Data Science Degree Programs in Arkansas
While the push for finding highly qualified data scientists seems to permeate the global job market, Arkansas employers and academic institutions aren’t quite up to speed on the data science demand. As will be discussed in greater detail below, Arkansas is still behind the curve when it comes to employment and education for data scientists. There are opportunities, but they aren’t as pervasive as would be expected given the reported dearth of qualified data scientists throughout every industry.
Employment and Education for Data Scientists in Arkansas
Even though the state of Arkansas has been dubbed “The Land of Opportunity,” this optimistic feeling of the state as a location for favorable circumstances does not extend to the data science field and potential employment in the sector, according to the latest available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Its Occupational Employment Statistics program estimates that 40 data scientists (or computer and information research scientists, as they are officially called by the BLS) were employed in Arkansas during May 2017. That number is tied with Nebraska for the least amount of employed data scientists among the 37 surveyed states.
There is some reason for optimism, however, as the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and its Division of Science and Technology are continuously looking for ways to build the necessary infrastructure to both lure existing innovative companies and develop the entrepreneurial spirit to launch native data-based research centers. The state participates in Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a National Science Foundation endeavor designed to “foster collaborative research efforts among the state’s higher education institutions, promote workforce development, and conduct educational outreach.” Rest assured that efforts are underway to bolster the meager number of data scientists employed in the shadow of the Ozark Mountains.
As is the case with the data scientist occupation as a whole around the country, you can earn a fantastic living in Arkansas if the state is successful in its determination to bring or develop innovative research entities within its boundaries. The annual median wage for computer and information research scientists in the state was estimated at $94,410, or $45.39 per hour, in May 2017 by the BLS. If you look at the 75th and 90th percentiles for annual wages for data scientists, the earnings escalate to $103,540 and $121,700, respectively. These high dollar amounts look even better when compared with the extremely low cost of living associated with Arkansas. According to a 2018 cost of living index developed by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), Arkansas ranked as the 3rd cheapest state in which to reside, trailing only Mississippi and Oklahoma. The low cost of living was due in large part to inexpensive housing and transportation costs; the median home price in Arkansas was just $174,900, second only to West Virginia in the same metric.
So, before we delve into the various data science degree programs available in the state’s college and universities, it would behoove you to know about some of the events, workshops, and conferences through which you can start to build those all-important networking relationships. For instance, in the northwest corner of the state near the Oklahoma and Missouri borders, the Northwest Arkansas (NWA) Technology Summit is held in the city of Bentonville and brings together small business owners, technologists, entrepreneurs, academia, and C-level executives for often lively discussions on how innovation intersects with business and technology. Past keynote speakers for this event, usually scheduled in October, have included people from Walmart, Intel, and IBM. Also typically held in October, in the state capital of Little Rock, the Arkansas Digital Government Summit (ADGS) is a day-long conference featuring keynote speeches, breakout sessions, and networking breaks revolving around topics pertinent to the data scientist, including digital government trends, cybersecurity trends, cloud services, and citizen engagement.
Finally, the Little Rock Entrepreneurs (LRE) is a 659-member strong public group, organized by the Venture Company, designed to connect innovation with business; their monthly “Lift the Rock” events are ideal places for you to not only learn about how data science is utilized in the field but also to construct networks that may pay off for you in the future.
Data Science Degree Programs in Arkansas
You now know about the job landscape for data scientists in Arkansas as well as the expected compensation for the occupation and the events and conferences during which you can network with like-minded folks passionate about the field. At this point, let us now take a closer look at the avenues in the state through which you can earn a bachelor’s degree, graduate certificate, Master’s degree, and/or Ph.D.
Prospective data scientists in Arkansas can choose to follow many different nuanced paths to their desired degree, including, but not limited to information management, business data analytics, data science, and bioinformatics. These programs can either be completed on campus, through a distance-learning online platform, or both. For more detailed information, see the section below that best appeals to you.
On-Campus Undergraduate Data Science Programs in Arkansas
There are many data science programs in Arkansas, both major and minor, available at the undergraduate level. We will begin our tour of the Natural State’s bachelor’s programs in Fayetteville and the state’s flagship university, The University of Arkansas (U of A). Offered by the university’s Sam M. Walton College of Business and its Department of Information Systems, the bachelor’s degree in information systems will allow you the opportunity to learn how to integrate business process ideas as well as understand the technology behind data warehousing. Within this 8-semester major program, you can concentrate on either business analytics, enterprise resource planning, or enterprise systems by taking courses such as systems analysis and design, ERP fundamentals, and business project development. The Walton College also offers both a business analytics interdisciplinary minor and an information systems minor for business students.
Southeast of Fayetteville, on the banks of the Arkansas River, you will find the city of Russellville, Arkansas and the main campus of Arkansas Tech University (ATU). At ATU, you can enroll in their highly ranked bachelor’s program in business data analytics (BDA) within their Department of Management and Marketing. In this 4-year program, students will develop skills in identifying business trends, making data-driven decisions, and thinking critically about real-world business situations.
