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With technology on the rise, online computer science programs in Arkansas are in high demand among students. There are many different job titles available for students interested in a computer-related career. In the state of Arkansas, network engineers are in high demand, as are software developers, cyber security analysts, and software engineers.
Many tech companies have their main offices in Arkansas, which means there are many opportunities for computer science careers in Arkansas. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), software developer jobs are projected to grow 24% by 2026 — more than twice the average job growth across occupations.
Higher Education in Arkansas
With more than 100 public and private institutions, Arkansas offers a wealth of options for higher education. The University of Arkansas has campuses in Little Rock, Fayetteville, Monticello, Pine Bluff, and Fort Smith.
With more than 200,000 residents, Little Rock is Arkansas' most populous city. Students who attend school in Little Rock enjoy cultural activities like the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Arkansas Repertory Theater, and the Arkansas Arts Center.
Although many universities are located in the state's most populous areas, students can find educational opportunities throughout Arkansas. U.S. News & World Report ranks Fayetteville, which is home to the University of Arkansas' main campus, as one of the best places to live in the United States.
Even students who do not reside in Arkansas can earn a quality education from online computer science programs in Arkansas. Online programs are as rigorous as their on-campus counterparts, but they allow schedule flexibility by not requiring on-campus class attendance.
Computer Science Programs in Arkansas
Students can attend traditional, on-campus programs or online computer science programs in Arkansas. On-campus programs allow in-person interactions with professors and peers and provide structure through regularly scheduled classes. The state offers a number of respected on-campus computer science programs, such as the University of Arkansas' program.
Students who need flexibility to balance professional or personal commitments with academics should consider pursuing a computer science degree online. Online programs save students time and money spent commuting or living near campus. Since online classes are often taught by the same professors as on-campus classes, distance learners receive the same rigorous education as traditional students. Professors are available for video chats and emails, and online students also receive support from dedicated advisors.
The best computer science schools in Arkansas are accredited. Accreditation ensures programs meet set educational standards. The two main types of accreditation in the U.S. are regional and national; regional accreditation is the oldest and the most prestigious, while national accreditation is typically reserved for vocational programs. Students pursuing a computer science degree in Arkansas should also look for field-specific accreditation from the Computing Accreditation Commission.
Types of Computer Science Degrees
In Arkansas, students can strive to earn an associate degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, or even a Ph.D. in computer science. Each degree qualifies you to apply to higher positions and can help you advance faster in your career.
If you already have a particular Arkansas employer in mind, consider researching the minimum education requirements for your preferred position prior to enrolling in a program. That way, you know what minimum level of education you should pursue to qualify for your ideal job.
Associate in Computer Science
An associate degree in computer science introduces students to programming basics. Aside from general education requirements needed to graduate, students can also expect to learn about computer systems, programming languages, and information security. Courses include introduction to programming, networking, and computers.
This degree lays the foundation for higher education in bachelor's or master's programs. Some companies may accept an associate degree for entry-level positions, but most will want at least a bachelor's degree. The ideal student for this program is someone who wants to get a feel for computer science before committing to an entire bachelor's program. The average length of an associate degree is 2-3 years and the average number of credits is around 60.
Bachelor's in Computer Science
A bachelor's degree in computer science satisfies the minimum education requirement for most entry-level tech jobs in Arkansas. It usually requires 120 credits and takes 3-5 years to complete — less if you already have an associate degree or previous transfer credits. Courses you can expect from a bachelor's program include data design, computer architecture, data communications, and systems analysis.
While most companies require you to have a bachelor's degree in order to apply, some will hire candidates who are still completing their education. This usually happens close to graduation, and often those candidates are already enrolled in internships at those companies. It is always best to check a company's minimum education requirements before applying to a position.
Master's in Computer Science
A master's degree in computer science is the next step for those who have already earned a bachelor's degree and want to expand their education. A graduate program is ideal for those who are either already working in the field and want to pursue higher-paying opportunities, or who want to focus on a particular specialty. Some standard courses for a master's program include data structures, database concepts, computer organization, and assembly language.
The average length of a master's program is 1-2 years, depending on whether the student enrolls part- or full-time. Typically, you need 24-36 credits, and in some cases you can teach within the field at a college level while pursuing this degree.
Ph.D. in Computer Science
A Ph.D. in computer science is ideal for students interested in computer science research and publication, or who want to teach at a college level or do behind-the-scenes data analysis work. The ideal Ph.D. candidate already has their master's degree in computer science, though there are dual degree programs available for bachelor's graduates who want to earn master's and doctoral degree simultaneously.
Ph.D. courses include advanced virtual worlds, advanced algorithms, machine learning, and embedded systems. A Ph.D. program can take 6-8 years to complete, depending on whether you decide to earn your master's degree at the same time. Candidates must also complete a dissertation, which often must be published in an academic journal as part of the degree requirement.
Computer Science Careers in Arkansas
The BLS projects that by 2026, computer science occupations will grow at rates ranging from 6% on the low end to 24% on the high end, depending on specific career. The BLS also projects that demand for computer programmers will decline, but at a slower rate than the national average.
Arkansas is home to several prominent tech companies that hire computer science professionals. IBM is located in the capital city of Little Rock, and Infosys is based in Bentonville. These companies provide opportunities for recent graduates with online computer science degrees in Arkansas.
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Mean Salary for Computer Science Careers in Arkansas
|Position||Mean Salary in Arkansas||Mean Salary in U.S.|
|Computer Network Architects||$86,400||$107,870|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$69,970||$92,740|
|Software Developers, Applications||$87,500||$106,710|
|Software Developers, Systems Software||$82,580||$111,780|
Computer Science Employers in Arkansas
- Infosys: Infosys is an international company that provides consulting and technology solutions and specializes in software development. The company's offices in Bentonville employ computer science professionals to design and maintain technology and software.
- UST Global: Founded in America but operating globally, UST provides information technology services including advanced analytics, algorithm building, cybersecurity, and engineering. In Arkansas, UST hires computer scientists to support its diverse operations.
- IBM: IBM provides cloud-based services for large private companies and develops software for hospitals and health insurers. IBM also builds learning machines, such as the Watson platform, and employs programmers and research specialists.
Professional Computer Science Organizations in Arkansas
Professional associations provide opportunities for students and graduates to continue their education and form connections within the computer science industry. As technology evolves, professional associations keep members updated on the latest trends and innovations. Additionally, conferences and social events, both online and in-person, allow professionals to network and share information. Many national associations have local chapters in Arkansas.
- Association for Computing Machinery: ACM brings professionals, researchers, and educators from around the world together to advance the future of computer science. This organization is a great resource for networking with others and finding support in professional growth. Both local and global chapters are available.
- Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence: AAAI is a nonprofit scientific society that has spent the past 40 years advancing a deeper understanding of artificial intelligence. They offer conferences, symposiums, workshops, and publications, which all seek to educate professionals in the AI field.
- Association for Women in Computing: Started more than 40 years ago, AWC was one of the first computer science associations for women. AWC is dedicated to helping women grow as professionals and advance in computer science fields. The association is comprised of women from different computer science backgrounds who come together to support and network with one another.
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