New ATU Degrees Earn Approval from AHECB

Three new degrees will make their debut at Arkansas Tech University in summer 2018 following approval by the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

New to Tech in summer 2018 will be a Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering, a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice and criminology and a Master of Education degree in K-12 literacy.

The coordinating board gave the approvals during its January 2018 meeting, which took place at the Arkansas Department of Higher Education office in Little Rock. Program proposals for the degrees in question were reviewed and approved by the ATU Board of Trustees in October 2017.

A need for a greater number of employment candidates was the driving force behind Tech’s new computer engineering degree.

Dr. Mohamed Abdelrahman, ATU vice president for academic affairs, wrote in a memorandum presented to ATU trustees in October 2017 that the Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering will help employers account for a projected 16 percent increase in the need for computer engineers by the year 2024.

Dr. Patricia Buford, associate dean in the ATU College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, stated in the program proposal that separating computer engineering into its own degree rather than making it an option under electrical engineering will improve the job prospects of graduates.

More than 40 electrical engineering students at ATU are currently enrolled in the computer engineering option.

“Some graduates reported that in the job market, there is confusion as to the meaning of computer engineering option,” wrote Buford. “Clarification of the stand-alone degree will assist students obtaining employment in this area.”

The criminal justice and criminology bachelor’s degree will be offered under the auspices of the ATU Department of Behavioral Sciences.

Dr. David Ward, department head in behavioral sciences, wrote in the program proposal that the criminal justice and criminology degree will enhance the talent pool for employers seeking candidates in the transportation security, policing, security, cybersecurity and corrections fields.

“One of the strengths of the program is our availability to offer it completely in an online format as well as face to face,” wrote Ward. “The variety of delivery formats allows local and regional students greater access to a degree, including criminal justice professionals seeking to complete an undergraduate degree. Additionally, this program will provide current Arkansas Tech University students on the Russellville and Ozark campuses who are already pursuing certificates and associates degrees in law enforcement and criminal justice a seamless transition into a four-year program.”

Dr. Tim Carter, head of the ATU Department of Curriculum and Instruction in Tech’s College of Education, explained in the program proposal for the master’s in K-12 literacy that the new degree will support the Reading Initiative for Student Excellence (RISE) introduced by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Education in January 2017.

“With this demand for a greater number and more specifically-prepared reading teachers, the supply is currently not adequate,” wrote Carter. “The proposed program will assist in meeting this demand.”

The program proposal states that the master’s degree program will prepare K-12 literacy/reading specialists who will positively impact student reading development by meeting the standards expected of reading specialists as denoted by the Arkansas Department of Education, the International Literacy Association and the International Reading Association.