Information Systems, Master of Science Degree
Information technology is to the 21st century what engineering was to the 20th century: an exciting and dynamic area ripe with opportunities for people interested in a new challenge. Information systems are the enabling and driving force in every industry and government organization in the 21st century. Those organizations offer a premium to people who can apply advanced technologies to identify and solve real-world problems. The Master of Science program in Information Systems (MSIS) will help you develop the technical, systems, and business knowledge and skills that are in demand today!
We offer two different emphasis tracks in the MSIS program:
- the IS Management track is for information systems professionals looking to enhance their knowledge of technology and management;
- the Data Analytics track for students from all backgrounds seeking careers in the management and uses of big data.
Contact the Information Systems MS Director
There are two subject emphasis tracks within the MSIS. The first highlights the management of information systems and enhances graduate student understanding of how to manage technology-based information systems as a strategic resource in organizations. This IS Management track seeks to help existing information systems professionals enhance their managerial and technical skills in order to increase their marketability.
The second Data Analytics track focuses on the use of large data sets for decision making within organizations, helping educate future professionals to combine skills in data management, decision making, and an application domain such as health care, education, or business. The goal is to create and support a culture for data driven decision making within an organization. The Data Analytics track helps new graduates gain professional skills to enhance their ability to find employment in a technical field. A background in technology is not required for the Data Analytics track- you can start the program with the completion of any bachelor's degree.
Completion of Degree Requirements
The completion of the MSIS program requires fulfilling all the course requirements, including the following items:
1. Completion of a minimum of 30 or 32 credit hours in approved IS courses.
2. Successful completion of all coursework with no grade lower than a C.
3. Completion and successful defense of a thesis (thesis option only).
4. A minimum of 15 credits in classes at or above 700 (non-thesis option) or 18 credits (thesis option).
While attending COBA-UNR, each student's program of course work must be selected in consultation with, and approved in advance by, the director of the MSIS program, including his or her elective courses. Students pursuing the thesis option are expected to select a research advisor by the end of their first year, to attend all departmental seminars, to publish at least one research-based paper in a blind-refereed journal, and to defend their thesis in a research seminar prior to graduation. Students selecting the thesis option should register for three hours in each of their last two semesters (part time) or six hours (full time).
Students with unsatisfactory progress toward the degree requirements are subject to dismissal. A student with a grade of C or lower in any of the required courses for the degree will be placed on probation for one semester. A student with two grades of C or lower will be dismissed from the program.
MSIS Program Waiver and Credit Policy
A course waiver means that a student is excused from taking a specific class due to prior work experience or prior education. Course waivers do not reduce the number of credits that a student must take to complete the MSIS degree, which remains at 30 or 32 credits (depending upon the thesis or non-thesis option). Individual MSIS courses may be waived with the permission of the Director of the MSIS program or his/her designees.
The Department of Accounting and Information Systems may also grant credit for those students who have completed an equivalent course within the last five years with a minimum grade of B at an AACSB-accredited or equivalent institution. Students cannot receive credit by examination for any of the required courses in the curriculum, nor can they replace any of the required core courses with an undergraduate course. Applications for core course waiver or course credit must be completed during a student's first-year in the program. The department cannot grant graduate credit for work experience.
Contact the Information Systems MS Director
IS Management Track
The IS Management track prepares technology professionals to advance into the management of information technology related processes in organizations. This track can be completed with a total of 30 credits, or 10 semester courses.
The IS Management track consists of four major components: (1) the information systems core (5 courses), (2) the business core (2 courses), (3) the required IS789 policy and strategy course (1 course), and (4) additional courses in the non-thesis option, or completion of a thesis in the thesis option. Figure 1 provides an overview of the IS Management track.
