry, Child Development, Child Life, Cognitive Neuroscience, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Communication Studies, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Drama/Speech, Economics, Electrical Engineering, Electronic Media Production, Elementary Education, English, Exercise Science, Family and Consumer Sciences, Family Life Education, Fashion Merchandising, Finance, French, General Studies, Graphic Design, Health Sciences, History, Humanities, Information Systems, Interdisciplinary Studies, Interior Design, International Business, International Studies, Journalism, Kinesiology, Leadership and Management, Leadership and Marketing, Management, Marketing, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Laboratory Science, Middle-Level Education, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Music Education, Music, Nursing, Nutrition and Dietetics, Painting, Physical Science, Physics, Piano Performance, Political Science, Preprofessional Health Science, Professional Sales, Psychology, Public Administration, Public Relations, Social Science, Social Work, Software Development, Spanish, Special Education, Sport and Recreation Management, Theatre, Three-Dimensional Design, Vocal Performance Full list of undergraduate majors and minors, preprofessional degrees, master’s and doctoral degrees can be found at harding.edu/catalog.

More Distinctions

  • University Research & Review LLC: “Best Value School”

  • U.S. News and World Report: “Best Value School in the South”

  • Princeton Review: “Best Southeastern University”

  • President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

  • Top 1/3 of schools recruiting National Merit Scholars

Daily Chapel

For 30 minutes every weekday, the entire student body assembles for chapel—a time-honored tradition of worship, community building, and affirmation of Harding’s identity as a Christian university. Led by the University president, this shared experience facilitates and strengthens the relationships within the Harding community. Times of joy, sadness, stress, and success are all felt and supported by the University’s collective community.

Collaborative Projects

Teamwork and interdisciplinary studies are essential tools for students’ leadership and success. Throughout its various colleges and departments, Harding offers multiple opportunities for students of differing majors to engage in collaborative projects. “A Night at the Round Tables” simulates real-world collaboration for healthcare professionals by bringing together six academic departments and students for a case study. A branding exhibition groups together marketing, interior design, and graphic design students for an annual project. A seminar class in New York City and Washington D.C. offers experiential learning for mass communications, English, business, and theatre students. These projects—and many others—help connect students of various disciplines in order to achieve a well-rounded academic experience.

Undergraduate Research

Because Harding is a teaching institution, professors frequently pursue research efforts that are specifically designed to engage their students. In the College of Sciences, students can conduct a variety of annual research projects with scholarship funding from NASA. Whether they control a robotic arm using an Android phone, develop 3-D hybrid rocket fuel grains, or build robotic devices to maintain healthy plants during space missions, these students are putting their knowledge to work.

Study Abroad

Harding maintains semester-long international programs in seven different locations: Australasia, England, Italy, Greece, Latin America, France, and Zambia. Additionally, students can enroll in department-specific, short-term programs such as Art and Design International or Mostly Music.

Harding University in Australasia features an extensive stay in Queenstown, New Zealand, and includes tours of Australia, one or more trips to Asian countries like Cambodia and Thailand, and a potential visit to India.

Harding University in England, now offered in the fall and spring, begins with a week-long trip to Iceland. Students live in central London, experiencing Hyde Park, the National Gallery, Theatre District, and British Museum. Field trips to other important and historical sites include Bath, Cambridge, Dublin, Edinburgh, the Lake District, Paris, Stratford-on-the-Avon, and Stonehenge.

Harding University in Italy brings students to an authentic 16th-century villa on the outskirts of Florence in order to experience some of the world’s most impressive art and architecture. They bargain in outdoor markets; learn to speak Italian; and visit Cinque Terre, Rome, and Southern Italy on group trips.

Harding University in Greece hosts students in an apartment-style resort located in Porto Rafti, considered the most beautiful harbor in Greece. Group tours often include trips to Athens, Cornith, Delphi, Sounion, Olympus, Israel, Cyprus, and Rome. Emphasis is given to sites of biblical interest.  

Harding University in Latin America students live and study in apartments in Vina del Mar, Chile, a seaside resort city located 70 miles northwest of Santiago. Several extensive excursions include Santiago, Easter Island, the Lake District of Chile, Torres del Paine, the Atacama Desert region, the Amazon rainforest, and the ancient Inca civilization of Machu Picchu, Peru.

Harding University in Paris is located in La Ville-Lumiere, where students experience the day-to-day life of French people, culture, and language. Additional trips have included a tour of Spain featuring Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, and the Canary Islands.

Harding University in Zambia allows students to complete a health missions or medical missions minor in one semester. Students live in a compound that holds the George S. Benson Teachers College as well as an elementary and high school, medical clinic, orphanage, and a “haven” for infants and toddlers who have lost their mothers to AIDS. Classes include Tonga language lessons, African history and African literature, and group trips include safari tours in East Africa as well as Victoria Falls, Lake Victoria, and Kenya.

