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. However, there remains a growing wave of optimism and opportunity for aspiring data scientists in the state of Arkansas.
Employment and Education for Data Scientists in Arkansas
The state of Arkansas has been dubbed “The Land of Opportunity,” and this optimistic feeling of the state as a location for favorable circumstances extends to a degree 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 there are currently 390 database administrators, 250 database architects, and 250 data scientists currently employed in 2021. These are stark increases to the number of data science positions available only five years ago.
There’s more reason for optimism, too, 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 systems managers in the state was estimated at $120,080, or $57.73 per hour, in 2021 by the BLS. 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.
Arkansas’ state government has recognized the power and importance of data science as an industry. As a result, it has established the Arkansas Datacenter, which is a user-friendly “collection of data systems, data tools and informational reports for educators, policy makers, teachers, parents, school districts, and anyone interested in official data from the Arkansas Department of Education.” This new enthusiasm for data science in Arkansas has extended to private industry, too: the organization Victech Technology Venture Development is a venture capital firm based in the state that is dedicated to offering startups the seed capital they need to launch their entry into the technology industry. Data science firms have already begun to benefit from investment like this.
Additionally, it’s important to learn about some of the events, workshops, and conferences through which you can start to build those all-important networking relationships. For example, 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
undergraduate level. This section unpacks the advantages and unique characteristics of each of these program offerings.
The University of Arkansas
Based in Fayetteville and largely recognized as the state’s flagship university, The University of Arkansas (U of A) gives students a number of options to explore data science as a career path. 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.
As far as the facilities go for the on-campus undergraduate offerings, U of A offers students access to the GENESIS Technology Incubator, which provides different services that pertain to aspiring technology-focused entrepreneurs. Linked to the GENESIS Technology Incubator, the Innovation Center offers specialized training in skills, research, and technical aspects that will be especially relevant to technology-based entrepreneurs. Lastly, the school’s Engineering Research Center hosts a number of support services that house different scientific laboratories. For students aiming to gain a stronger technical handle on data science, these facilities will help tremendously.
Arkansas Tech University
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.
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.
University of Arkansas-Little Rock
The bachelor’s of information science degree program at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock (UALR) is fittingly based 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.
To help sustain the bioinformatics curriculum, the school hosts the MidSouth Bioinformatics Center. The bioinformatics hub provides students, faculty, researchers, and entrepreneurs based in the region access to workshops, equipment, software licenses, and technical assistance. By gaining skills in the field from the center and from engaging in the rigorous coursework, program graduates can expect to follow career paths into such lucrative jobs as data analysts, network administrators, applications developers, and MidSouth Bioinformatics Center. In addition to this bachelor’s program, UALR’s Department of Information also offers minors in bioinformatics and information technology.
As far as student-focused and career-preparedness initiatives that the school offers, UALR provides students the opportunity to gain business skills through its interdisciplinary Tech Launch program. By introducing students to entrepreneurs, economic developers, and experts of the industry, graduates will have a greater networking opportunity otherwise unavailable to them. Additionally, the university has launched the Emerging Analytics Center, which helps students gain skills in cybersecurity, human-computer interaction mechanics, machine learning, and data visualization.
University of Central Arkansas
At the University of Central Arkansas, students interested in pursuing a career in data science will have a number of options through the school’s computer science-based program offerings. For one, the school’s Computer Information Systems B.B.A. degree program gives students the opportunity to learn more about the intersection of information science and database administration. Similarly, the school’s Applied Data Analytics B.S. prepares students to effectively gather, analyze, and draw conclusions from large datasets.
Other undergraduate program offerings that the University of Central Arkansas provides students include:
- Information Systems B.S.
- Cybersecurity Management B.S.
- Applied Data Analytics Technical Certificate
- General Business B.B.A.
Importantly, practically all of the program and course offerings at the University of Central Arkansas can be completed either on-campus, online, or in a hybrid capacity.
Arkansas State University
For undergraduate learners, Arkansas State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science. In the CS department, students will gain a robust foundation in different programming languages, algorithmic problem solving, and database systems administration. Through these focuses, students also gain a problem-solving approach that will be relevant in both scientific and business environments. As part of the elective offerings that the school hosts, students can explore topics that include artificial intelligence, compilers, data visualization and graphics, and other software applications.