Information Systems Core (15 units, 5 courses)
The information systems core consists of five required courses. Their purpose is to help students develop technical, analytical, and managerial skills as well as to learn how to apply those skills in common business settings. The IS core is as follows:
- IS670 - Computer Security, Controls, and Information Assurance (3 units)
- IS682 - Data Resource Management (3 units)
- IS746 - Project Management: Advanced Topics (3 units)
- IS752 - Issues in the Current Technical Environment (3 units)
- IS788 - Issues in Change Management (3 units)
Business Core (6 units, 2 courses)
Information systems professionals must be familiar with a number of business-related topics to succeed in their career, particularly if that career involves supervising others. Recognizing that each student may have individual interests or business-skill needs, the business core requires students to choose two courses from the following list to expand their current knowledge of business. Students with an undergraduate major in business should choose two core business courses that are beyond the scope of their undergraduate courses. Choose 2 courses from the following:
- BADM700 - Statistics for Decision Making (3 units)
- BADM710 - Financial Reporting and Analysis (3 units)
- BADM720 - Management and Organizational Science (3 units)
- BADM 728 - Managing Organizations in a Global Economy (3 units)
- BADM 729 - Seminar in Management Issues (3 units)
- BADM741 - Financial Management (3 units)
- BADM743 - Investment Management (3 units)
- BADM760 - Marketing Management (3 units)
- ECON 641 - Introduction to Econometrics (3 units)
- ECON 741 - Applied Econometrics (3 units)
Policy and Strategy Course (3 units, 1 course)
Students graduating with a MSIS should understand how concepts in the IS and business cores help managers achieve global organizational objectives. The purpose of the policy and strategy course is to integrate those concepts with knowledge of strategic planning for a business or governmental entity.
- IS789 - Information Technology Strategy and Practice (3 units)
Non-Thesis and Thesis Options (8 units for non-thesis option; 6 units for thesis option)
Option 1: Non-Thesis
Under the non-thesis option, students should take three courses (8 units) in a specialization area. One of the three courses (3 units) must be an IS class. The purpose of specialization electives is to encourage students to develop skills and conceptual knowledge in an area of personal interest. To satisfy these elective classes, students can take courses from the Master's of Accountancy (MAcc) program, courses from the business core listed above (offered in the current MBA program), or approved elective offerings at the 600 or 700 level in IS. In addition, students can take elective courses outside of the College of Business - for example, courses in Computer Science.
Option 2: Thesis
Completing a master's thesis allows a student to work closely with UNR faculty to develop an area of research beyond that available in standard courses. Students who are considering a career in academia or who are interested in topic areas outside those offered in standard courses at UNR are encouraged to undertake this option. A student following this option will: (1) identify an area of interest, (2) develop a proposal, (3) form a thesis committee, (4) perform the research, (5) write an appropriate thesis, and (6) orally defend the thesis in a public presentation. Under this option, a total of 6 credits of graduate thesis will be applied to the graduation total.
- View the MSIS Suggested Course Sequence for a full-time student.
- View the MSIS Suggested Course Sequence for a part-time student.
What are the prerequisites to the IS Management Track?
A bachelor's degree in business or information systems is not required for admission to the MSIS. Students without such degrees can earn an MSIS degree by completing prerequisite courses. The following courses outline specific program prerequisites.
- Background in Information Systems and Computing Applications. An applicant to the MSIS program should understand the basic components of hardware, software, telecommunications, networking, and transaction processing. He or she should also understand the systems development life cycle and how organizations use computers to solve business problems. Finally, applicants should have advanced competencies using computer application software. Undergraduate courses that could satisfy this prerequisite include IS101, IS201, IS301 and IS495. An example of a graduate-level course that would satisfy part of this prerequisite is BADM750.
- Programming ability. An applicant should have experience using a procedural programming language. Undergraduate courses that could satisfy this prerequisite include IS350 and CS135.
- Database design prerequisite. An applicant should understand the concepts of database design and implementation. Undergraduate courses that could satisfy this prerequisite include IS475 and CS457. An example of a graduate-level course that could satisfy this prerequisite is IS701.
- Project management prerequisite. An applicant should understand the basic concepts of project initiation, planning, and management. An undergraduate course that could satisfy this prerequisite is IS445.
These prerequisites may be satisfied with professional knowledge gained outside the classroom. Students without the prerequisite knowledge should enroll in the recommended courses to gain the knowledge necessary for the MSIS program.
Contact the Information Systems MS Director
Data Analytics Track
The Data Analytics track of the MSIS helps prepare students to become a "data scientist" or data analyst. A data scientist is a professional who uses large data sets in order to gain insights into complex problems. A data scientist incorporates knowledge of statistics, computer technology, information visualization, the scientific method and an application domain to identify appropriate data sets, develop effective analytic models, and create visualizations that help understand and solve problems. See here for additional information about a career as a data scientist.
The Data Analytics track consists of five major components: (1) data analytics common body of knowledge (5 courses), (2) information systems core (5 courses), (3) analytics core (2 courses), (4) application domain core (2 courses), and (5) the master's project (1 course). Below is an overview of the Data Analytics track.
