IS Bridge Information Session
David Schofield: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online IS Bridge information session. My name is David, I will be the moderator for today’s webcast.
I’m going to start off speaking to a few logistics items really quick. As you can see on the screen, this webcast is in broadcast only mode in order to minimize background noise. So please ensure your speakers are not muted. If you are experiencing any technical difficulties, please click the help icon on the bottom toolbar to troubleshoot.
If you have any questions throughout the presentation, please do not hesitate to communicate with us through the Q and A box at the left side of your screen. We’ll be able to answer questions at the end of the presentation. We will also be sending a link of the recording of the session after the webinar so please look out for that later today.
As you can see by today’s agenda, we will be discussing many topics ranging from the IP industry to the Bridge Program Curriculum and Admission requirements. Most importantly, the directors of our grad and undergrad programs, along with the guests from our IS Advisory Council will discuss the pathway to the MS MIS Program. As previously mentioned, we will be answering your questions at the end of the presentation so please use the Q and A box at the left side of your screen throughout the webinar to submit your questions.
Now at this time I’d like to introduce our panelists. As I had previously mentioned, my name is David Schofield I am the Enrollment Advisor for our Online IS Programs. We also have Dr. Paul Di Gangi who is the director of our online MS MIS Program, Dr. Julio Rivera who is the director of our online BS IS Program and finally we have Tony Towles, senior vice president of Core Banking, Project Management for BBVA Compass and an IS Advisory Council member for UAB.
Now to kick off the presentation I will turn over to Dr. Di Gangi to talk about the current state of the IT industry.
Dr. Paul Di G: Actually, we’re going to have Julio here pick up for us, he’ll talk about the state of the IT industry and then I’ll focus in a little bit more on a high-level review of the MS Program and then the role the Bridge plays in that preparation.
Julio Rivera: Thank you, Paul. I’m Julio Rivera I’m currently the Program Director for undergraduate information systems Program but strangely enough I do most of my teaching in the graduate side of things. Figure that one out.
Anyways, let me tell you a little bit about what’s going on in the IT industry right now. The slide you have in front of you has numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which is a really good source for learning where things are in terms of IT and any other industry for that matter.
What we’ve seen from our perspective and we’re a business school so keep that in mind, is that the areas that have great growth are those in the leadership area, that is people that help make the decisions on how IT is used in organizations and, if they’re really good at it, also come up with new ideas on how to use IT, to further the strategies and the goals that any organization has.
The other area, which I’m sure you’ve seen news stories about, is in information security. That has seen tremendous growth over the last few years and everything we see dictates that that is going to continue growing. The reality is, we all use the internet and if you’re using the internet, if you can connect to the internet, the internet can connect to you and that has some serious security implications, not just on a personal level but for most organizations. So you’ll see all sorts of news stories about that as we go forward.
The last area that we’ve got on the slide is in regard to development and although our program doesn’t really delve necessarily into the creation of information system, that is the programming and development side of things, it is important to understand how that works and to be able to contribute to the development of new applications and systems that help organizations that grow and thrive. So, that’s what you see in terms of the major growth areas right now in the industry. There are some other areas but these are the one that are probably the, would line up the best with our program and what we’re trying to prepare you for.
As far as UAB is concerned, what we have here, and we’re talking about our MS Program, our Master’s of Science, MIS, is a completely online program that is essentially what we would offer in-house here at UAB but you don’t have to be here. Its designed to help you in the space of roughly a year and a half to get a MS degree that will give you the background and prepare you for a managerial type position in an information systems side of any business or organization.
The program’s designed to give you a lot of flexibility, we offer, depending on whether it’s [inaudible 00:05:20] and Dr. Di Gangi will talk about this more in a future slide, or if it’s one of the concentration areas in the core. We offer those courses year round in a [inaudible 00:05:33] format. So you can actually sign up there in a semester and take two courses in sequence although we have had students who take four courses, that’s unusual and not recommended. But, it certainly means that you can get through faster than otherwise, and you know, you always have the ability to take courses in a given semester because of the way we set things up and the prerequisite structure as such that we’re not [inaudible 00:06:02] most courses out there.
We’re a business school so when we look at things we’re trying to give you the technical background and how that impacts the business. So, when you look at our courses, yes you will be getting some technical background and we’ll talk more about how to get prepared for that and at what level, but we also need to look at it because we’re looking at it from business perspectives as to how a business uses these systems and the knowledge necessary to make information systems part of a successful business, to attribute to a business.
So, that is emphasized and when you see the word soft skills, that means that what we’re trying to prepare you for is the ability to make a case for why you should do this, that or the other in a business environment. Because, typically for somebody in a MIS type position, you have to convince somebody that it is worth investing in a given system or piece of software or whatever in order to accomplish something that the business has as a goal and most people that you’ll be dealing with do not have the technical background. You understand that so you, so you have to make a persuasive case, I’m sorry, and do so in a number of different ways.
