MIS Practicum FAQs
- What is the MIS Practicum?
The MIS Practicum is one of the capstone options for students in the MIS Program. It serves as a vehicle to help you integrate what you have learned in your graduate coursework and gives you the space to apply your skills and knowledge to projects that actively support your career.
At its heart, the MIS Practicum is an independent study course, in which you plan and execute a self-designed project that has a relevant, practical and observable purpose. You will work through this project with guidance from a faculty advisor as well as your peers in the course. Think of the MIS Practicum as a consulting project with you as the lead. You develop your own project and work with a client or an audience of your choosing to make sure that your final deliverable is applicable in the real world.
- What will I learn in the MIS Practicum? The MIS Practicum is designed to teach or hone your ability to develop and execute a work plan that leads to a product that is relevant and applicable to your field. You will work with your client or audience independently to formulate a project that addresses a specific problem or need. You will be able to build on skills you learned in your master’s program and develop new skills required by your specific practicum project. The goal of the course is for you to bring a project to fruition and to produce a resume-worthy accomplishment, to build strong professional relationships with faculty, peers, practitioners, and external advisors, and to produce results that are directly applicable to your careers.
- What are examples of past final deliverables?
Deliverables have varied depending on the goals of the project and the needs of the audiences and clients. Examples range from:
- research, background, and briefing papers, to
- comprehensive strategic communication plans,
- in-house client/ audience publications,
- monitoring and evaluation reports,
- organizational training materials,
- case studies,
- business plans, and
Audiences and clients have come from an equally diverse array of institutions, for example:
- Accountability Research Center (AU),
- Climate Nexus,
- Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
- Embassy of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United States of America,
- Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame,
- Learn Serve International,
- National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency,
- Office of the Director of National Intelligence,
- School of International Service (AU),
- U.S. Agency for International Development,
- U.S. Army Special Operations Command,
- U.S. Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs,
- World Bank, and
- World Vision International.
- What are the advantages of the MIS Practicum over my other capstone options?
When choosing which is most helpful to your career, each of your capstone options has its advantages.
The practica courses offered at SIS, as the name suggests, are the more practical option. If you believe that adding to your consulting experience and working with an impactful client in your field is the best investment for your capstone, you should consider the practica.
The main difference between the SIS-wide practica and the MIS Practicum is that the SIS-wide practica are executed in teams and with a pre-determined client. With the MIS Practicum, you have the opportunity to lead and develop your own project with a client of your choosing, while still benefitting from advice and feedback from your faculty advisor and your peers.
Another option is the Substantial Research Paper, or SRP. If you choose the SRP option, you will independently work to complete a research paper of approximately 50 pages. You will choose your own topic and work though it as an independent study with the advice of a faculty supervisor. We recommend this option especially for students who are considering applying to a PhD program after the MIS degree.
- When is the MIS Practicum offered?
The MIS Practicum is in the spring semesters of every academic year. It is currently not scheduled for the fall and summer semesters, so please take that into consideration when planning your course of study. Please feel free to discuss your course of study with your academic advisor, Amy Newell.
- Is this an online class? Yes. The MIS Practicum is a course that is available to both the on-campus and online executive MIS cohorts. It is another opportunity for students to network across the modalities.
- How do I register in the MIS Practicum?
Registration for the course requires a separate application as part of the SIS-wide practica application process. Spring applications are typically due in early-mid October.
To apply, students will submit an application form online with a resume and tailored project proposal. Complete details on the application process will be sent out via email to all graduate students.
- What are the first steps I should take to prepare for the Practicum?
A main ingredient to a successful project is planning ahead. Prior to applying for the MIS Practicum, you want to make sure that you have a feasible project idea and a reliable client or audience. This client or audience can but does not have to be your current employer. Some students have thought of this project as an opportunity to progress their responsibilities within their current position, but it could also be an excellent opportunity to expand your network. I recommend that you speak to a client or audience and gain their support for your work through appreciative inquiry. You should discuss with them what specific issue(s) you are interested in investigating, what knowledge gaps they currently have, what they would require from you, and what the deliverables of the project should be.
You can use these guidelines in your preparation process. You should also feel free to reach out to the course instructor prior to applying to discuss your ideas and planning.
Additionally, to help you master project execution, you may want to consider some background reading on project design, project management, time management, and other issues. The course instructor will be able to provide an introductory reading list.
- What do you mean by client? Working with a client means that you will conduct substantial research based on the requirements and needs of a client. In short, you will be doing research and consulting to develop a path or policy for your client with regard to a particular issue. You will take the opportunity to learn more from their experiences, and provide recommendations on how to best face this issue. Therefore, the client will be a part of delineating your project based on their needs, and accompany the project throughout the course. Students on this path will present their final consulting project to their client and receive feedback about the value of the project from them.
- What do you mean by audience? If you choose to work with an audience, you will work with an individual or organization that will benefit from your otherwise independent work. The audience can serve as an advisor to the project with the goal of providing insight that will make your project as applicable as possible to the real world. You can also work with a faculty supervisor, who is an expert in your area of research, and who will be able to provide academic guidance for your project.
- How will I be graded in this course?
Five components will be considered when grading your work in the MIS Practicum: classroom participation, the presentation rehearsal, your professionalism in the course, feedback provided by your client or audience, and your final project report.
The MIS Practicum aims to be a supporting environment for students while they work on their independent projects. As such, class participation is crucial. The other students in this course will be your sounding board as well as your troubleshooting help. They will provide advice as well as feedback to help you constantly improve your work. This can only work if students actively contribute to the class conversation.
In the course, each student will also be able to practice their project presentation to the client or audience in class. The other students will provide constructive feedback on the presentation so that the client or audience presentation can benefit from this exercise.
The final report you will give to your client or audience will be the main base for your course grade. With the report, the instructor will consider formal feedback that your client will provide on how you performed, and how helpful your project was for their work.
Finally, professionalism is an important component in this course. It will be assessed based on your client or audience’s assessment, the student’s adherence to deadlines, and peer feedback.
- What are the course times for the MIS Practicum? The course will meet once a week, just like any other course, during the on campus semester weeks. That said, the weekly sessions are flexible. They can address issues that have come up during the last week and provide space for students to discuss these issues in order to find helpful ways to deal with them. The sessions will be very goal-oriented and problem-solving rather than cover pre-determined content. Therefore, students will play a large part in determining the issues that will be discussed during the class sessions.