Department of Computer Information Systems Graduate Advising

Advising Advice from the Director of the CIS Graduate Program, Dr. Jeff Clark

In my attempt to give as much help to as many students as possible, I offer the “advising” comments below. Hopefully they’ll be useful to you as migrate your way into and through our amazing graduate degree in information systems.

Advising Sections


 

CANDIDACY FORM

The candidacy form is used by the analysts in the Graduate College to determine if degree requirements have been met. Unless a requirement is listed as “Yes” or “NA” it must be met for graduation.

We will generate your candidacy form and provide it to you for your signature. A signed copy of the candidacy should be submitted to graduate@mtsu.edu. Remember, even though a candidacy form may be supplied by another source, we use the one we generate.

If the program requirements as listed on the candidacy form change then a revised candidacy will need to be prepared and submitted to the Graduate College. PLEASE NOTE, a change of concentration is not a change of program requirements. Program requirement changes are usually related to prerequisites.

You can use your candidacy form and your transcript to map your progress toward degree completion. Remember, if the course is listed as “YES” or “NA” it is not required, otherwise you need to take it. Please do your best to self-audit your progress. I’m happy to help with specific questions or if you’re confused, lost, or off track but as much as possible check your work against your requirements to see how you’re doing.

CHANGING CONCENTRATIONS

We have four concentrations – IS General, IS Security and Assurance, IT Project Management, and Business Intelligence and Analytics. You may have only one concentration, however, if you meet the requirements of another concentration (e.g. suppose in addition to meeting the requirements for IS Security and Assurance you also take INFS 6500, 6510, and 6520 – ITPM) there’s nothing to prevent you from putting something like “Emphasis in IT Project Management.”

You will select your concentration as a part of your application process. If you want to change your concentration you will need to re-apply, however, if you are a student in good standing your admission to your new concentration is automatic.

COURSE LOAD

Students may take up to four classes in a semester without special permission. While permission to take five classes in a semester is rare, the decision is based on a combination of factors that includes outstanding established academic record. A request to take five classes in the student’s first semester of study is never approved.  

PREREQUISITES

I know “prerequisite” seems to suggest that it must be done “before” something else (thus the prefix “pre”), however that can be a little misleading in our program. It may be best to think of the classes listed as “Business Prerequisites” and “INFS Prerequisites” as additional program requirements rather than as courses that must be taken “first.” While we don’t “require” these classes be done “first” we strongly prefer that they not be done “last.”

PREREQS and A WORD ABOUT COST

While it seems reasonable to assume that undergraduate classes (courses with 2xxx, 3xxx, or 4xxx listings) will be charged at the undergraduate rate – turns out that’s not necessarily true, in fact, that’s not even usually true. IF you are a graduate student then all of your classes are charged at the graduate rate, including undergraduate classes.

A COURSE BY COURSE LOOK A PREREQS

We have three business prerequisite classes: ACTG 3000, BIA 6000, and “one other.”

ACTG 3000 is a single class that meets the requirements of the classic “Accounting I” and “Accounting II” configuration. Students with a single accounting class, unless it is ACTG 3000 (or very clearly a “combined” accounting class duplicate) will be required to take this class. Accounting is the “language of business” and, as such, we expect all of our students to be reasonably fluent in it.

It can be taken pretty much anytime in the program but we’d rather it not be taken in the last semester. It’s a good class to “fit into the schedule.”

BIA 6000 is a basic statistics class. Students with previous statistics coursework will meet this requirement. However, the expectation of the previous coursework is “statistics” – not math, not management science – statistics.

Approved Business Prerequisite is our call for some additional grounding. Students from majors outside of business often meet this requirement with an Economics class or even a Business Law class they may have had. If the student has not already had a course we can use here, it is probably best to go with management or marketing. It is also a good place to add a useful INFS course such as INFS 2400 (Web Design).

INFS 3800, or a direct equivalent, is expected of all students. This class should be taken as early as possible. For a full-time student, it should be a first semester priority. It is generally assumed by many of the graduate INFS classes. It’s the closest course to a real “prerequisite” we have. Students with substantial fairly senior level IT leadership experience may be exempted from this course.

INFS 4790/5790 is a very demanding database class that sets up INFS 6790 and therefore, by extension (for those students wanting or needing it) INFS 6810 (Big Data). It is rare that we accept a student’s coursework in database from other universities as meeting this expectation. Out database sequence is very strong and very valuable and this isn’t a place to skimp. If a student takes the class as INFS 5790 (the overwhelmingly most common approach) it may also count as 5000 level “APPROVED Elective” toward the ten required graduate classes.

INFS 2600 is a programming concepts course. Even though our students don’t generally place out as programmers we expect all of our graduate students to have core programming concepts understanding. Students with previous programming coursework or significant programming experience will not be required to take this class.

INFS 3400 is a second programming course. It’s not required and as such is generally listed on the candidacy form as “NA.” However, if a student wants to take the class it may be a useful choice. If a student holds a graduate assistantship (GA) the course will not be paid for with GA funds unless it is marked as required (meaning “yes”).