Those are tough things to do, of course not just technical knowledge but also the ability to deal with people and to put together a whole [inaudible 00:07:28] set that people are interested in dealing with.
Finally, as a school, in this particular program you can see that we have an array of different icons that are at the bottom so let me start with the one in the middle, the AACSB icon. We are an accredited business school for the AACSB which is now an international association of business schools and we have to meet certain requirements in order to maintain that accreditation. We do this on a five year rolling basis so we just got through about a year and a half ago on this and we’ll be coming up in a couple more years. But that requires that we offer a certain level of instruction and that our programs meet certain targets in terms of how [inaudible 00:08:13] instruction and the sorts of things that we do.
On the right you see two icons that reference the NSA. No, we’re not spying on people. What those refer to is the fact that over the years, the NSA and the NIS, the National Institute of Standards, have developed ways of furthering, in the information security area, education and what they’ve established not just in education but in research are awards that designate institutions as being standards of excellence. So we are a center of excellence for research in information security and there are a number of these around the country but that means that we have to meet certain standards in that area.
So when you look at our [inaudible 00:09:05] both Dr. Di Gangi and I had a security rating, certificates that is. We’re both certified Information System Security professionals and that contributes not just to our learning but also requires us to keep up with the industry so we have a continued education requirement we have to meet and we also participate. So, for example, on my part, I co-chair the Information Security Advisory in the [inaudible 00:09:33] University. So I look at a lot of different things and get exposed to a lot of different security situations, that contributes to what we do in the classroom.
On the left hand side you see some rankings from US News and World Report, the 25 best online graduate business programs, number 19 on the best online computer information technology programs. So we are trying to be as good as we can be and that is [inaudible 00:10:00] and then also the Princeton Review shoes that the UAB is one of the top 10 universities in the United States for diversity. We have very diverse faculty and student body and, you know, we’re a fairly young institution but we are interested in being among the top.
So with that I’m going to turn it over to Paul Di Gangi and let him pick up from there.
Dr. Paul Di G: So, thank you Julio very much and welcome everybody to the webinar. I’m hoping today to give you a little bit of a background into our strategy that we use for designing our master’s program before I get into the Bridge program because it’s really important here for when we designed out the Bridge, it was about making sure that we accomplish a few things. The most important being that we have many students that are interested in making the transition into the IT field.
As Julio pointed out, there’s a lot of growth potential for many of these careers. In particular, in the leadership field of IT and the security field and this would make a lot of sense if you think about the business side of these topics, especially in the IT field. We are doing a great job, not perfect because there’s still a whole lot of demand for these positions, but we’re doing a great job trying to fill the line level employees, trying to get people into the industry and that’s certainly something when you have a high demand, it’s something that most companies, most academic institutions are trying to react to.
But, we’re trying to think a little bit ahead of the curve on this and we’re starting to realize that with all these line people, with all the operational level IT employees that we create, we nurture, we need to make sure that they also understand that you have to have people thinking about the strategic decisions that have to be made around technology. About trying to make sure, if we put this into kind of like a military kind of a metaphor, be that while we’ve built out the capacity for our soldiers, it’s time that we start making a deliberate attempt at developing our Generals and our Captains and our leadership structure that will be commanding these troops as they move forwards in the IT field. And that’s part of why we designed our MS program in this way is to help develop these field marshals, the generals, they’re going to command and leave these IT employees.
Now, with the Bridge program, the design here is, we have to first get those people trained in the basic training on what the field is going to look like to then get them ready for that type of a program. So, when we think about our MS program, we first start off with trying to make sure that we’re at the cutting edge of what are the biggest domains of knowledge for IT leaders today.
That’s why when you look at our core, you see things like an introduction to cyber security, IT leadership in the cyber security area is becoming a very hot topic. We saw the mass of growth, I think it was 20 something percent.[crosstalk 00:12:59]. 28 percent and so the first thing that we have to do in our master’s program is teach people the fundamentals. What are the key words, the language, what does the certification landscape look like and in that class in particular, we allow for some certification so if you have a security plus certification already you can actually waive out of the class and get credit for it.
If you don’t and you want to take the class, if you earn your security plus certification during that class, you get to actually waive out of the final exam, I’m the professor in that, I’ve got a couple students interested in that right now.
But the idea here is that class is designed to round the bodies of knowledge that fit the security plus certification and it goes beyond that by teaching some of the managerial principles in addition. So that way people are prepared to enter the security world. But, we want to line this up with industry as much as possible.
We also have a class that’s true leadership that’s focused on IT and business strategy. It’s about the alignment, the business alignment between the technology units and the organization’s business units to make sure that they’re both working together to achieve the business’ key objectives and succeeding in its industry.
