Online BSIS & MS MIS Program Information Session
Maggie: Hello everyone and welcome to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Online Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and Master of Science in Management Information System information session. My name’s Maggie. I’ll actually be the moderator for today’s webinar.
I just want to speak to a few logistic items real quick. As you can see on the screen, this webcast is in broadcast-only mode in order to minimize background noise. Just please ensure that your speakers are not muted.
If you are experiencing any technical difficulties, please click on 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&A box at the left side of your screen. We’ll be answering questions at the end of the presentation. We’ll also be sending out a link to the recording of this session after the webinar, so please look out for that in the next few days.
As you can see by today’s agenda, we’ll be discussing many topics ranging from industry changes, the IT industry as a whole, the program curriculum, as well as admission requirements. But, most importantly, the directors of our grad and undergrad program, along with a special guest from our IS Advisory Council, will discuss what UAB is doing to stay ahead of the curve.
As previously mentioned, we’ll be answering your questions at the end of the presentation. Please use the Q&A box on the left side of your screen throughout the webinar to submit your questions. Now at this time I’d like to introduce our panelists.
First, we have Dr. Paul Di Gangi, who is the director of our online MS MIS program. We also have Dr. Julio Rivera, who is the director of our online BS IS program. We have John Fallis, who’s our Chief Information Officer of Drummond Company and IS Advisory Council member. We also have Darren Orcutt, who is on our enrollment advising team for our online IS programs. Now to kickoff the presentation, I will turn it over to Dr. Di Gangi to talk a little bit about the industry.
Paul Di Gangi: Thanks, Maggie. The way we set this up is to try and first understand the current state of the industry. I think one of the most important things that many students look at when trying to pursue a business degree is what is the state of the industry? What is the marketability of these jobs and the degree that I’m going to earn? Will I be able to essentially earn gainful employment that could potentially provide for my family?
One of the things that I like to look at whenever students ask me this question is the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a government agency that provides us with excellent information about the nature of different jobs, occupations, what it takes for each of these different occupations in terms of their skillset and the projected growth based on certain national-level indicators.
When I look at the IT field, I try and focus in on three of them that fit really well with our program. For instance, if the graduate-level is that leadership level, when we’re trying to train people to become future CIOs, chief information officers. As you see, in a global economy where technology is playing a pretty prominent role, it’s playing … In fact, more and more it’s seen as a strategic resource that organizations can leverage. You can see by the statistics that they’re expecting a 12% growth in leadership positions, both at the CIO as well as middle-level management, senior-level management relating to IT, IT managers.
The next big one, and that’s the one that’s gaining significant amount of news, is the security field, mainly because more and more organizations are connecting their systems through digital means. You start to see some of the vulnerabilities and the dangers that are associated with that. You’re starting to see our criminal enterprises recognizing the financial gain that they can get by figuring out vulnerabilities in an organization and then exploiting those risks and those vulnerabilities for their own personal value. What I believe you saw there was a 28% growth over the course up until 2016.
Then in the last area, and this is a fun one, in my view, this is one that has actually what first attracted me to the field of information systems, is the development area. This is the one where you actually get your hands dirty, you start playing around, and trying to understand what are the users’ needs, what are the processes and requirements to design systems. You see a 9% growth up until 2026 based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics information.
Now the beauty of that is you can see in all three of these, these are actually outpacing the vast majority of positions. They’re actually considered very high growth, especially the security area, which is a very high growth area occupation.
When we think about the state of the industry, I’d like to say that it’s a very nice open road for us in the IT field, and IS professionals in particular, because all of these positions require you to have business understanding. It requires you to have a skillset that enables you to interact with your colleagues in an organization to effectively do your job and design technology systems that are going to fundamentally help an organization achieve its goals or its business [inaudible 00:05:42].
The next thing that we also like to look at when it comes time to understanding the state of the industry is we like to look at current trends. We like to see what exactly are the most up-to-date topics, the most exciting things that are happening in our field.
Now we have to realize that technology in business is an ever-changing concept. In fact, we always have to consider the fact that what we’re teaching today could very well change in terms of what’s needed in the business environment in a few weeks, a few days, a few months, hopefully a few years as we go through this process, but we’ve been noticing that this is a constantly evolving process for us, which is why we as UAB IS faculty and our administration has tried to make sure that we keep ties to paying attention to market indicators.
One of the ones that I personally like to bring out, especially when I teach the IT Strategy class, is I like to look at CIO magazine, because every year they provide an annual state of the CIO report. They go out and ask CIOs of organizations across the country, in fact, I think it’s even a global survey that they have, and they ask them to identify key strategic priorities, things that they’re keeping them up at night, and what we start to see here in this latest report is that connection between the IT and the business unit.
That alignment between the two is now becoming even more clear that it is critical to the success of a business of tomorrow. Organizations, in particular the CIOs, are trying to make sure that they wed these two units together to make sure that they’re both working in lockstep with one another. You can see that when you start paying attention to some of the subfields within IT.
For instance, the hottest trend right now is data security, IT security. 36% of the CEOs from this report identified it as a key priority for business, not just in terms of simply a cost center where you have to protect your organization from the dangers of having your data exposed, which might lessen your competitive advantage but also quite simply how you align your security strategy, your security posture with your fundamental IT strategy and business strategy.
