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Athabasca University

MSc IS January 2016 Program Regulations

MSc IS January 2016 Regulations

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

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:

 EssayProjectThesis
 MinMaxMinMaxMinMax
Foundations312312312
Core15159
Electives933
Integration3915
Total (MSc IS)303930393039

Information Systems Foundation Courses

The IS foundations reflect a minimum level of prerequisite IS knowledge, and are required to prepare students for the IS core.

  • COMP501: New Systems Development Technology
  • COMP503: Hardware and Software
  • COMP504: Programming, Data and Object Structures
  • COMP505: Operation Management (new for January 2011).
  • COMP506: Organizational Behavior (new for May 2011).
  • COMP601: Survey of Computing and Information Systems - is required for all MSc IS program students.

Depending on the incoming student's credentials, the IS Foundations of the MSc IS program may be completed in as few as three credits (one course), or may require a maximum of twelve credits (four courses).

Exemptions from IS Foundation Courses

Flexible entrance requirements are designed to recognize the range of academic credentials held by IT professionals applying to the program. Exemptions from IS foundations are based on appropriate undergraduate or graduate academic credentials supported by relevant professional-level work experience.

Advanced standing is limited by program residency requirements.

Depending on the incoming student's credentials, the IS Foundations of the MSc IS program may be completed in as few as three credits (COMP 601), or may require a maximum of twelve credits (COMP 601 + 3 other foundation courses). That is, to meet the MSc IS foundation requirements, a student should complete or get exempted from THREE of the following courses in addition to mandatory COMP601: COMP501, COMP503, COMP504, COMP505, COMP506.

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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 604Enterprise Computer Networks (3)
COMP 605Project Management for Information Systems(3)
COMP 607Ethical, Legal, Social Issues in Information Technology(3)
COMP 610Selected Topics in Software Engineering(3)
COMP 638Enterprise Modeling(3)
COMP 648Advanced Topics in Human-Computer Interaction(3)
COMP 657Artificial Intelligence(3)
COMP 682Data Mining(3)
COMP 689 Advanced Distributed Systems(3)
COMP 695Research 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 (4) courses from the above CORE courses in addition to COMP 695. MSc IS students who elect the Thesis route are required to complete two (2) courses from the above CORE courses in addition to COMP 695. 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 (either essay, project or thesis route) before registering for the third Core course of the program. Students who select the thesis route do not need to take more than three (3) Core courses and should know their intended route at this time.
  5. The student must meet core course requirements before taking electives.

Information Systems Elective Courses

  • MSc IS students who elect Essay route are required to complete three (3) courses from the following elective courses or the above core courses.
  • MSc IS students who elect Project route or Thesis route are required to complete one (1) course from the following elective course list or from the IS CORE courses list in consultation with the project/thesis supervisor.
  • MSc IS students who elect the Thesis route may complete one (1) course from a related discipline from graduate units outside of the school in consultation with her/his thesis supervisor.
COMP 617 Designing Real-time Software(3)
COMP 635Green ICT Strategies(3)
COMP 636Enabling Technologies for e-Commerce -Closed(3)
COMP 637Mobile Computing(3)
COMP 649Affective Computing(3)
COMP 650Social Computing (3)
COMP 656Cloud Computing(3)
COMP 658Computational Intelligence(3)
COMP 659Statistical Language Processing for Text Analytics(3)
COMP 660Enterprise Information Security(3)
COMP 667Multiagent Systems(3)
COMP 674 Theory of Computation(3)
COMP 683Introduction to Learning and Knowledge Analytics(3)
COMP 684Business Intelligence (3)
COMP 687Advanced Topics in Emperical Software Engineering (under development) (3)
COMP 688Testing & QA Validation(3)

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Career Tracks and Integration

After students complete the foundations and core courses, they need to synthesize what they have learned. In the past neither synthesis nor integration were 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:

Integration Essay

The Master's essay is a single 3-credit requirement completed in addition to the foundations, core, and three career track courses. The essay provides a generalist rather than a specialist view, and may be a comprehensive critical survey of aspects of integration (applications, IS organization, and technology). Topics should show how different 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 will be required to pass an oral examination 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.