We also have a class on IT governance. Now, I’m sure most of you remember we went through a little bit of a recession a couple years ago and one of the things that has come out of that are new regulations that were in the financial sector. But, in addition to those new regulations, a lot of organizations have to face many different things that they have to comply with. So, IT governance takes an in depth look at understanding how the IT units play a role in this and a lot of this fundamentally comes down to your IT systems that you have in place that are managing the data and are going to be used to [inaudible 00:14:50] reports and the audits.
We also have a class on social media and virtual communities. So this is typically a fun class that is designed around an in depth look of how social media is transforming the business environment. Now, many people look at social media and think about it from the marketing perspective, how do we engage our customers, how do we work towards building a stronger brand reputation, as well as brand recognition and affiliation and loyalty. But, this class actually takes a little bit more of a IS perspective to it. It tries to actually focus more on how user generated content, social media, is transforming the nature of work that happens in a business environment.
So, for instance, in knowledge management systems, we see a rapid increase in the use of Wikipedia and internal social networking systems. How does that affect the knowledge flow and the development efforts for an organization?
We also look at how user generated content is changing the way we innovate as an organization and we start looking at the different ways that social media affects team collaboration and culture and so in that class, as opposed to the more marketing oriented perspective, we look at it in terms of what are the roles that IS plays in the use of these technologies to transform an organization into kind of a modern-day operations that we see today.
Data science for business is also becoming a huge topic. This class walks us through some of the fundamental techniques that are associated with analytics and data scientists today. So you learn about things like cluster analysis that could help explain how people create different levels of their product offerings. Like say for instance why your cell phone companies have different data and minutes plans. They tell you through the cluster analysis ways of trying to figure out where to segment your customer base.
It teaches things like classification and association mining. So you can start to get a sense of what products might do well when advertised together and then of course we have IT project management. Now Julio mentioned earlier about the third leg here of growth was development. But at the center of any development project is going to be the ability to manage these development efforts and again, a consistent and reliably way.
So project management is [inaudible 00:17:05] lined up with the project management professional certification that’s designed by PMI and what it does is teach you the fundamentals of how to think about projects and how to manage them successfully.
Now that’s the core, right, every single student that comes to our master’s program takes these fundamental classes. It’s a good breadth, it gets you in a picture of what are the hottest emerging trends that are happening in the technology world today, that business professionals, especially that are moving into the managerial level, need to have their fingers in in order to understand and be successful today.
But we also have to think about the face that there are true leadership positions that start separate out. Which is where we came up with our concentration programs and informally while we have the formal titles, we informally call them our executive tracks.
So for the IT management concentration, it’s our CIO track. This is the one for people that are looking to be the top IT executives, to handle most IT operations and IT infrastructure. So they talk about things like how do we actually understand our leadership strategies, our leadership personality and how that affects our ability to negotiate and be successful as a technology leader and a company. How can we champion the technology field inside of an organization.
Technology planning and capital budgeting is an extension of the project management where we have to understand how to manage a portfolio or IT projects to meet the business needs of an organization as it’s evolving. Web analytics right now is one of our classes to try to take a little bit of a deeper dive into understanding how an organization’s presence online is affected by the design, the site, its operations and then we have advice from our IS Advisory Council to adopt incident response and business continuity because even though there might be a separate security unit, the CIO will ultimately also be actively engaged in managing incident responses and of course many times till also be actively pointed out front and center as the executive that ultimately is responsible for all IT aspects of the company, regardless of whether or not they have a CSO.
Now, the other executive track that we have is the CSO track. This is the Cyber Security Management concentration where we try and have the full lifecycle of what security looks like, all right. So, for instance from the very beginning we think about the fact that in the business side of the world it’s about security policies and planning and trying to understand what are the different types of security things that we have to do the establish a good posture for an organization on a security front. How can we best position ourselves to protect ourselves?
One of the fundamental things we’ve learned though is that humans, the employees themselves are one of the most dangerous things to an organization, mainly because they respond, they react differently to the same stimuli, all right, while systems if programmed and configured correctly, while they are susceptible to failure, they typically react in a generically kind of consistent way while people on the other hand can react in different way.
So that’s why we have a class that almost exclusively focuses on policy design, how can we create administrative documents to help govern our employee behavior in the setting as well as how can we best implement security solutions in a consistent and reliable way.
We also have a class on cyber-attacks and threat mitigation. This class focuses exclusively on the gap analysis kind of question where we can try and take what we know about our security infrastructure, what our information resources are but also then what are the current threats that are emerging on a daily basis? How do our current security controls combat those threats? Are there gaps between what we already have in place and the threats that we’re facing and how can me mitigate them? So it walks through how to actually process intelligence or threat intelligence information and then close that gaps to make sure that or organization is making its best effort to create a strong consistent security posture.