Activities Offered

Campus Ministries X
Choral groups X
Concert band X
Drama/theater X
International Student Organization X
Jazz band X
Literary magazine X
Marching band X
Model UN  
Music ensembles X
Musical theater X
Pep band X
Radio station X
Student government X
Student newspaper X
Student-run film society X
Symphony orchestra X
Television station X
Yearbook X

First Year Experience

Making key connections in the first year of college is critical to student success, so Harding’s First Year Experience engages new students during the summer and first-week orientations. The required summer orientation program, Summer Stampede, is offered in June, July, and August for students to connect and to begin their academic advising and scheduling.

Student Impact, the orientation prior to the first week of school, is planned and conducted by upperclassmen to encourage new friendships through move-in assistance, service activities, question and answer sessions, and themed dinners.

HU Square 1

HU Square 1 provides student mentoring, learning enhancement seminars, and several other events and programs throughout the year in an effort to connect students to the necessary people, programs, and the essential resources for a successful collegiate career.

In addition to Harding’s orientation programs, HU Square 1 organizes freshman and transfer retreats that help students adjust in the fall as well as a “preunion” to celebrate the completion of their first year in the spring. An organization fair in the first month of classes helps plug students into more than 100 academic, professional, and social organizations on campus.

As a more personal aspect of first year experience, freshmen are matched with student mentors in their first semester. Students are sorted into groups by their Bible class during orientation and led by peer guides, upperclassman mentors who enroll in freshman-level Bible classes in the fall. These mentors support students as they navigate their first semester.

Writing-Intensive Courses

Skills in reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking are universally regarded as characteristics of well-educated individuals and fundamental to every academic endeavor. For this reason, the University requires classes that emphasize writing and speech in its liberal arts requirements. All students take Introduction to University Writing and Research, Critical Reading, Thinking and Writing, and Communication Principles. Writing is integrated into many courses across the University, the intensity of which vary across fields of study.

New Majors

Several new University programs have become available as of fall 2017.

Medical humanities is a growing interdisciplinary field that brings the perspectives of social sciences, humanities, and the arts to the study and practice of medicine. Studying medical humanities connects students with the personal side of medicine, providing a more expansive view of career opportunities by combining what students may love in humanities with how they want to serve in health sciences. With a medical humanities major, students can pursue careers in public health, public policy, law, medical missions, and more. This is an appropriate major for those preparing for medical school, occupational therapy school, physician assistant school, or other areas in the health sciences.

The department of theatre recently added three new majors and revised its two current majors. Bachelor’s degrees in acting, design and production, and theatre education for grades 7-12 have been added alongside the enhanced theatre and education K-12 majors. Design and production includes four concentrations including set design, costume design, production, and light and sound.  

Other new majors include visual art studio and civil engineering.

Waldron Center for Entrepreneurship and Family Business

This center in the Paul R. Carter College of Business Administration focuses on entrepreneurial academics and competitions as well as business development. The center complements the college’s entrepreneurship classes by empowering innovators and facilitating student participation in such competitions as the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup (DWRGC).

Three teams comprised of business and engineering majors participated in the 2017 DWRGC, all advancing to the semi-finals. One team, after creating a biometric vest, participated in the competition’s final presentations and won the Innovation Award as well as a $5,000 cash prize.

Common Core

Arts/fine arts X
Computer literacy  
English (including composition) X
Foreign languages X
History X
Humanities X
Mathematics X
Sciences (biological or physical) X
Social science X


Other: Bible

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 184 307 208 121 103 57 0 980

On-Campus Living

From its beginnings, Harding has been a residential campus with the majority of undergraduate students living in University housing. Campus housing includes six men’s and eight women’s residence halls as well as five student apartment complexes. Because of the number of residential students, there is never a shortage of convenient, inexpensive options for relaxation and entertainment.

Every year, well-known musicians, singers, bands, speakers, authors, and comedians are brought to campus. In recent years, artists like Jesse McCartney, Tori Kelly, Mat Kearney, Lady Antebellum, The Avett Brothers, Pentatonix, and Sara Bareilles have performed for Harding students in the Benson Auditorium.

World-Class Recreation Facilities

The extensively renovated Ganus Activities Complex opened to students in fall 2016 and has since furthered the University’s initiatives dedicated to the availability of wellness and recreation opportunities to students. The complex includes the Jim Citty Football and Athletic Training Center, kinesiology and exercise and sports sciences classrooms, and the new Suzanne and Rodney Waller Recreation Center.

The Waller Recreation Center includes a two-story weight room with state-of-the-art Matrix plate-loaded weight machines and Troy-brand Olympic free weights. There is also a wide selection of cardio equipment, including ellipticals, treadmills, and stair machines with built-in TVs and virtual trainers. These machines line along the full-glass front of the building, allowing students views of the campus during their exercise.

Other features of the facility remodel include refurbished racquetball courts, a suspended indoor track, a cycling room, a billiards room, pingpong tables, and new floors and basketball goals. New partitioning curtains can separate multiple basketball and volleyball courts so that multiple student groups can utilize the space simultaneously. With these updates, classes like indoor cycling, Zumba, and yoga have been added. Whether in class or on their personal time, the recreation center facilitates all students who seek an active lifestyle.

