Skip to main content
SPS Logo

Program Overview

Information Systems

Master's in Information Systems Online

Northwestern University's MS in Information Systems program prepares graduates to advance their careers in IT management or to move into an IT career and progress to management level. Distinct from traditional computer science programs, MSIS puts emphasis on the development and management of software projects existing in the workplace. It is designed for professionals who seek a hands-on, laboratory-based experience that will broaden and deepen their knowledge of new and emerging IT. World-class instruction emphasizes the best practices in the field, along with evolving standards, which keep students abreast of trends in this rapidly changing field.

START MY APPLICATIONRequest Information ATTEND AN INFORMATION SESSION

 

Nancy Dandridge

I was really interested in an online program because of my work responsibilities. I checked out USC which is right down the street from me and a few other schools, but I kept coming back to Northwestern. I did a deep dive into the curriculum and found I really liked the hands-on approach.”

Nancy Dandridge, MSIS student, manager of information systems at rocket and spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX

About the MS in Information Systems

Master's in Information Systems Program Goals

An interdisciplinary professional program, MSIS graduates will possess the knowledge, skills and aptitude to:

  • Ability to develop and manage software projects
  • Build effective leadership techniques and communication skills necessary to implement change management and innovation
  • Network within a population of peers and leading information systems professionals from prominent public and private organizations

Information Systems Specializations

This program offers seven areas of specialization, which must be declared at the time of application:

For detailed information on all seven areas, please visit our Information Systems Specializations page. 

MS in Information Systems Online Courses

Explore MS Information Systems Online Courses. You can narrow your course search by day, location or instructor.

Masters in Information Systems Admission

A variety of factors are considered when your application is reviewed. Background and experience vary from student to student. For a complete list of requirements, see the Master's in Information Systems Admission page.

Tuition and Financial Aid for Information Systems

Tuition for the Master's in Information Systems program at Northwestern is comparable to similar US programs. Financial aid opportunities exist for students at Northwestern. Complete details can be found on the Information Systems Tuition and Financial Aid page.

Registration Information for Information Systems

Already accepted into the Master's in Information Systems program? Get ahead and register for your classes as soon as possible to ensure maximum efficiency in your trajectory.

 

Careers in Information Systems

Information systems impacts virtually every industry, field, and activity in today's society. Those with appropriately rigorous education in the field will likely find significant professional opportunity.  For details visit the Information Systems Career Options page.

Information Systems Faculty

Instructors in the Master's in Information Systems program at Northwestern are leaders in the field. They bring practical real-world experiences to the online classroom and engage with students on an interpersonal level. Get to know the instructors on our Information Systems Program Faculty page. 

IBM Partnership

As part of a partnership between IBM and the MSIS program, students can access a wide range of IBM resources to aid academic and professional advancement. Find out more about MS in Information Systems IBM Resources.

Find out more about Northwestern's M.S. in Information Systems

Core Courses:Course Detail
Telecommunication Networks <> CIS 413-0

This course provides an overview of telecommunications and data communications. Course work includes local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) components such as switches, routers, telecommunication circuits, and protocols. Advanced topics such as information security, information assurance, advanced networking technologies, and others will be overviewed as well.

Note for students in the MSIS program: This is a core course for all students pursuing the MSIS degree, with the exception of students specializing in Analytics and Business Intelligence. Students should take this course at their earliest opportunity.

Note for students in the MHI/MMI program: This is a core course for students pursuing the Clinical Informatics specialization. 


View CIS 413-0 Sections
Object-Oriented Programming <> CIS 414-0

This course focuses on developing complex programs using an object-oriented language. Students write programs that utilize functions and methods for code modularization and arrays for solving problems. Information hiding, encapsulation, inheritance, polymorphism, exception handling, and other principles of object-oriented programming will be introduced.

Note for students in the MSIS program: This is a core course for students pursuing the MSIS degree. It is highly recommended that students contact the instructor two weeks prior to the start of the quarter to ensure they have installed the proper software and are competent in using it. Students should take this course at their earliest opportunity.


View CIS 414-0 Sections
Database Systems Design & Impl <> CIS 417-0

This course covers the fundamentals of database design and management. Topics include the principles and methodologies of database design, database application development, normalization, referential integrity, security, relational database models, and database languages. Principles are applied by performing written assignments and a project using an SQL database system.

Note for students in the MSIS program: This is a core course for students pursuing the MSIS degree. Students should take this course at their earliest opportunity.

Note for students in the MHI/MMI program: This is an elective course for students pursuing the MHI/MMI degree.

Note for all students: This course was previously called Introduction to Databases.


