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Online M.S. in Information Systems


Admission Requirements

Bachelor’s Degree: A 4-year bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, or an equivalent degree from a comparable foreign institution.

Test Scores: We DO NOT require GRE or GMAT scores for admission. You may submit them if you have them, but it is not required.

Minimum GPA: An undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required.

Applicants with a GPA lower than 3.0 but higher than 2.75 should submit additional documents in the application package for possible consideration. These typically include a resume, personal statement, transcripts, certificates, recommendation letters, awards received, and any other relevant documents.

Language Requirements: Those whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum acceptable combined TOEFL score is 550 (written) or 213 (computerized) or 80 (internet-based). The only exception is for students who have earned a post-secondary degree from an accredited university in a country where the official language is English. Students who have received post-secondary degrees from a U.S. institution and whose native language is not English may be required to demonstrate proficiency in English. The TOEFL code for UMBC is 5835. TOEFL scores must have been taken within two years of matriculation to be valid.

We will also accept IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores, the minimum acceptable total score is 6.5.

Transcripts: We require that you upload unofficial transcript(s) with your application so that we can quickly provide you a preliminary admissions decision. This can be done within the application portal.

All students are required to provide official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended by the end of their first semester. Applicants who have attended non-English language universities must provide an official English language transcript and an official native language transcript or mark sheets from every post-secondary institution attended. The UMBC Graduate School will accept official WES ICAP Course-by-Course evaluations as fulfillment of the requirement for official transcripts in the admissions process.

Each set of documents must list subjects studied, grades or marks received and rank in class or divisions. Students whose universities issue only one set of official records must have their academic records copied and notarized by a public official certifying the documents are true copies of the originals.

Electronic transcripts should be sent to Kathie Nee ( for domestic applications and to Scott Philips ( for international applications.

*Note to students who are not US Citizens or permanent residents in the US: No I-20’s for F-1 Visas will be issued by UMBC to enroll in this online program.

Degree Requirements

Our program is based on a competency model. The student progresses through several tiers of courses acquiring more complex skills and knowledge.

All students are required to complete 30 credits to receive their degree. Students who need to take the Fundamentals Course (IS 607) must complete 34 credits.

A total of 6 credits can be transferred from another institution or program.

Fundamentals Course:

IS 607 Introduction to Information Systems(4 credits)

This course provides the beginning computing student with a solid foundation in computer science and information systems topics with a focus on programming. The course assumes no computing background. This course is divided into two parts. The first half of the course covers Java and the second half of the course covers databases. For the JAVA portion of the course, it is a first course in computer programming using Sun's Java. For the database portion of the course, the purpose is to convey the central importance of databases in today’s information systems environment. Some lectures include movies that require QuickTime or an open source equivalent.


At the end of this course, students will be able to write simple JAVA programs. Students will also be able to set up simple databases using the development process and run queries using SQL functions.

Core Courses:
(All four are required of all students)

IS 631 Management Information Systems (3 credits)

This course presents the applications of information systems in business processes and operations, in managerial decision-making, and in the strategic planning of organizations.

The course covers information systems management fundamentals to include such factors as:

  • The information environment,
  • Decision-making,
  • The systems approach,
  • The management of information systems, and
  • The integration of information systems with an organization’s management systems.

CO-requisite: IS 607


At the completion of the course, students will show the following competencies:

  1. Mastery of basic principles of information systems: what they are, how they affect the organization and its employees, and how they can make businesses competitive and efficient.
  2. Understanding the role of information systems in capturing and distributing organizational knowledge and in enhancing managerial decision-making.
  3. Applying information technology to redesign the organization, to include its products, services, procedures, jobs, and management structures.

IS 632 Networks (3 credits)

This course provides the fundamentals of network technologies, such as public-switched network, wide area networks, and local area networks, from the perspective of the current and future needs. The course also covers network architectures, networking standards, digital and analog signaling, the various transmission media, as well as equipment, applications, and services.

