Newswise — MILWAUKEE _ The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Information Studies is introducing a new online Master of Science in Information Science and Technology (MSIST) degree to teach information technology workers new skills that will advance their careers in the fast-evolving field.

The interdisciplinary program, which includes courses from multiple UWM schools and colleges, is broader than a traditional master’s degree in computer science. It responds to a pressing need for workers who can serve as intermediaries between program developers, consumers who use complex information systems to order products and services online, and the workers who process their orders, analyze sales data and provide data security.

“More and more, our lives are spent online,” said Tomas A. Lipinski, dean of the School of Information Studies. “Increasingly, our transactions as consumers are conducted online. Yet hardly a week goes by without a headline of some new data breach. There’s an enormous demand for information technology that is both usable and secure.

“With the skills learned in this new program, MSIST graduates will understand the technologies involved at all stages of the information transaction: locating, storing, analyzing and retrieving data, and using, then protecting, information.”

Kurt Spitzner, senior manager of e-commerce operations at Direct Supply, said businesses like his need workers who can analyze a variety of technologies, envision how they could fit together, and make the case for developing new resources that will enhance the company’s growth.

“Understanding the diversity of the technologies employed by various customers – even if we ourselves don’t utilize that technology – is a critical skill we depend on every day,” Spitzner said.

“It’s important that we’ve got people who have a business analyst’s skill set, who can see how a range of technologies can be pulled together to come up with the lowest-cost/highest-effectiveness solution.”

Five MSIST concentrations allow information technology workers to specialize within the industry:

_User interface and human computer interaction equips students to develop interaction design that supports and enables users of mobile applications.

_Web and mobile design and development gives students advanced technical knowledge and skills in developing mobile applications.

_Data management and data science provides students with advanced knowledge and skills in managing data sets generated by applications.

_Information security focuses on how to ensure the security of data captured, stored and analyzed by applications.

_The generalist track offers students the option of a customized program to meet their educational and employment needs.

“A distinguishing characteristic between the MSIST and traditional computer science degrees is that ours offers a greater focus on the relationship with and interaction of the end user or client,” said Lipinski, who added that the program’s graduates will match up well with jobs in high demand.

The U.S. Department of Labor expects opportunities for information security analysts and web developers to grow 18 percent between 2014 and 2024, while
those for software developers will increase 17 percent. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development projects that information technology jobs will grow by 15.75 percent in Wisconsin through 2022.

Workers in these fields earn above-average salaries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Occupation 2015 Median Compensation
Computer and Information Research Scientists$110,620
Computer Network Architects $100,240
Computer Systems Analysts $85,800
Database Administrators $81,710
Information Security Analysts $90,120
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $77,810
Software Developers $100,690
Usability Designer/Researcher $78,075
Web Developers $64,970

The MSIST program also responds to student demand. More than 80 percent of students in the school’s bachelor’s program in information science and technology expressed interest in pursuing a graduate degree like the MSIST.

Awab Kahn, who recently earned his bachelor’s degree in information system technology, said he turned down a job offer to enroll in the new MSIST program because he thinks the advanced degree will accelerate his career.

“A master’s degree is going to give me an edge as far as being a project manager,” Kahn said. “With a bachelor’s, you can definitely go up to that level, but it
might take eight years. With a master’s, it might be four or five years.”

About UWM
Recognized as one of the nation’s 115 top research universities, UW-Milwaukee provides a world-class education to 26,000 students from 89 countries on a budget of $667 million. Its 14 schools and colleges include Wisconsin’s only schools of architecture, freshwater sciences and public health, and it is a leading educator of nurses and teachers. UW-Milwaukee partners with leading companies to conduct joint research, offer student internships and serve as an economic engine for southeastern Wisconsin. The Princeton Review named UW-Milwaukee a 2017 “Best Midwestern” university based on overall academic excellence and student reviews, as well as a top “Green College.”

About the UWM School of Information Studies
UWM’s School of Information Studies (SOIS) is a premier international iSchool that shapes knowledge and information technology professionals through innovative research and teaching. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 14 school of library and information science in the United States, it has a growing enrollment of more than 1,000 students from diverse backgrounds. The school offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in information science and technology, an ALA-accredited master’s degree in library and information science, and a doctorate in information studies, preparing its graduates for work as successful information professionals within their communities.