It’s three moving parts that have to work in unison [inaudible 00:07:59] much more complex than it has been in the past, and because security can be such a public-facing issue, organizations are now starting to really get behind it as something that they need to invest in and they need to strategically align themselves with the most current, up-to-date skills in the field.
Data analytics or big data involved in the healthcare field, finance, defense, there’s just numerous amounts of industries that have started realizing the power of information, but, more important, once we’ve collected it all, how do you mine it? Traditional statistical models don’t necessarily work so well when you have millions upon millions of records. It needs an entirely different thinking process.
It needs someone who has technical skills, but technical skills with a purpose, someone that understands that what you’re trying to do is analyze data in order to achieve an organizational goal, whether it’s trying to make sure that you improve the survivability rates of your patients coming out of your emergency rooms, identifying potential dangers in operating rooms, trying to predict the future of our financial markets, or trying to protect our country with the latest, greatest threat assessment. You see how analytics is playing a big role in society today.
Next up, we see CIOs are reporting the importance of having sound IT governance which helps them in their financial decision-making processes. Then, of course, how do you always maintain that evolving door of disruptive and sustainable innovation for your organization? How do you not rest on your laurels and continue to try and innovative as a company and what role the IT unit plays in making sure that your organization is flexible enough to transform new trends and new opportunities emerge?
That leads to essentially one of the most important skills is how the IT unit can enable an organization to be flexible, ambidextrous. It has the ability to react to external forces or internal demands that their organization strategy is dictating.
For instance, one of the biggest ones we’ve seen in the last few years is how cloud technology has changed a lot of the way organizations think about their infrastructure, and so how cloud migration, moving into a cloud-based infrastructure environment enables an organization to scale rapidly in order for their IT unit to meet the business demands in a market that might expand quite rapidly can produce.
These are things that we as IS faculty, as the IS Advisory Council try and get a hold off so that way we can then match these against our curriculum to make sure we’re addressing things that are really relevant to today’s businesses, and in particular the CIOs and the IT managers. Now I’m going to hand this off over to Julio, who’s going to talk a little bit more in-depth about the individual skillset that an IT professional needs to face.
Julio Rivera: Just as Paul was saying, things change and they change very quickly in the IT area. We have new technologies every day. From a business perspective, some of those may be very attractive for a business and some may not, and part of that is learning and matching those opportunities to what your business is doing.
When we look at the sorts of skills that you would expect, again, in different areas within the IT field, leadership is one. We have with us a CIO, John Fallis, who works for Drummond Company. He can expound on this shortly, but here’s the thing. We have people running companies that don’t necessarily have the technical background to understand what opportunities and pitfalls there are applying technologies.
Being part of that leadership group and being able to help in the decision-making process that ultimately helps the business is important, and that dovetails in with the strategic planning. How are you going to run this business over time and what are your goals? It’s not just what your business is doing, it’s what are your competitors doing and what should you be doing to keep up or surpass them?
That brings me to the third item, which is very important: interpersonal skills. What you find in IT, as in many other areas, is you have to work with people. That means that you have to be able to communicate with people, you have to be able to get your point across, make a case for whatever it is you’re advocating, and negotiate with people to achieve the things that you need to achieve in order to move your organization forward.
The ability to be good at oral and written communication is very important. In fact, that’s one of the things we try to emphasize with our students is you have to be able to do presentations, to deliver a message in a way that people will understand, terms that they understand, and make sure that they internalize that and make that part of the decision-making process.
Some of the other areas, most IT projects are big projects. That is they don’t happen overnight, they have a lot of elements to them. You have to make sure that all those things happen at the right time and in the right place.
Project management, which as you’ll see a little bit later when we talk about curriculum, is part of understanding how those projects move forward and making sure that they do so in a manner that makes them successful. There are a lot of stories out there about projects in the IT area, as well as in other areas, but we’re talking about IT right now, that have failed because of poor project management. That’s not a situation you want to be in.
Another area, and this is something I emphasize with all our students, is you really need to look at the decision-making process and bring the various tools that you have in terms of analytical tools to bear in order to help you make decisions. We have just absolutely tons of data now that we can look at, but we have to be able to do so through a lens that allows us to focus on what problem we’re trying to solve and to make sure that we understand what those tools are telling us when they analyze that data.
It’s just not as simple as finding the average of something. We need to be a little bit more predictive and use tools that allow us to do that. Even from some fundamental things, from simply setting up a model in the spreadsheet to much more sophisticated things, we need to apply that thinking to our decision-making process so that we can make good decisions.
That leads into the next one. Every time I talk to a CIO or anybody else out in an industry, what they’re looking for are people that can solve problems. That’s what we want our students to be able to do when they step out of here and take on a real job somewhere else. As you’ll see, when we look at the curriculum, that’s the elements that we’re trying to give you: a toolbox that you can apply to the problems that you’re going to face; how do you best solve a problem, what solutions are out there, what works best in a particular environment and circumstances. You’ll find that the same problem in different areas isn’t solved the same way. Again, depending on what’s important at that point in time.
The last one, and this is one that’s fun and it’s important for us to remember, is the creativity and ingenuity. One of the things that you find in the IT area is we have all these tools and capabilities out here and they allow us to do many different things. They also allow us to do things that other people haven’t thought about.
Just to look at some of the examples, probably a huge example that we’re all very familiar with these days, are things like Uber and Lyft. What these companies have done is they’re taking these set of tools that are out there that were not particularly sophisticated, they’re the web basically, and they put them together in a different way to create a whole new business model, and very successfully.