In addition we have a class on incident response and business continuity. So while the policy course focuses on the pre- stuff to make sure we get consistent employee behavior, the cyber-attacks and threat mitigation class focuses on the things that we can actively do, incident response focuses on the fact that we are all valuable as organizations.
Security is not 100%, if we believe that we can be 100% secure we’re going to be the worst security official officer known to man. All right. But in incident response it’s about how we react to the incidents when they emerge. What do we do? How can we best prepare to respond? After of course we handle the incident that we’re facing, it’s about trying to figure out what went wrong and that’s where digital forensics comes in.
So we have the full lifecycle from the policy start all the way to the technical analysis of trying to figure out what went wrong and how can we fix it and if we need to go to the legal route and working with Government authorities, what are our role as an organization, the forensics part, what are the things that we have to do to engage for law enforcement and we’re teaching as, on the business side here how to manage these teams. All right, so, how to know enough to be able to work with the digital forensics experts at the operational level but you’re at the tactical level in the strategic level of trying to manage these processes and report to the right people inside of your organization to best facilitate the security response.
All right, those are our overarching concentrations. Now, when you look at the whole program you can see it’s pretty robust in how we try to design it. We tried to have a broad impact or perspective in the core with focused attention in two very important tracks, the leadership side which is tremendous growth potential in the industry as well as the security side that has even bigger potential.
But we’ve realized that a lot of people are excited about the idea of entering the filed for the first time so many of them aren’t going to have IS, computer science, IT or STEM oriented degrees if they’re undergraduate level and/or they might say for instance have had these degrees but it’s been a long time since they’ve had the college classes and they’ve maybe narrowed in in a particular area of the IT field and they need to re-get that breadth of their understanding of the IT industry.
This is why we designed our bridge program where it’s a six-course sequence that mirrors our undergraduate major requirements. So it’s tied just like our master’s program to the IS Advisory Council for advice. This program that we’ve designed tries to make sure that people are getting the cutting edge knowledge of the introduction to what information system as a discipline is and how it aligns with the IT field.
So we have three different kind of phases that we walk you through in this program. The first one is to give you the breadth of the field. IT is one of the widest ranging topics in the world, all right. You can be very technical and have a job but you can also be very managerial and focus more on managing the human elements working on requirement analysis and have a great job as well. You don’t have to be a techy to work in IT but you also don’t have to be just a people person to work in IT.
So the information systems course is designed to give you the wide angle lens. These are all the major field domains that we have in this field. [inaudible 00:24:45] what it takes to succeed in that environment. We’re going to give you a little bit of depth but we’re really focusing on breadth at first.
After that, we try and give you a foundation all right so we gave you the breadth but now we’re going to talk about the [inaudible 00:25:00] that the IT industry has. So for instance you are going to have a business programming class. It’s going to focus on understanding the logic that happens with how information is processed and analyzed and moved forwards in a system in particular in an application.
We’re going to have a class on Systems Analysis. How do we break down business problems and design a system to meet those needs? We’re going to have a class on business data communications. How does information flow from one point to the other on an organization? What types of resources and tools are needed in order for remote workers to actually get connected into an organization’s infrastructure.
Then we have database management. The world is expanding in terms of the information that is being created. It’s how we can organize it and leverage it best are going to be the organizations that can compete and succeed in the next century. So this class helps us understand how we breakdown data, how we create information and turn it into market intelligence. All right and it’s all about how we can store it, process it, clean it, move it forwards.
This creates the foundation skills. Once you walk out of these four classes you will have the general language of an IT professional, you’ll be able to communicate with other IT leader, other IT professionals in the field and they will give you that credibility you need as you transition into this industry.
After that, we have business communications. We are a business school. We are training you to becomes managers of technology, leaders in this field. In addition to having the skillset that you would normally have in terms of your technical chops, you need to be able to communicate more than anything. You need to be able to understand how to effectively persuade resources from upper management. How to effectively communicate with employees for why certain policies are put in place or why certain solutions will improve their productivity or performance.
Business communications teaches you how to communicate as a business professional and when combined with the technical side, you become an IT professional that is really poised to succeed, especially when you look at how our master’s program is designed.
If you want to succeed in the analytics world so you take that data science class, you’re going to need to know database management and as well as the business programming. If you’re trying to get into the leadership world well infrastructure is going to be a critical part of your life so understanding business data communications, database and systems analysis is going to be where you are.
If you’re going to be in security, database programming, telecommunications and systems analysis are all going to play critical roles in how you develop the mindset of and IT professional. Security professionals have to think in a certain way to break down security problems into solutions, same thing with CIOs, they think about different contexts but the processes that we use are very similar and they’re all from this foundation of knowledge and skills all right.
This is the overall design that we took to developing the bridge program. Now, you know, one of the things that we like to do in the business side of the world is we point out how we design the program, we point out why we design it in this way to meet the needs but one of the most important parts that we see as a part of our job as academics in business school is to work with the industry. Which is why we have an IS Advisory Council that we go to for advice. They help us on our undergraduate as well as our graduate program or just solicit different pieces of information on how we can best provide the knowledge and the skill that are needed in today’s technology world.
