Frequently Asked Questions


Question: What is Computer Science/Cybersecurity/Data Science?

Answer: All three are sub-disciplines of Computing (ACM Computing Curricula 2020):

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Question: How is Computer Science different from Computer Engineering/Information Systems/Information Technology/Software Engineering?

Answer: All five are sub-disciplines of Computing (ACM Computing Curricula 2020):

  • Computer Engineering “brings together computing and electrical engineering in a way that embodies the science and technology of design, construction, implementation, and maintenance of software and hardware components of modern computing systems, computer-controlled equipment, and networks of intelligent devices.” Computer Engineering programs are typically found in Engineering colleges.
  • Information Systems “focuses on information (e., data in a specific context) together with information capturing, storage, processing and analysis/interpretation in ways that supports decision making.” Information Systems programs are typically found in Business colleges.
  • Information Technology is “the study of systemic approaches to select, develop, apply, integrate, and administer secure computing technologies to enable users to accomplish their personal, organizational, and societal goals.” Information Technology programs are typically found in Business colleges.
  • Software Engineering is “an engineering discipline that focuses on the development and use of rigorous methods for designing and constructing software artifacts that will reliably perform specified tasks.”

So, while all these disciplines involve Computing, their focus is different. Computer Engineering focuses on hardware and its interaction with software; Information Systems focuses on information; Information Technology focuses on computing technology; and Software Engineering focuses on large-scale software development. Note that Computer Science also deals with software development, but is much broader than that. For more information on the sub-disciplines of Computing, please refer to this document.
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Question: Is Computer Science all about programming/coding?

Answer: The notion that “Computer Science equals Computer Programming” is persistent and misleading. While every Computer Science graduate should be a competent programmer, the ability to program does not imply expertise in Computer Science. Computer Scientists solve problems using computers, and programming is just one of their tools in this endeavor. In fact, there are many Computer Science related positions that require little to no programming, including those related to management (e.g., software project management), administration (e.g., network or system administration), design (e.g., user experience/interface or database design), software testing, and software technical writing.
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Question: Do I need to be good at Mathematics to succeed in Computer Science/Cybersecurity/Data Science?

Answer: Every program at UCA requires a minimum of three hours of Mathematics. Our three BS programs differ in their Mathematics requirements, but they all require a class in calculus (four hours), one in statistics (three hours), and one in discrete mathematics (three hours). Our Data Science program requires the most Mathematics (20 hours), whereas our Cybersecurity program requires the least (10 hours).
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Question: Do I need a background in Computer Science/Cybersecurity/Data Science to succeed in one of your BS programs?

Answer: Many of our incoming students are interested in computers but have limited technical backgrounds. For this reason, all three of our BS programs require introductory classes designed for the uninitiated. Success in our programs depends largely on motivation and perseverance rather than prior knowledge.
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Question: Is Computer Science/Cybersecurity/Data Science only for boys, geeks, and nerds?

Answer: There are many stereotypes about Computing professionals. There is inherently nothing masculine about Computing, nor does one need to be introverted or asocial to be a successful Computing professional.
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Question: Should I get job training or industry certifications instead of pursuing a BS degree in Computer Science/Cybersecurity/Data Science?

Answer: Job training or industry certifications are not substitutes for a BS degree but should be viewed as complementary. For more information, please visit here.
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Question: Are your programs accredited?

Answer: Our BS program in Computer Science has been accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET since 2006. We are currently working on the accreditation of our BS program in Cybersecurity and BS program in Data Science (ABET started accrediting such programs only recently).
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Question: Can I double major in your programs?

Answer: Absolutely! All of our BS programs have a Computer Science backbone. So, our students can major simultaneously in any two of our BS programs (Computer Science, Cybersecurity, and Data Science) by completing about 30 additional credit hours.
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Question: Do you offer an accelerated BS+MS combined program?

Answer: Yes. We offer an accelerated option that allows qualified seniors in the BS program in Computer Science to enroll in graduate classes in the MS program in Computer Science. These students will then be able to complete the requirements for their BS and MS degrees in 4 + 1 = 5 years (rather than in 4 + 2 = 6 years). For more information, please visit here.
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Question: Can I get a BS degree in less than four years?

Answer: Yes. We offer most required classes in both the fall and spring semesters. We also offer various classes in the summer. Students taking advantage of these opportunities can graduate in about three years.
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Question: Do you offer online programs?

