$2.5M a year in new scholarships for computing majors at UNA + how you can apply today


computing students at UNA
Dr. Mark Terwilliger and computer science undergraduate students working on research. Photo via Leah T. Johnson

The University of North Alabama (UNA) is launching a new $2.5 million scholarship program for computing majors. Employers’ demand for graduates with these skills is very high. To meet this demand, the university plans to invest this amount of money per year to promising students. We talked to two professors in the department to find out why, who’s eligible and how to apply.For priority consideration, students are encouraged to apply by  April 30. Keep reading for all the details.

To learn about UNA’s Department of Computer Science & Information Systems, we reached out to two professors: Dr. Mark Terwilliger, Computer Science Professor, and Dr. M. Shane Banks, Department Chair and Associate Professor, Computer Information Systems. Here’s what they told us:

UNA offers 3 different computing majors

UNA computing
There’s a lot of interactive learning in computing. Photo via Leah T. Johnson

Within the Department of Computer Science & Information Systems, there are three different majors: 

The goal of the department, which is housed within UNA’s College of Business, is to train and graduate computing professionals. 

What the Computing Excellence Scholarship program is + who’s eligible to apply

Computing students at UNA
Like with most subjects, discussion is a huge part of the learning in computing at UNA. Photo via UNA, taken pre-COVID

The Computing Excellence Scholarship program is a new annual commitment of $2.5M by UNA. Its purpose: to help support computing majors as they prepare for high-demand careers in the field, and to meet the workforce needs identified by the state of Alabama.

“The university is making a huge investment in this new scholarship program. Across the country, and in this area, computing majors are in high demand. There aren’t nearly enough graduates to fill that demand. UNA is really helping our program grow. This huge scholarship program is definitely going to do that.”

Dr. Mark Terwilliger

First-time freshmen, transfer students + more are eligible

Students in these three majors—including first-time freshmen, transfer students and current UNA students—are eligible to apply.  Hop over here to check out the minimum requirements and what you need to do to apply for the Computing Excellence Scholarship

“We’ve made efforts to make sure we don’t miss students who are highly qualified and well prepared. We realize they might not be high performers in school and on tests. To be considered, students need either a 3.0 GPA or a 24 ACT. A personal video helps students introduce themselves.”

Dr. M. Shane Banks

Scholarships will be awarded at three different levels:

  • Purple: 100% of all tuition, fees, room and board (up to $20,718 per year)
  • Gold: 80% of all tuition, fees, room and board (up to $16,574 per year)
  • Silver: 60% of all tuition, fees, room and board (up to $12,430 per year)

“One recent scholarship recipient said he and his parents cried when they got the news. Before, college seemed out of reach. With this scholarship, it became a real possibility for him.”

Dr. Terwilliger

What’s unique about UNA’s Department of Computer Science & Information Systems

Hard at work in class, pre-COVID. Photo via UNA
There’s a lot to learn in computing. Photo via UNA, pre-COVID

“As far as I know, no other university in the state is offering this kind of opportunity for students at the scholarship level that we’re offering.”

Dr. Banks

People often say UNA’s Department of Computer Science & Information Systems is a “hidden gem.” Here is some of what makes this program different from others:

  • Classes are small and taught by full-time faculty, not teaching assistants.
  • Professors know their students personally. Dr. Banks: “I think this allows the students to get a better and more customized education, and the students seem to thrive in that more personalized environment.”
  • According to the Department of Computer Science & Information Systems’ Industrial Advisory Board, grads from UNA’s program are “as strong or stronger than any computing alums in the state. Companies are always calling us to find more UNA grads to come work with them.” 
  • The Shoals area is investing in economic development through computing. As a result, graduates could find themselves working in software development in this unique and friendly area when they’re finished. UNA’s students also have job opportunities throughout Alabama and Tennessee.  
  • The university is in the planning stages for a new $20-25M student-focused computing and mathematics building, and we hear it’s going to be spectacular.

“The new building for our Computer Science and Information Systems degrees will provide a first-class educational experience for our students. The building will house our Cybersecurity, Linux, and Human Computer Interaction/User Experience labs. The best place for students to prepare for the technology jobs of the future is at UNA.“

Dr. Gregory Carnes, Dean of the College of Business, UNA

Apply for UNA’s Computing Excellence Scholarship for Fall 2021

Are you ready to apply to study computing at UNA? Photo via UNA’s Facebook

“Our students that graduate are easily finding really good jobs. Because the program is pretty demanding, it’s not for everybody. But if you are good with computers and decent in math and you like to solve problems, then it could be for you.”

Dr. Terwilliger

With nationwide demand for computing professionals that far exceeds supply, job prospects for graduates are excellent, according to Dr. Banks.

“We’re looking forward to having a lot more really talented students apply and set foot on our campus. It’s gonna be really exciting to see these new students make their impact on the campus.”

Dr. Banks

Deadline: For priority consideration, students are encouraged to apply before April 30.

Ready to apply for the Computing Excellence Scholarship? Hop over here to get started on your application today.

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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