About College of the Ouachitas

College of the Ouachitas (COTO) is a comprehensive, public, two-year institution of higher education in Malvern, Arkansas, that provides accessible, high-value associate degrees and certificates in a quality academic environment that is focused on both student success and the economic development needs of the communities it serves. The College offers more than 50 programs of study in academic, career and technical disciplines to approximately 3,500 credit, non-credit, adult education (three sites—Hot Spring, Clark and Grant Counties) and workforce students,  while serving the culturally and economically diverse populations in the five-county service area of Hot Spring, Saline, Clark, Grant and Dallas Counties.

The College is governed by a state-appointed board of seven community members that includes Rodney Allen, Judge John Cole, Bill Fowler, Jimmie Lea, Rick McClure, Diana Reggans, and Mark Roberts. In 2013, College of the Ouachitas was ranked as a Top Ten Community College in the Nation according to the Aspen Institute of College Excellence. In 2015, the College received the prestigious Governor’s Quality Award at the Commitment Level.

Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, College of the Ouachitas offers some of the region’s best professional and technical programs. Through its divisions of Health Sciences; Applied Science Technology; and Arts and Sciences, the College offers certification in a number of academic, law enforcement, medical, and vocational fields. College of the Ouachitas grants Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Arts degrees in nursing, computer information systems, engineering and manufacturing technology (mechatronics), general technology, criminal justice, general education, accounting, office administration, management, and early childhood education. The College’s general education courses gears students towards a high quality bachelor’s degree…a smart choice for savvy students wanting to stretch scholarship dollars, family funds, and financial aid assistance.

New programs that have been recently added include CDL Training (reinstituted and improved) with the state’s first truck driving simulator, 3D Printing, Industrial Robotics, and CNC Machining and Fabrication.  These programs will be/are housed in the newly purchased and renovated Center for Applied Science Technology (CAST) located at 829 MLK Blvd.  The recently opened CAST Building is a state-of-the-art, 21st Century Workforce Education and Training facility designed to comprehensively meet regional Business and Industry workforce needs.

College of the Ouachitas provides high-quality training for high school students through the Ouachita Career Center. The Center has programs in automotive technology, basic industrial maintenance, criminal justice, cosmetology, medical profession education, pre-engineering and welding.

Ouachita Area Adult Education Center offers basic education for adults, holds GED courses, offers English as a second language classes, sponsors Workforce for Growth in the Economy (WAGE) training, and provides Even Start education. The campus Library sponsors the College’s continuing education program offering exciting noncredit courses in various topics, such as yoga, ballroom dancing, and conversational Spanish. 

The new College of the Ouachitas Center at Sheridan, located at 1409 South Rock (across from Sheridan Walmart), allows the College to better serve the residents of Grant County. The College’s Grant County Adult Education program has also moved to the new location and continues to offer the same exceptional service to the students and the community.

In its third academic year, the Honors College is a program which allows academically advanced students to be recognized for their scholarship, enjoy designated courses and special electives, and engage more actively with the campus and broader communities. The Honors College has made articulation agreements with specific four-year institutions in the state to allow its graduates to transfer honors course credit for application toward Honors Graduation at the baccalaureate level.

The College also provides area high school students a jump start to their college careers through the Dual Enrollment Accelerated Learning (DEAL) Program. COTO partners with the Avilla Christian Academy, Bismarck, Magnet Cove, Malvern, and Poyen school districts. The DEAL Program provides eligible seniors the opportunity to try on the role of a college student by attending classes on the COTO campus during a portion of their school day. Participation in DEAL requires high school recommendation and college-level placement scores. Students enroll in core courses, such as Composition, Psychology, Algebra, History and more, earning credits applicable to COTO academic programs, transferable to other colleges and universities.

Additionally, College of the Ouachitas partners with Benton, Bryant, Glen Rose, Magnet Cove, Poyen and Sheridan high schools to offer concurrent core courses on the high school campuses.  These core credits are applicable to COTO academic programs, are transferable to other colleges and universities, and fulfill high school graduation units.  The College’s Concurrent Enrollment Program (CEP) is accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).

The College also provides enrichment opportunities for area youths with programs including the Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy, the Young Manufacturers Academy, Arkansas Science Olympiad, 3D Print Camp, Women in STEM, and Discovery Day. Other community events include the Annual Fall Festival and Spring Fling. The College hosts the monthly Chamber Breakfast held every third Thursday and the Hot Spring County Leadership Forum.

The College of the Ouachitas Foundation believes that philanthropy is the initiative that occurs when people respond to needs with a desire to affect positive change. The Foundation is a viable organization that develops and stewards relationships and funds that contribute to the quality of life in the community and with the College’s students.  Since Fall 2009, College of the Ouachitas Foundation has provided 245 scholarships to 163 individuals.  If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the College of the Ouachitas Foundation, contact Amber Childers, at 501-332-0234.

*Last updated January 2016