There’s lots of opportunities for that out there. We see this also in the social media area with companies like Facebook. They didn’t invent what they’re doing, they just put together the various pieces in a fashion that’s different from somebody else in that it gave them functionality that nobody else had. Because of that, they’ve been very successful.
One of the things, again, that I emphasize when I talk to our students is think about how you can come up with new and creative solutions to problems. Simply take what you’ve got and apply them in a different mechanism or manner. I think that’s important to remember. More so because the field changes so quickly and you get new capabilities and new tools and so forth to use. You have to understand where they work well and where they don’t and how you might use them to creatively solve problems. With that, I’m going to turn it over to John Fallis. Oh, I’m sorry. One more slide.
Industry needs. This talks about some of the things that we’re doing here at UAB. We, for some time now, have an undergraduate information systems program, and we’ve expanded that to an online program. Essentially, what we did is we took our existing residential program and made it an online program. We did the same thing [inaudible 00:17:32] the same thing at the graduate level.
What that means is that we’ve expanded our reach. We’ve given people opportunities that they would not necessarily have because they weren’t in our locality to participate in these programs. Not only that, because we change our programs and update them constantly, you get a slew of things coming very quickly. These programs, we’re using the same people. The same faculty members that have taught here for our residential students are doing this on the online level, bring the same set of skills and insights and so forth.
But on the online side, you now have the flexibility to operate in an asynchronous manner. That is we don’t have, for example, scheduled class times. You can work around your schedule and achieve the same things that you would if you were a regular student on campus here.
This is true of all information system degrees is we’re trying to blend a set of skills in the business world with the technical background necessary to apply the tools that are out there to solve business problems. As you move forward in your career, think about what you’re doing in terms of helping a business to be successful.
The last thing, and this is where I want to introduce John, is we actually depend heavily on the Advisory Council to tell us what they’re seeing as the current things and what’s on the horizon for people in the workforce in IT in their companies. We have some very large companies in the area, and we periodically meet two or three times a year and ask them to look at our curriculum, ask them what they’re seeing, what they see on the horizon, and then try to address that to what we’re doing in the classroom, make sure that our students get the latest and greatest out there. With that, I want to turn it over to John. Let me forward one slide here. John, it’s all yours.
John Fallis: Okay. Hi. As Julio and Paul, and I think I was introduced, I’m the CIO at Drummond Company and I sit on the Advisory Council, which, as you can see, comes with a lot of names that if you’re in the Birmingham area, you recognize. Between the folks there, we probably have several thousand IT IS employees working for us. When we talk to UAB, we’re talking about things that we currently need and things that we see we’ll be needing in the future. Sometimes we’re even speculating about where we see the industry going that we’re working in and what we’ll need.
One of the things that both Paul and Julio brought up is leadership. It’s very easy to have a worker bee, but we need somebody who can come up with new ideas, present them collaboratively to all of the folks they work with, and be that initiative that makes things happen. We’ve been really fortunate that UAB has worked with us and has developed the Project Management, the new skills in both technical and in the business side that go within both of these degrees that they’re having.
One of the things that they also talked about is ingenuity. I was fortunate enough to listening to an interview that Jeff Bezos gave back in the mid-1990s. One of the things he talked about was they wanted to create something that would take advantage of this new internet thing and they decided they would start with books, because you could present a book on the internet. You could sell it and ship it to them. They felt that was a good spot to start.
I think everyone would agree that Amazon has done fairly well starting from a bookseller. Jeff Bezos was a person who had ingenuity, had education, and worked with other people. What we’re seeing is that in Birmingham alone, we have a need for this, both in a senior position and in starting positions, entry-level positions. Of those companies that are listed there, I’ve been speaking with several of them in the last month or so. We have several hundred openings that we’re looking to fill.
One of the things I will say as a member of the IS council, it’s a significant benefit to me that I can get access to UAB students who come through this curriculum. There is so much competition for them that we try to get them into internships and oftentimes convert them even before they graduate because we know their skillsets.
We’ve been very fortunate and very pleased that UAB has worked with the industry in the area to develop both the master’s and a bachelor’s curriculum. What they’re doing is nothing short of outstanding. I’m going to kick it back over to Julio so that he can give you an idea about what it takes to get through both of these programs. Julio?
Julio Rivera: Okay. What I want to talk about now is at the undergraduate level, what you would expect to see as an undergraduate student that’s majoring in IS. Apart from the business core courses, which you see at the bottom half of that, the specific courses that somebody in IS would have to take start with an introductory programming class in a Business Programming. We’re using C# there.
That really is a fundamental, necessary thing that anybody that’s in the information systems or information technology area needs to have. You have to have at least a feel for what’s involved in creating solutions or applications that solve problems. That’s enough to get you to understand what some of the ins and outs of creating a programming solution to a problem require.
In addition to that … And that’s, by the way, one of the core courses in Information Systems. Another one is the Database Management course. It’s very important these days that businesses of all kinds collect data in just enormous amounts. We have to be able to manage it, not only save it somewhere but we also have to be able to use it and access it when we need it and, maybe for a lot of different things, be able to look at in different ways.
The IS 301 course, the Database Management course, is essential in learning how you create databases, how you model, how you want to store the data so that you can later be able to get to it and use it for a variety of different things. Again, that’s one of those core courses that’s required.
