MS in Business Analytics / Information Systems (MS/BAIS)
Frequently Asked Questions
How is the MIS department ranked among its peers?
The MIS department at USF runs a nationally ranked program. In 2013, BusinessWeek magazine ranked the undergraduate USF MIS program as #25 in the nation.
How does the research activity in the department rank among its peers?
While these rankings are volatile, the ISDS department at USF is ranked #32 in the world for publication in premier journals (Management Information Systems Quarterly and Information Systems Research) during 2008-2012.
What about some relevant rankings of the University?
USF is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. In 2012, the University of South Florida was ranked #10 among universities in the world in the number of patents awarded, placing it in the ranks of institutions such as MIT and Stanford in patent awards.
What are some special features of your program?
Some special features of our program include:
- The USF MS BAIS program is a STEM program, which means that the academic curriculum
has been assessed as meeting the most pressing needs of employers in the United States.
For international students, this improves opportunities for optional practical training
(please see the section on international students for more details).
- We have two optional concentrations within the program for those interested in focusing
on cybersecurity or business intelligence. You can complete these concentrations
within the program by appropriate selection of electives.
- We have experienced staff dedicated to optimal job placement as well as enriching
student experiences within our program. This has proven to be extremely beneficial
to our graduates.
- We have an optional study abroad program in collaboration with Infosys, one of the leading CMMI-5 IT services companies in the world. Students do a course on software engineering at the Infosys campus in Mysore, India. We believe this is the only such program in the nation. The study-abroad component combines academic immersion with cultural immersion for a unique look at an important part of the global IT industry during your academic program
I am looking for "business-oriented" jobs upon graduation. Is this program a good fit for me?
We get this question a lot, particularly from applicants with prior experience in the IT industry. Our response to this question has multiple parts as follows.
- Ours is a STEM program. It is therefore recognized as a differentiated program that
aims to meet a set of unique, specialized needs in the economy. For the foreseeable
future, there is high demand in the workplace for graduates with the knowledge and
associated skills we cover in our program and a very tight supply of these graduates.
- Other departments in the college and the university generate large pools of graduates
with "business knowledge." We strive hard to differentiate our students in a meaningful
way from these competing graduates coming out of other disciplines. As a result, by
our estimate, our graduates command a 15-20% wage premium at start compared to most
- Largely due to plentiful supply of graduates with business skills and a shortage of
graduates with technical skills, the immigration process is vastly more friendly towards
graduates going into technical roles as opposed to graduates trying to enter business
- If you are still interested in getting into a business role upon graduation as opposed
to a more technical role, you may also want to take a look at our MBA program. Also,
some of our alumni consider doing an MBA a few years after graduating from our program.
- Finally, an analogy may help. Students entering medical school aspire for medicine-oriented jobs in hospitals, not the business-oriented jobs in hospitals. Given the specialized nature of that business, most hospitals are led by medical specialists, not business generalists. The same is increasingly becoming true of the IT industry. We aim to position you into leadership roles in the IT industry, which, going by stock market estimates, is about 20% of the US economy.
What is the full-time placement record?
The department takes great pride in its efforts to place its alumni, both domestic and international. To this end, the MIS department has its own dedicated student success specialist who facilitates job and internship placement for our graduate students. 100% of the students in the MS BAIS program who responded to our recent placement surveys (summer 14 through fall 2016) reported being employed within 3 months after graduation (typically, about 75% of our graduates have responded to our surveys). Recent graduates reported being placed at leading global businesses such as IBM, Deloitte, Apple, Microsoft, Disney, PayPal, Goldman Sachs, Booz & Company, Capgemini, Tech Data, Infosys, JP Morgan Chase, SAS Institute, Capital One, Rockwell Collins and Raymond James. Starting salaries have been in the $65K – $100K range, varying with location, experience and other factors. The location of the department within the technologically dynamic metropolitan area of Tampa Bay helps students locate employers of choice.
Do you offer any support for placement?
As mentioned above, we have staff dedicated full-time to helping our graduates with career planning and placement. The department goes out of its way to help students demonstrate their skills. USF teams have competed in several international case competitions. These competitions attract teams from top schools such as Carnegie Mellon, Purdue, and the University of Arizona. The department pays all travel related expenses for the students selected to participate.
