Oakland U. Prepares Students for Strategic Business Data Demands

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Oakland University's Elliott Hall of Business and Information Technology, which houses the school's Master of Science in Information Technology Management program.

Oakland University’s Elliott Hall of Business and Information Technology, which houses the school’s Master of Science in Information Technology Management program.

Mohammed Dadashzadeh, MIS professor and chair of Oakland University’s Decision and Information Sciences department, says what his school’s Master of Science in Information Technology Management program offers is unique.

“This is currently the only master’s program that prepares graduates with a balanced emphasis on data skills, statistics and management science reasoning, and business analytics application lifecycle management training,” he said. “And our efforts for making the capstone project a curriculum-integrated project promises to be another feature that students are unlikely to find elsewhere.”

The program is structured along three axes, with three courses in each: Data Axis, Application Management Axis and Statistics and Management Science Axis.

The Master of Science in Information Technology Management focusing on Business Analytics started with the first group of students in July 2012. The inaugural class graduated in June 2013.

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The university, located in Rochester, Michigan, already had a strong MSITM program, housed in the Decision and Information Sciences (DIS) department at the School of Business Administration (one of only 178 business schools – out of 13,000 worldwide – to hold elite accreditation from the AACSB International for both its business and accounting programs). The program offers majors and minors in Management Information Systems and Operations Management.

In 2009, the MSITM program introduced three focus areas: Data Management & Business Analytics, Information System Security & Networking, and Information System Strategy.

“The idea for the lock-step, one-year, half-online program came about after university president Gary Russi and the board decided to allow the in-state resident tuition rate for degree programs that are at least 50 percent online,” Dadashzadeh said.

The next evolution took place when the MSITM program was designated as a STEM program in 2012, allowing foreign students with the normal one year of optional practical training status a 17-month extension, he said.

The program works with area companies through the school’s Capstone Project requirement. Area companies provide the projects, and students complete the projects at no cost to participants.

“The Capstone Projects are assigned to teams of two students,” Dadashzadeh said. “We recruit companies that have a Business Intelligence/Analytics project on their workload. They provide requirements and anonymized data. Both data visualization and predictive/prescriptive analytic modeling projects are tackled.”

Graduate Prarthna Balasundaram is enthusiastic about her experience at Oakland.

“OU’s MSITM program is a great example of real-life IT experience rolled into a post-grad program,” she said. “When I went through the curriculum with my husband, who’s an IT manager, and close friends from the field, they could readily relate it to what they were doing in work every day. The program is designed more like a vocational training at a corporate IT setting.”

That appealed to her because, while she had prior IT education, she had trouble breaking into the industry. That’s why she was so happy with the school internships and Capstone Project.

“First, I did a summer internship with a leading automotive design and PLM firm and then a business analytics project with a renowned healthcare network – very useful during the interview for my current job as IT Project Lead/Business Analyst,” she said. “The MSITM program also prepared me for ITIL Foundation Certification, and I find that very effective in my day-to-day work of Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement.

“OU’s Program not only gave me the know-how, it also equipped me to be at par with IT grads with 3-plus years of work experience.”

Program details

  • Program length: One year
  • 2014 tuition: All program participants pay the in-state tuition rate. Based on winter 2014 tuition rates, the total cost of the program is $18,525
  • Credit Hours: 30
  • Courses: 10 (including the Capstone Project), half of which are online



Susan Madrak is a Philadelphia-based writer.

 






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