For the student who wishes to develop a degree program in information systems, definition is the initial challenge; as the definition develops, the degree program will take shape. There are many ways to approach information systems. Many professionals and educators have tried to identify different approaches by adding modifiers, which has led to terms such as "management information systems" and "computer information systems.” MIS is understood to be focused on the management aspects, while CIS is focused on the technical aspects. However, as the area has developed, the differentiation between the managerial and the technical has blurred.
At Empire State College, there are three primary areas of study which accommodate a degree in information systems:
Separate guidelines are provided for each of these areas of study. However, a common core of knowledge has been identified as appropriate for any of these areas of study.
Students can consider other possibilities than IS for their concentration titles. For example:
In any degree program, progression and integration are important. Progression is important because one needs to move from a foundation to a deeper level of understanding. Integration exists when links exist among the degree program studies. Both are addressed in the common core of knowledge for information systems. To begin, the foundation is defined, which is important for any degree program. Then, the essential links are presented. From these essential links, the rest of the degree program will then differ, depending on student goals and interests.
The core areas that relevant area of study faculty have agreed upon as essential for a degree in information systems include:
In this common core, the student has investigated information technology and information systems at the advanced level. He or she has studied systems analysis and design. The content of the rest of the concentration will depend on the specific area of study. Three of the most common possibilities are discussed below.
In addition to satisfying the general BME guidelines, students wishing to develop an IS degree within BME are advised to take business, management, and economics studies that include IS components or that complement the IS studies in the core area. The following are suggested topic areas. The list below is by no means exhaustive. These studies should be beyond the introductory level and address competencies, learning and knowledge areas such as the following:
Note: The guidelines have been revised for a concentration in information systems. Review the guidelines located in the Science, Mathematics and Technology area of study.
The general SMT guidelines are met through the core studies for a degree in IS. One additional area that needs to be included in an IS degree under SMT would be further study in mathematics. This should be beyond the introductory level and could include areas such as discrete math or advanced quantitative methods in business.
Beyond the core, students in SMT likely will have an area they would like to focus on in their additional advanced-level studies. The following are some suggested areas. This list is by no means exhaustive:
Studies should not focus on specific commercial packages, since these narrow approaches will not serve the student's long-range goals. Specific titles may go out of date, or the manufacturer may change its name or go out of business. It is also important to strike the proper balance between study of general concepts and of specific software tools and packages. While students can and should gain hands-on experience with software in their studies, at least equal emphasis must be placed on mastery of the concepts and principles. The concepts and principles are the key to successful lifelong learning and to mastering the use of new software tools and techniques as they become available. A specific example of this principle would be developing a study in "web design," rather than a study titled "Microsoft Frontpage."
Separate guidelines are given for the interdisciplinary studies area of study and these are the best source for any student developing a degree within this AOS. However, it is assumed that a student with an interdisciplinary studies degree in IS would have the common core identified above. For the additional studies in the information systems area, several of the studies at the advanced level should integrate viewpoints and applications. An example may be a degree that looks at the technical and implementation aspects of e-commerce.