A basic introduction to the science of data communications is followed by an in-depth treatment of the TCP/IP stack. All basic concepts related to the following topics are covered with related to current networking practice:

  • Data Transmission
    • Transmission Media
    • Local Asynchronous Communication (RS-232)
    • Long-Distance Communication (Carriers, Modulation, And Modems)
  • Packet Transmission
    • Transmission Media
    • Local Asynchronous Communication (RS-232)
    • Packets, Frames, And Error Detection
    • LAN Technologies And Network Topology
    • Hardware Addressing And Frame Type Identification
    • LAN Wiring, Physical Topology, And Interface Hardware
    • Extending LANs: Fiber Modems, Repeaters, Bridges, and
    • Switches Long-Distance Digital Connection Technologies
    • WAN Technologies And Routing
    • Connection-Oriented Networking And ATM
    • Network Characteristics: Ownership, Service Paradigm, And Performance
    • Protocols And Layering
  • Internetworking
    • Internetworking: Concepts, Architecture, and Protocols 29
    • IP: Internet Protocol Addresses
    • Binding Protocol Addresses (ARP)
    • IP Datagrams And Datagram Forwarding
    • IP Encapsulation, Fragmentation, And Reassembly
    • The Future IP (IPv6)
    • An Error Reporting Mechanism (ICMP)
    • TCP: Reliable Transport Service
    • Internet Routing
  • Network Applications
    • Client-Server Interaction
    • The Socket Interface
    • Naming With The Domain Name System
    • Electronic Mail Representation And Transfer
    • File Transfer And Remote File Access
    • World Wide Web Pages And Browsing
    • RPC and Middleware
    • Network Management (SNMP)
    • Network Security
    • Initialization (Configuration)

Pre-requisite: IS 607

IS 633 Database Management Systems (3 credits)

The course covers most of the major advancements in database technology that have taken place recently. It does not assume any prior background in the field of databases, and hence starts with basic introductory concepts along with more advanced topics.

The course will cover both conceptual and hands-on material in the area of database management, thus enabling student to have the maximum amount of comprehension and retention of the material covered in the course.

Pre-requisite: IS 607

Learning Objectives

  1. What is a DBMS and why should it be used
    • Compare file systems with DBMS
    • Describe the levels of abstractions and data independence
    • Describe transaction management
  2. Given a set of user requirements design and implement a prototype relational database.
    • Construct a high-level conceptual model, given an organization’s data requirements
    • Construct a normalized relational model from a conceptual model.
    • Implement a relational database by creating table definitions, constraints, loading data using Oracle, version 8, database management system.
  3. Manipulate data correctly using SQL.
    • Write SPJ queries, sub-queries, use aggregate functions, group data using SQL
  4. Design and implement a prototype web-based front-end with an ODBC compliant database as the back-end.
  5. Describe Internet databases and how they work
    • Describe the architecture of Application servers and Server-side Java
    • Describe how XML works
    • Describe the implementation of semi-structured data
  6. Design a data warehouse (cube, bitmap/join indexes, summary tables) given user requirements.
    • Create a multi-dimensional data model given data requirements for an example scenario.
    • Distinguish between ROLAP and MOLAP.
    • Describe the architecture of a data warehouse.
    • Describe and perform the following operations for a given dataset: roll-up, drill-down, pivot, slice, and dice.
  7. Design and apply data mining tools from user requirements.
    • For a give dataset, minconf, and minsup, develop association rules.
    • Explain sequential patterns, time series patterns, classification rules, segmentation, and clustering of data.

IS 634 Structured Systems Analysis and Design (3 credits)

The purpose of this course is to describe the goals and purposes of all the activities involved in the analysis and design phases of a systems development project and to teach the specific techniques used to carry out those activities using a structured approach. No specific prerequisite knowledge is required, but students will be required to use a CASE tool to fulfill some of the learning objectives. However, the choice of CASE tool is up to the student.

All of the activities required to progress from the initial identification of an organizational problem to the design of an IT-based solution are covered, as well as specific techniques for carrying out those activities. The emphasis will be on both learning the mechanics of the techniques and applying them to real projects. Although students will be introduced to all the SDLC phases, this module includes content specific only to analysis and design. Thus, no implementation, testing, or maintenance techniques will be included. The student’s competency with these skills will be assessed with a variety of mechanisms, including a group project that involves the analysis and design of an actual information system, and submitting the products of analysis and design (diagrams, descriptions, analyses) to be assessed. Other assessments include an exam and discussion.

Course Content

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to apply structured techniques for analyzing the information system needs and problems of an organization, and then design solutions to those problems.