View CIS 417-0 Sections
CIS Capstone Project <> CIS 498-0

This course provides experience in the development of large multi-tier information systems. The project will cover all aspects of the software development life cycle (i.e., analysis, design, implementation, testing, deployment), as well as project management and software configuration management. Students will use Java, an object request broker, and a database management system to develop a three-tier application using a use-case-driven, iterative, and incremental methodology.

The earliest students may take this course is in the quarter of their final class. Students must have completed CIS 413, CIS 414, CIS 417, and CIS 494 prior to taking this course; they may not take CIS 498 alongside one of these core courses.

 


View CIS 498-0 Sections
Thesis Research <> CIS 590-0

This final project is meant to represent the culmination of students’ experience in the program and must demonstrate mastery of the curriculum and ability to conduct sustained independent research and analysis. The project may be applied or may be a traditional scholarly paper, in both cases a write-up following the paper’s program-specific guidelines is required. Students must submit a proposal and secure a first reader in order to register; for further details students are advised to review the student handbook and contact their academic advisor.


There is no available section.
Leadership <> LEADERS 481-0

The purpose of this course is to identify the fundamental leadership behaviors that enable people to excel in their careers, and to help students apply these behaviors to personal and professional success. The course builds from the basic premise that leadership is learned and looks at the theory and practice of leadership at the individual and organizational level. The course will explore definitions of leadership, the importance of leadership, leadership styles, the role of vision and integrity, the importance of giving and receiving feedback, how to lead change and solve problems, effective teamwork, and communication strategies. The culmination of the class will be a personal leadership development plan formulated by each student.


View LEADERS 481-0 Sections
Leadership <> LEADERS 481-DL

The purpose of this course is to identify the fundamental leadership behaviors that enable people to excel in their careers, and to help students apply these behaviors to personal and professional success. The course builds from the basic premise that leadership is learned and looks at the theory and practice of leadership at the individual and organizational level. The course will explore definitions of leadership, the importance of leadership, leadership styles, the role of vision and integrity, the importance of giving and receiving feedback, how to lead change and solve problems, effective teamwork, and communication strategies. The culmination of the class will be a personal leadership development plan formulated by each student.


View LEADERS 481-DL Sections
Elective Courses:Course Detail
Advanced Programming <> CIS 315-0

The objective of this course is to teach the student the concepts and practices of advanced object-oriented software design and development. The student's programming foundation will be enhanced by studying advanced concepts behind object orientation, including role-based programming, advanced concepts of inheritance, interface development, design patterns, and test-driven development. Using this foundation, students will learn the real-world aspects of object orientation by putting the concepts into practice. Students will use a contemporary object-oriented programming language and a database management system to develop a client-server application.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 314 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Note for MSIS students: This course is an elective for students pursuing the MSIS degree.


There is no available section.
Web Application Development <> CIS 419-0

This course focuses on the design and development of object-oriented web applications. The client-server model and 3-tier architecture are discussed and analyzed. Topics covered include object-oriented methodology, enterprise software application architecture, design patterns, Enterprise JavaBeans, database connectivity, and web and application server development and technologies such as servlets, JSP, XML, HTML, security, JDBC, RMI, and multithreading.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 414 and CIS 417 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Note for students in the MSIS program: This course is required for the specialization in Database and Internet Technologies. It may also be taken as an elective towards all other specializations.


View CIS 419-0 Sections
Database Administration <> CIS 431-0

Provides students with advanced database administration and management concepts that are needed to perform the duties of a Database Administrator (DBA) in organizations that use relational database systems. Topics include: database organization and architecture, industry DBMS standards, system objects management, user roles and profiles, server installation and maintenance, backup/recover techniques, network configuration, and security management.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 417 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Notes for students in the MSIS program: This course is required for the specialization in Database and Internet Technologies. This course may be used as an elective towards all other specializations.


View CIS 431-0 Sections
Data Science/Machine Learning <> CIS 435-0

This course provides an introduction to data science with a focus on building real-life business applications using machine learning. Students learn data mining applications, core concepts, algorithms and overview of open source/commercial tools. This course takes a hands-on approach to this topic and prepares students for applying appropriate machine learning modeling techniques (Collaborative Filtering, Association, Clustering and Classification) for given real-world use cases. Students learn via experimentation; they observe the outcome of applying machine learning algorithms to structured and unstructured data using open source software.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 417 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Note for students in the MSIS program: This course is required for the specialization in Database and Internet Technologies. This course may be used as an elective towards all other specializations.

Note for students in the MHI/MMI program: This course is an elective for students pursuing the MHI/MMI degree.

Note for students in the MSPA program: This course is an elective for students pursuing the MSPA degree.

Note for all students: This course was formerly called Data Warehousing and Data Mining.