That’s why I’m going to hand the slides over here to Tony who’s from BBVA and he’s going to walk us through what that IS Advisory Council is, what’s its purpose and what maybe some of his experiences have been working with us already. Tony.
Tony Towles: Hey Paul, thanks so much so this is Tony Towles here, I work at BBVA Compass. BBVA is a Spanish bank that acquired the old Compass bank shares about 10 years ago, 12 years ago now and so we are the US arm of the Spanish banking giant BBVA.
So, our head office is here in Birmingham Alabama, and I’m in charge of a group at the bank that handles project management for many of the organizations consumer lending products and consumer depository products.
So I have been a member of the ID Advisory Council for quite a number of years now and that’s a group of industry leaders that get together on a periodic basis with the faculty of the UAB business school we discuss trends in technology, review the curriculum that is being offered by UAB and we make recommendations for how that curriculum may need to be changed, modified, talk about new industry trends that need to be covered in the curriculum and we work together quite closely in all of the things that Paul has outlined to you today, or many of the things that he has outlined to you today regarding the design of the curriculum that you guys are interested in has been discussed at that length with our advisory group.
And it’s absolutely, in my mind, a very valuable organization not only for UAB but for the businesses that are participating because the companies that are represented on the advisory council of course are recruiting and looking for employees and we want to make sure that the pool of candidates that are coming out of UAB’s programs are aligned with industry trends and ready to step into positions.
So, that’s what the IS Advisory Council does and I really would like Paul to make a nice pitch for the bridge program. The bridge program in my mind is absolutely a wonderful thing and UAB is doing us a favor by offering this program that gives you a sound basis in the [inaudible 00:31:16] and the terms that you’ll come in contact with as you move into a technology position. So it is very valuable and I can kind of say that from experience.
So I’ve been working in business for a long time now but when I first got out of college I was I the US Navy and when I left the Navy I went back down to Auburn University, did an MBA and my undergrad was in a technical discipline and you were allowed to start the MBA program down there, they had a bridge program very similar to this where new students in the program had to take a base level classes that helped you understand the language and the terms of business, very valuable and so I can personally attest to the value the bridge program brings when you’re trying to make a transition from one career line into another.
So that is absolutely a beneficial series of classes that you guys will have the opportunity to take. Questions for me?
David Schofield: Oh well thank you so much, Tony for taking time out of your day to be with us and explain that, the opportunity you guys provide students here at UAB, much appreciated. Also thank you Paul and Julio for your insight.
I wanted to start off here by saying that the bridge admission requirements, we’re accepting at least a 2.0 undergraduate GPA. Be mindful that our additional requirements of needing to have a 3.0 at the end of our bridge program is needed to be admitted in for master’s program unless you have a GMAT score or any work experience.
Now, in order to be eligible for the program, until you finish the bridge, all of those courses, those six undergraduate level courses you need to finish with BS or better in all of those courses.
For the bridge, you’ll be completing a UAB undergraduate application along with paying a $30 non-refundable application fee. You’ll need to request official transcripts from each institution you’ve attended and they need to be mailed or e-scripted directly to UAB.
Now I’ll pass it back over to Dr. Di Gangi to discuss further the bridge to MS MIS program pathway on the next slide.
Dr. Paul Di G: Great, thank you very much. So, just to kind of give you a quick hit here so we talk about the way our program is structured.
Now the bridge program is designed in mind with the people that are looking to transition into the field or people that are looking to kind of retool a little bit even within the IT field.
So while most of them would be very good for going directly into the master’s program when they’ve already been in the industry, it’s the opportunity if they’d like to try and retool by going getting that [inaudible 00:34:11] again, it’s an option for them as well. But the primary focus of our bridge program was designed around those transitioning into the field.
Now, in that process though we wanted to encourage people obviously that are successful on our bridge program to then turn and enter into the masters and MIS program. So as you can see on the right hand side of the screen, these are our standard admissions criteria that we use for the MS program. An undergraduate degree in Information Systems or a related discipline along with a 3.0 minimum undergraduate GPA and then a GMAT of 40 or GRE equivalent but that can be waived based on professional work experience and prior academic graduate degrees you have earned.
So if you have another graduate degree, the GMAT can be waived. If you have significant amount of IT work experience the GMAT can be waived. However, what we’re taking into account now with this new bridge model that we’re going to do, you’re going to gain some IT experience with the new bridge and so we want to reward performance in that model. So for instance we have two different types of ways of getting into the master’s program from the bridge.
