Program Description & Background
The Masters of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) provides a cross disciplinary approach to preparing professionals with proficiency in global information technology. It is designed to support both traditional and emerging career opportunities, offering a balanced curriculum focusing on IS theory and practice. The program is designed with sufficient technical depth and intellectual breadth to meet needs recognizing the varied academic backgrounds and professional inclinations of entering students.
The purpose of the Masters of Science in IS program is to address the growing need for information technology leaders in business, education, government, healthcare, sciences, the arts, and almost every discipline. The primary objective is to respond to the changing needs of the global economy for workers who can develop innovative, information technology-based solutions.
The MSIS program is designed to enable students to develop a high level of proficiency with information technologies, to expand knowledge of their chosen discipline, and to acquire the research, analysis, and problem solving skills required to innovatively implement information technology in contemporary organizations. To respond to the shortage of faculty members in information technology, accomplished graduates could qualify for doctoral degree programs in management information systems, information technology, instructional technology, and related disciplines.
The MSIS program is structured to accommodate students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Students entering the program will have an undergraduate degree from any field and a minimum of two years of work experience. Flexibility is provided for entrants to meet program pre-requisites and to address deficiencies for admission.
The program is also specifically intended for older, more experienced workers to retool to meet the changing economy as jobs become increasingly knowledge-based and high tech. This is especially important in eastern Kentucky, which has been historically over-reliant on low skilled, manual labor such as coal and lumber. To quote Ron Crouch, Director of State Data Center at the University of Louisville, “Kentucky’s reality is that we will sink or swim not on how well we educate our youth, but on how well we educate our entire population, whether 15, 35, 55, or 75.”(Crouch, 1999).
Background of Program:
Almost two years of study and market research have gone into structuring the program. Background research included model MSIS programs, literature and conferences of professional organizations, comparison of U.S. and international graduate IS programs, a review of recently implemented MSIS programs, current analysis of economic trends and information services in the state (including the 2004 Kentucky annual Economic Report), region, and world, and discussions with representatives of target audience groups. Formal focus groups were conducted with alumni, students, and business constituents using group support systems software to facilitate data gathering and analyses from the sessions. Student inquiries were monitored over a two-year period. The IS Advisory Board was consulted several times during the process.
This program was designed to meet the growing need for a highly skilled technical workforce across the country and especially in eastern Kentucky. The Eastern Kentucky Innovation Region strategic plan, published by the Office of the New Economy, identifies information technology based economic development as a high priority for eastern Kentucky. Innovation & Commercialization Centers (ICC’s) have been established in West Liberty and Ashland. The lack of a technical workforce in eastern Kentucky has been identified as a major detriment to economic development, and unless this deficiency is addressed, stands to leave eastern Kentucky behind as the rest of the state takes advantage of incentives and resources now available through the Office of the New Economy and other state and national initiatives to support high tech development. Our U.S. Representative, Hal Rogers, and State legislators Rocky Adkins and John Will Stacy have emphasized the critical need for focusing on information technology as a base for future economic development in this region.