University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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IT Certificate Program
Open to All Majors

 MAILED:  Feb. 9, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — Students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire can now pick up a “mini-minor” about computing in organizations, thanks to a recent decision in the College of Business.

The curriculum committee recently voted to open the Certificate in Information Technology, which is offered by the Management Information Systems department, to all university students. The 12-credit certificate program formerly was only available to business students.

“The MIS faculty and I are excited about this offering,” said Thomas Hilton, professor of MIS and department chairman. “We think it’s a tremendous opportunity for all students to add to their education a kind of experience with information systems that’s never been available here before.”

Hilton, who came to UW-Eau Claire from Utah State University last summer, said the action represents a new way for the MIS department to connect with the broader university community.

“In the past some College of Business courses have not been conveniently available to students in the other colleges,” Hilton said. “I see this as a good way to improve that aspect of our service to the university community.”

Knowledge of computing is necessary to be effective in just about any pursuit today, Hilton said. “Many organizations and individuals are disenfranchised to some extent because they lack technological understanding and skills. We hope to help people acquire the skill to use computers confidently and to interact with computing professionals effectively.”

The information technology certificate program consists of four three-credit courses. They may be taken in any order after the initial course, which is MIS 240, an introduction to the field of MIS. The course enables students to understand how computers are used in all kinds of organizations.

Students in the certificate program also take MIS 290, which is an introduction to database technology. “The wheels of civilization run on databases — everything from bank accounts to hospital records. It behooves everyone to understand how these work,” Hilton says.

The third course, MIS 304, is an introduction to programming that helps students learn how computers “think” (i.e., process data into information). The course uses the programming language Visual Basic, which is a popular development environment for many Windows applications. “If you ever want to do something in Windows that you can’t buy software for, it’s useful to know Visual Basic,” Hilton said.

The introductory course to systems analysis and design, MIS 310, rounds out the certificate program. This course introduces students to the concepts and skills needed to analyze and design information systems. “The gist of the course is learning how to effectively integrate computers into your organization,” Hilton said.

Students who complete the four certificate courses earn a notation on their transcript showing they have completed advanced coursework in information technology.

With planning, Hilton said, many students will be able to complete the 12-credit certificate along with their major in a traditional four-year time period. Others may find it useful to have the advanced knowledge of computers even if they have to extend their time to degree.

“I always advise students to pay attention to efficiency in their degree program, but at the same time to maintain effectiveness — to get the education they want,” Hilton said. “Our world is dependent on technology and no matter what you do in life, you’ll need some expertise in information technology.”


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
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(715) 836-4741

Updated: February 9, 2004