Despite the downturn following Y2K implementations and claims of increased outsourcing, the overall job market for Information Technology professionals has remained relatively strong. In fact, according to a 2007 report sponsored by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Information Technology remains central to economic growth since it is used in virtually every sector of the economy from farming to manufacturing and from services to government (Atkinson and McKay, 2007). Supporting the continued importance of Information Technology, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has reported that the average starting salary offer made to 2008 computer and information science graduates was up almost 13%, from $51,992 to $58,677 (NACE, 2008). Additionally, Information Technology related jobs represent 5 of the top 25 identified fastest growing occupations (NACE, 2008). Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that Network Systems and Data Communication Analysts will be the top occupation in the United States between now and 2016 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008). According to predictions for 2005 in a Computerworld article, the most sought after positions will be systems auditors, sales consultants, and programmer/ analysts (Lee, 2005). External forces will also keep demand strong for systems auditing. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act has fueled the need for the audit side of Information Technology as the business world has strived to address widespread scandals as evidenced by the downfall of corporate giants such as Enron, WorldCom, and Global Crossing.
All these signs of strong Information Technology demand seem to be at odds with the widely reported declines in Information Systems (IS) program enrollments around the country. A number of reasons have been posited for this decline--many of them being beyond the control of the academic community. That said, at least one study argues that declining enrollments may, in part, be caused by IS curriculums that are out-of-date (McGann et al., 2007). Given that IS departments should be reviewing their curricula on a regular basis anyway, addressing this possible cause of the enrollment downturn should be considered low hanging fruit. Essentially, up-to-date curricula are not only critical to the preparation of qualified Information Technology professionals, they may also be an effective way to attract more students into IS programs.
The purpose of this study was, therefore, to gather information on the most commonly required courses in undergraduate IS programs in the United States in order to offer guidance and insight to curriculum developers. Additionally, the paper compares current course offerings to those discussed in previous research in order to identify changes that have occurred and the development of new trends.
2.1 Study Design
In order to keep up with the fast-paced changes in technology, IS programs must continually assess their curricula and teaching methods. The accreditation process exists, in part, to help monitor programs to make sure they meet minimum curricular standards which are periodically reviewed and updated. Although the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the only organization which specifically accredits IS programs, the majority of IS programs do not have this standalone accreditation. Instead, the majority of IS programs reside within schools of business that are accredited by the International Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Association of Collegiate Business Programs (ACSBP). Therefore, in order to ensure a sufficient sample frame, this study draws its sample from IS programs from AACSB and ACBSP accredited schools of business.
The data were collected during the 2007-08 academic year by accessing each university's course catalog via their website. The decision to use the Internet as the primary data source was based on the belief that web-based catalogs would be the most accurate and up-to-date. …