INFS 4900/5900, or a similar data comm / networking class, is a requirement of the Information Security and Assurance concentration. It is not required of other concentrations; however, it may be a good elective choice for students needing to beef up their technical credentials.

GMAT ADVICE

We require the GMAT or the GRE but we prefer the GMAT. In fact, we convert the GRE to a GMAT score for our computation. One of the advantages of the GMAT is that we can make final admission decisions on the basis of the “unofficial” score you receive on the day of the exam at the testing center. Even though it says “unofficial” it is “the” score – count on it. Send me an electronic copy of the score and I will get it into the processing sequence.

Also, you may take the GMAT every 31 days. Our admission requires that 200 x undergraduate GPA plus GMAT be equal to or greater than 950 (or, 200 x undergraduate upper division GPA plus GMAT be equal to or greater than 1000). If you don’t get the score you need and you think you’d do better with an additional attempt sign up and do it again 31 days later (of course you’ll have to pay for the exam again). For this reason, it’s often a good idea to take the GMAT earlier rather than later in case you need time for the additional testing opportunity.

Also, it’s useful to know that we use “undergraduate” grades only in our index computation. We don’t factor in previous graduate grades. Also, if your grades are from a non-US university we’ll use the converted GPA based on an evaluation by an agency such as WES (World Education Services).

SCHEDULING CLASSES

A1 – A2 - All of our 6xxx level classes offered in a hybrid delivery format in the fall and spring semesters consisting of seven weeks of face-to-face instruction and an overlapping seven weeks of on-line instruction. As a practical matter this means you’re in class at a pretty fast pace for seven weeks at a time. Classes that meet in the first seven weeks of a fall or spring semester are referred to as “A1” and classes that meet in the second seven weeks of a fall or spring semester are referred to as “A2.” All other classes are full term (except when the terms are shorter in the summer).

With the caveat that “past performance is no guarantee of future results” a somewhat reliable – though “not certain because things change” – method of knowing what may be offered and when is to look at the schedule of previous semesters. Don’t completely rely on this approach but it can be a useful starting spot.

Summer – We have quite a few course offerings in the summer terms, however, it can be a challenge to get the classes you need when you need them in the summer. If the rhythm of your course plan allows and you want summer classes, it’s often a good idea to avoid taking some of the classes that are routinely offered in the summer. For example, you can pretty much count on BIA 6905, INFS 5790, and INFS 6980 to be offered every summer at this point. There are other classes often offered in the summer but they are subject to a lot of change (e.g. INFS 6710, 6790, 6300, 5900, 2600, 3800, BIA 6910 are such examples).

INFS 6980 must be taken in your last semester. That can vary a bit if you’re only taking one class at a time. There are other exceptions but they must be a schedule necessity not a personal preference. In order to enforce this requirement 6980 requires a POD (Permission of Department) to register. Contact me via email with request and I’ll check your status and, if approved, enable your enrollment.

APPROVED ELECTIVES

A basic way of thinking of “approved” electives is to know that the required classes of all of the concentrations are “approved” for the other concentrations. INFS 6750, 6610, MBAI/INFS 6835 and 6855 are specifically not approved electives. We also do not approve internship credit or travel course credit as electives. Also, you may have only two 5xxx level classes in your degree.

Examples:

Information Security and Assurance concentration

INFS 6500, 6510, 6520, 6810, 5900 (required), 5790 (if listed as required), BIA 6910 and 6920

IT Project Management concentration

INFS 6300, 6301, 6302, 6810, 5900, 5790 (if listed as required), BIA 6910 and 6920

Business Intelligence and Analytics concentration

INFS 6300, 6301, 6302, 6500, 6510, 6520, 5900, 5790 (if listed as required)

IS General concentration

INFS 6300, 6301, 6302, 6810, 6500, 6510, 6520, 5900, 5790 (if listed as required), BIA 6910 and 6920

 

COURSE SEQUENCING

ITPM classes, INFS 6500, 6510, and 6520, are not sequenced, meaning they can be taken in any order.

IS Security classes, INFS 6300, 6301, and 6302, are somewhat sequenced. INFS 6300 is preferred prior to 6301 or 6302 though exceptions may be granted. There is no expectation that 6301 precede 6302.

BIA 6905 into 6910 into 6920 is a required sequence. Also, INFS 6790 is a requirement for INFS 6810 and since INFS 5790 is a requirement for 6790 it is easy to see that the database sequence requires careful attention. INFS 5790 into 6790 into 6810 is a required sequence.

Required sequences get a little more challenging when it is understood that some classes are not offered every semester. For example, INFS6810 will now be offered in the A2 Fall and A2 Spring, not in the Summer, same with BIA6920.  But, we do expect BIA6910, BIA6905, INFS6790, and INFS5790 to be offered in the Fall, Spring, and Summer.  Therefore, you will want to take classes so that you can take INFS6810 and BIA6920 in the A2 Fall or A2 Spring.  

I hope these unofficial advising thoughts are helpful to you. Thanks for your interest in our program

Dr. Jeff Clark
(615)898.2838   
jeff.clark@mtsu.edu

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