I. Contact Information
Mark Simkin, Professor/Director, Graduate Studies – Information Systems
II. Brief Description
The goal of the Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) program is to produce graduates with excellent technical, management and communication skills. MSIS program graduates understand, implement, use, manage, and explain information technologies in organizational settings. The program provides professionals with the knowledge needed to manage information technology effectively and support organizational decision making. The program also exposes information systems professionals to the latest technologies and methods for using them to solve organizational problems. Finally, the program emphasizes the skills needed to succeed in the business community, including teamwork, leadership, and the ability to communicate effectively.
III. Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes
- Students will be able to manage the full development life cycle for information systems projects.
- Students will be able to work with people who do not have technical knowledge to identify and solve problems within a selected application domain.
- Students will be able to identify and manage the resources required to sustain the technical infrastructure of an organization.
- Students will be able to manage the strategic alignment of the IS organization with corporate strategy and objectives (IS Management Emphasis).
- Students will be able to use quantitative evaluation techniques with large datasets to analyze organizational questions (Data Analytics Emphasis).
- Students will be able to identify, define, and solve problems within a selected application domain, such as health care, education or manufacturing (Data Analytics Emphasis).
IV. Admissions Requirement
The MSIS program requires applicants to satisfy the following:
Graduate School Requirements
- A grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 on a scale of 4.0, or an average of 3.0 of higher for the courses taken during the last half of the undergraduate program.
- A baccalaureate (or an advanced) degree from an accredited four-year institution; any major is acceptable.
ACC/IS Department MSIS Requirements:
- GMAT Requirement. Applicants should complete the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) with a minimum score of 500. Students must also place in the 20th percentile or higher in each portion (verbal, written, and quantitative) of the exam. [These minimum scores are subject to change.]
- General computer Literacy. Applicants should be proficient in word processing and the general ability to use computers to analyze and solve business problems using software such as spreadsheets, statistical packages, and databases.
- Proficiency in English. International students must achieve a minimum score of 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (or 6.5 on the IELTS) indicating the ability to speak, write, and understand the English language. International students may also be required to complete additional Intensive English courses during their first semester in the program.
V. Program Requirements
There are two subject emphasis tracks within the MSIS. The first highlights the management of information systems and enhances graduate student understanding of managing technology-based information systems as a strategic resource in organizations. The first subject emphasis is referred to as the “IS Management Emphasis.” The first subject emphasis helps information systems professionals enhance their managerial and technical skills to increase their marketability. The second subject emphasis focuses on the use of large data sets for decision making within organizations, helping educate future professionals to combine skills in data management, decision making, and an application domain (i.e. health care, education, or business) to create and support a culture for data driven decision making within an organization. The second subject emphasis is referred to as the “Data Analytics Emphasis.” The Data Analytics emphasis helps new graduates gain professional skills to enhance their ability to find employment in a technical field.
A. IS Management Emphasis
The IS Management emphasis prepares students to advance into the management of information technology related processes in organizations. The IS Management emphasis consists of four major components: (1) the information systems core (5 courses), (2) the business core (2 courses), (3) the required IS789 policy and strategy course (1 course), and (4) additional courses in the non-thesis option, or completion of a thesis in the thesis option. Figure 1 provides an overview of the IS Management emphasis and the following sections describe each of those components in greater detail.
1. Information Systems Core (15 units)
The information systems core consists of five required courses. Their purpose is to help students develop technical, analytical, and managerial skills as well as to learn how to apply those skills in common business settings.
2. Business Core (6 units)
Information systems professionals must be familiar with a number of business-related topics to succeed in their career, particularly if that career involves supervising others. Recognizing that each student may have individual interests or business-skill needs, the business core requires students to choose two courses from the following list to expand their current knowledge of business. Students with an undergraduate major in business should choose two core business courses that are beyond the scope of their undergraduate courses. Choose 2 courses from the following:
3. Policy and Strategy Course (3 units)
Students graduating with a MSIS should understand how concepts in the IS and business cores help managers achieve global organizational objectives. The purpose of the policy and strategy course is to integrate those concepts with knowledge of strategic planning for a business or governmental entity.
4. Non-Thesis (8units) and Thesis (6 units) Options
Option 1: Non-Thesis
Under the non-thesis option, students should take three courses (8 units) in a specialization area. One of the three courses (3 units) must be an IS class. The purpose of specialization electives is to encourage students to develop skills and conceptual knowledge in an area of personal interest. To satisfy these elective classes, students can take courses from the Master’s of Accountancy (MAcc) program, courses from the business core listed above (offered in the current MBA program), or approved elective offerings at the 600 or 700 level in IS. In addition, students can take elective courses outside of the College of Business – for example, courses in Computer Science.
Option 2: Thesis
Completing a master’s thesis allows a student to work closely with UNR faculty to develop an area of research beyond that available in standard courses. Students who are considering a career in academia or who are interested in topic areas outside those offered in standard courses at UNR are encouraged to undertake this option. A student following this option will: (1) identify an area of interest, (2) develop a proposal, (3) form a thesis committee, (4) perform the research, (5) write an appropriate thesis, and (6) orally defend the thesis in a public presentation. Under this option, a total of 6 credits of graduate thesis will be applied to the graduation total.
