A focus on leadership, technology, and applicable business skills has led to Ball State University’s Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) program earning national recognition this week.

The program, in its first year of eligibility, tied for 21st overall in the “Masters in Information Technology” category in this year’s U.S. News & World Report “Best Online Programs” list, which was released this week. Ball State was the only representative in that category from an Indiana institution.

Dr. Paaige Turner, Dean of the College of Communication, Information, and Media, said students who pursue a master’s of science in information and communication sciences at Ball State “leave the 11-month program ready to take on the wicked problems we face today — and in the future.”

“The issues our world faces will not be solved by technology. They will be solved by individuals who have the leadership skills to craft and communicate a vision, the knowledge of what technology makes possible, and the skill to create a sustainable business model,” Turner said. “The Center for Information and Communication Sciences program is unique. It is intentionally designed to develop leadership, communication, technology, and business skill in the classroom and onsite with multiple industry partners.”

Ball State’s master of science in information and communication sciences has been a top-rated program by the Information and Telecommunications Education and Research Association (ITERA) for many years. This year, the CICS program for the first time became eligible for U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of the top online programs after the organization expanded its criteria for the schools considered for its “Masters in Information Technology” category.

Turner believes three major factors contribute to the success of Ball State’s online CICS program:

  • Unique program focus: Ball State’s CICS program has an exceptional record of developing graduates’ professional abilities, which translates into high-placement rates, higher salaries after graduation, and strong alumni engagement.

    “This record is anchored in the uncommon focus of the program at the intersection of technology, leadership, and business,” said Dr. Dennis Trinkle, CICS professor and Director. “In essence, we allow students to bring the workplace into the classroom and learn by doing what they will be doing after finishing the program. The program also emphasizes developing the capacity to lead, building inclusive, supportive, high-performing teams.”

    Dr. Ray Steele, CICS professor and founder of the program, believes that CICS’ uniqueness lies in its hybrid and nimble nature.

    “We are not about narrow specialization because it changes very often,” Steele said. “We teach our people how to learn in a frenetic world, how to look at problem solving with people and organizations — not just tech — in mind, and in a context in which an entrepreneurial mindset with a leadership sense is so important to overall success.”

  • Accomplished faculty with industry and academic experience: The caliber of CICS’ faculty and its dedication to moving the needle in the industry is key, according to CICS Professor Dr. Frank Groom.

    “The CICS professors have spent their lives participating in and frequently leading American Industry, and various national and international conference programs,” Groom said. “They spend a large portion of their time researching new trends in technology and appropriate applications of such in various industries.”

    Dr. Steve Jones, Professor of Information and Communication Sciences, said, “very few of our peers have faculty members with a requirement for industry experience and the terminal degree.”

    “Our social learning program to develop leadership outside the program has been imitated by never duplicated,” Jones said. “Our commitment to student development, industry partner engagement, career placement, and applied research truly sets us apart.”

  • Flexibility for working adult professionals: The U.S. News & World Report criteria recognize the importance of flexible programs and support for online learners. The CICS online program was built specifically with adult learners in mind, and it features high-flexibility and a professional, real-world relevant focus that adult learners seek and value.

For more information about Ball State’s online master of science in information and communication sciences, visit the program’s website. For more information on other highly-ranked online programs at Ball State, visit bsu.edu/online.