The department's Practice Center offers professional development opportunities in collaboration with local industry and often leads to job offers after graduation. See the 'internship / Co-op" section below.
The department has strong relationships with IT industry in the Tampa Bay area and has an active mailing list for jobs and internship opportunities. Job fairs, information and interview sessions are offered through the USF Career Center and the Muma College of Business' Office of Employer Relations.
What is the salary range of recently placed graduates from the program?
The starting salary offers for our most recent MS BAIS graduates were in the range $55,000 - $120,000, varying considerably with the location of the position and the experience of the graduate. The average starting salary offer was approximately $80,000. This amount does not include benefits such as healthcare, and retirement.
How much will the program cost?
Florida has one of the lowest costs nationwide of completing an academic degree. Total estimated program costs can be found at the USF admission website or the Tuition and Fees web page. As of July 2015, total estimated costs for two semesters range from $26,000 for domestic students to $37,000 for out-of-state students. The 'cost to attend' calculator may offer additional information. Contact information for tuition questions can be found at the Student Accounting website.
Are there any scholarships or graduate assistant positions available?
Scholarship information can be found at the Office of Graduate Studies scholarship web page.
The BAIS/ ISDS department offers graduate assistant (GA) positions each year, which are awarded on a competitive basis. These positions provide a stipend and tuition waiver for 2 – 4 courses each semester in return for specific professional expectations associated with each position. Please be aware that our hiring process takes time, so applicants should apply early and have their visas (international students) to be eligible for a position in their first semester. While the department does its best, it is unable to make any commitment that you will find a GA position during your time here.
The department traditionally has 4 types of GA positions available:
- Department undergraduate teaching assistant (2-semester limit; selection among all enrolled students): Selection based on GRE / GMAT scores, TOEIC/TOEFL/IELTS speak scores (international students), strength in the teaching area and interviews,
- Department graduate teaching assistant (2-semester limit; selection among all enrolled students): Selection based on class performance, faculty recommendation and TOEIC/TOEFL/IELTS speak scores (international students),
- Department skills based positions (selection among all enrolled students): Selection based on project scope and technical skills required,
- Pre-approved out-of-college technical positions (selection among all students admitted that semester): Selection based on position responsibilities and technical skills required.
Incoming international students will have to submit a copy of their visa along with their application in order to be considered for any positions.
When we are getting ready to hire, we will send announcements to all current and incoming graduate students. ** Spring applications may be used for both the spring and any open summer positions.
Are there part-time jobs available on campus?
Yes, these positions exist, though they become available on an irregular basis. MS BAIS students have received part-time positions (including GA positions) in many different academic and administrative departments on campus. We have an active mailing list to notify MS BAIS students of these opportunities.
Are internship/Co-op opportunities available?
The department has a very exciting program for the professional development of students in collaboration with champions for the department in local industry - the ISDS Practice Center. Industry partners including Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Time Customer Service, Raymond James Financial, Verizon, Finntech, and the US Veterans Administration regularly craft projects for our students to refine and demonstrate their skills in paid positions while developing a useful product for the project sponsor. Many of these projects lead to employment offers, specially when students are able to demonstrate technical competence. In addition, there is also the Practicum option, which allows students to do internships in various companies while earning elective credits. Companies providing such internship opportunities include Verizon, Tech Data, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, Raymond James, Citigroup, and Nielsen.
What are the application requirements?
Application requirements are determined by the USF Graduate school. Their website provides detailed application requirements.
Can I apply with a 3 year undergraduate degree?
We require a 4 year undergraduate degree or a 3 year degree with one year of graduate work.
Do I need work experience in order to qualify for admission?
Though many of our current and past students have work experience, which becomes advantageous in subsequent job search and placement, we review the entire portfolio and encourage applications from students with high GRE or GMAT scores and with undergraduate degrees in Information Technology/Computer Science/Computer Engineering/Information Systems.
My prior work experience is in quality assurance and testing. Am I a good candidate for your program?