Data Analytics Common Body of Knowledge (15 credits)
The following core courses comprise the data analytics common body of knowledge and may be waived, depending upon prior course work or knowledge. Students may waive classes in the common body of knowledge with classes taken in an undergraduate degree program. Students must complete the common body of knowledge before enrolling in other courses in the degree program.
- BADM 700 - Statistics and Research Design
- BADM 730 - Economics in the Firm
- BADM 750 - Information and Communications Technology in Organizations
- IS 645 - Project Management
- IS701 - Data Management
Information Systems Core (15 credits)
The purpose of the Information Systems Core is to understand the role of information technology in organizations, to understand the cultural and ethical issues related to using data for decision making, and to develop technical skills related to security, data management and project management.
- IS 670 - Security, Controls and Information Assurance
- IS 682 - Data Resource Management
- IS 746 - Project Management
- IS 752 - Technical Environment
- IS 788 - Change Management
Analytics Core (6 credits)
In the analytics core, students will enhance their skills in research design, statistical methods, and data analysis. The analytics core assumes that students have prior knowledge of statistics, as developed in the data analytics common body of knowledge.
- ECON 641 - Introduction to Econometrics or
- CHS 789 - Biostatistics in Public Health or
- PSY 707 - Intermediate Statistics II
- STAT 757 - Applied Regression Analysis or
- CHS 783 - Regressions and Multivariate Analysis in Health Sciences or
- CHS 782 - Categorical Data Analysis or
- CHS785 - Biostatistical Analysis in Cohort Studies
Application Domain Core (6 credits)
Students will select an application domain track to learn what is relevant for decision making in a specific area. Courses taken within the application domain track must build on each other - a student must select two courses that will create in-depth knowledge of an application domain such as health care, education, or a selected specialization within economics or business. Examples of courses that could comprise the application core are provided.
- IS 685 - Seminar in Information Systems
- ECON 620 - Economics of Health Care and Policy
- ECON 765 - Labor Economics
- ECON 767 - Environmental Economics
- CHS 721 - Program Evaluation in Public Health
- CHS 753 - Health Informatics
- CHS 758 - Information Systems in Health Services Management
- CHS 755 - Health Policy and Administration
IS798 Master's Project (3 credits)
A key goal of the MSIS with a track in data analytics is to develop knowledge and skills to analyze and solve organizational problems with the use of large data sets. The master's project will guide students through the complete analysis of a problem identified and defined by each student during the classes taken in the application core.
What are the prerequisites to the Data Analytics Track?
The MSIS data analytics track is open to those who hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Students may join this program after completing a variety of different undergraduate degree programs. Before starting this program, students must have:
- A basic background of the vocabulary of technology-based information systems. This background could be satisfied through classes such as IS101, CS100, or IS201.
- Basic knowledge of computer programming. An applicant should have experience using a procedural programming language. Undergraduate courses that could satisfy this prerequisite include IS350 or CS135.
Contact the Information Systems MS Director
Students wishing to apply to the MSIS program must meet the admissions criteria for both the University of Nevada, Reno Graduate School and the Information Systems Department MSIS program. All applications are reviewed by the MSIS admissions committee, and only complete applications are considered. Applications approved by the committee are forwarded to the Graduate School for final disposition. Admission information including tuition, procedures, deadlines, and advising are described below.
Tuition - Differential and Other Fees:
Refer to tuition and fees for graduate student tuition information. The tuition costs do not include student fees, insurance fees, parking fees, and other incidental fees. The estimated costs for textbooks and other fees is $2,733 per student (for the total program).
In addition to graduate student tuition, the Nevada Board of Regents approved a differential fee tuition program to go into effect fall 2011 for Master of Accountancy (MAcc), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science in Finance (MSF), and Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS). The course fee is $100 per credit for graduate level courses in accounting (ACC), business administration (BADM), business (BUS), entrepreneurship (ENT), gaming management (GAM), finance (FIN), information systems (IS), management (MGT), and marketing (MKT). These additional fees will support financial aid of students in the programs, as well as enhance the curriculum and services to the program's students.
For information about grants, financial aid and scholarship opportunities, refer to The Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships
Students may apply for admission into the MSIS program for either the fall or spring semesters. Applications are approved on a continuing basis, but students should file complete applications at least 2 months prior to the semester in which they wish to matriculate.
