On-line educational opportunity for IT

January 24, 2001

Developing skilled IT leaders with in-depth theoretical

knowledge and practical hands-on skills is the motive behind

the launch of Canada’s first online Master of Science in

Information Systems by Athabasca University, Canada’s

largest and most experienced provider of online and distance


The University’s new Master of Science in Information

Systems (MSc IS) meets escalating demand for educated and

skilled Information Technology (IT) professionals, says

assistant professor Charles van Duren. Athabasca

University’s graduate program coordinator in the Centre for

Computing and Information Systems says work towards the

September 2001 program opening began two years ago with the

input of and collaboration by industry, government, IT

professionals, employers, and academics at other


Applications for the program are now being accepted.

Admission is based on a combination of academic

qualifications and IT-related work experience. “Athabasca

University is one of the few post-secondary institutions in

Canada that recognize prior learning and experience,” states

van Duren. “This is particularly appropriate in the IT field

where many professionals hold their current positions based

on experience rather than on formal qualifications.”

The MSc IS program is designed primarily to serve the needs

of working IT professionals and the organizations that

employ them. It is delivered and supported using a variety

of Web-based technologies, allowing students the flexibility

to study when and where they want, and eliminating the need

to forego employment while upgrading their educational

qualifications for career advancement.

“On-line delivery also affords the opportunity to constantly

update learning materials to keep current with technology

advancements,” van Duren adds. “There are no classes to

attend, so most students will continue to work full-time in

the IT field while pursuing this degree on a part-time

basis. In this way, they will be optimally positioned to

apply new knowledge and skills in the IT workplace

immediately, and to affect change in their organizations.”

“The use of the internet to deliver this program also

reflects the reality of working in today’s organizations

which are increasingly international, and thus increasingly

dependent on new communication technologies for their

day-to-day functioning. An important theme in the program is

the professional practice aspect of using these technologies

to function effectively in today’s increasingly virtual


The MSc IS focuses on information systems design,

implementation, and management; applications and multimedia

design and development; the principles, design,

implementation, and management of distributed systems; and

the theory and mathematical foundations of computing and

information systems.

“The demand for this program is extremely high from the

perspective of working IT professionals and their current

and prospective employers,” says van Duren. “The many and

varied outcomes of this program are largely dependent on the

students, the nature of their commitment, and the focus of

their course work. Graduates will fill key positions

throughout Alberta’s and Canada’s growing information

technology and services sector, including positions in

systems management, project management, systems design,

research and production.

“Given the high quality of training and the focus on applied

skills, graduates will demonstrate significant

entrepreneurial activity in their chosen fields. As well,

the program will produce qualified instructors for public

and private organizations providing IT training and


Additional program information is online at


Athabasca University in Canada’s largest on-line and

distance education university, serving approximately 25,000

students across Canada and around the world. While many

students take Athabasca University courses to meet the

graduation requirements of their home institutions, a

growing number of students complete Athabasca University

credentials by studying on-line or using other distance

delivery technologies.

Contact Info:

Pam Patten, (780) 428-2068,