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IIST Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program Expands to Loudoun County
February 15, 2014
One of the fastest growing segments in the Northern Virginia job market is the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry cluster, which includes such areas of specialization as cyber security, data analytics and health information technology. Loudoun County alone is predicting that this cluster will require 45,000 positions by 2022. In order to support the workforce demand, GW’s College of Professional Studies will be expanding its bachelor’s degree completion program in Integrated Information, Science and Technology (IIST) to the Virginia Science & Technology Campus (VSTC) in fall 2014.
The interdisciplinary IIST program is geared towards individuals who are currently working in a technical field, or those who are attempting to gain entry either as career-changers or as young professionals seeking entry-level positions. Prospective students must have an associate’s degree or have earned at least 60 credit hours. An articulation agreement is in place with Northern Virginia Community College and the program offers competitive tuition rates. The program is also specially developed to provide a conduit to the existing GW master’s degree program in Information Systems and Technology Management.
Community college students and others considering this degree completion program have strong prospects for employment. According to Loudoun County’s Department of Economic Development, 23,000 workers were employed in Loudoun’s ICT sector in 2011. ICT is the county’s largest industry cluster, representing 21% of businesses, including Neustar, Verizon, Raytheon and Computer Sciences Corporation.
Students have the opportunity to engage with industry partners throughout the program by participating in such activities as guest speaker events and site visits like the recent trip to Deloitte’s Center for Federal Innovation. “We are extremely grateful to the Deloitte team for giving our students this unique opportunity and showcasing some of the most cutting edge technology that is being delivered into the market place. Students who attended this tour have a new appreciation for using their classroom work in finding solutions to real world problems,” noted Dr. Sara Hooshangi, the IIST program director and assistant professor.
The cohort-based program in Ashburn will be offered during the evenings and on weekends, keeping the needs of working professionals in mind. Online learning will also be combined with in-class instruction. “Being in a cohort of others, much like myself in age and experience, gave me supportive friends I could bond with and rely on throughout the program,” noted Scott Tambert, a recent IIST graduate.
Program graduates gain a solid foundation in problem-solving and analytical thinking, as well as skills in writing, communication, information technology and computing, to make them competitive for technical employment or advanced degree completion. Graduates use their knowledge to be successful in a number of fields including information systems, technology management and network administration and security. Career Services provides one-on-one advising, programming and resources to assist students and alumni in exploring opportunities, developing job search strategies and sustaining lifelong career success.
“A former student shared his experience in trying to transition from an experienced system administrator position to a higher-level managerial career path. He was longing for more challenging work and better pay, but without a bachelor’s degree the doors were closed. Our program helped him bridge the gap between industry demands and his educational level, while still working full time. Upon completion of the program, he was able to quickly find work as a network engineer at a security firm,” said Dr. Hooshangi. “Our program made all the difference in his career trajectory.”