The primary objective of the MSIS Capstone sequence is to offer students the opportunity to complete the final step (beyond the core and elective requirements)in earning a Master of Science in Information Systems by participating in an experiential learning process and to apply the knowledge learned in the program to real life applications. The program offers four options to students to achieve this objective. They are: (1) The Thesis option (MSIS 644, 6 units), (2) The Industry Project option (a sequence of 1, 2, and 3 unit courses for a total of 6 units; MSIS 640, 642, & 643), (3) A combination of one additional MSIS elective (3 units) and an Independent Study option (MSIS 698, 3 units), and (4) Additional Course Work: a set of three MSIS elective courses (9 units). After completing (minimum) 30 units, (GPA ≥ 3.0), each student is required to begin the capstone option selection process by interviewing with the capstone advisor. The advisor will determine the most appropriate option for each student. The four options are described below.
The Thesis Option (MSIS 644 - 6 Units)
Students can individually or as a team of two propose a research project to one of the MSIS faculty. This option requires approval by the supervising faculty member and the director of the MSIS program. Full time students selecting this option should begin their project no later than the beginning of their second year of study. The objective of this option is to study an information system topic in detail and advance the state of the knowledge in that field theoretically, or to apply the state-of-the art information system technology to solve a problem. The outcome of this option is development of a final report and the successful submission of a research manuscript to a referred journal for publication. This option may span two or more quarters.
The Industry Project Option (MSIS 640, 642, & 643 - 6 Units)
In this option, students work with a sponsoring company, where they join forces with employees, managers, and executives to develop and implement practical, hands-on solutions to a company's information technology challenges. This option spans a minimum of two quarters. Students are responsible for the entire process, from project requirements to implementation. During the process, students form valuable working relationships with each other, faculty mentors, and leaders in the company with which they work. This option consists of three MSIS Capstone courses: MSIS 640 (one unit), MSIS 642 (2 units), and MSIS 643 (3 units) and is viewed as a single project-oriented course. The objective of this option is to solve a practical problem by applying and integrating the methods and concepts studied in the MSIS program. An applied capstone project must be a real project, with an identified sponsor or client. MSIS students will be interviewed and a team is selected by the capstone advisor to complete each capstone project. Student teams will be limited in size, with typically four or five students in a group. The student team will define the problem, perform a feasibility study, analyze the problem, design a solution, and implement that solution to satisfy the sponsoring client. Participation in this option is competitive and there are only a limited number of such projects per year. The process for this option is as follows:
- MSIS students interview with the Capstone Program Manager.
- A team is made of four or five students. MSIS Program director assigns a MSIS faculty advisor to the project. The team registers for MSIS 640 (1 unit).
- The team, in coordination with the sponsoring company, defines the problem and performs a feasibility study. The team develops a formal project plan with specific milestones and begins the process of creating a final project plan for presentation and approval of the sponsored client.
- The team registers for MSIS 642 & MSIS 643 in two subsequent quarters. The student team and the advisor meet as needed to discuss the project, address questions, and assess progress toward completion
- The student team should complete the project over approximately two quarters. A project is considered complete when all its milestones are achieved and the advisor and the client have accepted the final project report. A formal sign-off by the sponsoring company is required. The time span of the project may exceed two quarters.
- There will be a single grade for MSIS 640, 642, & 643. That grade will be assigned after the completion of the project.
- Students may take one elective course while taking this option. Students with a full time job are discouraged from taking additional courses while enrolled in this option.
The Independent Study Option (MSIS 698 - 3 Units & an MSIS elective - 3 Units)
Students selecting this option can satisfy their capstone requirement by selecting an independent study on an information system topic of interest. A team of students (3 students) can select a project and obtain approval from one of the "Independent Study Instructors." The team is required to take one related MSIS elective (3 units) along with the MSIS 698 (3 units) course. During the quarter the team will perform an in-depth study of the selected subject, under the supervision of the "Independent Study Instructors," and produce a comprehensive report; in addition to the successful completion of the elective. The team will deliver two reports with this option. The first report presents the topic of study. This topic of study report could include the reasons for studying the subject, state-of-the-art of the field, preliminary literature survey and additional material that will be studied or researched, practical or theoretical applicability of the subject of study to the IT industry. If the study involves finding a solution to an IT problem, an approach or methodology of solving the problem should be outlined. The topic of study report shall also include timeline and milestone for tracking the progress of the independent study and will be submitted to the designated Independent Study Instructor for approval. The second and final report is a comprehensive report of the study (50+ pages) and is deliverable to the instructor. The final report shall elaborate the findings or results of the study, list of benefits, lessons learned, and, where applicable, should identify follow-up study or projects, new start-up ideas, consulting opportunities, etc. The Independent Study Instructor reviews the report and either accepts it and assigns a grade or may return the report for further work. Students are encouraged to seek advice from the instructor, however, the primary objective of this option is for the team to work collaboratively and independently.
Additional Course Work (9 Units)
This option will require approval of the MSIS director and is only intended for exceptional circumstances in which a student cannot select one of the other three options. In such a case, the student is required to take three electives (9 units). The additional electives will require approval of the MSIS director. It is also noted that this option requires nine units of additional course work to satisfy the capstone requirement and results in a total of 57 units (rather than 54 units) in order to complete the requirements for the MSIS degree. Students are discouraged from choosing this option, however, under special circumstances, a student granted this option acknowledges and accepts that this option requires an additional 3-units of course work bringing the total number of units required for graduation to 57 units instead of the 54 units required from the other three capstone requirement alternatives.