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 2640, 2642, & 2643), (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 2644 - 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 2640, 2642, & 2643 - 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 2640 (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 2642 & MSIS 2643 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 2640, 2642, & 2643. 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 Capstone Design Project Proposal Option (MSIS 2645 2646 2647 - 6 Units)
Students selecting this option can satisfy their capstone requirement by working on a self-defined information systems project approved by the MSIS program director. This option, upon approval, is expected to span a minimum of two quarters and students are encouraged to start the process once they have completed most of their core courses. Students are responsible for the project completion, students should submit all deliverables stated in their project proposal, including a working prototype and the final report summarizing their results and the learning experiences.
This option consists of three MSIS Capstone courses: MSIS 2645 (1 unit) (for project proposal), and MSIS 2646 (2 units) and MSIS 2647 (3 units) (for project execution). It is intended that MSIS 2645 (1 unit) will be completed in 3 months, during which students are expected to write a successful project proposal, identify knowledge and skills needed for project execution, required data and resources necessary for project completion. The MSIS 2646 (2 units) and MSIS 2647 (3 units) are intended to be completed over a sequence of two quarters. Given the length of the design project option, students deciding to pursue this option should contact the MSIS Capstone Project Manager one year before expected graduation date.
The design project option is initiated by students and supervised by a faculty. The objective of the design project is to focus on an area of personal/group interest, possibly start-up concept, solving a self-initiated problem by applying and integrating the knowledge gained in the MSIS program, developing extra-curricular skills (decision making, negotiation, making contacts, confidence building, and teamwork), demonstrating skills and competencies to enhance employability and entrepreneurship. MSIS students will be interviewed and a team is selected by the Capstone Project Manager. The team will be limited in size, with typically three or four students in a group. The team will define the problem, perform a feasibility study, analyze the problem, design a solution, and implement the project.
The process for this option is as follows:
- One or more students prepare a 1-2 pages preliminary project proposal, which should include rationale for conducting the design project, description of the problem(s) of interest, learning objectives, data or other resources to be used, required reading, expected expertise and support, and deliverables upon project completion.
- This preliminary project proposal is submitted to the Capstone Project Manager. The Capstone Project Manager at this stage could ask the students to change/revise the preliminary project proposals to ensure consistent format and quality of the proposal. Upon acceptance of the proposal, he selects the remaining team members based on the preliminary project proposal, required skills and experiences. The MSIS Program Director and the Capstone Project Manager will then assign a MSIS Faculty Advisor to the project.
- The team registers for MSIS 2645 (1 unit)
- The team, in coordination with the MSIS Faculty Advisor, will finalize the problem definition and develop a formal project proposal which should include:
- A clear description of the problem/creative enterprise
- A preliminary survey/review of relevant literature
- A description of the proposed methodology
- Expected outcome/product (which will include a fully functional prototype)
- Method of evaluation
- The time frame and project schedule
- Meeting schedule
- Online platform used for team discussion and keeping research diary
- Next, the team registers for MSIS 2646 & MSIS 2647 in two subsequent quarters. A project is considered complete when all its milestones are achieved, a working prototype is produced, and the final project report has been accepted by the Faculty Advisor and the MSIS Program Director. Note that the time span of the project execution depends on the team progress and may exceed two quarters.
- There will be a single grade for MSIS 2645, MISIS 2646, and MSIS 2647. That grade will be assigned after the completion of the project.
- Students may take one elective course while taking MSIS 2646 & MSIS 2647 in this option. Students with a full-time job are discouraged from taking additional courses while enrolled in this option.