In our experience, employers place a lot of emphasis on prior work experience, and graduates with Masters degrees are typically not hired for QA and testing work. For applicants with QA and testing experience, we therefore look for other evidence of relevant professional preparation such as UG major, UG GPA and standardized scores.
Further, it is in the best interests of students whose primary responsibilities have been in QA and testing to make extra efforts to gain competence in all stages of the SDLC.
What does the admissions committee look for?
The admissions committee reviews each application for undergraduate transcripts, standardized scores (GMAT/ GRE, TOEFL if necessary), relevant work experience, 2 letters of recommendation, the statement of purpose essay and relevant extracurricular involvement. We will use your statement of purpose as your writing sample; you do not need to submit a separate writing sample.
Can I send my application information to the department for an evaluation before I apply?
The academic advisor and academic director of the program welcome queries but cannot review application materials and 'pre-admit' students to the program before the complete application is submitted and reviewed by the admissions committee. For most other queries, we have tried to provide the most current information on this page, and are unlikely to be able to provide much additional information.
Do I need to take the GRE or the GMAT?
Yes, these are essential components of the application. Applicants may however choose to take either the GRE or GMAT.
What is the minimum accepted GRE/GMAT score?
We don't post a minimum GRE or GMAT score as we evaluate the whole application, not a single score. Additionally, the admission decision is based on the number of applicants and available seats for the program. However, in recent years, most successful applicants have typically had GRE scores near or above 308 (with a verbal score of 149 or above) and GMAT scores in the 580+ range. For more information about this, please contact Barb Warner at email@example.com.
I took the GRE/GMAT a few years ago. Will I have to re-take the test? Can I get the GRE / GMAT requirements waived?
These scores are only valid for 5 years. If you took the test more than 5 years ago, you will need to re-take the test. The BAIS department seldom waives the GRE / GMAT requirement for the MS program.
Do I need to take the TOEFL? What is the minimum TOEFL score?
The TOEFL exam may be waived under certain circumstances. Current information can be found at the USF Graduate School language requirements web page and the graduate application requirements page.
What code do I use to send test scores to USF?
The institution code for USF is 5828 and applies to all tests administered by ETS. More information can be found at the graduate applications requirements page. There is no department code necessary.
Do I have to have a technology-related undergraduate degree?
No. Although technology experience is considered in the admission decision, the department goes to great lengths to accommodate students from all undergraduate majors, We have tried to create flexibility for students to choose electives that best fit their skills and professional goals. Accordingly, we accept students from all academic backgrounds. Students from all backgrounds can find professional success after going through our program.
Are there any prerequisites for admission into the program?
In addition to a four-year bachelor's degree, the program prerequisites are listed below. The prerequisite courses do not count towards the 33 credit hours of course requirements in the MS BAIS program. Most of our admitted students are able to waive many of these requirements from prior course-work and/ or work experience. Many remaining requirements can be completed before beginning the program through various resources available to students.
- One semester of a high-level, object oriented programming language (e.g., C#, C++, Java) or substantial object-oriented programming experience
- One semester of Information Systems Analysis and Design, Systems Engineering or equivalent experience
- One semester of Database Systems or equivalent experience
- One semester of Statistics (this must include significant coverage, including: probability distributions, regression analysis, multivariate analysis, and hypothesis testing)
- One semester of economics (micro or macro)
- One semester of financial accounting
I am not sure I have met the prerequisites in my prior course work. How can I confirm my prerequisite needs?
All newly admitted graduate students should contact the MS BAIS academic advisor, Barbara Warner, for a prerequisite check. She can let you know if you have any outstanding prerequisites and offer strategies for completing prerequisites.
Do I have to take the prerequisites before I start the program?
No, with some careful scheduling of classes, the prerequisites may be taken concurrently with courses in the MS BAIS program.
Can I defer my admission if necessary?
You can request a deferment of up to one year. To do this, send an email request to Barb Warner, the MS BAIS academic advisor.
Can I transfer from another university's master's program?
Students interesting in transferring to USF should apply using the same process as all other graduate applicants. If admitted, you can complete a transfer of course form and send it along with course syllabi to the MS BAIS academic advisor, Barbara Warner. A maximum of 9 graduate credits can be transferred and only courses completed with a B grade or better can be considered.