Currently, undergraduate tuition and fee rates at Arkansas Tech are $302.25 per hour for in-state residents and $528.25 for out-of-state enrollees, but note that legal residents of states that border Arkansas, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas, may apply to waive the out-of-state tuition rate and revert to the in-state one. Along with the major, ATU also offers a minor in business data analytics for non-BDA majors, consisting of 24 hours of courses ranging from business problem solving to econometrics, giving skills to those non-BDA majors which they can then apply to their own respective discipline.
The last bachelor’s data science degree program in Arkansas you ought to know about is the bachelor’s of information science degree program at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock (UALR) in the capital city. This particular program, offered by UALR’s Department of Information Science, gives its students the ability to design and implement computing-based solutions, support the planning of information systems, and make informed decisions whether a team member or leader, among other highly sought-after skills.
According to the school’s website, there were 92 students enrolled in this program during the Fall 2018 semester, 20 of which were part-time students; the program’s 24 graduates in 2018 can expect to follow career paths into such lucrative jobs as data analysts, network administrators, applications developers, and many other data science careers. In addition to this bachelor’s program, UALR’s Department of Information also offers minors in bioinformatics and information technology.
On-Campus Graduate Data Science Programs in Arkansas
Along with fantastic undergraduate programs that will provide you with solid foundations in the data sciences, the aforementioned universities in Arkansas also offer a myriad of opportunities to continue to build upon those established fundamental blocks. Whether your end goal is a Master’s degree, Ph.D., or graduate certificate, you can attend school at these lovely campuses and fulfill your desired educational attainment. Let us now glimpse what these prestigious universities have to offer in regards to graduate programs in data science.
On-Campus Master’s in Data Science Programs in Arkansas
On the sprawling campus of the University of Arkansas in gorgeous Fayetteville, you can pursue a Master’s degree in information systems. Within this 1-year, 30-credit-hour program, you may choose from one of 4 concentrations: enterprise systems (ES) management, software engineering, information technology management, or enterprise resource planning (ERP) management. Regardless of which path you choose, you must complete the 3 core courses (9 credit hours) of the seminar in systems development, data management systems, and the management of information technology seminar as well as 13 credit hours in your chosen concentration and 6 credit hours in advisor-approved electives.
If you would rather study in a more intimate setting than the state’s flagship educational institution, you would be wise to look at Arkansas Tech’s Master’s program in health informatics. While earning this coveted degree, you will be able to analyze clinical data and discuss the scope of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) as well as explain the process of how health care policy is developed. With this degree in hand, you can enter into careers as varied as public health analyst, consultant, or chief information officer.
On-Campus Data Science Ph.D. Programs in Arkansas
In order to qualify for admission to the Ph.D. in Bioinformatics program at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, you must first submit your transcripts (including the grades received while completing your Master’s degree in bioinformatics), your GRE scores, three letters of reference, and a statement of intent detailing your career aspirations. Once admitted to the Ph.D. program, you can expect to complete a minimum of 34 credit hours while preparing to submit a written grant request as well as giving an oral presentation of the proposal and standing for an oral examination. Recent dissertations completed by UALR doctoral candidates within this discipline include those on chemical cross-linking mass spectrometry and computer-aided rational drug design. Need a scholarship? You are in luck.
On-Campus Graduate Certificate Programs in Arkansas
If you are interested in earning a graduate certificate to enhance your professional standing and increase your earning power, look no further than the graduate certificate program in business analytics offered by the University of Arkansas and its Sam M. Walton College of Business. This certificate program consists of 12 credit hours with 9 of them in the core courses of data management systems, decision support and analytics, and a seminar in business intelligence and knowledge management. Admission requirements to this program include a $60 application fee, résumé, 3 letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. You are able to earn this certificate via online as well as in-person on the Fayetteville campus.
Online Data Science Degree Programs in Arkansas
There are a few distance-learning data science degree offerings through Arkansas’s universities that may be of interest to potential students. Along with the graduate certificate program in business analytics mentioned in the previous section, the University of Arkansas’s Sam M. Walton College of Business also offers a professional Master’s in information systems via their online system, with the lone stipulation that you must attend class on campus for one Saturday per month. Designed for working professionals, this program can be completed in 22 months and costs a total of $29,250 when factoring in books and other associated charges. For this money, you will receive a valuable Master’s degree while immersing yourself in estimation models, data warehousing, applied analytics, enterprise computing platforms, and real-world data sets from large, well-known companies including Dillard’s and Tyson Foods. The program requires prospective its prospective Master’s candidates to complete 30 credit hours of instruction.
If 30 credit hours seems like a lot for you to handle at this time, perhaps you can pursue an online graduate certificate in data science through the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after you earn your bachelor’s degree. This 12-credit-hour program is delivered exclusively through class lectures broadcast live via the Internet and will give working professionals the chance to receive basic, up-to-date training in this rapidly expanding field. The program is comprised of 4 courses: a choice between database systems and database design, data science and technologies, information visualization, and data protection and privacy. In addition to earning your bachelor’s degree prior to enrollment, you must also have passed an introduction to statistical methods course as well as maintaining a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (4.0 scale).