Ramping Up to Meet Need for Leaders in Technology

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Professor William AgrestiStarting in fall 2017, the Carey Business School will enroll its first full-time Master of Science in Information Systems cohort to supplement its existing part-time MSIS program. The move is intended to groom future business leaders to handle the many challenges and opportunities that technology can present.

Professor William Agresti (right), MSIS academic program director at Carey, says it is “a huge plus” to have the program within the business school, which is not always the case with IS programs at other universities.

“Our ambition for graduates of the program is that they are leading their organizations in how to leverage technology effectively to achieve success for the entire organization, to be the person who can provide that leadership because they understand both sides of the house: the technology and the business,” he says.

The MSIS program is designed for a few related audiences, Agresti explains. For professionals already in IT, the program offers an opportunity to grow their skills and land a leadership role within their organizations. The program is also suitable for those who have recently become interested in IT and are eager to pursue it on their chosen career paths. “We have students with backgrounds in multiple disciplines, like accounting, marketing, and finance, and spanning the private sector, non-profits, and government agencies,” Agresti says.

Agresti says the MSIS program takes a strategic approach grounded in fundamentals, flexibility, and ethics.

On the fundamentals side, all Carey MSIS students are required to take a basic web development course that includes a project in which they build an actual functioning web application.

“Our IS faculty have been insistent that the students get hands-on experience so they can gain experience with the tools out there. Students can see that there is no magic: They can gain confidence by building an app,” Agresti says. “There is always the danger with IS programs that people will finish and then say, ‘So how do you actually do this?’ That’s not the case with the Carey MSIS.”

MSIS students continue with fundamentals to learn about managing complex projects, data communications, cloud strategies, mobile apps, big data, analytics, IT enterprise architecture, and IT strategy.

Supplementing the basics, the program curriculum allows for flexibility and independence. One-third of the curriculum (six courses) are electives.

“Unlike IS programs at other universities, we cover the whole spectrum from hands-on to strategy,” Agresti says. “Once we give them this foundation, we allow them the chance to dig deep; to take classes pertinent to their career interests, whether that is health care, technology consulting, entrepreneurship, etc.”

Another crucial piece of the program is the ethical component, which runs through all Carey programs.

“Technology usage raises a lot of ethical dimensions. We want our graduates to appreciate the sensitivity associated with the use of technology by organizations,” says Agresti. “Addressing these issues comes naturally to our students, as they see leading technology and social media companies wrestle with policies about protecting the privacy of user information, while mining the valuable and voluminous data resources they have.”

Additionally, Carey incorporates several IT classes into the core curriculums of its other programs, to enhance the tech knowledge of those Carey graduates.

“The use of information and its related technology has become a critical driver of success across enterprises,” notes Agresti. “We are all working with computers – especially in our smartphones and embedded in devices – all the time. Our MSIS students will broaden and deepen their understanding of how the technology works so their organizations can benefit.”

— Luke Lavoie

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