If I Were Designing a Master’s Program in IT Project Management

Capella University has redesigned its online Master’s in information technology, now called a Master of Science in Information Systems and Technology Management.  Capella says the new program “places a greater emphasis on the IT management skills desired by today’s employers and is designed to meet the needs of both IT professionals and career changers.”  Naturally, they have a concentration in Project Management.

Looking at the program, it seems like the focus is heavy on information technology, management of global enterprises, and project management.  In addition to the three Foundational courses and the five project management specialization courses, students will be required to take three Core courses, and then a capstone course.  The Core course on Innovation, Leadership, and Ethics sounds very interesting; I hope they can fit all three into one quarter.  I think it’s definitely a solid curriculum.  But I’d like to suggest that it leaves out some real world business skills.  For example:

  • Foundational Skills for Business Leaders.  Because the operative word in project management is management.
  • Foundations of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  Individual and team workplace behavior.
  • Fundamentals of Business Law.  A solid grounding in the concepts, with a special focus on contract law.
  • Financial Accounting.  The details behind balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements.  You’ll realize why it’s important and useful once you take it.
  • Governance, Risk Management and Compliance.  IT management is no longer insulated from the audit committee.
  • Managing and Leading in Dynamic Environments.  Because management isn’t enough.  We have to be able to lead.

If this looks more like an MBA program than a Master of Science program, it’s because project managers need business skills in addition to technical skills.  Even if you specialize in some extreme technology, you’ll need these skills to perform well in senior positions.  Of course, all of this assumes you have already had undergraduate exposure to statistics, economics, financial analysis, ethics, public speaking, and technical writing.

As a graduate of the old Capella program, I find this to be a significant improvement.  Not perfect, but one thing I learned while pursuing my Master’s was that you can make your studies as challenging as you want.  It’s just a framework; what you learn will be defined by what you do with it.

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About Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a project manager with over twenty five years of experience in implementing human capital management and payroll systems, including SaaS solutions like Workday and premises-based ERP solutions like PeopleSoft and ADP Enterprise. He has an MS in IT with a concentration in project management, and a BS in Business. He also holds the project management professional (PMP) designation, as well as professional designations in human resources and in benefits administration. In addition to his articles and blog posts, he curates a weekly roundup of articles on project management, and he has authored or contributed to several books on project management.

One thought on “If I Were Designing a Master’s Program in IT Project Management

  1. Its very right that this course is like a MBA because masters have to manage the works and projects so this course is some like MBA in Information Technology.

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