Advice for MIS Majors

Contact: Dr. Kathleen Noce
Burke 273
814-898-6508
kxn9@psu.edu
 

You should all have one initial advising session with the program chair in order to take care of course transfers and substitutions, ensure that you have an accurate checksheet reflecting where you stand in pursuit of your major, and that you understand the requirements and elective options for the major.

From that point on, all your advising should be handled by your assigned advisor.  If you do not know who your adviser is, you can get this information from eLion.  If you have questions that your adviser can't answer, it is up to your adviser (not you) to clear those questions with the program chair. 

You should arrive for any advising session with a check sheet reflecting your current status (including courses in progress). If you lost your checksheet, a copy of the one we prepared during the initial advising session should be available in your Advising Folder at the School of Business office.  You can ask to see your advising folder and use it as a basis for filling a new checksheet.

1. Options: Business Analyst or Systems Analyst

The MIS major offers a choice between two options:

The Systems Analyst option has been the traditional focus of the major, aiming to prepare students for careers that emphasize the design and development of new information systems. This option is identical to the existing design, with the addition of Project Management as a required course.  

The Business Analyst option provides a new focus for those students who wish to pursue careers emphasizing ERP, Business Intelligence, and web technologies. This option also requires Project Management and one programming course.                 

Both options are target careers in the intersection between Business and Information technology. Business Analysts are located a bit closer to Business, and Systems Analysts are located a bit closer to IT.

Difference in Courses

The Systems Analyst option requires:

  • 2nd-level Programming Course
  • One programming course in another language
  • MIS 435: Systems Design and Development

The Business Analyst option requires:

  • MIS 404: ERP & Business Processes
  • MIS 445: Business Intelligence
  • MIS 387 (web site development & Admin) or MIS 470 (Web Application Development)

Besides these differences in core requirements, we offer a wide range of electives to complement the career direction you wish to pursue.

Declaring a Major & Selecting an Option

Staring Summer of 2012, when you declare your major as MISBD, you would have to select the option you wish to pursue.  If you have already declared as an MISMD major, you may simply continue pursuing your degree under the old requirements.  If you wish to switch to the new requirements, you may file a change of major, staying with MISBD but declaring the appropriate option.  The change of major form can be found athttp://www.registrar.psu.edu/academic_actions/change_major.cfm but keep in mind that the Option choice becomes available only starting Summer 2012. You file this form at the Registrar's Office, 2nd Floor of the Metzgar Center.

Switching Options

You are free to switch between options at any time by filing a new Change of Major form. However, since MIS 435 requires a second-level programming course as a prerequisite, you should commit to the Systems Analyst option a bit earlier to avoid graduation delays. 

Which Option Should You Pursue?

Both options can lead to rewarding and fulfilling careers. Your choice must be informed by your own interests and abilities. You can probably make a more informed decision after taking the 1st programming course and some of the other core courses for the major. At that point, talk to your advisor, other faculty members (yes, we all have different opinions on the matter), and consultants at our Academic and Career Planning Center. Search descriptions of jobs at web sites such as Dice.com and gain insight into what career track holds the most promise for you.

2. “C” Rule for core courses below 300-level (only under older 2007 MISBD Program Design):Only under the older 2007 MISBD program design, 'D' grades are not acceptable for ACCTG 211, B A 243, ECON 102, ECON 104, MIS 204, and SCM 200.

3. Besides the 1CR Freshman Seminar, students need 1 more elective credit to bring the total number of credits to 120. Typically, this 1 extra credit would be covered by taking a 4CR elective (such as MIS 445 or MIS 470) or by taking a 4CR internship. This required extra credit is the reason for the credit ranges (6-7, 9-10) you see under the Supporting Courses area.

4. Due to lack of student demand, CMPSC 197 (1st-level Java Programming) is no longer offered.  You may still take CMPSC 221 (Web Apps with Java) after taking two levels of C++.

5. Alternatives to 3rd Programming Course Requirement:

You may replace the 3rd Programming Course requirement with MIS 445 (Management Reporting Systems)  (offered in the Fall semester) or MIS 470 (Advanced Applications Development)  (offered in the Spring semester).

You still must take 2 levels of programming courses in one language, as shown in the item above. But now you may elect to take one of these technical MIS electives instead of one more programming course in another language (currently, 1st-level programming courses include VB.Net (CMPSC 102), C++ (CMPSC 121), Java 9CMPSC 197), or COBOL (CMPSC 109).

Since this is not yet a formal change to major, if you elect to pursue this option, you must use a substitution form to apply MIS 445/470 to the programming course requirement. You can initiate that form with your advisor.

The MIS Faculty hopes this makes the major more attractive while motivating students to take tough but career-boosting MIS electives.

6. Free Video Tutorials on Software:  Lynda.com, Inc. offers hundreds of video tutorials on leading software topics like Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, SQL, Drupal, audio and video editing applications, ColdFusion, and operating systems. For details, see: Video tutorials through lynda.com, Inc.

7. The Importance of Good Electives:
The Management Information Systems major has an excellent core curriculum, but, in today's job market, if you want to improve your job prospects, you must take it upon yourself to pursue as many of our recommended electives as you can. Several years ago, the job market was red-hot, and some students were successful in pursuing a strategy focused on getting the MIS degree in the least amount of time and effort. Today, that strategy is very shortsighted. As you schedule your courses for the coming semesters, take the time to meet with your advisor and identify opportunities to take good electives.