The Enterprise Systems course, the IS 302 course, is all about how we create the underlying networking infrastructure for an enterprise, how do we connect things together. Basically, we’re talking about the networking effect that happens when you connect two or more systems together. Of course, we’re all familiar with this because we’re, in fact, using the internet right now, but we have to have certain mechanisms in place for that to happen in any business, and we have a lot of different choices that we can make into how we pursue that. That’s really what Enterprise Systems is about.
The Systems Analysis portion is interesting. Again, this is a required course. What we’re looking at there is what does it take to create an application that solves a business problem? There’s a lot of elements that go into that. It’s not just somebody sitting down in front of a computer and typing some code in, and voila! You have a business solution or an application. You have to understand what that application, what problem is it trying to solve, what is going to be required in terms of a solution to that problem.
This is an interesting area because typically you’re dealing with other people. When I talked earlier about interpersonal skills, there’s a huge premium on having good interpersonal skills electing the requirements that people have for the solutions that you’re trying to create for them. You have to understand what they need, what they want, and in what form it needs to be delivered. That’s part of that Systems Analysis process. Once you do that, how do you design a solution that delivers what the intended party requires? All that’s wrapped into the Systems Analysis course. I’m going to skip down to the bottom of this and look at Project Management.
As you might surmise by my mentioning the Systems Analysis and by collecting requirements, design and so forth, and then programming, anytime that you’re working on any kind of business solution, there’s a lot of different parts to it. It takes a lot of different people working on these things to make it all come together, so you have to be able to manage that, make sure that the various tasks take place at the right time so that, at the end of the day, you can deliver a project that’s functional and that meets the requirements that were set out for it. That’s really what Project Management is about. It’s tying all that together to deliver what you need.
On the online program for undergraduates, you’ll then have three electives. Currently, we have an Information Security Management elective that looks at the information security landscape and covers the waterfront in the areas that people need to look at in terms of information security in any business organizations. You look at such things as anything from encryption to networking security and so forth, even the physical security at some level.
Interestingly enough, when you look back at things like Systems Analysis and Programming, it turns out that having knowledge about security and what works and what doesn’t is important in those areas, too. It dovetails in with that. If you’re creating a business solution these days, it’s very important to think in terms of what vulnerabilities that solution might have that you can address early on rather than trying to fix a problem later on. That comes with the security management area.
Another elective that we have is Social Media and Virtual Communities in Business. What this is all about is how businesses can use social media to further their business goals. I think we’re pretty much all familiar with different types of social media and we probably all use them to one extent or another, whether it’d be Facebook, Twitter, or many of the other ones out there. In fact, I was talking to one of my classes about that last night.
The thing is, from a business perspective, those are important things that you need to know about. How do we use them well to further our business goals? Also, what are the pitfalls that you run into when you’re using social media? What are things that can happen to you?
Just something that’s been in the news lately with United Airlines. We know that they’ve had issues with transporting pets. That all came through social media. That’s how people learned about that. Obviously, this is a black eye for them and they’ve had to step in quickly and try to remedy that. It’s a two-edged sword that you should be familiar with.
Then the last one, and then this is a really huge area and we are, in fact, looking very hard at how we expand further into this area and give our students some more skills, is the Business Intelligence area, or what the current term is Data Science. As we collect all sorts of data, and as I’ve told one of my classes, we all sit here with our phones on, and every second that phone is sending out all kinds of data about what we’re doing, where we are and so forth. Well, businesses can use that data for a lot of different things, not just phone data but lots of other data that’s out there.
I had a speaker in my class last night whose area is data science, and he actually runs a company that does this, talking about all the different kinds of data that you can acquire and how little of it is actually being used by businesses these days. Out of the realm of the data that’s out there, most businesses usually only use about 5% of it.
This is data that can help you gain business insights that can pay off in terms of what your business can do to the future, if you can provide for customers what their needs and wants are, maybe tailor your products and services to deliver on those needs and wants. If you do it better than your competitors, you can be very successful.
That covers the waterfront on the specific courses that you would take as an Information Systems undergraduate student. It gives you, I want to say, a nice entree as an entry-level person moving into that area. You’ve got the background of the different areas that you need. Don’t have a specific specialty that you’re in, which gives you the ability to move into that later.
There’s one last thing that you should remember, and this really applies to anybody that gets any college degree, as I tell my students, that degree opens the door for you. It gives you some basic tools. It opens that door for you. Once you get on the job, you have to continue learning. [inaudible 00:31:59] in information systems [inaudible 00:32:01] things change every day. You can’t stop learning once you get out of school. With that, I’m going to turn it over to Paul, who’s going to talk about the graduate side.
Paul Di Gangi: Thank you very much, Julio. At the graduate level, as Julio was alluding to right there, we see people come back for a graduate degree for a lot of variety of different reasons.
But two biggest groups that we see are those that are in the IT industry, and they’re hitting either that ceiling level with their existing education credentials on their skillset or what they’ve already learned, they’re missing that next level of understanding, that abstract understanding of how businesses function, the strategic-level thinker. They’re usually looking to highlight and accentuate their skillset. They’re trying to build into some higher level skills.
Another type of person that we see is somebody who’s trying to make a career transition into the IT field. They’ve had success in another industry, but they’ve now decided that the IT field is really what their passion is.
What we’ve tried to do is manage both of these groups effectively, and that goes into how we design as well as differentiate our programs from some of our other institutions. For instance, as Julio pointed out in the bachelor’s degree, there’s a core set of courses that ultimately make up a common framework of understanding for what an IT professional has.
