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What is Computer Science?

Students who are looking to gain a college degree and get into the workforce in a specific state can find a lot to learn in reviewing the state’s biggest industries. For example, Arkansas’ biggest industry is manufacturing; it brings $19.3 billion to the state. The next largest industry is professional and business services, earning $13.8 billion.

For students who are interested in a computer science degree, this provides a host of opportunities for them. Computer sciences graduates are needed in all industries and are especially useful in data-heavy industries, such as those offering business services and keeping data on their customers, building website, software, or apps. Graduates with computer science degrees should be able to find positions in these and many other industries in Arkansas. As smart devices and the Internet of Things grows, computer science majors are likely to be needed in every sector of these industries and others in the state. Whether they attended a community college or graduate school, students who have the skills that companies need are sure to find positions that will allow them to succeed and grow.

University Headquarters have provided here a ranked list of the best computer science schools in Arkansas. These universities and colleges offer the degree programs that computer science majors need to be competitive in their job searches. The degrees offered programs ranging from the bachelor level and going up to a PhD or doctorate. Depending on what students are looking for in their computer science curriculum, they should be able to find it with a little searching.

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Computer Science Education in Arkansas

Computer science professionals will have spent time studying the theoretical foundations of working with computers. The biggest part of their profession and work is likely to focus on thinking about how existing technology uses information and applies it to programs. What tasks they perform really depends on the niche they go into. Computer science is a general program that can be leveraged into analysis, cyber security, networking, administration, and more.

Knowing this, students considering a computer science profession should be ready to learn about programming languages, software or application development, and best practices when working with networks of all kinds. Big data analytics are also likely to be a major part of their studies. Future employers want computer science professionals who will be able to use technical theory as they develop systems and applications, among other skills. Computer science graduates should also be ready to continue to either earn further education after a bachelor’s degree, earn certifications to prove they have the skills necessary to do what is needed, or gain experience in the field where they are most interested in succeeding.

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Associate Degree in Computer Science (AS)

Graduates with an associate in computer science degree aren’t likely to be hired into a position such as a software analyst or software developer. However, the associate degree they earn is still valuable because students will gain a strong foundation in CS problem solving and a grasp of the basics for nearly any specific field within computer science that they might choose to enter.

Students in these programs can learn applied programming skills including Java, Python, and C++. They may also learn how to use design and testing tools that help them to support all areas of software development, including Eclipse and Netbeans. Students learn how to apply both computer science theory and software development in the creation of computing-based solutions. They study difficult computer problems by using computing principles to solve them. And they also learn to communicate professionally; this professional development is vital for their future careers.

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science (BS)

A bachelor’s degree in computer science allows graduates to offer a strong set of skills that let students easily work within the fast-growing tech economy. These students can graduate with a focus on data administration, business analysis, programming, project management, and more.

Because of the ubiquity of information technology and the breadth of degree options available, graduates may also have their pick of the industries where they can choose to work. These include finance and healthcare, where these industry sectors are witnessing a surge in their IT and cyber security requirements. These aren’t the only areas where such surges are taking place. Anywhere organizations have computer systems, a demand for computer science services continues to grow.

Students in computer science bachelor’s degrees expand their communication skills as they discuss IT issues in a way that allows all to understand the problem. They learn the fundamentals of programming by learning and using a variety of programming languages. They learn effective project management skills, such as delegation and time management. Network security and management may also be a large part of a computer science curriculum.

Master's Degree in Computer Science (MS or MC)

Students entering a graduate program in computer science will begin to learn advanced CS topics and focus on specificities in the field. This is different from the associate degree and bachelor’s degree programs, which give students a broad base in the field. However, more than one million computer programming jobs weren’t filled in 2020 at least in part, due to the lack of computer science professionals who know and understand these narrower topics.

Graduate students learn and work in more complex programming environments. They also often have specific industry experience because they have already been working in the field; this means that they start their graduate academic programs with existing business knowledge. Here, they’ll gain extra technical skills needed by those who want to move into management or higher-level positions within an IT department. Some graduate students are relatively new to computer science and are looking for a career change. Once these students graduate, they will be prepared for positions needing specialized skills.

PhD Degree in Computer Science (PhD)

Students earning their PhDs work with high-level faculty members, focusing on research that is moving computer science in a different direction. They may work with cyber security experts, algorithm inventors, or experts who collaborated in developing major advances in software. Because they begin working on research right away, they’ll have the chance to be involved in some of the newest research going on.

Industry leaders may collaborate with some school’s computer science departments, which allows PhD students to learn quickly about new developments in the industry. Students also learn using high-quality curriculum. After graduation, students who choose a doctorate in computer science may work in research and development in any industry setting. Or they may choose to return to college as a computer science professor.

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Top College Programs in Arkansas for Computer Science

  • Arkansas State University
  • University of Arkansas
  • Harding University
  • Arkansas Tech University
  • University of Central Arkansas

Become a Computer Science Professional in Arkansas

As computer science graduates are nearing graduation, especially those completing an associate or bachelor’s degree, they will begin looking for their first post-college job. Those looking to work in this industry should know that they have a good chance of being hired immediately due to the marketability of their degree. There is a wide range of computer science fields they may want to consider, such as artificial intelligence or network programming.

Because of the increasing use of technology in most, if not all, industries, computer science graduates are eagerly sought. Some specialties will be even more eagerly sought than others, such as those with experience in cyber security, but during the 2016-2026 decade, the employment picture for computer science graduates and professionals has been projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to grow by 13%. This is faster than the average growth for all occupations in the U.S.

