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Athabasca University

(Regulations for program students enrolled for January 1, 2016 and later)

Master of Science in Information Systems
Program Regulations

 

Completion Requirements

Program completion requirements for the MSc IS are dependent on the student’s academic credentials and professional-level work experience: a recent graduate of a Computer Systems or Information Systems undergraduate program, or an IT professional with the right combination of academic credentials and work experience, may require as few as 30 credits. Others with less appropriate academic credentials and/or marginal professional-level work experience, may require the maximum of 39 credits.

The minimum and maximum credits for different routes are listed in the following table:

  Essay Project Thesis
  Min Max Min Max Min Max
Foundations 3 12 3 12 3 12
Core 15 15 9
Electives 9 3 3
Integration 3 9 15
Total (MSc IS) 30 39 30 39 30 39

The MSc IS program consists of three components:

Information Systems (IS) Foundations

The IS foundations reflect a minimum level of prerequisite IS knowledge, and are required to prepare students for the IS core. For descriptions of these courses refer to the MScIS Course List.

COMP 501 System Development with Emerging Technology (3)
COMP 503 Information Technology Hardware and Software (3)
COMP 504 Object Structure and Programming (3)
COMP 505 Operations Management (3)
COMP 506 Organizational Behavior in Information Systems (3)
COMP 601 Survey of Computing and Information Systems (required for all students) (3)

Information Systems IS Core

The IS core is a consistent set of information systems core courses offered by all institutions granting similar credentials.

COMP 602 Enterprise Information Management (3)
COMP 604 Enterprise Computer Networks (3)
COMP 605 Project Management for Information Systems (3)
COMP 607 Ethical, Legal, Social Issues in Information Technology (3)
COMP 610 Selected Topics in Software Engineering (3)
COMP 638 Enterprise Modeling (3)
COMP 648 Advanced Topics in Human-Computer Interaction (3)
COMP 657 Artificial Intelligence: Principles and Techniques (3)
COMP 682 Data Mining (3)
COMP 689 Advanced Distributed Systems (3)
COMP 695 Research Methods in Information Systems
(required for all students)
(3)

IS Core Academic Regulations

  1. All MSc IS students are required to take COMP 695.
  2. MSc IS students who elect the essay route or the project route are required to complete four courses (in addition to COMP 695) from the above core courses. MSc students who elect the thesis route are required to complete two courses (in addition to COMP 695) from the above core courses. The student can choose some of them to complete in consultation with the essay/project/thesis supervisors.
  3. The core courses cannot be exempted. The core courses (except COMP 695) may be challenged with the permission of the course coordinators.
  4. The student should declare the route (essay route, project route, or thesis route) before registering in the third core course of the program. Students who select the thesis route do not need to take more than three core courses and should know their intended route at this time.
  5. The student must complete all core courses before taking electives.

Information Systems Elective Courses

  1. MSc IS students who elect essay route are required to complete three courses from the following elective courses or the above core courses.
  2. MSc IS students who elect project route or thesis route are required to complete one course from the following electives, or the above core courses in consultation with the project/thesis supervisor.
  3. MSc IS students who elect thesis route may complete one course from a related discipline from graduate units outside of the school in consultation with his/her thesis supervisor.
COMP 617 Designing Real-Time Software (3)
COMP 635 Green ICT Strategies (3)
COMP 637 Mobile Computing (3)
COMP 649 Affective Computing (3)
COMP 650 Social Computing (3)
COMP 656 Cloud Computing (3)
COMP 658 Computational Intelligence (3)
COMP 659 Statistical Language Processing for Text Analytics (3)
COMP 660 Enterprise Information Security (3)
COMP 667 Multiagent Systems (3)
COMP 674 Theory of Computation (3)
COMP 683 Introduction to Learning and Knowledge Analytics (3)
COMP 684 Business Intelligence (3)
COMP 692 Independent Study I (3)
COMP 693 Independent Study II (3)

Career Tracks

After students complete the core, they need to synthesize what they have learned. In the past neither synthesis nor integration was included in the curriculum. Furthermore, system integration is a pervasive aspect of IS practice. For this reason, the program includes an integrating capstone component. Current and emerging concepts and technologies are studied through "career tracks."

