Flexible, quality curriculum contributes to MPS graduates' success

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology's (IST) online master of professional studies (MPS) program offers nontraditional students the flexibility they require as students, according to two fall 2012 graduates. The new alumni, members of the World Campus Fall 2012 graduating class, worked full-time while enrolled and they added that the program also offered a comprehensive education that will help them accomplish their professional goals.

Jeff Crays, of Ann Arbor, Mich., who recently received his MPS in Information Science, says he was drawn to the World Campus program because he is a “driven, self-disciplined learner.”

“I think that the flexibility and deliverability of Penn State’s program, especially for people with full-time jobs, is invaluable,” said Crays, who is director of information technology at Biotronic NeuroNetwork and has a bachelor’s degree in computer networking from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Mich.

Larry Oakes, who lives outside Harrisburg, Pa., and is chief of operations and plans for the reserve component at the Center for Strategic Leadership at the Army War College in Carlisle, recently received his MPS in homeland security–information security and forensics. He was in the Army National Guard Reserves for 31 years and also managed information for application development teams at HP. He says that the information security and forensics option in the MPS program merged his civilian and military backgrounds.

“It was a path that was common to both careers,” he said.

“We do a really good job of integrating the World Campus program as part of our overall mission,” said Pete Forster, senior lecturer and executive director of Online Education at the College of IST. World Campus IST students can take “quality courses” taught by the same tenured faculty members who teach traditional classes at the College of IST, he added.

The College of IST offers three MPS degree programs that target seasoned professionals and leverage their industry knowledge.

The 33-credit master of professional studies in information sciences (MPS in IS) online degree program is designed for professionals and organizational leaders who want to take on greater responsibilities related to information technology, and for those who want to transition into a career that uses information sciences to support decision making.

Computer and information systems specialists who are looking to advance their careers or to move into the government or private sector supporting government initiatives, can achieve their goals through the information security and forensics (ISF) option in the master of professional studies in homeland security (MPS in HLS/ISF) program. The 33-credit MPS in HLS option includes core courses that build an understanding of the theories, skills and technologies associated with network security, cyber threat defense and forensics, intelligence analysis, risk assessment, security policy development, and privacy protection and assurance.

Enterprise architecture (EA) is the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating and improving the key requirements, principles and models that describe the enterprise’s future state and enable its evolution and transformation. The 36-credit master of professional studies in EA online degree program offers students a comprehensive education in the principles and practices of EA by integrating strategic, business and technology planning methods in order to understand, analyze, justify and communicate business solutions.

Crays, who works in the health care industry, said a strong background in information assurance is crucial for protecting the welfare of patients. His capstone course, “The Impact of Network Latency on Remote IONM Monitoring,” analyzed the performance of a software program that monitors the nervous system and sends information remotely to a neurologist, and the effects of the program’s accuracy on patient safety.

In addition to the knowledge he gained in his classes, Crays said, he also benefited from working on virtual teams. The virtual team model is becoming increasingly common in business and industry, he added, and he enjoyed working with people from different professional backgrounds on the teams.

“In general, (the program) forced me to get out of my comfort zone,” he said.

According to Oakes, his MPS degree positions him to advance to security areas that require an advanced degree. He says that he would like to work for the Homeland Security Department or one of its sub-divisions, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Like Crays, Oakes said that part of the reason he enrolled in the College of IST’s MPS program was because of the flexibility it offered in allowing him to take courses online while working full-time. In addition, he said, he was impressed with the guest speakers who brought “unique perspectives” to the classes, and learned a lot about the research process through class projects.

“It was almost 25 years since I graduated with a bachelor’s degree,” said Oakes, who has a bachelor of science degree in computer science from Millersville University. “It was kind of refreshing to be back in that educational environment again.”

Contacts: 
Last Updated January 17, 2013