Information Systems Program Matches Growing Need for Leaders
Technology can be a huge advantage to any business, regardless of industry. It can also present great risk and uncertainty; just ask Target, Sony, or Yahoo!, which were all struck by hackers in recent years.
The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School understands the importance of technology in business, and is grooming future business leaders to handle the myriad challenges and opportunities it can present.
Starting in fall 2017, Carey will enroll its first full-time Master of Science in Information Systems cohort to supplement its existing part-time MSIS program.
William Agresti, 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 that can provide that leadership because they understand both sides of the house: the technology and the business,” he said.
Agresti said the program achieves this through a strategic approach grounded in fundamentals, flexibility, and ethics.
On the fundamentals side, all Carey MSIS students are required to take a basic modern 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 said. “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 said. “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.”
The third prong of the program is the ethical component, which is a thread that runs through all Carey programs. Included in this umbrella is the importance of cybersecurity.
“Technology usage raises a lot of ethical dimensions. We want our graduates to appreciate the sensitivity associated with the use of technology by organizations. 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 seeking to leverage from mining the valuable and voluminous data resources they have,” he said.
A strength of the Carey MSIS program is having students from diverse academic and professional backgrounds. Agresti said they all share one unifying characteristic: “They really want to understand how information and information technology can make organizations successful.”
The MSIS program is designed for a few related audiences. For professionals already working in IT, the program offers an opportunity to grow their skills and place them into 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 in their chosen career path.
“We have students with backgrounds in multiple disciplines, like accounting, marketing, and finance, and spanning the private sector, non-profits, and government agencies,” Agresti said.
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,” noted 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.”