So the first one is our accelerated admissions. If after the end of the bridge program your cumulative GPA is over a 3.0, so let’s say you suffered through some things in your undergraduate degree and you didn’t have a 3.0 but then you do really well on our bridge program and you’re cumulative GPA goes above a 3.0 and you have a 3.0 minimum in the bridge with no grades lower than a B on any of the six courses, well you’re a really excellent target then for not having to complete the other components of our application, say for instance like say for instance like take the GMAT because you’ve already proven yourself in our program that you can succeed and your cumulative GPA meets the minimum standards for our MS admissions on a standard level as well.
So you can get into our program by leveraging your performance in the program to meet those standard and the fact that you actively took our courses and our programs. It shows that you have the right skillset to be successful on our MS program.
Now some of you might actually still even after working very hard through the bridge program have a cumulative GPA of below the 3.0 threshold that we’d like. However what we like to look at there is take into consideration your general work experience, not necessarily IT oriented but what work experience you might already have as you career transition.
So the idea here say for instance would be if you had five years of work experience working in another field that wasn’t IT, we’d look at you and say if you did well in our bridge program maybe your cumulative GPA can be lower than the 3.0 because you can add a dimension to our MS Program by showing your perspective of how technology works from your work experience. So even though you weren’t in the technology field, you know what the business environment looked like, you can show and share perspectives in our class discussions about what this was interpreted like from the non-techy side and that could be an added value piece to our class discussions.
It’s always a good thing to create a diverse set of discussion, comments and perspectives in our classes, we value that and so this is one thing that if you’re cumulative GPA is below the threshold we’d like, but you still earned a B or better in all of our program courses, we’d like to take a look at your professional work experience and see if maybe you could still be a great fit for the accelerated admissions which means no GMAT, the letters of recommendations or any types of additional things that you might want to put in there to showcase who you are aren’t needed in that accelerated model.
Now, you still of course have the traditional admissions process, all right, which means say you know you pass the GPA or you went through the program and maybe you didn’t get a B in everything but you still performed quite well. Well, we look at things in the traditional application process too but we’ll take into consideration certain additional things.
So for instance, faculty recommendations. You’ve now taken classes with UAB faculty. We have seen firsthand what you’re capable of doing in the classroom. So when we look at our admissions process, we look at the whole student in addition to what they can do academically [inaudible 00:38:36] what they can do on standardized exams, we look at who they are as a person from our faculty evaluations and from the recommendations we get from the faculty.
We strongly encourage that if you’re going to try and come from the bridge program and don’t fit the accelerated admissions model, get to know your faculty, get them to be willing to write those letters of recommendations for you and they will be highly considered as a part of our process.
In addition, there’s the GMAT, while we have that minimum GMAT score, we look for that score as well again, if you don’t have that professional work experience or a previous academic degree that can help with it. So you have the ability even going through the bridge program to still get in without, in the non-accelerated way by looking at the faculty recommendations of your performance on some of our tests. All right.
So that’s our overarching bridge program and how we can get you into the master’s program. I think we’d be open to some questions now and unfortunately Julio had to step out, he’s got I believe actually an undergraduate curriculum meeting so he is working on designing the overarching business curriculum.
So I’ll be able to answer any question from the UAB academic side.
David Schofield: All right well thank you so much Paul. Absolutely we’ll now open it up to questions so please go ahead and use the Q and A box on your screen, we’ll start by answering the questions we have received so far.
As we’re going through these we’ll answer as many as we can today but if we don’t get to your question I will personally follow up with you.
First question to come in so far today, I’ll drive this right to Paul, how long does it typically take to get through the bridge program.
Dr. Paul Di G: So I’ll answer this in two ways. First off traditional way, you have to take all six classes. They’re designed the same exact way as our master’s program. One by one seven weeks fully online and so you can get through our bridge program if you had to take all seven, in one academic way. So Fall, Spring, Summer, or whenever you were to roll so if you were to enroll Spring 2019, you’d take it Spring 19, Summer 19, Fall 19 and be entering our master’s program Spring 20.
Of course, there are some people that come in with a little bit of experience in technology or they’ve had a class or two in their other degree programs in which case you might be able to short that a little bit. So say for instance somebody was at one point they did computer science or IS as a major and then they changed majors so they might have had systems analysis and they might have had the introduction information systems courses, well we can get those classes taken off of their bridge requirements so that way you’d just have to complete four of those six so you might, depending on how it’s scheduled and what classes they are, you might be able to get right into the master’s program a little bit faster.
David Schofield: Thank you very much Paul and yes it’s just to kind of couple off of that here I’ve had many students come to me with certifications and I always defer to admissions and I’ve had bridge courses get waived. Could potentially limit the amount of classes you’ll have to take.
I did also want to ask in regards to many of my other students asking, is there a way to possibly take additional bridge courses even if you have to take them all and finish the bridge program a little bit sooner if a student is feeling a little ambitious?
