ACM, AIS Unveil Major Revisions to Information Systems Curriculum

ACM, AIS Unveil Major Revisions to Information Systems Curriculum

First IS Curriculum to Separate Core and Elective Courses for Flexibility and Adaptability

Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession


Virginia Gold       Maggie Kempken
ACM       AIS
212-626-0505       404-760-4247


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NEW YORK, May 20, 2010 – In the face of rapid and frequent changes confronting the global computing field, ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery) and AIS (the Association for Information Systems) have jointly developed new curriculum guidelines for undergraduate degree programs in Information Systems (IS) that for the first time include both core and elective courses suited to specific career tracks.  The report, IS 2010, provides recommendations to successfully implement and maintain an IS program with the scope and flexibility to satisfy the varied requirements of local employers and communities.  The guidelines can be adapted for schools of business, public administration, and information science or informatics as well as stand-alone schools of Information Systems.  The report is available to academic leaders, accrediting bodies, college and university faculty, IS practitioners and students in IS programs from ACM  and AIS.  

            “These guidelines are designed to enable students to acquire the skills needed for success in a growing number of career tracks,” said Heikki Topi, co-chair of the Joint IS 2010 Curriculum Task Force.  “Graduates who have an in-depth understanding of the transformational opportunities that IT capabilities can provide to their organizations are in a stronger position compared to their peers without this understanding, particularly when it is combined with a strong set of technology capabilities. These guidelines allow faculty to flexibly design IS curricula to meet career track expectations for graduates,” said Topi, who serves as Associate Dean of Business for Graduate and Executive Programs at Bentley University. 

IS 2010 Curriculum Task Force co-chair Joseph S. Valacich cited the guidelines’ links to multiple disciplines that will produce benefits beyond the business community.  He noted that many schools are increasing the emphasis on the design of domain solutions that enhance organizational performance.  “IS as a discipline can make significant contributions to a number of domains, including law, health, and government enterprises,” said  Valacich, a professor in the Department of Information Systems at Washington State University.  “As a result, IS professionals need both an excellent understanding of their work domain as well as appropriate technology knowledge for their organizational role in that domain.”

The IS 2010 curriculum guidelines were revised to address the changes driving technology and industry practices since the previous ACM/AIS curriculum report which was completed in early 2000s.  Among these changes are the globalization of IS development processes; the ubiquitous use of Web technologies; and the emergence of new architectural elements including Web services, software-as-a-service, and cloud computing.  Other factors include integrated ERP (enterprise resource planning) and other enterprise level software systems; pervasive mobile computing; and governance models that apply best practices to information technology, all of which are reflected in the new guidelines.  

The IS 2010 guidelines are intended as a way to engage the IS community in a more comprehensive role and to address a steep drop in student enrollment in this area of study.  While employment data confirms steady growth in IS career opportunities, student interest in the field has not kept pace with this trend.  The new curriculum is designed to be fully compatible with computing education community efforts to attract more students to these dynamic career choices. 

The IS 2010 curriculum is aimed at educating graduates who are prepared to enter the workforce equipped with IS-specific as well as foundational knowledge and skills, and with domain fundamentals.  The report describes the seven core courses that must be covered in every IS program.  It also presents a model curriculum that includes examples of elective courses, which represent the essential building blocks of career tracks.  Also included is a matrix of core courses and sample electives mapped to a number of suggested career tracks, including application developer, business analyst, database administrator, IT architect, network administrator, project manager, and Web content manager, among others. 

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.  

About AIS

The Association for Information Systems (AIS)  is the premier global organization for academics specializing in information systems. Founded in 1994,  AIS is an international professional society of 4,000 members from 90 countries and a key player in the advancement of the IS academic community.  The AIS Mission is to advance knowledge in the use of information technology to improve organizational performance and individual quality of work life.