Frequently Asked Questions
I am preparing to graduate. How do I best explain what SM is to potential employers?
This is a common question from students. There is no single appropriate response simply due to the fact that the degree allows for specialization using Professional Concentrations.
“The SM major is designed to prepare graduates with the knowledge, skills, and values to effectively apply managerial principles and tools in diverse organizational settings. The SM program emphasizes professional skills including: problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and computer fluency suitable for a 21st-century knowledge worker. In addition, SM majors select an area of Professional Concentration to provide them with a specialization in their selected area of interest thus allowing them to develop expertise in a particular field or industry.”
In an interview, student's should also emphasize the core courses and how they focus on applied managerial concepts and skills. They should then discuss how their chosen professional concentration has prepared them for a career. Research the company you are interviewing with and be prepared to get specific in how you can add value.
How will I know which classes to take?
The Systems Management program has eight required SM courses. These may be taken any semester that the course is offered. We will offer these regularly to help students make timely progress towards graduation. In addition, students select an area of Professional Concentration (PC) and chose electives in that field. These elective courses may or may not be offered as frequently as the SM classes. We recommend that students try to complete these PC electives as early as they can.
What is the Math requirement for the SM program?
The Systems Management major does not have math requirements beyond that required for General Education. A passing grade in Math 109 (or equivalent) is all that is required.
Do I need to take Accounting, Economics, Statistics, or other classes?
Systems Management is a professional degree, but it's not administered by the College of Business. As such, SM majors are not required to take the accounting, economics, statistics, and other classes that are a pre-requisite for admission to the business school. There are Professional Concentrations in the SM major that include courses from the College of Business, but these are usually 300-400 level electives.
Is there an application process for the Systems Management Major?
No. Any WKU student who wants to major in Systems Management may do so. Unlike some other majors, there is no formal application process, no paperwork to complete, no list of pre-requisite courses, no required GPA. You may change your major by visiting TopNet. Welcome to SM!
Is it hard to learn how to use the Blackboard course management system?
Not at all. The Systems Management major uses the popular Blackboard LMS to host much of the class content. This is a convenient entry portal where you can access class materials, communicate with your professor, submit assignments, and even take exams. Learning to use Blackboard is not much more complicated than learning to use a web browser and an email client.
How do I receive and hand in assignments?
All class assignments are available on your class site on Blackboard. Each module's activities are clearly organized in the class syllabus and the required materials are also available on Blackboard. You can access all of your course assignments, review due dates, and check your grades any time you’d like. You work on projects, discuss class matters with your classmates, and ask for feedback from your instructor. Blackboard also allows you to submit your projects in a "digital drop box".
How do I interact with my instructor and peers?
Most SM courses will have monthly class meetings using Adobe Connect technology. This requires access to a computer with an Internet connection and a browser. All of your course assignments and exams (although exams may be proctored) will be completed outside of class. Students in the SM program work closely with their classmates and professor on a variety of learning projects and activities. One of the goals of the program is to foster teamwork and collaboration skills with classmates who are geographically distributed. There are tools in Blackboard to support group interaction, but most students find tools like email, Skype, and IM to be more practical for them. Students also interact with the class in weekly discussion forums. Each class will discuss topics of interest that relate to the class and students are able to explore ideas, share experience and learn from each other.
What time are classes held?
At your convenience! That is one of the benefits of modern educational technology. Sure, each class will have deadlines, but beyond those you are free to work through the class on your schedule. You can participate in course activities at any time, day or night, wherever you have an Internet connection. Not all of your course work requires you to work online and much of your project work may be completed offline. You should try to visit the Blackboard course site on a daily basis to check-in, but there is no set class schedule other than the occasional Adobe Connect sessions.
How much time should I reserve each week for my class?
Typically, SM students spend an average of 7-10 hours per week per course. Your time may vary depending on such factors as number of credit hours being taken, your reading and typing speeds, and prior knowledge of the subject matter. SM uses a project-based curriculum and sometimes the projects will require more time. You should keep this in mind and maintain a personal calendar to help you meet all of your class responsibilities.
Do classes have specific start and end dates?
Yes, each SM course has a designated start and end date. WKU uses the semester system and classes are approximately 15-weeks long. Fall semester typically starts late in August, and the Spring semester in late January.
How long will my program take to complete?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions. The amount of time you will need to earn your degree depends on several factors, including:
- How far along you are already
- How much college or university credit you can transfer into your SM program
- How many classes you take each semester
Typically, most of the required SM courses may be completed in 2-3 full-time semesters, but this does vary by student.
How will I be graded?
Systems Management courses have a mix of graded and non-graded course work to help you develop and demonstrate each of the course competencies. Your professor evaluates all graded assignments and provides feedback. Your grades on all exams, case studies, assignments, and discussions are accessible at any time on the course website. You will receive a final course grade the week immediately following ‘Finals Week’.
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