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UA Little Rock ranked among colleges with best online computer IT programs

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has once again been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as having some of the best online computer information technology programs in the country. 

Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence, with UA Little Rock being selected as 15th on the list, up from 27th in 2018.

This ranking assesses online master’s degrees in computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, information systems, and information technology. For UA Little Rock, this consists of the Master of Science in Information Science and the Master of Science in Information Quality online degree programs.

“As we provide a mix of delivery modes to meet student needs, our online offerings grow,” said Dr. Lawrence Whitman, chair of the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology. “Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, chair of the Information Science Department, has done an excellent job of implementing technology in a manner that is most effective for student learning. This ranking is the fruit of her and many others’ efforts to implement state-of-the-art technology in student learning.”

Both programs offer night courses that are convenient for working professionals. All courses in the online program are tied to a live class, so online students get much of the same educational experience as on-campus students.

“The students really like our format, which is different from many schools,” said Dr. John Talburt, coordinator of the information quality graduate programs. “We don’t use the old correspondence-style course. Every online class is anchored to an on-campus class. All students get their assignments and take their exams at the same time. Online students can participate during a live class or watch the recorded lectures when it is convenient for them.”

The Master of Science in Information Science is a 33-credit-hour program designed to familiarize individuals with the advanced knowledge, skills, and technologies for working with large amounts of complex data. This degree also serves as a stepping stone toward pursuing other graduate degrees, such as the Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science.

The online master’s program began in 2007 and currently has 17 students with 23 more students in the doctoral program. Graduates often work in data quality management and in data governance. The information science discipline is expanding rapidly thanks to an ever-present demand for new innovations in information retrieval, storage, processing, and analysis tools and techniques.

“There is a huge emphasis on data quality, data governance, data science and how to get more value out of information. We were one of the first universities to offer graduate degrees in information quality,” Talburt said. “A lot of our online students are already working professionals, so having an online program in their area is very attractive.”

The Master of Science in Information Quality is a career-oriented program focusing on practice, skills, and theory. The 33-hour program, which began in 2017 and can be completed in 18 months, is designed to prepare students for careers in industry and government as well as advanced graduate studies.

The curriculum balances information quality theory with industry best practices using state-of-the-art tools and technology. The course content has been developed with the support of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Information Quality Program and with additional help from leading practitioners and researchers within the information quality community.

“Our intention is for the program to be challenging to people who do have a computing background, while being an option for more mature students who want to get into the computing field without having an undergraduate computing degree,” said Dr. Daniel Berleant, professor of information science and advisor for the graduate program. “Graduates are prepared for new jobs in data analysis and data manipulation, or to advance in their present jobs. The program electives help tailor the student to the type of position they want to get.”

For the 2019 rankings edition, U.S. News evaluated schools on five general categories, including engagement, faculty credentials and training, expert opinion, services and technologies, and student excellence.