In an effort to meet the educational needs of IT professionals in the workforce and the increasing demand from nearly every industry for advanced IT graduates who have a stronger knowledge in up-and-coming technology, the University of South Florida Polytechnic is now offering a Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT).
This fall, USF Polytechnic will welcome the MSIT charter class and expects the program will quickly grow to help meet the demand for this advanced training, said Dr. William D. Armitage, director of the school’s Division of Information Technology.
“There is clearly a need by experienced IT professionals for a program like this,” Armitage said.
“Our MSIT provides a logical step and vital credentialing for moving to senior IT management positions. It is geared specifically toward experienced IT professionals who want to expand their knowledge of new and emerging information technologies. This additional education and skill set will help them advance their careers in IT leadership.”
Unique to the MSIT program, Armitage said, is the intensive “graduate practicum” experience required of all students, an aspect he said is the only such in the state. Starting in their first semester of the two-semester practicum experience, each MSIT student will design a project that has real-world relevance. In the second semester, the same student will supervise a team of undergraduate IT students to develop, test and implement the project.
“Our practicum approach will have real-world application, enhance the leadership and team skills professionals need in the workplace, and provide innovative and valuable research that can be applied in a wide array of industries,” Armitage said.
Similar to several degrees already offered at USF Polytechnic, the new MSIT will be offered online, with plans to expand to include on-campus classes in the near future. In addition, the program requires students attend on-campus mid-term and final examinations, but will be adapted for long-distance student to include off-site, proctored exams. This virtual-classroom approach increases the reach of the program, allowing students nearly anywhere to earn the degree, Armitage said.
“We’ve taken a similar approach with our undergraduate IT program and it has been very well received, even reaching students stationed in Afghanistan,” he said.
The 36-credit-hour MSIT program of study provides a balanced curriculum, combining IT management strategies and technology leadership with advanced course work in the technology of the field. The curriculum offers in-depth, advanced knowledge about both current and future technologies. An industry-based advisory board will work with USF Polytechnic to ensure MSIT course content stays grounded in real-world and industry priorities.
The study of information technology across all degrees bridges the gap between computer science and management information systems, providing students with knowledge of rapidly changing technology. The MSIT provides a deeper understanding in a more hands-on experience, Armitage said.
“The MSIT is less theoretical than a master’s degree in computer science, but more technical than a master’s degree in information sciences on the business side,” he said.
“We aim for the ‘sweet spot’ between these two, the point at which a student learns the essential factors in managing technology and is also provided a thorough understanding of the technologies to effectively use and manage it. In essence, we teach not just how to manage the team handling the new technology, but also the details of the technology itself.”
In addition, he said, the MSIT features faculty from a wide range of disciplines and who are leaders in their respective fields, including experts in multimedia, mobile robotics, programming, software architecture, and wireless mesh networking, among others. MSIT students will have the further opportunity to participate in cutting edge collaborative and interdisciplinary research being conducted by IT faculty members.
The MSIT program is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of College and Schools.