MSIT Welcomes New Students, Newly-Modified Curriculum

Updates to the program offerings represent evolving trends in the IT industry.

The Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program at Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering strives to give its students the tools and knowledge necessary to become leaders in IT and other future endeavors.

As the IT industry continues to evolve, so too does the MSIT program, which routinely modifies its curriculum to match industry standards and remain at the forefront of IT education. That is exactly what the program did this past summer.

Some changes are slight, such as modifying the names of courses to better reflect the content being taught. However, these small changes to course titles reflect the program's commitment to ensuring that students receive the most current IT knowledge continually grounded in foundational coursework.

For example, students in their first year now take Introduction to Statistics & Data Analysis and Network: Applications, Principles & Protocols rather than Probability & Statistical Methods and Communications Networks.

Other changes, though, are more substantial. The MSIT program used to feature a three-course sequence in telecommunications, but this year, the sequence has been compacted into two courses in order to create more opportunities to add a new course on emerging topics in the IT industry.

"IT is a rapidly changing field, and so you need to change the curriculum to stay relevant," says MSIT Program Director Dr. Randall Berry. "There are engineering foundations that new technologies are built on, and they don't change much. The technology itself is changing very rapidly, so we want to preserve the fundamentals while also staying relevant. We want to prepare our students not just for today's technologies, but tomorrow's as well."

MSIT faculty and staff rolled out the latest changes to 32 new students this past September as part of MSIT Orientation. Nineteen of the students are enrolled in the MSIT part-time program option, while 13 are registered as full-time students.

The new students also are representative of the growing diversity spreading through the IT industry — a trend MSIT is pleased to see grow. Of the 32 new students, 41% are female. This year's new cohort has undergraduate degrees from across the United States — stretching from California to Connecticut and many states in between — and around the world, including Albania, India, England, Brazil, Nigeria and China.

The part-time students have an average of nine years of work experience, while full-time students enter with an average of four years of IT experience. Like their backgrounds, their professional experience is varied. Prior to starting at Northwestern, students worked at companies like Microsoft, Accenture, PwC, BMO Financial Group, and more, in roles that included technical analyst, software engineer, quality assurance manager, director of IT, to name

The new part-time students have an average age of 33 years, while the FT program's average age is 28 years old.

"If you look at the industry and teams you'll work with, they're going to be diverse," Berry said. "IT is reaching into many new industries, and we want our cohort to be representative of that."