View CIS 435-0 Sections
Big Data Management/Analytics <> CIS 436-DL

This course reviews concepts behind both centralized and distributed database systems, and relational and not-only-relational database systems. Discussion of open source and commercial solutions, with special attention being paid to large distributed database systems and data warehousing. The course introduces technologies and modeling methods for large-scale, distributed analytics.

Note for MSIS students: It is highly recommended that MSIS students complete CIS 417 and CIS 435 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Note for MSPA students: Students must complete PREDICT 420 and PREDICT 422 prior to taking this course.


View CIS 436-DL Sections
Strategic Information Systems <> CIS 450-0

This course examines current issues, themes, and research related to the strategic use of information systems in organizations at a high level. It focuses on the use of information and information technology for competitive advantage in businesses, organizations, and nonprofits. The management of information as a resource and information systems planning and its relationship to strategic planning are discussed. Cases are used to illustrate the use of information systems to gain a competitive edge. Both successful and failed IT systems and projects, past and present, are studied. Topics include the use of strategic information systems for competition, business-IT alignment, global IT issues and outsourcing, knowledge management, and strategic information systems investment and evaluation. Various approaches to assessing the business value of information systems projects are presented. Practicing technology managers and executives share past experiences and their visions of the future of IT and strategy with students.

Note for MSIS students: This course is an elective for students pursuing the MSIS. This course is not offered online.


There is no available section.
Network Security Fundamentals <> CIS 452-0

Fundamentals of Network Security helps students develop an understanding of computer network security and survivability principles. Course work includes the study of survivability, availability, threats, risk, and policy in a multi-user network. Additionally, students study technical solutions necessary to understanding and securing network information and communications; these include cryptography, firewalls, intrusion, anti-virus, anti-spam, wireless, VPN, host systems, network services, and network infrastructure.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 413 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Note for students in the MSIS program: This course is required for the specialization in Information Systems Security. This course may be used as an elective towards all other specializations.


View CIS 452-0 Sections
Advanced Cyber Security <> CIS 453-0

With increased dependence by organizations and individuals on secure information technology, this course provides a hands-on overview of comprehensive security issues and techniques throughout various areas of cyberspace. Both technical and managerial topics will be explored including: security controls and technologies, cybersecurity law, auditing and cybersecurity programs, risk assessment and mitigation. Effective secure technology management is focused on Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of information from both technical and social aspects of machine and human networks. Tools and topics used to both control and compromise these systems and networks, and how to assuage these attacks, will be demonstrated along with other managerial concerns for individuals interested in cybersecurity. Advanced Cybersecurity will provide learners with insight into defining problems in the field along with an understanding of the negative effects of already experienced throughout the history internet-available data, and those predicted for the future.


View CIS 453-0 Sections
Disaster Recovery & Continuity <> CIS 455-0

This course provides an in-depth study of the technical solutions necessary to support disaster recovery and business continuity in an enterprise networking environment. Course work includes the study of Risk and Business Impact Assessment (BIA), responding to a disaster, disaster recovery strategies, business continuity planning, and creating a recovery plan. Additional discussions will focus on designing a disaster recovery solution and surveying appropriate and current technologies and techniques, including RAID, SAN, clustering, backup solutions, LAN/WAN designs, and environmental impact.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 413 and CIS 452 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Notes for students in the MSIS program: This course is required for the specialization in Information Systems Security. This course may be used as an elective towards all other specializations.


View CIS 455-0 Sections
Information Security Mgmt <> CIS 457-0

This course emphasizes the need for information technology security and control and provides the reasonable working knowledge required to manage information technology security and risk. This is accomplished through a comprehensive survey of security threats, risk analysis, control techniques, and managerial issues associated with establishing and maintaining an information technology security plan. Topics covered include the need for information security and the benefits of certification, effective information security management, ISO 27001/27002 planning, policy and scope and discussion of PCI-DSS standards and compliance.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 413, CIS 452 and CIS 455 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Notes for students in the MSIS program: This course is required for the specializations in Information Systems Security and Information Systems Management. This course may be used as an elective towards all other specializations.


