New Graduate IS Curriculum

Employers today can expect new information system (IS) hires to have e-commerce, marketing and management credentials, as well as computer science expertise. Colleges and universities offering MSIS degrees have modeled curriculum to equip students for a broad range of management opportunities, such as new technologies and new software development. This is happening thanks to the new MSIS program from the joint Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Association for Information Systems (AIS) Curriculum Committee.

Along with business courses, the new MSIS curriculum from the committee is designed to resolve issues of inconsistent content and length of MSIS programs at schools nationwide.

Committee research found that the more than 50 universities and colleges having a specialized masters degree program in IS were using a curriculum designed by ACM in 1982.

"Employers today are saying, 'Yes, I can hire computer scientists, but that doesn't help me in my business,'" says John T. Gorgone, Curriculum Committee Co-chair, and Rubin Professor of Computer Information Systems at Bentley College. "MIS candidates today need to understand the fundamentals of computing and computer science and understand the functions of business. It's a combination of the ability to see the business problem, the engineering problem and what the customer wants."

The MSIS curriculum comprises IS and business foundation prerequisites, plus IS core courses and career electives. The addition of Project and Change Management, and IS Policy and Strategy as core courses acquaint students with the creation and implementation of systems and technologies, and helps define the IS function and IS technologies within a business. This focus on managerial project planning, scheduling and budgeting shows students how policy and strategy considerations affect every aspect of IS. Career electives incorporate enterprise resource planning and e-commerce.

Committee Co-Chair Paul Gray, Claremont Graduate University's School of Information Science, comments, "Project management, change management and the systems integration are taught almost nowhere today. People typically learn these on the job. Now with the new curriculum, it is fundamental to an MSIS degree."

The original MSIS model curriculum was published in 1982. Following meetings to examine curriculum updates took place in the late '80s. In 1995, Paul Gray of Claremont Graduate University invited representatives of interested schools for a curriculum meeting at the first AIS Americas Conference. Research indicated that specialized master's programs were located in a variety of departments, and that content and length varied widely. The new MSIS curriculum is the culmination of two years of research, meetings and proposals.

For more information, visit the Association for Information Systems at Information is also available at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Web site