A Holistic Approach to Develop IS Curricula: Focusing on Accreditation and IT Certification

Document Type


Source of Publication

Journal of Information Technology Education: Research

Publication Date



Introduction Information Systems (IS) are complex systems requiring both technical and organizational expertise for design, development, and management. Many academic institutions worldwide aim to generate an IS curriculum that produces graduates with solid foundation in IS and equipped with the skills that make them readily employable. However, all aspects of the computing fields including IS are faced with great pressure from industry to train students on specific IT technology and skills. As a result, university level IS curricula need frequent updating to answer the need of industry and to remain effective. The highly competitive Information Systems field requires universities and colleges to train students on the use of the latest technologies. Some academic institutions are redesigning their curricula to include IT certifications into their curricula. This process provides graduates with a solid foundation in IS and one or more IT certificate. Businesses today need college graduates to make an impact and become productive employees almost immediately after joining the work force. Information Systems (IS) programs are accredited by oversight bodies to determine whether the program provides quality education (Lidtke & Yaverbaum, 2003; Lunt, Lawson, Goodman, & Helps, 2002). Currently, ABET (Computing Accreditation Commission, 2004) is the accreditation body with responsibility for accrediting all programs in the computing field. The Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) is responsible for the accreditation of IS programs. The IS 2002 model curriculum provides recommendation for the core IS curriculum to meet ABET criteria. While ABET specifies the 120 credit hours for the Bachelor degree, IS 2002 addresses 33 credit hours only. Currently, there is a move by a number of colleges and universities to form partnership with IT vendors such as Microsoft and Cisco to provide hands-on experience that prepares students for successful entry into the job market and to sit for Industry Certification exams (Houston, Blesse, & Herrod, 2005). Many employers are looking for IS graduates to acquire certification in addition to their Bachelor degree. IS graduates can demonstrate that they have the necessary skills to be productive by acquiring one or more appropriate IT certificates. The IEEE and ACM recognize the importance of the IT certifications and provide their members with over four hundred online courses leading to technical certifications. In this paper, an IS model curriculum that addresses accreditation requirements and certification needs is proposed. The model addresses all ABET criteria, which provide recommendations for general education (GE), IS environment, major core courses, major electives and general elective courses. The model curriculum uses the IS 2002 report (Gorgone, Davis, Valacich, Topi, Feinstein, & Longenecker, 2002) to implement the IS core courses. The model also provides a framework to integrate IT certification in IS courses at various levels of the curriculum. n example of how to use the proposed model curriculum is developed. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. The second section lists the criteria for accrediting IS programs. The third section introduces the IS 2002 recommendations for curriculum development and addresses some of the implementations issues. The fourth section discusses the proposed comprehensive IS curriculum. The fifth and sixth sections discuss embedding IT certification into the IS curriculum. The seventh section presents an example of how to implement the model curriculum. Finally the eighth section is the conclusion. ABET Criteria for Accrediting IS Programs ABET, a recognized accreditor for college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology, is a federation of 30 professional and technical societies representing these fields. Among the most respected accreditation organizations in the U. "¦




Informing Science Institute



First Page


Last Page



Computer Sciences | Education

Indexed in Scopus


Open Access


Open Access Type

Bronze: This publication is openly available on the publisher’s website but without an open license