Can I email the MS BAIS academic advisor with further questions?
Yes, feel free to contact Barbara Warner with additional questions, however we ask that you
- First review this FAQ document completely. To make the best use of both our times, if we have addressed your question here, we will direct you here anyway
- Follow the links for additional information from other departments at USF
- Send questions to the appropriate department (the academic advisor cannot help with specific questions about the online application, tuition, residency, I-20s, immunization, etc.)
- Include your full name and U # in the subject area (header) of all email correspondence
Where can I find information about required TOEFL / IELTS scores?
I'm an international student, what are some special feature of the program for international students?
The USF MS BAIS program is a STEM program with CIP code 11.0501 (Computer System Analysis/ Analyst), which means the usual 12 month practical training period can be extended under certain conditions. Please see the USF website for OPT Extension Information as well as the ICE website for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) codes classified by DHS as STEM programs, and the corresponding benefits to international students. Please contact International Services for additional information.
Can I get practical training while in the program?
I'm an international student, where can I get help on the documents needed to attend USF?
Information for International Students can be found at the Admissions Information for International Students website and the International Services website.
I have never traveled abroad before. What resources are available to make my initial arrival comfortable when I reach USF?
Following the American spirit of self-help, many student organizations on campus do their best to make your arrival and early days as pleasant as possible. Examples include the USF Friends of Internationals Ministry, a faith-based organization.
I am an international student with a three-year undergraduate degree. Can I apply for the MS/ BAIS program directly, or do I need to first apply to a bridge program to complete the fourth year?
Please see the University's page on Bachelor's degree equivalence on the process for such degree holders. Typically, for European students, if your institution complies with the Bolgna requirements, you should not need any additional course work. Students from other countries generally need to complete one additional year of school-work. For additional information, please contact the graduate school.
What is the appropriate way to address faculty?
The general practice to address faculty is "Professor <last name>". If you know the professor has a PhD degree, it is also common practice to address them as "Dr. <last name>." As a general rule, avoid addressing faculty by first names unless they specifically ask you to.
What is the appropriate way to address business professionals you might meet on campus?
A safe practice is to address any business professional (who might be your boss or manager) as Mr. <last name> or Ms. <last name>. As a general rule, avoid addressing business professionals by first names unless you feel you know them reasonably well or they ask that you do so.
How does the application process work?
Applications are accepted by the USF Office of Graduate Studies and are sent to the department for evaluation when the required documents (soft copies of resume and statement of purpose, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and test scores) have been attached to the online application. Please submit all documents in PDF format (not Word). It's best not to submit your application until you have all documents ready. Once the applications are complete and the application fee paid they are evaluated by the Muma College of Business as well as the ISDS Department and finally by the Office of Graduate Studies who will contact you with an admission decision. This can take several weeks to more than a month, depending on the number of applications received. You can check your application status on the Office of Graduate Studies Status Page.
What are the application deadlines?
The USF Graduate College website has slightly different deadline dates, please use the dates below when applying. There is limited flexibility with these deadlines, especially for international students, since admissions decisions can be followed by paperwork for international travel, over which the department has no control. Please contact the MS BAIS academic advisor with any individual concerns.
Fall Applications. June 1 for domestic and international applicants. However, there are limited seats. Please apply as early as possible. Admission will be closed as soon as seats get filled up.
Spring Applications. Domestic and International Students: October 15. Note that due to capacity limitations, spring intake is typically a smaller cohort and admissions is more competitive. Please apply early.
*Note: If you are interested in a graduate assistant (GA) position, please apply as early as possible. The earlier you apply, are admitted, and receive your I-20 and visa (international students), the better chance you have being selected as a GA.
What if my application is late by a few days after the deadline?
We do our best to process late applications, but we have limited seats in our program. In the past we have run into situations where we could not accommodate all applicants meeting our general criteria. Since we have no way of knowing how many students will apply in any given year, and are interested in maintaining a full class, earlier applications that meet our criteria are generally accepted without delay. However, in years where we experience strong early interest in our programs, applications that arrive closer to the deadline and after may be screened on increasingly stringent criteria to ensure that our process is fair. Also, our graduate students office is more constrained in its ability to process late applications when interest in our programs is high. Therefore, it is best to apply as early as possible.