  1. Introduction to systems analysis and design Objective: Describe the motivation behind structured systems analysis and design and the consequences of developing systems without this methodology, and the stages of the traditional waterfall and other systems development life cycle (SDLC) models, including iterative, agile, spiral, etc.
  2. Problem definition Objective: Explain how to define a systems analysis problem, given some informal description of an organizational situation, including problem and scope statements that clearly and unambiguously outline the implications and boundaries of the problem
  3. Analysis Objective: The student will learn how, given a well-defined systems analysis problem, to conduct a complete systems analysis, correctly applying structured systems analysis techniques. Specifically, the techniques learned and applied will include
    • efficient and thorough collection of information on user requirements using techniques such as interviewing, observation, surveys, prototyping, and analysis of organizational documents.
    • the construction and interpretation of the traditional products of structured systems analysis, including conceptual data models and data flow diagrams.
    • application of these traditional structured systems analysis techniques to a given collection of unstructured information regarding user requirements, resulting in a correct and comprehensive model of the organization’s current data management and processing.
    • application of techniques (such as walkthroughs and reviews) to evaluate a set of structured user requirements.
    • use of a CASE tool for some part of the analysis task.
  4. Systems Proposal Objective: The student will learn how, given a well-defined problem and a complete systems analysis, to present to a customer a systems proposal that is judged (by the customer) sufficient to enable the customer’s decision concerning the choice of system alternative.
    Specifically, the following activities will be learned and demonstrated:
    • generation of at least three alternative solutions to the problem that all represent feasible and realistic solutions from the customer’s point of view.
    • a complete and useful (from the point of view of the customer) feasibility analysis that addresses economic, technical, and organizational issues, that compares the system alternatives.
    • o a cost/benefit analysis that correctly and appropriately applies the following techniques: identification of tangible and intangible costs and benefits, identification of one-time and recurring costs and benefits, projection of costs and benefits over the expected lifetime of the system, calculation of net present value, quantification of risk reduction, cash flow analysis, return on investment, and break-even analysis.
    • a schedule analysis that correctly and appropriately uses work breakdown structures, Gantt charts, and/or PERT charts.
  5. Design Objective: The student will learn how to correctly apply structured design techniques to produce a complete design of an information system, given a complete systems analysis.
    Specifically, the techniques covered will include control flow diagramming, data flow diagramming, conceptual data modeling, and dialogue diagramming. The student will be able to use these techniques to
    • produce a system architecture design and use the architecture to identify the components of the system to be designed
    • produce useful and usable (from the point of view of the customer) designs for the input and output interfaces of a system.
    • design an appropriate and usable user interface paradigm for a system.
    • plan an effective usability assessment to evaluate the design of a user interface.
    • conduct a thorough design review.
    • use a CASE tool for some part of the design task.

CO-requisite: IS 607

Advanced Courses:

All students must complete a total of six advanced courses. These options can be found on the courses page.

Thesis Option:

Students have the option to choose to do a master’s thesis. More details can be found on the courses page.

Technical Requirements

Since the degree is delivered entirely online, students are expected to have a strong online presence. This includes Internet access and some PC-based tools. Students must have reliable access to the internet via both a web browser and e-mail. It is recommended that students upgrade to the latest version of their preferred web browser.

A particular course may expect the student to use telnet to access a computer resource or ftp to move files across the Internet. Both telnet and ftp software are part of the Windows operating system.

Students are expected to have access to Microsoft Office 2000 or higher. The Project Management Operations course textbook includes a copy of Microsoft Project for educational purposes that the student is expected to install on his or her computer and run.

Policies and Procedures

Standard Policies and Procedures

All standard UMBC, Graduate School, and IS Department policies and procedures apply to this program with the exception of those items identified below.

  • Students may take no more than 3 classes per semester without prior permission from their advisor and the Graduate Program Director.
  • Students may take ONE independent study. To do this the student must submit in writing to the IS department an abstract of the course of study. The student must have the written permission of the IS department before the student registers for credit.
  • No more than two electives may be taken outside of your program’s requirements. Approval from your advisor is required before these courses can be taken.
  • Graduate students may be recommended for dismissal after earning 3 Cs (this includes C+, C, or C-), or a D or F in any graduate level course.

Refund Policies

The first $200 of tuition is non-refundable for all classes in the online MS program as this covers the cost of books, materials, delivery of these materials, and administrative expenses. As a result, any refunds will be based upon the tuition paid minus $200. However, if a student drops a course prior to the start of the semester, and the textbook is returned, the $200 non-refundable fee will be reversed.

Financial Aid

Our program follows the standard policies and practices for the university. If you have any questions, please visit UMBC’s Office of Financial aid and Scholarships.


No I-20′s for F-1 Visas will be issued by UMBC to enroll in this online program. This impacts students who are not US Citizens or permanent residents in the US.