UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new bachelor of science degree in information technology (IT), focused on providing students with the knowledge and critical thinking skills to effectively solve problems in today’s interconnected society, will be offered beginning in the fall 2021 semester.
"Because the IT field is constantly changing and evolving, this broad-based but specialized degree is designed to provide the next generation of IT professionals with the skillset to meet the technology needs of today while positioning them to take on future challenges," said Alan Peslak, professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State Scranton and co-chair of the committee that developed the new degree program.
The IT degree will be available to students at the Abington, Altoona, Beaver, Berks, Brandywine, DuBois, Greater Allegheny, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Schuylkill, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and York campuses. The degree will replace the existing bachelor of science degree in information sciences and technology (IST), which will be phased out over the next four years.
Tricia Clark, assistant teaching professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State Berks and co-chair of the IT degree development committee, said students can expect to acquire a broad set of skills across several areas of IT.
“In addition to courses that develop technical skills by incorporating current tools, hands-on activities and real-world scenarios, students will learn problem-solving techniques that allow them to adapt to the constantly changing nature of IT,” she said.
Peslak added, “The strong technical foundation, well-developed communication, collaboration and critical-thinking skills, and flexibility to specialize in an area of choice provided by this degree program, will produce graduates uniquely positioned to enter the modern information technology workforce.”
Opportunities that might be available for graduates of the IT degree program include potential careers in industries spanning business, government, defense, entertainment, consulting, medicine, and more, he added.
“The opportunities are seemingly endless for how and where an IT graduate can apply their knowledge and skills to contribute to their organization,” Clark said.
Additionally, six specialization options are offered to allow students to explore the IT field in more depth:
Prepares students for the design and development of complex object-oriented programming and technical skills to succeed in a fast-paced development and operations environment.
Available at: Abington, Altoona, Beaver, Berks, Brandywine, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill, Scranton and York.
Prepares students to pursue careers in information technology using business organizational problems with an emphasis on the systems processes and business operations integration.
Available at: Abington, Altoona, Beaver, Berks, Brandywine, DuBois, Greater Allegheny, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Schuylkill, Scranton and York.
Provides students with the knowledge and cyber defense skills needed to critically assess and respond to modern information security threats. Students will also be prepared to protect information infrastructure and data from attacks and unauthorized access.
Available at: Altoona, Beaver, Berks, Brandywine, Lehigh Valley, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Schuylkill, Scranton, and York
Prepares students to pursue careers in the design, development, and support of complex networks and networking structure.
Available at: Abington, DuBois and Mont Alto.
Security and risk analysis
Gives students the tools to address current and emerging security and risk challenges facing individuals, organizations and the nation, over a variety of domains including national/homeland security, emergency and disaster management, law and crime, and enterprise risk management.
Available at: Altoona, Berks, Brandywine, Lehigh Valley and Schuylkill.
Custom information technology
Provides students the opportunity to pursue an approved information technology interdisciplinary or exploratory program of study.
Available at: Altoona, Berks, Brandywine, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Schuylkill, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and York.
“Considering the presence and impact of technology across almost all areas of society, the ability to specialize will allow students to apply their skills in an area that meets their interests and strengths as well as the needs of employers,” Clark said.
The IT degree program consists of 120 credits, including foundational coursework in programming and systems development, security, database management, networking and a required business course designed to help graduates be more competitive in the job market. The foreign language and foreign cultures requirements of the IST degree are not included in the IT degree program.
Students pursuing an IST degree can continue the program but are encouraged to speak with their academic adviser about switching to the IT degree program. Incoming first-year or transfer students should reach out to an admissions counselor for information on the new degree program.
Additional information will be forthcoming on campus websites and the Undergraduate Bulletin.