Plan of Study Guide

This document will assist you in developing a draft plan of study based on a template that matches your undergraduate degree and your post-MS-ISA career objective(s). The draft is a starting point during your meeting with your MSISA advisor. You and the advisor will review the draft and, if needed, refine it to better match your existing skills, experience, and career objectives.

Key information items that you need to develop and revise the draft are summarized here and further explained below:

  • Do you possess current computer programming skills equivalent to a first semester course such as UNM’s MGMT 330, CS 151 or ECE131?
  • Do you have adequate English language professional communication skills?
  • Have you already completed undergraduate or graduate courses that match courses in the MS-ISA?
  • What are your career objectives?
  • What pace you want to set in completing the degree – how many courses will you take per regular semester?

Computer Programming

Programming skills are required of all MS-ISA graduates. Programming skills are a prerequisite for MGMT 637 (a required course) and are also needed in several other technical courses. Applicants with undergraduate majors in computer science, engineering, and information technology have typically gained required competency via their undergraduate coursework. Other applicants may have developed programming skills through on-the-job training or self-study. If you lack programming skills then you should plan to take a course such as CS 151 at UNM or CIS 1275 at CNM in your first semester. Note that introductory programming courses DO NOT count toward the MS-ISA degree credit hour requirements.

English Language Professional Communication Skills

MS-ISA graduates are expect to have sufficient English language professional communication skills to communicate with team members, summarize complex technology decisions for decision-makers and non-technical audiences, and to develop technical documentation. Graduates of UNM’s undergraduate management and engineering programs (and similar programs taught in English) are assumed to possess the required skills. Applicants with significant professional experience that includes communication are also assumed to possess the required skills. Other applicants are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Applicants who lack sufficient professional communication skills are required to complete an appropriate undergraduate course (usually CJ 332 or 333 ) in their first semester and earn a grade of B or better.

Waivers of Required and Management Group Courses

The first step is to identify if your undergraduate degree falls in the U1 category (business school) or U2 (other degree). This will determine how you meet the management core requirement of 12 credit hours (4 courses). If your undergraduate is in business, you will be able to waive graduate management group courses where you received a grade of B- or better. If your undergraduate was not in business, you may be able to waive business courses listed in the management core that you might have taken, as long as you received a grade of B- or better.

The MS-ISA curriculum includes three required technical courses. It also includes four management courses that can be chosen from a larger number of alternatives. The table below lists the courses with links to their respective catalog descriptions and recent syllabi.

If you hold a UNM undergraduate degree then check your transcript against the middle column above. If you’ve completed the listed course with a grade of B- or better within the last 5 years then you qualify for a waiver of the course listed in the first column (mark courses completed more than 5 years ago for discussion with the advisor). Note that only four management group courses are required. Graduates of schools other than UNM should compare the course descriptions and syllabi linked in the table to courses they’ve completed. If you’re uncertain whether a waiver is warranted then mark that course as an item to discuss with the advisor at your first meeting. Be sure to bring syllabi for the course(s) to the meeting or email them in advance to the advisor.

An applicant who waives none of the courses above will need to complete 9 credit hours of required courses, 12 credit hours of management group courses, and at least 12 credit hours of technical group courses. If required and/or management group courses are waived then the waived credit hours are moved to the technical group up to a maximum of 21 credit hours. For example, a UNM BBA-MIS graduate with B or better grades normally waives four management group courses based on BBA courses, MGMT 636 based on MGMT 336, and MGMT 637 based on MGMT 329. Thus, that applicant’s MS-ISA plan of study usually includes only 3 required credit hours (MGMT 631), zero management group credit hours, and 30 technical group credit hours.

Career Objectives and Technical Focus Areas

We’ve now reached the most important decision that you need to make before competing your draft plan of study – what career(s) do you intend to pursue after graduation. Different career paths lead to different choices of technical group courses. Some courses apply to multiple technical areas and others apply to fewer or only a single area. The MS-ISA technical group courses can be roughly grouped into 5 technical focus areas:

  • Cybersecurity and information assurance
  • Data analytics (Big data)
  • Database management and data warehousing
  • Fraud, white collar crime and digital & financial forensics
  • System & network administration and security

Each of the technical focus areas prepares you for one or more careers in information systems or assurance. For example, courses in the cybersecurity and information assurance focus area prepare you for both policy- and technically-oriented jobs. Graduates who complete the related courses might find employment in penetration testing, cybersecurity configuration and defense, security policy development, and IT auditing.

Making your career objective choice is both complex and highly personal. If you require assistance with identifying your desired career interest, please review these resources.

The advisor will discuss your choice(s) with you at your first meeting so you’ll have help in making a good decision if you’re unsure.

Your undergraduate background and work experience may also be determining factors. For example, applicants with an accounting background often choose fraud/forensics and/or data analytics because careers in those areas often combine accounting and technical skills. Applicants with computer science or engineering backgrounds often choose cybersecurity or system/network administration because careers in those areas required significant computer-related technical skills.

Once you’ve identified your undergraduate group option and specialization, click on the link below to be directed to the corresponding template. A brief description for each course listed in the templates, including co or pre-requisites, can be found at https://catalog.unm.edu/catalogs/2019-2020/courses/MGMT/index.html. To help you draft an initial course schedule for the upcoming semesters, the template will also indicate in which semester courses are currently being offered.

Next Step: Build Your Plan of Study

Now that your have read the Plan of Study Guide, you are ready to begin building your individualized Plan.

Create My Plan of Study »