How do I apply for this program?
You can apply using the online graduate application.
What does a strong application look like?
- Strong GRE / GMAT test scores
- Strong undergraduate transcript
- Strong TOEFL/ IELTS scores (international students only)
- Two page (maximum) resume clearly identifying your technical work experience (with start and end dates, most recent first) and undergraduate major and grades.
- Two page (maximum) statement of purpose incorporating the following topics:
- What accomplishment (personal or professional) are you most proud of?
- Any special challenges you have overcome?
- Why do you want to enroll in our program?
All of our applicants are very driven and well qualified, as inferred from the objective scores we receive. The statement of purpose is used by the admissions team to learn relevant information about you that may not be conveyed by your 'numbers.' Please use this opportunity accordingly.
Does the program consider academic and life experiences to meet the professional experience
requirement for admission?
Generally students must have the professional experience. However, students may submit requests to consider differences in various international professional environments. These will be reviewed in order to gain a holistic review of candidates to assist in creating a diverse student body.
Are there any special application instructions?
- Please scan all required documents and attach them to the online application (resume and statement of purpose should be in PDF format). Do not send any hard copy documents when applying. Once an admissions decision is made the USF Office of Graduate Studies will contact you for any required hard copies.
- If you have questions about the online application process, please contact Graduate Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I check my application status?
You can go to www.grad.usf.edu/sonic3/status.php to check your admission status. Note that if your status reads that your application has been 'referred' to the department, this just means it has left the Office of Graduate Studies. It is reviewed by several other departments before a final admission decision is made. The Office of Graduate Studies will contact you with the final decision.
I have questions about the online application, who should I contact?
Below are some common application questions. If you have other queries concerning the online application and required documents, they can be directed to the USF Graduate College at (813) 974-3350 or via email at email@example.com. Our BAIS Department does not have access to the online application site.
- What should I do if my GPA is not scored out of 4.0 points? Just estimate your GPA, we look at your transcripts for your grades.
- My credits are calculated differently, as I am an international student - what should I enter? Just estimate! We will not look at this field for international students.
- The application asks about a certification, do I need this? This refers to College of Education graduate students only. Our program does not require a certification.
- The Office of Graduate Studies websites mention sending hard copies. Should I do this? Again, please attach all required documents to your online application. Do not send any hard copies until an admissions decision has been made.
- How many letters of recommendation do I need to send? Two letters are sufficient and they can be from supervisors at your place of employment or undergraduate professors.
- Do I need to submit a statement of purpose as well as an essay / writing sample? We will use your statement of purpose as your writing sample; you do not need to submit a separate sample
How long will it take to complete my degree requirements? Can I complete the program in one year?
The program requires 33 hours of coursework in addition to any prerequisites and may be taken either full-time or part-time. Our course offerings are scheduled such that interested full-time students who have already taken all required prerequisites and are willing to take the required course load can complete the program in a year or less (fall and spring, or fall, spring and summer) of study. Part-time students and full-time students who need prerequisites will typically need 1 1/2 to 3 years to complete the degree.
I just got admitted. What do I do next?
Please contact the program advisor, Barbara Warner, at the earliest to have your prerequisites evaluated and get a heads up on choosing classes and registering for classes.
Can I complete the program online?
At this time we are not offering a completely online program. Our on-campus program offers a combination of on-campus and online coursework.
How technical is the MS BAIS Program?
The Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MS BAIS) program bridges the need in the marketplace for people who can serve as the bridge between technology and business. The program therefore offers students a fair amount of flexibility between business (generally considered non-technical) and technology (generally considered technical). However, a common feature of most courses in the program is a focus on understanding technology well enough to leverage it in business. This is in response to business needs for people who can leverage technology and increasingly, data. That said, faculty in the program take great pride in making the content which is generally considered highly technical to become highly accessible.
Students can leverage the built-in flexibility in the program, selecting electives most appropriate for them. Students may even take some approved electives outside the department to further customize their program.
