Master of Science in Information Management Electives
May 12, 2022
Personalize your Master of Science in Information Management with elective courses. Combine thematically linked courses to fashion an area of specialization.
The growing field of information management (IM) bridges data science and information technology-- and blends additional disciplines within. As the need for technology, data, and secure information systems grows, so will the demand for information management professionals that manage these operations.
From logging on to countless meetings to watching the latest TikTok craze to opting to shop online rather than in-store, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic transformed our digital footprint. Every minute of the day, Teams connects 100,000 users, TikTok users watch 167 million videos, and Amazon customers spend $283,000.
What happens with all of the data? Who tracks and analyzes it, and who secures it? That's the role of an information management professional.
Every role within IM serves a specific purpose. Whether you work behind the scenes as a computer engineer or UX designer, play a supporting role as a cybersecurity architect or data analyst, or occupy center stage as a business intelligence analyst or chief information officer, every function plays an essential part in the information management process. In this highly digitized, fast-evolving landscape, having the requisite knowledge, skills, and competencies is critical for success.
Could a Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) help future information leaders gain that knowledge? This article dives into that question and discusses the degree's core curriculum, elective courses, and specializations to help you determine your niche in this vast field of opportunity.
What is a Master of Science in Information Management?
A Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) can go by many names. Some schools refer to it as a Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS), a Master of Science in Information Systems Management (MS-ISM), a Master of Information Management and Systems, or some other variation.
Regardless of the degree name, the coursework and opportunities you can attain from advanced education are similar. And those opportunities are out there: IM professionals are in high demand, with projected job growth of 11 percent from 2020 to 2030.
Of course, not all roles require a master's degree. However, if you're looking for a senior-level position, completing a graduate degree program or a certification can represent a critical credential. IM professionals who aspire to strategic roles, such as Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer, or other managerial and executive positions, may benefit the most from an MSIM or MSIS program. However, even if the corner office is a longer-term career goal, know that a degree program can confer benefits in the short term as well.
Information management careers fall into four primary categories: analysts and consultants, information technology specialists, managers, and strategic oversight roles. Each career pathway encompasses different occupations with preferred requirements, including education, years of work experience, and on-the-job skills. A degree program can help you check the boxes for many of those career pathways.
Master of Science in Information Management core curriculum
Most information management professionals hold bachelor's degrees in computer science, IT, statistics, engineering, or another technology-related field. That means they enter the field with the core knowledge necessary for entry-level positions in IM. However, if you're pursuing the next level in your career, that's where a master's degree in information management can help.
Core curriculum courses, required of all students, lay the foundation of an MSIM degree program. MSIM programs typically offer some or all of the following core curriculum courses:
- Business Analytics
- Business Problem-Solving
- Data Analytics
- Database Management
- Information Systems Management
- Information Security
- IT Project Management
- Organizational Design and Implementation
- Policy and Ethics in Information Management
- Software Engineering
- Strategic IT Management
- User Experience
Some MSIM programs require early-career professionals to complete an internship or capstone project to gain valuable, guided, real-world learning opportunities. Mid-career professionals with a few years of work experience may be exempted from this degree requirement. This enables them to fashion a more targeted curriculum through electives and specializations, and they may be allowed to graduate with fewer credit hours.
Master of Science in Information Management electives
Information management offers numerous career pathways, with as many educational opportunities to master the necessary skills. No single course will teach all there is to know. That's where electives fit in. They focus your strengths and make room for continued development within this emerging discipline.
The electives available to prospective students depend on the type of master's program. For instance, some MSIM or MSIS programs live within the information technology school, while others exist within business schools. The former likely offer a broader slate of tech electives; the latter, a wider range of management and strategy classes.
For example, the Master of Science in Information Systems program at Indiana University is within the Kelley School of Business, offering students the option to take electives from their top-ranked business school. Their degree program provides three concentrations:
- Business Intelligence and Analytics: Provides students with an understanding of making analytical decisions from available data. This concentration also teaches essential skills in "Big Data," data management, and business analytics.
- Digital Enterprise Systems: Blends in-depth business understanding with analytical thinking and provides discussions on new technologies, including artificial intelligence and more.
- Enterprise Security & Risk Management: This concentration focuses on the importance of cybersecurity and infrastructure security to mitigate risk.
The online MSIM program at the University of Washington, housed in their information school, offers the following electives:
- Enterprise Information Systems Analysis and Design
- Foundations of Cybersecurity
- Principles of Information Project Management
- Internship in Information Management
- Consulting Practices
A highly sought-after MISM program, the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University has a STEM-designated focus with five pathways: MISM 16-Month, MISM 12-Month, Business Intelligence & Data Analytics (BIDA), BIDA 12-Month, and Global. The MISM 16-month option has the most flexibility in elective coursework of the five pathways available. Sample electives include:
- Big Data and Large Scale Computing
- Digital Marketing Analytics
- Exploring and Visualizing Data
- Machine Learning
- Measurement and Analysis of Social Media
- Privacy in the Digital Age
Whether you're interested in strategic and business administration courses or curious about supply chain management and the analytics behind it, you'll find a degree program offering electives to build your skills and knowledge in your intended area of specialization.
Master of Science in Information Management specializations
In addition to core curriculum and course electives, prospective master's degree students can also select an area of specialization. With the different roles, responsibilities, and skills in this field, it can be advantageous to expand your knowledge in a specific area and fine-tune those skills.
For example, if you're interested in designing, creating, and evaluating information systems, a user experience specialization could help build those skills. Or, if you have excellent communication and presentation skills and enjoy leveraging data to forecast future trends, a business intelligence or a data analytics specialization could increase your chances of landing a strategic role or moving up the corporate ladder.
The need for information management professionals isn't going away anytime soon, and the job outlook looks promising. But, in turn, that increases the competition to fill these available roles. That's where a master's degree with a specialization in your precise area of interest can help you set yourself apart in this hot job market. It may also help you negotiate a higher salary.
Can I get a Master of Science in Information Management online?
Increased flexibility through online education, self-paced, or accelerated graduate programs makes pursuing a Master of Science in Information Management more manageable and accessible. Whether heading into the program full-time following undergraduate school or as a working professional who can commit to part-time study, there are options to curate your learning experience. The length of the program varies; however, the typical time to complete an MSIM program is two years of full-time study.
Again, it's a bit of "alphabet soup" when searching for programs in this emerging discipline. However, some online degree options in the field of information management, systems, or technology include:
- Auburn University (MSIS)
- California State University - Fullerton (MS in IT with an Information Technology Management concentration)
- Drexel University (MSIS)
- Embry - Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide (MS MIS)
- Syracuse University (MSIM) University of Arizona (MS MIS or MBA in MIS)
- University of North Carolina at Greensboro (MS in IT and Management)
- University of Washington (MSIM)
Some programs listed above reside within the business school, as students with long-term aspirations to climb up to the C-suite will need the right mix of technology and business acumen.
In short, IM professionals continue to boom in both demand and interest. Thus, finding your niche to help you stand out from the crowd could set you in the right direction for your career trajectory. Luckily, many master's degree programs provide electives and specializations to maximize your professional knowledge within your chosen area of expertise. And as a bonus, these programs can give you access to a vast alumni network to add to your contacts when seeking mentorship or new opportunities. You can double your chances with what you know combined with who you know.
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