If you’re going to come through an information systems degree and you’re going to get into an IS-oriented profession, you need to understand database system, you need to understand telecommunications, you need to understand how to build things with programming, but, more importantly, the Systems Analysis class. You need to understand how to identify user requirements, user needs, and then design a system that can effectively meet an organization’s goals. Those are things that many times at the undergraduate level are the foundation of all of the majors, and we have them in our own program.
But what you see some institutions that offer graduate degrees is that they end up offering those same exact classes as a part of their master’s degree. While that’s great for the people making that transition, it does a little bit of a disservice for those that are looking to still build further. It’s always great to get a refresher.
The thing that we saw was that we needed to stay more business-focused in our program. If you look back to the industry needs, there’s a lot of ground to cover. If you look back at the CIO report and the skills of an IT professional for today, we have to make sure that we pack in as much as we can for the graduate degree. For many people, this is going to be the last degree that they [inaudible 00:34:41].
What we tried to do is build a bridge program for those students that want to transition into the IT industry or perhaps are lacking in one particular one of the foundation skillsets for an IT professional with a crash course model. Instead of trying to give you entire semester’s worth of material, we crash course you to the critical components. You’ll take telecommunications and programming together. You’ll take Systems Analysis and Database together in our bridge program. This is meant to literally bridge you into the IT industry.
Then that allows us to create a core curriculum that’s centered around a business-focused mindset, so making sure that it’s not just IT-centric, but it’s also keeping that reoccurring pattern of this needs to be an IT unit that works in conjunction with the business units in an organization in order to achieve business value, in order to create a return that is aligned with the organization’s strategy. That’s why we have this core set of courses.
For instance, right up at the top, we know that cybersecurity, information security is a hot topic. One of the things that we try and do is make sure that everyone gets exposed to at least the fundamental level of what information security, cybersecurity means in business today.
We actually designed this class, it’s something that I teach, and we’re building off of the bodies of knowledge that you typically find in the Security+ certification exam. Those students that will be taking that class, this gives you that entree into the information security field, and it is mapped to a specific type of a credential that potentially gives you a signal to the field that you are capable and that [inaudible 00:36:29] very professional. While we don’t give you the certification, we do match the knowledge domains and add the additional academic depth to understand how those domains function in business, how they relate to each other, and how they affect organizational [inaudible 00:36:43].
We also have a class called IT and Business Strategy. This is our big picture class. This is the one that’s supposed to be designed around understanding business strategy, how to make appropriate decisions given all of the different contextual elements around an organization.
For instance, we use case analyses in the class, where students read through a situation that involves a technology problem, and you have to break down how the technology is affecting the organization, how it can be [inaudible 00:37:11] to create an outcome that is desirable for an organization.
To add on to that big notice from the CIO report about how IT business alignment is critical on having sound IT governance that leads to better financial decisions and processes, we also have a class on IT Governance and Management. This is another business-focused class that’s oriented towards aligning your business and IT units together. It was actually designed by a certified information security systems auditor that was focused on creating sound governance frameworks in managing these processes in order to make sure that an organization has consistent and well-thought out processes in order to be successful.
We then also have that social media class. One of the things that I like in that class, and I’m actually the professor for that one, is I have this assignment in the class where we go through an ethnographic study, where we explore two different social media applications over the course of the semester. What we try and do is apply this framework that I designed that makes students explore and question the value of social media.
For instance, this year right now we’re looking at LinkedIn. How do people and organizations use it? How can we abstract out the individual ways we use things into some sort of collective framework of use, or the ways that LinkedIn creates value for the user, whether it’s for the individual or for the organization? Then how does the platform of LinkedIn, the actual design of the system, actually enable that value to be captured and leveraged based on how we use the system?
Now, big picture, the idea here is to get you a model, a framework that you can use so that way in the future, when new social media applications emerge, you can start asking the question about whether or not you should add this technology or that social media technology into your existing portfolio of social media applications.
When your CEO or your CMO comes and asks for an opinion about how exactly is this technology, should we be considering the adoption of this technology, we’re giving you a decision-making framework that enables you to evaluate the technology, assess it against the existing technologies in terms of what value they’re providing, and allow you to say, “Look, this is a great application, but we’re already capturing the value in this direction with these systems, with these social media applications,” or, “This is providing a value capture that we haven’t had in our existing portfolio. This application actually can provide a very good decision for us.”
Next up, we have the Data Science for Business. I think Julio’s already pointed it out. One of the things that I like to talk about from this class is we get into certain techniques that are associated with it.
One of my all-time favorites is cluster analysis, because I’m able to highlight to students if you ever wonder how your cell phone company comes up with the different data plans, unlimited data here, 500 minutes here, this is here, it’s because they use these data science techniques like cluster analysis to identify where people tend to operate their behaviors. That helps them identify desirable clusters.
It also helps them identify the limits on where people might slightly go into [inaudible 00:40:31] areas so that way they can perhaps make additional fees and revenue. That’s not the fun part about it, but it is a scientific process.
The whole point behind the Data Science for Business class is to create a scientific mind in the business world. We have to realize that today’s day and age is moving more and more toward being math-literate, to being able to understand the scientific method in order to validate, test, and help make intelligent base decisions.
Data Science for Business is designed around incorporating that into your skillset. It also helps the business analytics on the hottest topics right now, and this is our way of making sure that our students are exposed to it.