These tracks allow students (within the competency and resources of the faculty) to "major" in a specific subject area for which there is demand, or to achieve breadth within a topic area or across a wider scope.

Integration can be viewed from three perspectives. Enterprise integration and integration of the IS function are management perspectives, and will not be pursued in the MSc IS at this time. The integration of IS technologies will be the main approach for MSc IS students, integration courses, or projects. This view concerns the development of an integrated IS enterprise architecture including the evaluation and selection from architectural and platform choices, priorities, and policies, the assessment of the impact of emerging technologies, evaluation of the role of standards, and evaluation of the effect of vendor strategies.

The requirements for the Career Track component of the MSc IS may be met in one of three ways:

1. INTEGRATION PROJECT

This requires completion of the IS foundations and core, a "career track/elective" course, and a project that is considered equivalent in effort to three, three-credit courses. A project supervisor and project sponsor are required, plus one additional reader. This additional reader may be a faculty member or an industry resource person approved by the faculty.

The project should deal with the development of technologies for intra- and inter-organizational systems in the form of an integrated technical architecture (hardware, software, networks, and data) to serve organizational needs in a rapidly changing competitive and technological environment. The project must also satisfy an acceptable combination of the following criteria:

  • It deals with a novel exploratory implementation, the results of which will be of some interest to a portion of the IS community.
  • It involves novel implementation techniques.
  • It involves the implementation of a practical piece of nontrivial software whose availability could have some impact on the IS user community.

Note: MSc IS students who elect the Project route are required to complete the following courses:

Project Credits

Project credits consist of three, three-credit elements, namely, COMP 697, COMP 698, and COMP 699. These elements are not conventional courses; however, they are treated similarly for administrative purposes.

For descriptions of these courses refer to the MScIS Course List.

2. INTEGRATION ESSAY

The Master’s essay is a single three-credit requirement completed in addition to the foundations, core, and three career track/elective courses. The essay provides a generalist rather than a specialist view, and will be a comprehensive critical survey of aspects of integration (applications, IS organization, and technology). Topics should show how disparate computer platforms and networks can be integrated to provide a flexible and efficient infrastructure for the organization. This course addresses both the "What" and "How" of integration. The essay may identify significant open problems, but it is not expected to contribute significantly to their solution.

An essay supervisor is required, plus one additional reader. In addition to the essay, the student may be required to pass an oral exam on the contents of the Master’s essay, to be administered by the essay supervisor and reader.

Note: COMP 696 Master's Essay is required for students who elect the Essay route.

3. INTEGRATION THESIS

The Master’s thesis is a five three-credit requirement completed in addition to the foundation, three core courses, and one elective course.

The thesis must represent the results of the student's independent work after admission to the program. The proposed topic for the thesis, together with a brief statement outlining the proposed method of treatment, and the arrangement made for faculty supervision must be identified at the beginning of the program study and be approved by the program director. The thesis will be evaluated by the student's supervisor(s), and at least two examiners appointed by the graduate program director, one of whom shall be external to Athabasca University. The additional thesis examiners may be faculty members or industry resource persons approved by the program director.

Note: MSc IS students who elect the Thesis route are required to complete the following courses:

  • COMP 676 Thesis I (Proposal Writing)
  • COMP 677 Thesis II (Research Stage 1)
  • COMP 678 Thesis III (Research Stage 2)
  • COMP 679 Thesis IV (Research Stage 3)
  • COMP 680 Thesis V (Thesis Writing and Defence)

Thesis Credits

Thesis credits consist of five, three-credit elements, namely, COMP 676, COMP 677, COMP 678, COMP 679, and COMP 680. These elements are not conventional courses; however, they are treated similarly for administrative purposes.

For descriptions of these courses refer to the MScIS Course List.