What does the MS BAIS program of study consist of?
Program information can be found at our program page.
Which courses can be used as electives?
Six electives may be selected from the available Information Systems electives, or (with prior approval of the MS BAIS program academic advisor and the concerned department) other related areas of specialization such as Management, Computer Science, Entrepreneurship, Logistics, Accounting etc. Students can use 3-6 elective hours (1-2 course equivalents) for the practicum option. Electives must be 3 credit courses. Note that ISM6123 (Systems Analysis and Design), and ISM6217 (Database Administration), can be used to meet the prerequisites for the program, but cannot be used as program electives.
How many classes do students take each semester?
Students may choose to take any number of classes each semester, subject only to scheduling constraints. We however recommend that full-time students take 3-4 courses (9-12 credit hours) every semester. International student are required to carry at least 9 credits in order to maintain their immigration status (except for summer and graduating semester). Students working full-time often choose to take fewer classes each semester to balance work and study.
How long will it take to complete my degree requirements?
The program requires 33 hours of coursework in addition to any prerequisites and may be taken either full-time or part-time. Full-time students who already have taken all required prerequisites can complete the program in one full year (3 semesters) of study. Part-time students and full-time students who need prerequisites will typically need from 1 1/2 to 3 years to complete the degree.
Is it possible to do a dual MS-BAIS / MBA program or MS-BAIS and another MS?
Yes, this is certainly possible and encouraged if it makes sense for your professional goals. To do this, you must apply to both programs of interest and be admitted to both programs. You can also apply for the dual degree after joining the MS-BAIS program. USF has some procedures in place that allow you to use some of the the same applicable courses to meet the requirements for both degrees, thus reducing the required course-work to complete the dual degree. Contact the MS BAIS academic advisor, Barbara Warner for more information on this.
If I complete the Business Intelligence classes, how do I get the SAS/USF Certificate in Analytics and Business Intelligence?
When you start the certificate classes, fill out the Certificate Application Form and send it to Barbara Warner. Once you complete the 4 required classes and your grades are visible on Oasis, fill out the Graduate Certificate Completion Form and send that to Barbara Warner as well. The certificate will be mailed to you.
I have questions about the program in general, who should I contact?
If, after reading this webpage, you have questions about the online application or the application process in general, please contact the USF Graduate College at (813) 974-3350 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our BAIS Department does not have access to the online application site.
If, after reading this webpage, you have remaining program questions or questions about graduate assistant positions or funding, please send questions to the MS BAIS academic advisor, Barbara Warner. Please do not use the 'shot gun' approach where you email anyone and everyone having anything to do with USF and/or USF BAIS. We handle a lot of email every day and duplicate emails waste our valuable people resources and slow us down :)
Can I contact current MS BAIS students?
We do not have any formal mechanisms for you to connect with current MS BAIS students. However, if you wish to communicate with a current MS BAIS student, please contact Barbara Warner and she will be happy to find a current student who is in the best position to respond to your question.
Is there anything else I should know about USF or the MS BAIS Program?
USF is one of the most rapidly growing universities in US. Within a span of 50 years since its inception, it have achieved the status of a top-tier research university as per Carnegie Foundation. Among our distinctions
- The Tampa Bay location is a major advantage. There are many companies in the Tampa Bay area that provide internship opportunities as well as recruit our students.
- We have an outstanding faculty (4 from IITs; PhD degrees from Harvard, NYU, Purdue, Minnesota etc; previous faculty positions at Wharton, Maryland, Michigan etc).
- Two major areas of strength in the department are Business Intelligence (Data mining, Data warehousing, and analytics), and Software Engineering.
- We are the only US University so far that Infosys has partnered with in hosting the IT summer school program (see a short YouTube video).
- In 2010, a team of three MS/BAIS students won the second prize in Computer Associate's Blackberry Challenge competition by building a prize winning mobile application by besting teams from universities such as CMU, Texas A&M, University of Waterloo etc.
- You can see our current activities on our ISDS Facebook page.
- The department is the lead facilitator of the USF Programming Team and interested MS BAIS students help out with the team efforts. You can check out their activities on the USF Programming Team Facebook page.