Trong Garson wanted a career change, but needed to re-educate herself while working full-time and raising children. The solution for her was the College of Science and Technology's online master's in Information Science & Technology (MS/IS&T), designed for students without a technical background.

Garson said the IS&T's convenience was important.

According to Dominique Kliger, the program's director, the MS/IS&T started in fall 2019, with five students who are now the first graduating cohort of May 2021. "This is because of their hard work, ability to take three online courses per semester, and enrolling in at least one summer course," she said.

Courses meet evenings to accommodate working professionals. These live sessions are recorded, enabling each student learn the material on their own schedule.

"I actually stopped working during this pandemic so I could homeschool my children," said Garson, who completed her degree in two years.

Daria Maliukina said, "I was looking for a program that would allow me to work full-time. It was described as 'hybrid' with an option to take classes on campus. When the pandemic started, the program completely transitioned online. I was also attracted by the variety of courses."

Most courses offer high-quality e-learning videos that provide the majority of content to students. Videos are supplemented by synchronous meetings, discussion boards and small group assignments. Students have the option of taking two or three classes per semester (Trong did both) and can complete the program in two years. Maliukina finished in 21 months.

Garson said she had regular access to her faculty with Zoom meetings, phone calls, and emails

Athanasia Polychronopoulou, assistant professor of instruction in Computer and Information Sciences, said, "Every semester we offer courses that introduce students to aspects of Information Science and Technology and provide tech-focused skills on app-development, web-development, databases, networks, and more."

"The biggest challenge (for students) is the change in mindset and adjusting to technology-focused courses," said Polychrononopoulou. "Many students come from non-technical backgrounds such as business, social sciences, and law school. However, this was a large aspect of course design - to ease students into a new discipline and address this. There are no pre-registration courses, or additional credits students need before entering the program."

Maliukina plans to pursue a career in software quality assurance, data science, or cyber security.

Garson said, "I accepted a job with KeyBank as a rotational analyst in their key, technology, operations and services (team). I'll be rotating through cyber security teams."