Dr. Paul Di G: I will say I’m not absolutely sure because since it’s on the undergraduate scheduling side. We have these course that are in the bridge are guaranteed to be offered at certain points, based on our undergraduate program because that’s how they fit in.
But I do believe that there are some classes that overlap so you might be able to, I just can’t answer 100% for sure that it’s guaranteed for the classes to be offered at additional times. I’m sorry everybody, I wish I could provide you with a better answer on that one.
David Schofield: Another question here, a student is asking with the online program are professors generally available for face to face meetings if more help is needed?
Dr. Paul Di G: So just as a quick aside, all of your professors that you have in the online programs, any of our online programs, the bridge, the master’s program, our undergraduate bachelor’s degree program, they’re the same exact professors that teach our face to face courses so we’re more than happy and willing to meet with students. I’ve met with several of my online students face to face.
We do encourage students to communicate in the same manner which they’re having their classes, however, it’s not a limitation at all. It’s not restricted. You’re more than welcome to come in and have fact to face classes but we do recognize the face that our students are located all over, in the master’s program in particular we see people from Texas and Houston, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Atlanta, as well as Birmingham area here to.
So obviously our students might not necessarily all be co-located here in the Birmingham area but we more than welcome them to come in and say hi as well as take part in any of the activities as a student at UAB. You know you are a member of the UAB community, you’re always welcome here in our brand new school of business, networking events, class activity, you know, any type of student group activities.
We always welcome you know our online students and encourage them if it’s possible for them to come and visit… and also graduations are always a nice thing it’s one of my favorite things when we graduate out of the master’s program to see the students for the first time many times face to face.
David Schofield: Well thank you so much. I do have another question that just came in and I can go ahead and answer this one. Can financial aid be utilized for the bridge courses?
Very good question, actually really glad you brought that up because this was actually discussed and revised and now you can now currently utilize financial aid, if you are eligible, to fund those bridge courses. So very good question. Yep, absolutely, if you apply and are eligible for financial aid you can utilize that to fund the bridge courses. Good question.
Dr. Paul Di G: So, one of the things actually I’d like to bring up as a question myself as we’re looking for some Q and A here, in the master’s program one of the things that we started experimenting with, and I love this because it’s an option for you to be thinking about for those of you that would like to take the bridge but might not need to take all of the bridge classes I know that was brought up before. Some of our courses allow for certifications in the industry to waive you out for credit for the classes.
So for instance, my IS 607 class that’s the introduction to cyber security, all right, if you have a security plus or the CISSP certification already in hand you can waive out of that class.
Also, we have that for our project management class, if you already have the PMP certification and I believe we also have it for the [inaudible 00:45:58] for the IT governance class. Now, there’s a limit that we can do to this. I believe it’s, you can only get up to six credit hours waived in the master’s program for certifications so if by some miracle you’ve had all three certifications, you have to choose two. I mean I wish I could give you more but we have certain requirements for our ACSB and other academic requirements.
But, what that means though for those of you interested in getting into the bridge, several of these certifications have work experience requirements but many of them have parallel certifications that are pending be work experience gaining. So, like say for instance, the PMP and the CISSP both have a work experience requirement but you take the exam and pass, you become associate members of the ISC squared, the body that manages the CISSP or you become, I forget what the official title is for the PMP one but it’s a lower level title that’s given to you before you earn those work experience years. All right.
Other certifications like the security plus have no work experience requirements in order for you to earn it and then have it as a standing certification. I’ve recommended to students that if they’re walking through the bridge program and say you have one that wants to get into the security discipline all right, if you have a gap in your bridge program, take that seven weeks and study for the security plus exam. It would be much better for you, especially if you’re trying to transition into the field to get those certifications, the security discipline, to get into position is finicky. They like seeing the certifications in addition to the academic credentials to guarantee that you have a certain baseline of knowledge.
So if you could study during that gap period on the security plus, when you get through the bridge program you may be able to waive out of one of our master’s classes and either fill it with something else or just simply enjoy the credit and move on.
If you’re looking more for the IT leadership, IT management track, that project management professional certification would look awfully desirable on the market as well.
So it’s options that you should look at if you’re looking at the bridge and wanting to get through it faster. You might want to consider the idea of you know, looking at the certifications, seeing if you can study and take them and at the end of the day you might get ahead of your master’s degree by looking at those certifications and possibly you know, put yourself already into a certification that makes you desirable on the market.
So just wanted to throw that out at you as just a quick comment.
David Schofield: Well thank you so much, I do have another question, I will direct this one to the member of our IS Advisory Council here, Tony, any there any intern opportunities available?
Tony Towles: Well there typically are, of course if depends on the company, but here at BBVA Compass we do have a program that is really for those that are attempting to make a transition from a non-technical discipline or occupation to technical position, in technology we call it the Leap program, Leap.