IT Project Management, of course, is critical. Everything that we do in the IT world and, quite frankly, in life revolves around managing different types of things, communicating with different parties. The IT Project Management course is actually, like my Introduction to Cyber Security class, mapped to the project management bodies of knowledge. We try and make sure we map back to that industry connection. It’s still business-focused, but it’s also industry [inaudible 00:41:42].
Then we move into what I’d like to call our two concentrations. I have an informal name for them, but we have the Cyber Security Management concentration, which is what I call our CFO, chief security officer, track. This is where you get a little bit more depth into security management class. It handles the whole lifecycle of security.
At the fundamental level, it’s broadening your understanding. Julio talked about physical security, application security. All these things start to come into play. We designed this class to match very similar to the CISSP, the Certified Information System Security Professional. All [inaudible 00:42:20] on it are actually CISSPs based on our personal business experiences.
What we try to do is incorporate into our experiences into that class in order to make sure that students gain that extra depth, that they understand that security is not just individual pieces. You have to see the whole board. You really have to become a person that understands the game of chess, that security literally touches everything and it’s how you put these pieces together to create your organization’s security posture.
We also talk about Cyber Attacks and Threat Mitigation. Julio teaches this class, and it’s about making sure that you are paying constant attention to the threats and vulnerabilities that your organization is facing: scanning information resources, maintaining an updated understanding of the threat landscape that an organization has, and then developing a plan to mitigate those threats. Whether it’s developing a formal updated strategy for your systems or audit strategy, it’s ultimately about making sure that you’re maintaining that security posture.
Last but not least, we have Digital Forensics. Now in this class … Oh, I’m sorry. I skipped Incident Response and Business Continuity Planning, which you really shouldn’t. That’s actually one of the most critical things you shouldn’t miss. In fact, it was so critical our IS Advisory Board, John can attest to this, actually highlighted it as something that moves beyond just the CSO, which is why we offered it in the other track as well.
This class is talking about how to manage what happens when the inevitable happens. Well, Information Security Management gives us the high-level overview of the broader view of information, security, cybersecurity. Cyber Attacks and Threat Mitigation talks about what you can do before things have to happen.
Incident Response and Business Continuity is about making the plans for when the inevitable happens, that you realize that you’re never going to be 100% secure. Security incidents are going to be a way of life in your organization. How can you plan to respond to them? How can you make sure that your organization survives the threat and survives the incident?
Then, of course, comes Digital Forensics, which is then after you’ve survived this incident, how do you put together the pieces on how you got attacked, how do you learn and perhaps even have to maintain chain of custody, collection of evidence that might be involved, whether or not you need to include law enforcement during certain incidents, how you need to work impaired with these people? Digital Forensic capstones the concentration together, starting from the strategy level all the way down to the more technical skills.
The next track we have is the IT Management concentration. This is our CIO informal titled one. This is a concentration that’s really designed to tackle that leadership skills, which is why we have a class like Leadership in IT. It’s a deep dive into who you are and what your skills are, your personality, the different types of assessments on how you work with groups, how you manage teams. We have it actually taught by, right now, a deputy CIO here at UAB, who brings in his own personal experiences as he climbed that corporate ladder and had to start making strategic decisions about resources that we have.
We also pair that with Technology Planning and Capital Budgeting. Having the vision of what is good for your organization is absolutely critical, but the follow-through, the planning and budgeting of those projects, becomes absolutely critical in order to be successful.
Of course, Incident Response and Business Continuity is, once again, critically important, but then we also add in Web Analytics. We want a little bit more depth in terms of trying to understand how our organization operates on the digital landscape. We added this class in as an additional level, additional course for the analytics topic.
Overall, what you see in our graduate program is a bridge program that helps students that are interested in making the transition in IT while the core program and the concentrations are business-focused. We try and maintain that constant focus on aligning IT and business units together to achieve organizational objectives. Then we also add in the industry alignment to several of our courses.
For instance, the security courses, we try and align to key certifications. That way students are well-prepared to enter those industries or those job markets. The project manage one is also another one that’s really important. Governance has industry-focus as well.
One of the things that I like to add, too, that Julio brought up earlier was we are a designated institution for security based on the NSA and Homeland Security. Our designation is actually based on our research. In addition to being professors that teach, we are also professors that research. At the graduate level and, quite frankly, at the undergraduate level as well, but at the graduate level, a lot of our courses are topics that align well with what our professors research. It’s a part of their other portion of their job. We bring these things into our classroom environment.
For instance, I teach the social media and the security courses. Well, I brought in research on how we diagnosed the risk that social media applications bring to an organization, or the potential threats that can exist, both social, legal, technical. There’s social, legal, and technical threats.
Social media itself is a great topic for me. I’ve done a lot of work on how we create different influences in this environment, in particular when organizations want to enter into the world of crowdsourcing. We start talking about crowdfunding as well for those that have a little bit more of an entrepreneurial mindset.
I’m going to just highlight on next. We’re going to pass on to I believe it was Darren or Maggie. They’re going to talk about the term overviews.
Darren Orcutt: Perfect. Thank you very much, Paul. What we’re going to go ahead and do now is provide a quick overview of the 100% online program. As you can see, we do have three different entry points throughout the year. Students do have the ability to start our program during either the spring, summer, or fall term.