8. Substituting 3CR Foreign Language for Natural Science:

3CR from a 3rd-level foreign language course can substitute for 3CR in most General Education requirements, including Natural Science. This requires a course substitution and approval by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
For details, see the DUS Handbook.

9. Scholarship Opportunities

A.  SciTech Scholarship:

     This opportunity applies even to students who are about to graduate,
     since applications are accepted "up to December 31st of the academic
     year for which the aid is sought." 

     You could get $3,000 per year if you are a PA resident, in your
     sophomore year or above, have and keep a 3.0 GPA minimum,
     completed or will complete an MIS internship with a company that has
     some operations in PA, and work (upon graduation) in PA one year for
     each scholarship year.

B.  SAP Scholarship: 
     $5,000 scholarship for Junior/Senior students with a minimum of 3.5
     GPA in an eligible program (we are eligible).  Application deadline:
     October 1.

10. Frequently Asked Questions about MIS Internships:

Q:  When can I take MIS 495 (Internship)? 

A: Only after taking MIS 430 (Systems Analysis). Students with significant prior MIS work experience can request an exception.  Note that this does not mean you cannot take an internship or part-time work position before you are done with MIS 430; it only means you can't get academic credit for it. 

Q: How do I find an internship?

A: The Career Development Center maintains a list of open positions.  Make sure you are on their e-mail distribution list.  You can increase your chances for getting a good internship by using other resources as well (friends, family, senior MISBD students who already had an internship, etc.).  Be sure to have a resume ready and make use of the counseling services of the Career Development Center. 

Q: I found a possible job, but I'm not sure if it qualifies for MIS 495?

A: Once you know what the job would require you to do, contact the internship supervisor (currently, Kathleen Noce at 898-6508 or kxn9@psu.edu) to get it approved.  In general, MIS 495 requires a minimum of 120 MIS-related work hours. Activities such as data entry, where you do not have an opportunity to use the knowledge you have gained in your courses, don't qualify.  Typically approved work assignments include activities such as analyzing requirements, designing, selecting, developing, maintaining, installing, supporting, or converting computer applications, networks, or Web sites. 

Q: I got the OK from the faculty supervisor.  How do I register for the course?

A:  Go to the Black School of Business office (REDC, Room 281) and pick up the course syllabus and the Internship Guidelines Packet. You will be registered only after you complete the Drop/Add Form attached to the internship packet, get it signed by the faculty member working with you on the internship, and return it to the Black School of Business Office for the final signature needed. The Drop/Add Form will then be sent, by the School of Business staff assistant to the Registrar's Office, at which time your registration will be complete (although you will still need to get your Internship Proposal form approved and returned to the School of Business Office).

Q: What is the white Internship Proposal form used for?

A: In most cases, you won't know in detail exactly what you will be doing on the job until you start the internship. The white form is required to be returned to the School of Business Office by the end of the first week on the job. Based on the detail provided on that form, an informed final approval (or rejection) by the supervising faculty member can be rendered. This form is also signed by you and by your work supervisor. This ensures that there is a clear understanding between you and the company you will be working for. Finally, this form is like a contract. If your actual work experience deviates from the activities listed on the form, to the point where the faculty supervisor thinks the internship experience doesn't deserve academic credits, you may be required to drop the course.

Q:  How many credits?

A: MIS 495 can be taken for a maximum of 6 credits. These credits can be spread over one or several internship assignments and/or semesters.  For a single internship assignment to count for 6 credits, it must not only provide for 240 work hours, but also provide a more significant work experience. 

Q: How do I use the extra 3 credits in a 6-credit internship? 

A: You use them, just like any other MIS elective, as a Supporting Courses in the CMPSC/CMPBD/MIS area or in the Business Support area. You can also apply the extra 3 credits to the Non-Business Support area.

Q: Can I do my internship in the summer but register for it in the fall?

A: No. You must register for the internship in the semester where most of the work was conducted. In other words, you can't arbitrarily shift the registration to avoid paying for the credits.  

Q:  Are there class meetings?

A: The only meetings are held at the end of the semester for class presentations.  It is your responsibility to contact the internship supervisor if you don't get the announcement several weeks before the end of the semester. You should monitor your e-mail.  If you use a new email account while on the job, make sure you forward your school e-mail messages. 

Q: I'm doing my summer internship far away from campus.  Do I have to fly in just to present it? 

A: This is a common problem, so we typically hold a second round of summer internship presentations on the first week of the fall semester. Contact Dr. Noce if you are doing your internship as the last graduate requirement and you wish to avoid flying in just for the presentation.  

Q:  What does the company I would work for need to do? 

A: Your supervisor needs to sign the white Internship Proposal form to indicate there is a clear agreement about what you will be doing. Then, at the end of the internship, your supervisor sends us a one-page evaluation form. We send the form and a return envelope to the supervisor when you sign up for the internship.

Q:  What about pay? 

A: That's between you and the company.  By searching for internships on your own, you may be able to increase your chances of finding a paid internship.  The Career Development Center can help you estimate the typical pay rate for certain types of part-time jobs.  

Q:  Any final words of wisdom about internships?

A#1: Attend internship presentations even before you qualify for an internship yourself.  
A#2: The faculty supervisor can be a useful resource when tackling problems on the job. This applies to both technical challenges as well as non-technical issues such as poor supervision.
A#3: Use the MIS Club meetings to get to know senior MIS students.  They can provide advice on which companies are good to work for. Some students may be looking for a replacement intern once they graduate.  
A#4: make 100% sure your reliability never becomes an issue from the point of view of your supervisor…