That program takes applicants and if you’re selected, those applicants move through several different areas of the bank over a year’s time period and the participants in the program get to see all sides of the bank from the business end and the technology end and at the end of the program typically they’re offered a position.
So that’s something that this bank offers, I would assume that many other large employers have similar programs but absolutely that is a form of an internship that the bank uses extensively to recruit applicant or candidates for positions that we have so absolutely, yes.
David Schofield: Outstanding, thank you so much Tony. I did have one more question I’ll go ahead and answer as far as tuition. Basically asking, you know, how much does this program cost.
There are two different levels, I wanted to go over both with you. Bridge courses obviously being undergraduate level, a little bit cheaper cost, 667 per credit hour and each class is three credit hours.
Once you get past the bridge and you successfully complete all those courses with BS or better and you apply to a master’s program, those are $1088 per credit hour. Be advised if you’d like more detailed information utilize the link on the left side of your screen, that’s a direct link to my appointment calendar, I’d be more than happy to discuss costs at length.
I’m not seeing any additional questions at this time but I will give it a few minutes here to see if anyone else has any additional questions.
I did have another question come in here in regards to that scholarship email you probably all received at this point. There is no additional paperwork you need to fill out to be eligible for that scholarship you would just need to apply and be admitted into the program before November 16th.
How it works is if you finish the first semester with over a 2.0 for the undergrad program or a 3.0 for the graduate program, you will be receiving 500 after the first and second semester disbursed back to you. Nothing you need to do besides get your application to me and get admitted before the 16th of this month.
I’m going to leave it open here for a few more minutes, we’re looking at about eight more minutes, but I’ll leave it open for questions here for a few more minutes, see if any other questions do trickle in.
Great question, I do have, I’ll direct this one to Paul, how much relevant work experience is needed to waive the GMAT score, I currently have three years as a technical consultant, is that enough?
Dr. Paul Di G: That’s a great question and what happens here on this is it’s a little bit complicated here because we take into multiple factors are a part of that waiver decision. So we look specifically at… how you did as your undergraduate GPA helps lower the threshold for what the work experience might be needed there. But also what exactly you did as a part of the technical consultant.
We have five different dimension that we use for trying to assess the work experience so we try and understand, can you display things like project management skills, any types of understanding of some of the key concepts that are associated with systems analysis, have you had a progressive amount of work experience or responsibilities during those three years, do any of those work experiences things also include things that would be typically found as a part of any existing professional certifications?
You might not necessarily have the certification but you have the knowledge that would be associated with that certification due to the job responsibilities. So when we look at it, the three years could be sufficient, but it would depend on what you did during those three years is kind of the extensive part, all right?
And say you had a pretty decent GPA at the undergraduate degree and say you had a pretty broad range of escalating responsibilities too, that three years could easily meet the threshold we would use for the waiver.
David Schofield: Outstanding, thank you. Paul, I do actually have another question here asking about the bridge program in regards to certifications being offered for completing the bridges, is that something that we’re currently, well I mean obviously we’re not currently offering but is that something we’re discussing and potentially might offer in the future?
Dr. Paul Di G: Yes, right now so obviously with the bridge we first created it so what we’re trying to get through and unfortunately this is just academic process for the academic institutions, we have to get approval for offering certain programs like a certificate when we actually have to give a credential associated with something, it would be classified as an undergraduate certificate, it’s in undergraduate courses.
We’re in the process of filing the paperwork to get it classified so that way when you complete the bridge program, you would get some sort of certificate at the undergraduate level in IS. We would probably call it like an IS Bridge Certificate. But, I will say though it does take some time for that to go through its process. It does take a little bit, a while, we have to navigate the academic world here in UAB then bring it out to our system level because we’re part of a system for University of Alabama system, as three different institutions as well as the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.
So, for the time being there’s no certificate associated with this bridge but we’re hoping to get that process moving so that way we can offer something that’s tangible like a certificate at the end of the programs. It’s in the works. [crosstalk 00:55:41]
David Schofield: Thank you. Absolutely, [inaudible 00:55:43] the bridge program itself was only unveiled about a month ago already so making some great progress in just a short amount of time already but great question.
Seems like that’s in the works so. I’ll leave it open here for a couple more minutes to see if we get any additional questions.
All right, I am not seeing any additional questions, so with that, that concludes our webinar for today. I just want to point out some important dates really quick.
Our application deadline for Spring term is December 1st. Class starts January 7th. If you want to be eligible for the $1000 scholarship I mentioned earlier, you must apply and be admitted before November 16th.
Reach out to me if you have any questions regarding that, you’ll see a resource list on the left side of your screen. That’s the direct link to my calendar to schedule an appointment so please utilize that, schedule a time that works best for you.
I also want to thank all for joining us and thank you Dr. Rivera, Dr. Di Gangi and Tony for sharing insight into the industry and our bridge program. Please contact me if you have any additional questions.