As you can see, for the undergraduate program, we do have seven, 10, or 14-week courses, which are a mixture of general education and core courses. Obviously, depending on transfer credits, you can complete the program in as few as four years.
Taking a look at our graduate program, we do have 15-week terms, which are comprised of two seven-week sessions with a one week break in between. You will be taking one course every seven weeks for our part-time option, or if you are interested in our full-time option, you do have the ability to take two courses every seven weeks to complete the program in as little as a year.
Just a reminder here, our application deadline is called out, which we will provide again towards the end of the presentation, but if you are interested in applying for our summer term, the application deadline is April 1st.
As you can see here, we are going to take a closer look at the undergraduate’s admission requirements. If you are going to be coming into our program as an undergraduate student, you’ll typically be falling into one of three different profiles.
The first one we’ll take a look at is our traditional freshman. In entering the program as a freshman, we do require a minimum GPA of 2.25 on of 4.0 scale. We also look for students to have a minimum ACT score of 20 or an SAT score of 950, which is a combination of your critical reading and math. We do require that our students submit official high school transcripts. For students that have been homeschooled, we do require the credentials of a homeschool teacher, which should be included for all of our homeschooled applicants.
The next profile that a student can fall into is what we term as a non-traditional freshman. This simply refers to students who’ve graduated high school four years or more ago and have not attended college, or in the event that they have attended college, they’ve earned fewer than 24 semester hours or credits. For these particular applicants, we do also request official high school transcripts, as well as any college transcripts of all or any institutions attended. It’s worth noting here that we do require a minimum GPA of 2.75 or higher.
The third and final profile that we take a look at for undergraduate students is what we refer to as our transfer applicants. These are students who are bringing over a minimum of 24 transferable college semester hours. Once again, we do typically require that these students submit all official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities. Here we do require that our students are able to bring over a minimum GPA of 2.0, that is a cumulative GPA in all course work. These students also need to be considered in good standing at all previously attended colleges and universities.
Moving forward to our graduate applicants. As you can see here, in order to be eligible for our graduate program, we do require that our students attend a regionally accredited or have successfully completed a bachelor’s degree in the IS or IT field from a regionally accredited institution. We do look for these students to have successfully met the 3.O minimum GPA requirements on a 4.0 scale.
Those that do not fall into this profile also have the ability to have successfully completed a bachelor’s degree in another area of study from a regionally accredited institution. These candidates are typically folks that are considered to be placed into our bridge program, which is obviously based on a review of professional and academic experience.
As you can see here, for the application requirements, that we do have a $70 application fee for all of our domestic students as an $85 international fee. With our graduate students, we typically require them to go ahead and submit an updated copy of their professional resume, along with their official transcripts.
We do also require our students to submit a statement of purpose. This is an opportunity for students to elaborate … What I communicate with my students is I have them tell us a little bit about themselves and their goals for the program, why they’re interested particularly in the IS field, why they feel UAB is the right fit, what makes them the right candidate for the program, and just gives them an opportunity to elaborate a little bit further on their skillset and tell us a little something about themselves that we wouldn’t necessarily pick up on either a resume or a transcript review.
We do also have a standardized testing requirements for this program. As you can see, we do require students to either submit a GMAT or a GRE score. When looking at the GMAT, we typically look for a 480 or above. Obviously, with the GRE, as you can see, a 293 or higher.
A question that we do receive is if students have the ability to waive out of the testing requirements, applicants may be reviewed for a potential labor, once again, based off of a professional and academic experience review.
Maggie: Awesome. Thank you so much, Darren. We’re now going to open it up to questions. I know we’re coming a little bit up on time here, so we’ll go ahead and request that you please use that Q&A box on the left side of your screen. We’ll start by asking the questions that we’ve 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, we will definitely have an enrollment advisor follow up with you. [inaudible 00:54:09].
The first question that came in here actually was regarding the CISSP preparation. The question was, “Are the CISSP preparation courses still a part of the graduate program?” Paul, I want to pass it over to you. I know you had touched on it a little bit when you were going through the curriculum there.
Paul Di Gangi: Thank you very much. We removed the two courses that we used to have, CISSP 1 and CISSP2, from our graduate concentration and security. The main reason why is because it was taking up a lot of real estate in the program, when we saw some of the other skill components like, for instance, Digital Forensics actually came in because we were able to condense the CISSP topics and put them into the Security Management class.
Instead of having a 14 or two seven-week courses focused exclusively on the CISSP, we now have one course that takes a deep dive into the CISSP. That’s the Security Management class, or at least it doesn’t have it at the same level in terms of it’s not a prep course, it’s a course that is designed around the business fundamentals of these topics. It focuses on the bodies of knowledge and they tie into the CISSP. Then we have that added course of the Digital Forensics that’s added in. We keep the knowledge in there. We just simply moved it into a single course that focuses on the broader issues of security management.
Maggie: All right. Thank you, Paul. The next question that came in here was regarding, “How would the transfer work if I attended UAB in the past?” We’re going to go ahead and have Darren answer this one. The person wanted to know more about how the GPA would transfer over from previous courses, as well as those earned via an associate’s degree.
Darren Orcutt: Yeah, wonderful question. Thank you, Maggie. What we do is we take an in-depth look at every student’s previous academic backgrounds, regardless of where they may have attended. For consideration for transfer credit, we do go ahead and do a course-by-course evaluation, along with a cumulative GPA calculation.
