Designed to address the growing gap between the demand for and supply of graduates with information systems skills, the concentration in information systems focuses on the application of information technology to complex problems in organizational and environmental affairs.
The School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) was one of the country's first schools of public administration to offer an Information Systems concentration in its Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program.
According to U.S. government projections, the deficit between the demand for information systems specialists and the supply is estimated conservatively at 250,000 positions—a figure that is expected to dramatically increase in the new millennium.
The Information Systems concentration prepares students for a variety of positions in both the public and private sectors:
- chief information officers
- systems analysts
- systems designers
- database administrators
- e-commerce and e-service providers
- end-user support managers
- project managers
Students are encouraged to broaden their educational experiences and gain a competitive edge in the job market by integrating Information Systems with other concentrations in the MPA program in order to strengthen their technical skills in a variety of applied areas.
Curriculum for the Information Systems Concentration
Like all students in the Master of Public Affairs program, students in the Information Systems concentration begin building their skills in the 18-hour MPA core. The core courses are:
- Public Management (V 502)
- Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making (V 506)
- Public Management Economics (V 517)
- Law and Public Affairs (V 540)
- Public Finance and Budgeting (V 560)
- Capstone in Public and Environmental Affairs (V 600)
The concentration includes three required courses which provide the fundamental theories and tools of information systems as applied to the public sector:
- Vector-based Geographic Information Systems (E 518)
- Public Management Information Systems (V 516)
- Database Management Systems (V 519)
SPEA also offers a wide range of elective courses to meet individual objectives. This broad range of possibilities enables you to focus your concentration on those aspects that you wish to pursue and to develop career-enhancing capabilities. Within the Information Systems concentration, electives are divided into four broad categories addressing various applications of information technology. Elective options include:
Group A: Geographic Information Systems
- Application of Geographic Information Systems (SPEA-E 529)
- Geographic Information Systems (GEOG-G 535)
Group B: Decision Support and Analysis
- Environmental Risk Analysis (SPEA-E 560)
- Data Analysis and Modeling for Public Affairs (SPEA-V 507)
- Management Science for Public Affairs (SPEA-V 539)
- Benefit-Cost Analysis of Public and Environmental Policies (SPEA-V 541)
Group C: Design and Management of Information Systems
- Strategic Management of Public and Nonprofit Organizations (SPEA-V 602)
- Design of Information Systems (SPEA-V 611)
Group D: Networking and Telecommunications
- Foundations of Business Telecommunications (BUS-S 515)
- Government Information (SLIS-S 525)
- Information Architecture for the Web (SLIS-L 532)
- The Information Industry (SLIS-S 643)
Graduate courses that address issues in information technology, such as programming and the digital economy, are offered in other campus units such as the Department of Computer Science, the School of Informatics, the Kelley School of Business, and the School of Library and Information Science. Students may choose to take one of these electives with the approval of an Information Systems advisor.
For complete details of the Information Systems curriculum, please see the Graduate Bulletin.
SPEA faculty are involved in meaningful research in numerous aspects of information systems. In addition to their extensive academic credentials, they have significant practical experience as consultants for public and private sector organizations. Some of their areas of expertise are geographic information systems (GIS), database management systems, decision support systems, and collaborative computing.
One of only a handful of labs in the U.S. capable of multiple-user training, the GIS Laboratory at SPEA features the most advanced technology to manage, analyze, and display spatial data for scientific and policy research. The lab is operated by the Midwestern Regional Center for Global Environmental Change. Also available exclusively to SPEA graduate students is a well-equipped lab in the SPEA building with networked computers, printers, and other hardware. Other general access labs with networked computers loaded with up-to-date software packages are available to students both at SPEA and around the campus. Free e-mail accounts, access to the Web, easy access from home, and discounted prices on popular software applications (Microsoft Office, for instance, may be downloaded for free) are some of the other technology resources available to all IU students.
Dual concentrations with Information Systems and other concentrations offered by SPEA—such as Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management or Public Financial Administration —offer unique advantages for those wanting to make a difference in particular areas of public affairs. Our faculty work to accommodate these specialized professional interests in the design of student programs.