On the other side, the school offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Focusing more on the computer science aspect of the field and less on the business applications that the industry offers, students gain an advanced understanding of different programming environments and their resultant software applications.
Harding University, a Christian faith-based higher education institution, is based in Searcy, Arkansas and offers a B.S. in Data Science. Through the program’s coursework, which balances a liberal arts general education and core data science classes, students have the opportunity to learn about topics that include web development, data structures, data management, and predictive modeling. From the program’s 128 total credits, students gain the skills necessary for a professional future in a data science capacity.
North Arkansas College
For students who want to gain preliminary data science academic training before committing to a bachelor’s degree, North Arkansas College offers an Associate of Science in Data Science. In an affordable, accessible capacity, NAC’s introductory data science courses prepare students to gain a surface-level understanding of how data mechanics and analysis function to inform proactive, data-informed decisions. The program can be completed in as few as two years or four semesters.
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
Arkansas offers a wealth of options to prospective graduate students aiming to launch a career in data science. Across the state, expert faculty intervene to equip students with technical, soft, and leadership skills to advance their professional and academic goals.
University of 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.
Arkansas Tech University
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.
Arkansas State University
To help students bolster their foundations in computing concepts that center on advanced programming environments, Arkansas State University offers a Master of Science (M.S.) in Computer Science. In this program, students engage with different software applications and different specialized programming languages. As a result, students are able to dive into topics that include parallel and distributed systems in coding, bioinformatics, and graphical interface construction.
Importantly, students who gain acceptance into the program will be required to take an assessment exam. Based on the results of that exam, individual students may need to take undergraduate-level computer science courses to refine the technical skills necessary for graduate study.
University of Central Arkansas
The University of Central Arkansas offers two graduate-level data science-specific programs: the Applied Data Analytics M.S. and the Data Analytics Graduate Certificate. In the full-fledged data analytics Master’s program, students give students the platform to learn more about data management, utilization, and exploitation to enhance their data-informed problem-solving skills. This is an interdisciplinary degree offering that gives students an advanced understanding of data erasure, predictive, descriptive, and prescriptive data analysis, and data mining strategies.
The M.S. consists of 30 total semester hours, split among a program-wide prerequisite course of Business Statistics, 24 required course hours, and six hours of electives. As a result, students gain skills in different programming languages that prepare them for success in the industry of their choosing.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Department of Biostatistics offers some of the most forward-thinking, innovative bioinformatics research in the country. Through an interdisciplinary collection of faculty and researchers, scientists train students through cutting-edge data science techniques to collect, gather, and find meaning out of data sets. From these efforts, critical drug and clinical research is conducted, meaning that students are able to contribute to meaningful ground-breaking academic studies that produce real-world benefits.
Separately, the university’s Master of Science in Healthcare Data Analytics in the school’s Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health gives students the foundation they need to develop skills in analysis, information systems management, and computational problem-solving. Importantly, the program is hosted at the state’s only research-based, scholarly health center, where students are able to network with other healthcare professionals visiting from across the country. The interdisciplinary program also features a separate Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Analytics, which is an abridged, two-semester track for students aiming to finish their training more quickly.
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. Importantly, since the COVID-19 global pandemic, several universities across the state have shifted to offering much of their coursework requirements in either online or hybrid capacities. It’s important for prospective students to check with the schools you’re interested in to understand the specific expectations that colleges and universities have now.
University of Arkansas
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. 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.
University of Arkansas-Little Rock
Separately, 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).
Southern Arkansas University
Across two years and 30 required courses, Southern Arkansas University’s online M.S. in Computer and Information Science – Data Science Concentration offers a curriculum that prepares students to balance the theory and practice of data science applications. Recognized as one of the most affordable Master’s in data science programs across the country, the degree track requires that students enter with some level of proficiency in data science, basic statistical computation, and programming. From the program’s faculty’s extensive industry experience, students gain insight into how they can become leaders in the field.
Offering both a graduate certificate and full-fledged concentration as part of an MBA, Harding University’s data science Master’s program is designed to help students integrate their technical skills with business acumen in subjects that span across statistical conceptualization, supply chain management, data-informed risk assessment, and data visualization. Importantly, all of the coursework completed in the data science graduate certificate can be used as credit for the school’s Master of Science in Information Systems.
For more information about online Master’s in data science programs, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide. Learn more about the opportunities that careers in data science can bring and advance your professional and academic profile today.
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