View CIS 457-0 Sections
Innovation with Blockchain Technology <> CIS 459-DL

Blockchain is an immutable distributed/shared ledger technology. This radically transformative technology is impacting industries, including, but not limited to capital markets, banking, health care, government, manufacturing, and transportation. Understanding blockchain fundamentals, identifying the different kinds of blockchains and their provision, analyzing industries that are currently being transformed by blockchain and designing/developing solutions using blockchain and supporting technologies will be vital for both technical and business professionals who will be making technology decisions and developing solutions. The goal of this course is to introduce students to blockchain and the benefits it has to offer. Through lectures, academic writing, lab sessions, and projects, this course is intended to help students understand blockchain to make business decisions and design/develop solutions using blockchain. (Prerequisite: CIS 414 or MSDS 430)


View CIS 459-DL Sections
IT Management <> CIS 460-0

This course introduces students to the key challenges and responsibilities of managing information technology and an information technology organization. Students gain knowledge of the various facets of managing information technology including how to develop an IT strategy aligned with business strategy. Topics covered include the IT solution lifecycle, IT service management, IT supplier management and sourcing, ongoing IT technology operations, governance, business continuity, budgeting, benchmarking, and industry standard management frameworks such as ITIL and COBIT.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 413, CIS 452, CIS 455 and 457 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Notes for students in the MSIS program: This course is required for the specialization in Information Systems Management. This course may be used as an elective towards all other specializations.


View CIS 460-0 Sections
IT Strategy <> CIS 465-0

This course introduces effective frameworks and methods for developing information technology and systems strategies that focus on meeting enterprises business objectives and on leveraging IT to competitively extend business capabilities. Topics covered include business driver identification and business and IT alignment; key technology components of the IT strategy, including enterprise architecture, enterprise systems, SOA and other integration technologies, networks, and data management; portfolio management; sourcing and hosting alternatives; emerging technologies and entrepreneurship.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 413, CIS 452, CIS 455, 457 and 460 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Note for students in the MSIS program: This course is required for the specialization in Information Systems Management. This course may be used as an elective towards all other specializations.


View CIS 465-0 Sections
Business Analysis <> CIS 468-0

This course provides an overview of the responsibilities of a business analyst and of the deliverables the business analyst provides. Course work includes the study of the business analyst role in the IT organization, deliverables produced by the business analyst, techniques for gathering system requirements, and the role the business analyst plays in on-going system operations.


View CIS 468-0 Sections
Software Testing <> CIS 483-0 This course focuses on the methods and techniques of software testing and quality assurance. The topics include unit, subsystem, system, regression, performance, and load testing; test specification; test management; software validation and verification; software quality factors; and software quality assurance tools. Objectives include testing objectives and strategies; test automation; unit testing; integration testing; system and acceptance testing; performance and load testing; test case design; web and GUI testing; and white and black box testing.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 314 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Note for students in the MSIS program: This course is required for the specialization in Software Project Management and Development. This course may be used as an elective towards all other specializations.


There is no available section.
Systems Architecture <> CIS 485-0

This course focuses on the fundamentals and best practices of software systems architecture. The topics include an overview of software systems architecture, architectural patterns, reference models and reference architectures, system quality attributes (availability, scalability, performance, modifiability, security, testability, usability), designing and documenting the system architecture, analyzing architectures, software product lines, and component and service-oriented architectures.

It is highly recommended that students complete CIS 315 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.

Notes for students in the MSIS program: This course fulfills a requirement for the specialization in Software Project Management and Development. This course may be used as an elective towards all other specializations. This course is not offered online.


There is no available section.
Project Management Concepts <> CIS 494-0

Project Management is increasingly seen as an integral part of the modern workforce. Project Management Concepts will prepare students for effective project management strategies that can be applied to any project, independent of industry. Students will master project management methods and techniques critical to the formation of professional project plans. Team development, communication, stakeholder management, and organization dynamics will be topics covered.

Notes for students in the MSIS program: This course is required for the specializations in Database and Internet Technologies, Information Systems Security, Software Project Management and Development, and Information Systems Management. This course may be used as an elective towards all other specializations.


View CIS 494-0 Sections
IT Project Management <> CIS 495-0

It Project Management will teach working professionals with an IT background valuable skillsets related to real-world project management issues to help advance their career. Issues such as contemporary development methodologies, system architectures, IT team structure, and IT management functions will be discussed as well as developing personal capacities needed to lead and manage successful IT project teams. Students will also learn vital soft skills within an IT context such as team composition and leadership, conflict resolution and politics.

Students must complete CIS 494 or possess equivalent knowledge and skills prior to taking this course.


View CIS 495-0 Sections
Information Technology Finance CIS 497-DL

Many IT organizations lack the formal policies and procedures required to understand the true cost of developing and implementing IT solutions. IT project managers and executives must communicate complex information and initiatives that improve productivity, cost management and competitive advantage. To support better consideration of the factors driving technology decisions and formal cost recovery methodologies, the IT project manager professional must present data and strategies to both other IT professionals and lay people without an IT background including executive management and staff within their organizations and to outside vendors and suppliers. This course focuses on developing and managing an IT project budget as well as looks at the means of conveying information to ensure understanding and gain the cooperation of key partners in initiating positive IT financial initiatives.


View CIS 497-DL Sections
Back to top