Those in Arkansas don’t have to worry about earning any specific licensure or even certifications in order to work as a computer science specialist in the state. While many employers will require a certain degree or certification to consider you for a position, the state of Arkansas has no special requirements for those working in the field. If you can find an employer who is willing to hire you with an associate degree and train you on the job, there is nothing blocking your employment in the state. You should understand that moving forward in this career with just experience will be a much slower process than it would be to earn an education and certifications, but it can be done.

Students who are earning a computer science degree in Arkansas should know they are moving into a lucrative field. If they are earning a master’s degree, they will have the opportunity to work at an advanced level in one of several computer science fields. Below are just some of the fields where you can find yourself.

  • Software Developer/Software Engineer
    This CS field involves developing new software for computers, users, and companies. The engineers in this field develop software from beginning to end and may code and build the software themselves or oversee a team that does so. Large organizations, such as Google, may employ graduates who can engineer software development. They may also choose to work more independently and create software to sell to companies or individuals on their own.
  • Information Security / Cyber Security
    This field concerns itself with protecting the data and systems that organizations own. Cyber-theft and ransomware are growing more rapidly than new security professionals can be hired. This means that operating systems are at more and more risk every day. Computer science degree programs have courses devoted to increasing the security of networks and cloud systems.
  • Database Administrator
    In this field, administrators are responsible for making sure that organizational data is correctly organized and stored. The requirements of this field say that the data has to be easily accessible by developing good storage management policies.
  • Data Analyst and Scientist
    The professionals from this field create data modeling processes so they are able to develop algorithms and predictive models for their work. Advanced study is required to work in this field, but those who have the education can provide in-depth assessment of a variety of issues.

Careers for Computer Science Graduates

  • Software Tester
    These professionals have to design test scenarios to check on software usability. They run the tests and write reports on how effective it is. They also report on defects so that they can be removed.

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  • Systems Analyst
    Computer systems analysts work with organizations, showing them how to use their new technology efficiently and effectively. Integration of software into the client’s current systems may also be a part of their responsibilities. Part of the professional responsibilities of the systems analyst may include finding tech solutions that fit the organization’s long-term goals and mesh with their existing hardware or network architecture.
  • Technical Support Specialist / IT Support Specialist
    This role may also be called a “technical support engineer”. These specialists provide organizations with support of their IT systems, helping to optimize operational efficiency. They may maintain both hardware and software installations, resolve technical issues, and improve IT systems. They may also train end-users on the functionality of hardware and software programs and their job description may include providing IT support to customers.
  • Cyber Security Analyst
    These professionals are also called information security analysts. Their responsibilities include monitoring the networks of their organization, looking for security breaches, and investigating a violation when one is found. They write reports documenting breaches and the extent of damage inflicted. These science professionals install and use software (firewalls and data encryption programs), helping to protect vital information.
  • Technology Director
    This professional oversees and supervises an organization’s technical operations. This includes oversight of IT department employees and ensuring all technology systems and applications offer support to the organization’s goals and long-term objectives. They are responsible for the IT infrastructure and they may develop, carry out, and evaluate IT projects.
  • UI Developer
    These front-end web developers focus their efforts on the aesthetic of a website or an app and work to make it more appealing to the user. At the same time, they have to maintain full functionality of the app or website; applied computing is a majority of their effort. They work closely with other developers to ensure the website or app is attractive and functions well.
  • Application Developer
    This position may also be called a software architect or software developer. They are tasked with developing and modifying source code used in software applications (apps). They develop new software to meet the needs of customers, test source code, and debug it as needed.
  • IT Project Manager
    This project manager may control the implementation of IT infrastructure and software for an organization. They plan new projects and decide on resource allocation and project implementation that follows their organization’s standards and policies closely. They manage daily IT operations, computer systems and networks, as well as IT personnel in some companies. They direct the recruitment of new IT staff and mentor current IT staff.
  • Data Scientist
    This professional puts their skills in analysis, programming, and statistics to collecting large data sets, analyzing, and interpreting them. They use the information they gain to develop solutions that are data-driven for organizations with tough business challenges.
  • Web Designer & Developer
    Web designers use their software and creative engineering or programming to design, build, and improve websites. They work on each digital design to build a site that is easy to navigate, use, and understand. Their responsibility is for the appearance and technical performance, such as site speed and the volume of traffic the site is able to handle.
  • Network Architect
    Computer network architects design and build data communication networks. These include local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). Network architects have to have extensive knowledge of the company’s business plan so that they can design a network that lets the company achieve its goals.
  • Full Stack Software Developer
    This professional is a computer programmer with skills in front and backend coding. They have broad responsibilities, such as coding for mobile platforms; they may design user interactions on websites or develop databases for website functionality.
  • Network Analyst (WAN/LAN, etc.)
    Network analysts optimize IT network operations. They provide IT support, analyze network requirements, and set up computer networks in one or more locations. They configure both computer hardware and software so that it operates efficiently for network communication.
  • Computer Science Professor
    A professor who teachers computer science may specialize in one field of computer science, such as operations and research analysis or design and function of computers, or they may have a more generalized knowledge. They may focus only on teaching, or they may teach and also carry out research. They prepare homework assignments, handouts, and course syllabi each year and help students to gain an understanding of the computer science subjects so that they can succeed in their future careers.

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