STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and math) are on the rise and in demand as students seek opportunities that will benefit their long-term career and personal goals. STEM careers are here to stay. A U.S. News article states, “With strong industry growth predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and STEM majors procuring the highest starting salaries and the best return on investment according to PayScale data, studying STEM is a promising endeavor.”
With this in mind, Avila University created three new graduate STEM programs, MS Cybersecurity Management, MS Computer Science Management, and MS Business Analytics Management, that provide students with access to affordable, quality education and bright futures.
“The local KC market is growing in its demand for tech-ready and tech-capable leaders as evidenced by the posted jobs and the types of companies building and growing in KC. The other factor was related to our goal to bring more international students to Avila. When I went to Nepal and India in April, I saw firsthand the overwhelming demand not just of international students wanting a US degree, but a US degree, in a STEM area – as it gives them greater opportunities for OPT (Optional Practical Training program; a longer stay) and more career opportunities globally,” said Andy Jett, Ed.D., dean of the college of professional schools.
“The three new programs were built initially from my 16+ years of IT leadership experience (Former CIO) and some trusted colleagues in the IT market locally. I built out some frameworks for the programs, and the group helped validate the more significant elements of the program. The Cybersecurity program was an extension of our current UG degree in Cybersecurity, so full-time faculty members participated in that program overview. Now that we are approved and moving forward, we have an advisory board of industry experts for the programs,” said Jett.
Distinct to Avila, each of these programs is focused not only on expanding the technical expertise in these areas but also helping develop students the ‘power skills’ of collaboration, leadership, change management, innovation and project planning – all skills that are universal to any industry and will be skills that will help them add value to any organization they work for in the future. These power skills move a student from being a technical expert to be a change agent.
The Master of Science in Business Analytics Management is designed for students who want to develop expertise in analytics tools and techniques and their application to business decision-making. Some possible job titles include:
- Business Intelligence Manager
- Data Analytics Manager
- Analytics Consultant
- Data Science Manager
- Business Analytics Strategist
The Master of Science in Computer Science Management is designed for students who want to bridge the gap between technology and business. Some possible job titles include:
- Technology Manager
- IT Project Manager
- Software Development Manager
- Product Manager
- Technical Program Manager
The MS in Cybersecurity Management program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to manage and secure information systems in a variety of settings, including corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Some possible job titles include:
- Cybersecurity Manager
- Information Security Analyst
- Cybersecurity Consultant
- Security Operations Center (SOC) Manager
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
These programs are part of the “low-residency” model, taught by highly qualified full-time and adjunct faculty with subject matter expertise and practical in-the-field experience. Students take 8-week online courses, and at the end of each, attend a Friday and Saturday intensive residency weekend here in Kansas City on the Avila campus. The residency weekend is a 12-hour day on Friday (9 am to 9 pm) and half a day on Saturday (9 am to 1 pm) where students listen to faculty lectures and industry speakers, complete group and individual activities related to their disciplines, participate in community activities, tour local businesses, etc.
Avila is working to further develop new STEM programs in undergraduate disciplines as well and hope to be able to offer these new program disciplines in the 2024-25 school year.