Master’s in CIS takes initial step at NSU

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A Letter of Intent for a Master’s of Science in Computer Information Systems at Northwestern State University has been approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System. The degree program is subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors and the State Board of Regents.

The 30-hour degree program would be offered completely online, the only program of its type offered by a public college or university in Louisiana.

Northwestern State’s program would initially offer two concentrations, homeland security and adult learning and development. Students in the program would gain an in-depth knowledge in six computer information systems areas: cyber security, database administration and data mining, networking, programming, project management and software applications.

“This degree program will allow students to enhance their existing information technology skills,” said Curtis Penrod, coordinator of the computer information systems program. “CIS has been a growth area in the Louisiana job market for the last few years and this degree allows NSU to help meet the needs of that market.”

Three of the top 10 largest areas of growth requiring a baccalaureate degree are in the computer information system field. Students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree can return to college to increase computer information systems skills and develop new skills. Those who complete the adult learning and development concentration will have the skillset to teach in community colleges, technical colleges and other venues. Those without information systems backgrounds can develop new skills to change to an occupation with a higher salary and larger number of job prospects.

The master’s program would build up on Northwestern State’s nationally recognized bachelor’s program in computer information systems. Enrollment in the program has increased from 120 students to 275 in the last two years with the assistance of a grant from the Louisiana Department of Economic Development and CSRA. The program was ranked first in the nation by bestcollegereviews.org. Students in the undergraduate program have won 17 national championships in the last 17 years at the Association of Information Technology Professionals National Collegiate Conference.

The CIS program will work the Departments of Criminal Justice, History and Social Sciences and Teaching Leadership and Counseling to develop the graduate degree. Forty percent of the classes in the proposed master’s degree are currently offered at the university in the graduate programs in homeland security and adult learning and development.

“Homeland security is a key issue within the IT field and so having students be able to combine knowledge from the existing MS in Homeland Security with IT concepts will help individuals interested in pursuing careers in IT security,” said Penrod. “Likewise, as demand for information technology skills grows, we need to be able train these potential employees. By partnering with our strong adult learning and development program, we will be producing graduates who can help teach future IT workers the skills they need.”

For more information, contact Penrod at penrodc@nsula.edu.