Integration Project

The Integration Project requires completion of the IS foundations and core, a "career track" elective course, and a project that is considered equivalent in effort to three elective 3-credit courses. A project supervisor is 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 to take the Project route are required to complete the following courses:

COMP 697Project I (Proposal Writing)

COMP 698 Project II (Implementation)

COMP 699 Project III (Report Writing and Oral Defence)

Project Credits

Project credits consist of three, three-credit elements, namely, COMP 697, COMP698, and COMP 699. These elements are not conventional courses; however, they are treated similarly for administrative purposes.

COMP697 (three credits): Decision Making, Research Methodologies, and Proposal Writing are the first element of project work. This three-credit course focuses on research methodologies and on the suitability and applicability of these methodologies to distance education research. In-depth analyses of masters-level proposals and projects will be carried out. All students taking the project route must successfully complete COMP 697 before they can register in COMP698.

COMP698 (three credits) is the second element of project work. Students can register in COMP698 any time after they have successfully completed COMP697, produced an acceptable project proposal, and have established a project supervisory committee consisting of a supervisor and two other committee members. Upon completion of COMP698, the implementation of the project research should be done.

COMP699 (three credits) is the final element of project work. Students should register in COMP699 in the term in which they anticipate completing the project report and in which they will schedule the oral defence and final project report revision of this work.

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Integration Thesis

The Master's thesis is a five (5) three-credit course 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 of study and 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 the School. The additional thesis examiners may be faculty members or industry resource persons approved by the program director.

Note: MSc IS students who elect 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 VI (Research Stage 3)

COMP 680 Thesis V (Thesis Writing and Defence)

Thesis Credits

Thesis credits consist of five, 3-credit elements, namely, COMP 676, COMP677, COMP 678, COMP679, and COMP 680. These elements are not conventional courses; however, they are treated that way for administrative purposes.

  • COMP676 (three credits): Decision Making, Research Methodologies, Literature Review, and Proposal Writing are the first element of thesis work. This three-credit course focuses on research methodologies and on the suitability and applicability of these methodologies to information systems research. The student should produce an acceptable thesis proposal. The proposal should be approved by a thesis supervisory committee. For the details, see the handbook for MSc IS thesis route.
  • COMP677 (three credits) is the second element of thesis work. Students can register in COMP677 any time after they have successfully completed COMP676, produced an acceptable thesis proposal, and have established a thesis supervisory committee consisting of a supervisor and two other committee members. Upon completion of COMP677, one-third of the research should be done.
  • COMP678 (three credits) is the third element of thesis work. Students should register in COMP678 when their thesis work is well underway and have passed COMP677 (have done 50% of the research.). Upon completion of COMP678, the student should have completed two-thirds of the research.
  • COMP679 (three credits) is the fourth element of thesis work. Students should register in COMP679 when their thesis work is well underway and have passed COMP678. Upon completion of COMP679, the student should have completed 80% of research work.
  • COMP680 (three credits) is the final element of thesis work. Students should register in COMP680 when their thesis work is well underway and have passed COMP679 and they anticipate completing the thesis work and in which they will schedule the oral exam and final thesis revision of this work.

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

In the Master’s thesis-route, at the time of the Annual Progress Report review, when the student will be entering their final year of the expected time-to-completion the student and supervisor may determine that the student will be unable to fulfill all of the requirements of the degree within the remaining time left in the program. At this time the student may apply for a program extension.

In a course-based route, the graduate program director (or designate) may be the substitute for the supervisor. When the student is entering their final year of the expected time-to-completion, the student and the graduate program director may determine that the student will be unable to fulfill all of the requirements of the program within the remaining time left in the program. At this time the student may apply for a program extension.

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 Deferrel Requests please refer to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Graduate Handbook.

Updated October 01 2015 by FST Technical Staff

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