Essay, Project, and Thesis

a) MSc IS students who elect the essay route are required to complete the following course:  
COMP 696 Master's Essay (3)
   
b) MSc IS students who elect the project route are required to complete the following courses:  
COMP 697 Project I (Proposal Writing) (3)
COMP 698 Project II (Implementation) (3)
COMP 699 Project III (Report Writing and Oral Defence) (3)
     
c) MSc IS students who elect to take the thesis route are required to complete the following courses:  
COMP 676 Thesis I (Proposal Writing) (3)
COMP 677 Thesis II (Research Stage I) (3)
COMP 678 Thesis III (Research Stage II) (3)
COMP 679 Thesis IV (Research Stage III) (3)
COMP 680 Thesis V (Thesis Writing and Defence) (3)

Full- and Part-Time Study

Students may study in the program on a full- or part-time basis. All students must complete a minimum of six credits (two course equivalents) per academic year, i.e., September 1 to August 31.

Residency

To meet the residency requirements, students must complete at least the following through the Athabasca University MSc IS program:

FOUNDATIONS:

COMP 601 (three credits).

CORE:

Two core courses (six credits) = COMP 695 + one core course.

CAREER TRACK:

  • The project route consists of COMP 697, COMP 698 and COMP 699.
  • The essay route consists of two career track electives and COMP 696.
  • The thesis route consists of COMP 676, COMP 677, COMP 678, COMP 679, and COMP 680.

Laddering into the Master of Science in Information Systems

Students who are admitted to the MSc IS after completing one of the post-baccalaureate certificates (PBC-ITM, PBC-DA, PBC-IS) will be able to transfer completed AU graduate COMP courses towards the MSc IS Program. Courses completed within the certificate will be considered for credit towards the MSc IS if they satisfy the following requirements: The coursework is less than 7 years old at the time of admission to the program. The course satisfies the lowest acceptable grade specified in the MSc IS program regulations. AU graduate courses completed as non-program students will be considered towards the MSc IS. These courses must also be less than 7 years old at the time of admission and must satisfy the lowest acceptable grade.

Letter of Permission

Students enrolled in the MSc IS program may take one course from other post-secondary institutions in fulfillment of the three credit towards the career track program requirements, provided such course is applicable to Athabasca University’s MSc IS program.

Students wishing to take a course from other institutions must submit a written request, detailed course outline, and the appropriate Letter of Permission Fee to the Graduate Program Director for review. If approved, the School of Computing and Information Systems will email a Letter of Permission.

To allow mailing time, requests for a Letter of Permission should be made at least one month before the registration deadline at the institution where the student will be taking the course.

Upon completion of the course and in order to receive credit, the student must submit an official transcript to the MSc IS Graduate Program Coordinator.

Maintaining Program Status

To maintain program status, students must complete at least 6 credits of course or essay/project work during each academic year, September 1st to August 31st or January 1st to December 31st depending on when you were admitted to the program.

In foundation and core courses, the lowest acceptable grade is B- (70 per cent). Students who a) receive a grade lower than B-, or b) receive more than one grade of B- or lower, may be required to withdraw from the program.

In elective courses, the lowest acceptable grade is C+ (66 per cent). Students who a) receive a grade lower than C+, or b) receive more than one grade of C+ or lower, may be required to withdraw from the program.

Minimum Course Load

To maintain program status, students who are completing the course requirement of the MSc IS program must complete a minimum of six credits of course and/or project work during each academic year. Students who fail to maintain a minimum course load will be placed on academic probation.

Time Limit

The volatility of the subject matter requires that the degree of MSc IS must be completed within five academic years from the program admission date.

Program Extension

If a student is unable to complete the program within the expected maximum number of years for completion, a program extension may be considered. Requests for an extension will be considered only under compelling circumstances.

The maximum length of a program extension is one (1) year. In exceptional circumstances students may reapply if additional time is necessary.

For further information on Program Extension Requests please refer to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Graduate Handbook.

A program extension (continuation) fee will be paid by the student upon approval of the program extension.

Program Deferral

While enrolled in the program there may be situations in which students are temporarily unable to meet the program requirements at that time. One alternative for the student is to request a deferral in order to suspend the program requirements for a period of time. The maximum length of one deferral is one (1) year. In special circumstances, students may reapply for a second year of deferral during their time in their program. For further information on Program Deferral Requests please refer to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Graduate Handbook.

Information effective September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018.

Updated July 27 2017 by FST Technical Staff

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