The following documents must be submitted to the Graduate School, University of Nevada, Reno:
- A completed and signed Application for Admission form.
- A $60.00 non-refundable application fee. ($40 non-refundable fee for University of Nevada, Reno Graduates)
- Two official transcripts from each college or university where work has been completed or is in progress.
- The official report of the GMAT.
Students should also submit the following documents directly to Mark Simkin, the Director of the MSIS program at the College of Business, University of Nevada, Reno:
- A current, detailed resume, including all undergraduate education and work experience.
- Personal statement expressing your career interest and indicating why you wish to obtain an MSIS.
Graduate School Requirements:
- Grade Point Average of 2.75 on a scale of 4.0, or an average of 3.0 or higher for the courses taken during the last half of the undergraduate program.
- A baccalaureate (or an advanced) degree from an accredited four-year institution; any major is acceptable.
Information Systems Department MSIS Requirements:
- Completion of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) with a minimum score of 500. Students must also place in the 20th percentile or higher in each portion (verbal, written, and quantitative) of the exam. Students can substitute GRE scores for the GMAT only if they have already taken the GRE test. [These minimum scores are subject to change.] The GMAT exam is not required for MSIS admissions if:
- A student has an undergraduate business degree with a major in information systems from a business school accredited by the AACSB at the time the degree was granted, and
- An overall undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or higher.
- All students are expected to be proficient using a computer for word processing. Students in the IS Management Emphasis should be able to analyze and solve business problems with software such as spreadsheets, statistical packages, and databases. Students enrolled in the Data Analytics emphasis will develop those skills as part of the degree program.
- International student applicants must submit satisfactory scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) indicating an ability to speak, write, and understand the English language. The minimum TOEFL score is 550. International students may be required to complete additional Intensive English courses during their first semester in the program.
- One of the following:
- A bachelor degree completed with a minimum 2.75 GPA on a scale of 4.0, or a GPA of at least 3.0 on a scale of 4.0 for courses taken during the last half of the undergraduate program. An international student who is not a University of Nevada, Reno graduate must have an undergraduate GPA of at least a 3.0 on a scale of 4.0.
- If the applicant does not meet the preceding requirement, admission to graduate standing on a prescribed program may be considered. A prescribed program consists of the completion of one semester or summer session of full-time study in 9 credits, or 12 credits over two consecutive semesters for those working full-time, with a grade of "B" or above in each course taken. The courses prescribed may be undergraduate or graduate courses. These courses may or may not apply to the graduate program of study.
- A bachelor's degree in information systems and/or business is not required for admission to the MSIS program. Students without an undergraduate degree in information systems can earn the MSIS degree by completing the designated courses outlined in the track descriptions.
- Prerequisites for the MSIS differ depending on the selected track. Review the required prerequisites in the IS Management Track and the Data Analytics Track.
MSIS Waiver Policy and Granting of Credit for Equivalent Courses
A course waiver means that a student is excused from taking a specific class due to prior work experience or prior education. Course waivers do not reduce the number of credits that a student must take to complete the MSIS degree, which remains at a minimum of 30 or 32 credits (depending upon the thesis or non-thesis option). Individual MSIS courses may be waived with the permission of the Director of the MSIS program or his/her designees.
The Department of Information Systems may also grant credit for those students who have completed an equivalent course within the last five years with a minimum grade of B at an AACSB-accredited or equivalent institution. Students cannot receive credit by examination for any of the required courses in the curriculum, nor can they replace any of the required business core courses with an undergraduate course. Applications for core course waiver or course credit must be completed during a student’s first-year in the program. The department cannot grant graduate credit for work experience. Internship credit cannot be used for course degree credit in the MSIS degree program.
Contact the MSIS Director for more information about whether a specific course will fulfill a requirement in the MSIS program.
A bachelor degree in business or information systems is not required for admission.
Students without an undergraduate degree in information systems can earn the MSIS degree by completing the designated courses outlined above. However, all students must complete a minimum of 30 or 32 graduate credit hours (depending upon the thesis/non-thesis option in the IS Management Track) to earn the MSIS degree. As an accredited college of business, the department cannot grant graduate credit for work experience.
For international student information, please consult the Office of International Students and Scholars.
Information Systems Advisor Contact Information:
Mark G. Simkin
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