Alex Lopes - Kelley School of Business

An Analysis of IS Majors in Top
Ranked Schools
Alex Lopes
IT Leadership Conference 2013
Starting point: IS 2010 Curriculum Guidelines
Topi et al., 2010
* Notice that Application Development is not part of the recommended curriculum,
Although a “strong case” can be made for its inclusion
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Bell et at. examined how widespread the 2010
curriculum has been adopted
 Comprehensive study of 127 majors through survey and
follow up questions
Bell et al., 2013, CAIS 32(1), Article 2
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Our internal project was different, looking into the
programs of “peer” institutions
 Focus on top-25”ish” US News and BusinessWeek
undergrad programs
 Plus a couple of “wild cards” for a total of 35 programs
 Analyze individual syllabus, course descriptions,
template curricula, etc.
 Some students need a major to find information about majors
 General observations
 10 schools in the sample do not have IS majors, dropping the
effective sample to 25
• In the “top” 17 only 8 schools have “pure” IS majors
 The higher in the ranking a school is, the more “exotic” the major
 Out of the 25 “top” majors, only 12 reside in an “IS department”
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Yes, we have seven recommended courses but in
reality, only four are commonly found in top schools
Data and Info Management
• Taught in a variety of ways
• Mostly required to all majors, but
some specific for IS
• Usually (but not always) basic
computing skills are separated from
the main foundations course
• Very common course, found in the
vast majority of programs as standalone
System Analysis & Design
IT infrastructure
• Almost as common as database as a
required course
• In several cases, preceded by
databases as an explicit pre-req (or
at least a co-req)
• Focus on SDLC
• In most cases, this means data
communications and networks
• There is somewhat of a drop from
databases and SAD to IT
infrastructure in terms of being
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The other required piece is, thankfully,
 The name of the courses rarely indicate “coding” but they
can be found in the vast majority of programs
 Some schools have multiple programming requirements
 Some interesting ideas
 Working with CS(E) to deliver programming courses or allow
CS(E) courses to count as required
 Allowing experienced coders to bypass basic programming
 Embedded programming in courses with other objectives
• For example, VBA to work with data analytics
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Now for the missing components
Enterprise Architecture
IS Project Management
• Rarely taught in a way that is
relatable to certifications like TOGAF,
• When majors include some sort of
enterprise content, that usually
means ERP
• Rarely taught as stand-alone course
• In several cases, a project
management course from other area
is used
• Some aspects of it taught as part of
the SDLC
IS Strategy, Management &
• Rarely taught as stand-alone course
but related content may be
embedded in either foundations
courses or electives (e-commerce
strategy, social media strategy)
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• A very small number of majors seem
to use IS capstone courses
• The few majors that have it employ
either comprehensive internal
projects or consulting engagements
Which electives do IS majors in top schools tend to
 Most schools seem to include electives that match the
preferences of the faculty teaching there but it is also
possible to find some clusters
IS majors tend to “own”
security as a specialization
Significant variation in
terms of departments
offering courses in the
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IS majors tend to “own”
this area outright
Social Media
Some variation in terms of
departments offering
courses in the area
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