Answer: While we offer many hybrid/online classes at the upper-division level, we do not offer any online programs.
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Question: Do you offer graduate programs?

Answer: At present, we only offer a Master’s program in Computer Science.
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Question: What kind of computer do I need for my program?

Answer: The UCA Division of Information Technology (IT) recommends several configurations. However, we suggest doubling the amount of RAM recommended by IT.
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Question: What kind of classes will I be taking in my program?

Answer: Classes common to all three of our BS programs include programming, data structures, algorithms, database systems, object-oriented software development, information security, ethics, and capstone. There are also program-specific classes such as programming language theory (Computer Science), computer architecture (Computer Science), cryptography (Cybersecurity), computer forensics (Cybersecurity), Linux/UNIX systems (Cybersecurity), ethical hacking (Cybersecurity), software security (Cybersecurity), network security (Cybersecurity), networking (Computer Science and Cybersecurity), operating systems (Computer Science and Cybersecurity), artificial intelligence (Data Science), data mining (Data Science), machine learning (Data Science), and data clustering (Data Science).
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Question: What is the typical class size?

Answer: We limit our first-year lab classes to about 20. We have an average of about 23 students in our other classes.
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Question: Do you offer any classes that will help me obtain industry certifications?

Answer: We are a Computer Science and Engineering department, not an Information Technology department. Therefore, we do not offer any classes directly geared towards industry certifications. Nevertheless, after suitable preparation, our students have been able to obtain such certifications.
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Question: Which programming languages do you teach?

Answer: We primarily focus on three programming languages: C++, Java, and Python. These languages are widely used in the IT industry (see, for example, the TIOBE Index). All of our graduates are expected to be proficient in C++. Our Computer Science and Data Science graduates are also expected to be proficient in Java. Finally, our graduates have varying levels of Python expertise, with the Data Science graduates typically being the most skilled in the language.
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Question: Do you provide research opportunities for students?

Answer: Yes! We are one of the most research-active departments at UCA. Our faculty and students engage in various research activities ranging from computerized diagnosis of melanoma to designing secure protocols and publish their findings in reputable venues. For a guide on how to engage in research, please visit here.
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Question: Do you provide study abroad/away opportunities for students?

Answer: The Office of Education Abroad at UCA assists students interested in study abroad/away opportunities. There are also scholarships available to facilitate those opportunities.
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Question: Do you provide scholarships for incoming students?

Answer: Our departmental scholarships are reserved for junior/senior students. However, there are various UCA scholarships available for incoming freshmen/sophomores. For more information, please visit here.
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Question: What kind of careers does a BS degree in Computer Science/Cybersecurity/Data Science prepare me for?

Answer:

  • Computer Science: Software project manager, software architect, software engineer, software developer (desktop, web, mobile, game, etc.), software quality assurance engineer, software tester, user experience/interface designer, software technical writer, database administrator, database designer, database developer, web administrator, system administrator, network administrator, network security administrator, network architect, network engineer, and various Cybersecurity/Data Science related careers (see below).
  • Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity specialist, cybercrime analyst, incident and intrusion analyst, IT auditor, cybersecurity analyst, cybersecurity consultant, penetration and vulnerability tester, cybersecurity manager, cybersecurity engineer, cybersecurity architect, etc.
  • Data Science: Data scientist, data architect, data analyst, data engineer, machine learning engineer, machine learning scientist/researcher, business intelligence analyst, business intelligence developer, business intelligence engineer, etc.

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Question: Are there Computer Science/Cybersecurity/Data Science internships/jobs in the state? Are the internships paid or unpaid?

Answer: Yes! Thanks to our central location and proximity to the state capital, we have many IT employers around us. These companies provide our students with paid internship and employment opportunities. Our graduates have also taken jobs at internationally recognized companies such as Amazon, Apple, Expedia, FedEx, HP, Intel, LinkedIn, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Pfizer, Shopify, and Verizon. For a list of tech jobs in the state, please visit here.
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Question: Will I be able to find a job after I graduate?

Answer: There are numerous Computer Science/Cybersecurity/Data Science jobs in the state and nationwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. These occupations are projected to add about 667,600 new jobs. Demand for these workers will stem from greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security. The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $97,430 in May 2021, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $45,760.” Our graduates typically find jobs without much difficulty.
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