One in a series of articles profiling university programs focusing on big data and analytics.
John Talburt, the coordinator for the Information Quality Graduate Program at University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), first came in to the university in 1983 and eventually spent seven years as the Computer Science Department chairman.
But Talburt left the university in 1995, spending 10 years across town in Little Rock working at Acxiom, a global leader in data services.
That’s where he “really got an education about data back before they called it big data,” Talburt said. “They had a huge budget for data acquisition and had a really efficient architecture for handling large volumes of data.”
In 2005, with the backing of the university and Acxiom, Talburt returned full-time to campus and created the country’s first Master of Science in information quality degree program at UALR. The program started with 24 students in 2006, and the three-semester program has grown to include a four-course certificate, and an information quality track in the school’s integrated computing Ph.D. program.
Talburt said the UALR program also received a major boost from MIT professor Richard Wang, a leader in data quality theory, who worked with and influenced Talburt both at Acxiom and since on information quality education. Talburt said Wang helped UALR create the information quality curriculum, and that MIT has since served one of the program’s top champions.
Now, the program has around 75 students participating at the three levels; Talburt said about a quarter are learning online from countries including Finland, Brazil and South Africa through real-time webcasts from the classroom.
The curriculum focuses on the principles, strategies and tools essential to defining, measuring and improving information quality, and the relationship of information quality to operational improvement. Other topics covered include data privacy, risk management, data governance, information architecture, entity resolution and master data management.
- Created in 2005.
- 75 students combined in master’s degree program, certificate program and Ph.D. program
- Master’s program is 33 credit hours; full-time students complete in three semesters, on average.
- Master’s program tuition is $8,327 for Arkansas residents, $19,382 for non-residents.
- Master’s thesis or project required for graduation.
- Program uses information quality tools provided by SAS and Talend, and open source tools like R and MySQL.
- Real-time, interactive distance education supported.
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