What’s important to note here is that we still want to ensure that our students are able to meet the minimum GPA requirement for consideration. Again, we are going to be specifically taking a look at what courses you took and the corresponding grades in order to receive credit for those.
Maggie: Okay. Thank you. The next question that came through is, “Is the MIS bridge program available during the summer or only the fall?” Is there a specific time that the bridge program is only available? Darren, we’ll go ahead and pass this over to you.
Darren Orcutt: Sure. Another good question. As it stands right now, our bridge courses are typically only offered during the fall semester. However, in taking a look, for example, at our current summer term, for students who are admitted and recommended into the bridge program, we have made some course options available to them in the summer, for those students who are eager to get started as soon as possible.
When taking a look at those core requirements, those are typically some of the less technical courses or not as technical as what you may receive at some of the more advanced core courses, but we do present those as an option for students who are eager to get started sooner rather than later.
Maggie: Awesome. Thank you. This next person here actually asked about what the application deadline is for the fall term of 2018. I do know the answer to this one. The application deadline for fall is July 23rd, I believe, or 25th. It’s one of those days. We’ll have the enrollment advisor reach out to you to confirm on that. That’s just me trying to remember off the top of my head here. But we will have an EA reach out to you just to reconfirm that date.
The next question here is regarding if there are any scholarship opportunity. I’m not sure if Paul or Julio could chime in here, if you’re familiar with what scholarship opportunities are available to students for our online population.
Julio Rivera: This is Julio speaking. We don’t have specific scholarships available for the Information Systems students at this time. There are university-available scholarships. Whether online students would fit into those, I am not 100% sure. That’s really something that would have to be pursued for our financial aid folks.
There are various pots of money out there, so I’m not saying no. They’re not necessarily directed to residential versus online. It’s just that I don’t know what all the qualifications for them are. I wouldn’t discourage you from pursuing that, but you’ll have to talk with our financial aid folks and see what the situation is.
Maggie: Thank you, Julio. Somebody had actually asked really quick, “Knowing that you guys are constructing a new building over there at UAB, if there are any future plans to offer the MS MIS courses in a traditional classroom format as opposed to only online?” I know currently the MS MIS program is only offered online with us. I don’t know, Paul, if you could respond to that question.
Paul Di Gangi: That question has actually been raised to us and we’re in the process of evaluating it. I will say, though, right now there is no anticipated move towards it yet. We would have to do more market testing and determine whether or not there’s a sufficient demand to be able to offer a face-to-face class versus online, because online tends to be more scalable for us. But it’s something that we’re not opposed to, but we’re still working on it.
Maggie: Awesome. Thank you so much, Paul. This next question I’m going to try and fit in here is somebody asking if a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science exempts them from the bridge program. I’ll go ahead and let Darren answer this one.
Darren Orcutt: Sure. Wonderful question. There are a few variables that are obviously going to play a role in that question. I would tell you, at surface level, it would probably make you a good candidate for consideration.
What we will be looking further into is where you attended school and where you earned your degree, but, more importantly, when that degree was completed because, obviously, in taking a look at your eligibility for the bridge or being exempt from this bridge course is we do want to make sure that we’re taking a look at your current knowledge base and how relative that may be to our current curriculum that’s being offered in the bridge.
In summary, yes, that would make you a good candidate; however, we would default over to our program director and our review committee to take a closer look at that curriculum and see how closely that matches up to what’s being offered in the bridge.
Maggie: Thank you, Darren. I know we’re-
Paul Di Gangi: I could add-
Maggie: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Paul Di Gangi: Well, I was going to say I know … I’m the person that would normally evaluate for bridge exemptions. I can typically look at the transcript. What’ll end up happening is if you have all four and I see solid grades and I see that they match up to what our program is, yes, I would grant it.
Database is strictly one for Computer Science, but typically the Systems Analysis one and Programming is typically another in Computer Science, particularly Systems Analysis is a little more tricky on that side since it’s normally a little bit more business-focused. But I’ll look at the overall transcripts when making that call.
Maggie: Awesome. Thank you so much for chiming in. Paul, actually I’m going to direct just this last question. I know we’re a couple of minutes past time right now. We’re going to conclude after this question, but are there any supplemental electives that are offered for MS MIS students? For example, Security Management courses or electives if they choose the Information Technology Management focus.
Paul Di Gangi: As the program stands right now, it’s pretty locked in terms of the courses that get selected into the concentration. However, we have, on occasion, helped students that have specific needs or interests, where if we have a course that’s offered in sometimes our additional programs like our MBA program, or we even have an accounting program that’s also online that might fit, that might gel well with it.
But that’s typically a program director-student conversation to make those calls. It’s usually a one-course exception. We built in some independent study work, too, that allow students to pursue, but, like I said, that’s usually for exception handle [inaudible 01:03:19].
Maggie: Perfect. Thank you. Again, I apologize for those that have also submitted questions that we were unable to get to. Just a reminder, we will have an enrollment advisor reach out to those who had asked questions that we were unable to answer following the webinar. Please just look out for that in the next couple of days.
I wanted to point out some important dates here, again, about the application deadline and when the summer classes actually start. I want to thank everyone again for attending today’s presentation. I want to thank Dr. Rivera, Dr. Di Gangi, John, and Darren for sharing insights into the industry and our program.
Please contact your online enrollment advisor if you do have any additional questions with the link and QR code provided. Thank you again, everybody. Thank you all so much. I hope you have a great rest of the day.