Student Life

Relationships are key to a fulfilling college experience, and Harding offers students every opportunity to cultivate friendships and interests with more than 100 academic and professional organizations as well as 29 social clubs. Supporting the arts, music, politics, business, diversity, children, missions, service, the environment, Harding’s clubs provide a place for all pursuits and passions.

A large percentage of the student body chooses to join a social club, Harding’s version of fraternities and sororities. Social clubs have been a significant part of the Harding experience for decades, with some—such as Ju Go Ju—dating back more than 80 years. These groups provide students with opportunities to enjoy a significant number of activities, all while building lifelong friendships.

A Community of Service

Every spring, students, faculty, and staff look beyond campus and devote themselves to helping residents of Searcy and Central Arkansas through a day of service known as Bisons for Christ. Thousands participate in hundreds of service projects such as serving widows in their homes, visiting retirement communities and children’s homes, assisting in cleanup at local camps, working with after-school programs, or hosting sport clinics. Students experience the joy that comes from serving others, and relationships within the community are forged and strengthened.

Campus Housing Options for Undergraduates

Coed dorms  
Men’s dorms X
Women’s dorms X
Apartments for married students X
Apartments for single students X
Special housing for disabled students X
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing  
Wellness housing  
Other housing options  

Service Learning

As a community of mission, Harding aims to equip every student to serve and reflect Christ in any chosen field. For this reason, service components within classwork are not uncommon.

Nursing students conduct free wellness clinics for children and adults in two different required classes. In a similar manner, the communication sciences and disorders program operates a speech clinic in which students serve the community as they learn the discipline.

Students in the College of Business Administration or the department of communication often partner with local businesses to complete class projects. The capstone class for management information systems requires teams to develop and build a system to assist a business or organization in their responsibilities. Public relations students as a class have coordinated campaigns for local events, new businesses, and ballot measures.

These service components are not mandated by the University but rather are initiated by a campus culture that emphasizes servant leadership and learning both inside and outside the classroom.

Career Services

All students have access to the resources housed in the University’s Career Services including career planning and advising, career based presentations and events, and comprehensive information on employment and internship opportunities. In addition to honing students’ skills like resume and cover letter writing, the center facilitates popular on-campus graduate fairs or job fair events like “C-Harmony,” a speed-dating format to connect churches to potential interns and ministers.

Internships and Practicums

Internships and practicums can introduce students to real-world environments and connect classroom knowledge to professional techniques and opportunities. Many programs require an internship, practicum, or both be completed for course credit. Several examples of practicum classes are those that contribute to the University’s award-winning student media. The campus radio station, TV station, newspaper, and yearbook are all in part facilitated by practicum classes each semester.

Capstone and Senior Experiences

In every college and department, seniors are required to demonstrate their skills as part of a capstone course. The requirements of the capstone vary depending on the student’s field of study, but many include aspects like a research paper, practical application or project, and public presentation.



2,184 Total Applicants
1,663 Total Admissions
1,021 Total Freshman Enrollment

76.14% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2017-18 Admission

Rolling admission? Yes

Priority date: Apr 15

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Standardized test scores
Interview Character/personal qualities

Class rank
Academic GPA

Application Essay
Extracurricular activities
First generation
Alumni/ae relation
Geographical residence
State residency
Volunteer work
Work experience
Level of applicant’s interest

Freshmen Profile Fall 2016

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 500 610
SAT Math 480 610
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 22 28
ACT Math 20 27
ACT English 22 30
ACT Writing    

Application Information

Students wishing to apply to Harding must have a 19 ACT or 900 SAT and 3.0 high school GPA (on a 4.0 scale). In addition, high school graduates should have completed at least 15 units in academic subjects. Specifically, an applicant should have completed four units of English, three units of mathematics (taken from general math, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, precalculus or calculus), three units of social studies (taken from civics, American history, world history or geography), and two units of natural science (taken from physical science, biology, physics or chemistry). Students planning to major in any area of health care are strongly encouraged to take one or more chemistry courses while in high school. Although not required for admission, two years of foreign language is recommended. The additional units may come from any academic area.


Net Price Calculator



Tuition $17,940
Fees $695
Total $18,635
Room and Board (on campus) $6,756
Estimated Total On Campus $25,391


Average Financial Aid Packages 2016-17 Final

$16,994 First year students
$7,147 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2016-17 Final

78% on average, the percentage of need that was met
37% of financial need students that had need fully met

$7,147 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$8,010 Average need-based loan

Financial Aid Information

More than 90 percent of the student body at Harding University receive financial aid. Approximately $60 million is awarded by federal, state, and private sources. Academic scholarships at Harding include National Merit Scholarships and Trustee Scholarships that cover the full amount of tuition, the academic achievement scholarships that covers up to about half of tuition, and transfer student scholarships. Harding also offers need-based grants and tuition discounts to Christian college employees, Christian ministers and missionaries, orphans, and others. Harding also offers special scholarships such as the Scouting Scholarship, awarded to full-time students who have earned the rank Gold Award (Girl Scouts of the USA), the Stars and Stripes Award (American Heritage Girls), Eagle (Boy Scouts of America), Silver Award (Venturing), or Quartermaster Award (Sea Scouts).