B. Data Analytics Emphasis
The Data Analytics emphasis of the MSIS helps prepare students to become a “data scientist” or data analyst. A data scientist is a professional who uses large data sets in order to gain insights into complex problems. A data scientist incorporates knowledge of statistics, computer technology, information visualization, the scientific method and an application domain to identify appropriate data sets, develop effective analytic models, and create visualizations that help understand and solve problems.
The Data Analytics emphasis consists of five major components: (1) data analytics common body of knowledge (5 courses), (2) information systems core (5 courses), (3) analytics core (2 courses), (4) application domain core (2 courses), and (5) the master’s project (1 course). Figure 2 provides an overview of the Data Analytics emphasis and the following sections describe each of these components in greater detail.
1. Data Analytics Common Body of Knowledge (15 units)
The following core courses comprise the data analytics common body of knowledge and may be waived, depending upon prior course work or knowledge. Students may waive classes in the common body of knowledge with classes taken in an undergraduate degree program. Students must complete the common body of knowledge before enrolling in other courses in the degree program.
2. Information Systems Core
The purpose of the Information Systems Core is to understand the role of information technology in organizations, to understand the cultural and ethical issues related to using data for decision making, and to develop technical skills related to security, data management and project management.
3. Analytics Core (6 units)
In the analytics core, students will enhance their skills in research design, statistical methods, and data analysis. The analytics core assumes that students have prior knowledge of statistics, as developed in the data analytics common body of knowledge.
4. Application Domain Core (6 credits)
Students will select an application domain emphasis to learn what is relevant for decision making in a specific area. Courses taken within the application domain emphasis must build on each other – a student must select two courses that will create in-depth knowledge of an application domain such as health care, education, or a selected specialization within economics or business. Examples of courses that could comprise the application core are provided.
5. Master’s Project
A key goal of the MSIS with an emphasis in data analytics is to develop knowledge and skills to analyze and solve organizational problems with the use of large data sets. The master’s project will guide students through the complete analysis of a problem identified and defined by each student during the classes taken in the application core.
VI. Program Total Hours (30-45 units)
The MSIS program, IS Management Emphasis is 30 units for the thesis option or 32 units for the IS non-thesis option. The MSIS program, Data Analytics Emphasis can vary in number of credits from 30 credits to 45 credits, depending on the preparation of the student. The Data Analytics Emphasis requires completion of a professional master’s project (IS 789 ).
VII. Undergraduate Prerequisites/Notes
A. What are the undergraduate prerequisites to the IS Management Emphasis?
A bachelor’s degree in business or information systems is not required for admission to the MSIS. Students without such degrees can earn an MSIS degree by completing prerequisite courses. The following courses outline specific program prerequisites.
- Background in Information Systems and Computing Applications. An applicant to the MSIS program should understand the basic components of hardware, software, telecommunications, networking, and transaction processing. He or she should also understand the systems development life cycle and how organizations use computers to solve business problems. Finally, applicants should have advanced competencies using computer application software. Undergraduate courses that could satisfy this prerequisite include IS 101 , IS 201 , IS 301 andIS 495 . An example of a graduate-level course that would satisfy part of this prerequisite is BADM 750 .
- Programming ability. An applicant should have experience using a procedural programming language. Undergraduate courses that could satisfy this prerequisite include IS 350 and CS 135 .
- Database design prerequisite. An applicant should understand the concepts of database design and implementation. Undergraduate courses that could satisfy this prerequisite includeIS 475 and CS 457 . An example of a graduate-level course that could satisfy this prerequisite is IS701.
- Project management prerequisite. An applicant should understand the basic concepts of project initiation, planning, and management. An undergraduate course that could satisfy this prerequisite isIS 445 .
These prerequisites may be satisfied with professional knowledge gained outside the classroom. Students without the prerequisite knowledge should enroll in the recommended courses to gain the knowledge necessary for the MSIS program.
B. What are the undergraduate prerequisites to the Data Analytics Emphasis?
The MSIS data analytics emphasis is open to those who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Students may join this program after completing a variety of different undergraduate degree programs. Before starting this program, students must have:
- A basic background of the vocabulary of technology-based information systems. This background could be satisfied through classes such as IS 101 , CS100, or IS 201 .
- Basic knowledge of computer programming. An applicant should have experience using a procedural programming language. Undergraduate courses that could satisfy this prerequisite includeIS 350 or CS 135 .
Specific course requirements can be waived for those students who have taken similar undergraduate or graduate courses at other institutions. In addition, students may be able to waive specific prerequisite courses by successfully completing proficiency examinations for them. Credit for graduate courses in the program cannot be granted for undergraduate courses taken at UNR or other four-year institutions, unless those courses are considered equivalent to graduate courses in the data analytics common body of knowledge.