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Enterprise architecture is getting greater recognition in the academic realm, which clearly is a testament to its growing importance to the enterprise.

This fall, Kent State University kicked off a new master’s degree program for enterprise architecture (EA) — a program the university says is the first in the nation. The EA program is one of five concentrations in the university’s new Master of Digital Sciences degree; the university has already been offering EA courses as part of an undergraduate program as part of its School of Digital Sciences.

 

 

“Enterprise architecture is becoming increasingly important to both the IT and business side of an organization, but is not yet a common area of study in academic programs. Our Master of Digital Science degree was designed as a professional master's program to complement an undergraduate degree by adding depth in one or two additional areas — essentially a technical alternative to an MBA,” says Robert Walker, Director of the School of Digital Sciences at Kent State. “For a graduate in an IT area such as computer science or computer information systems, adding expertise in enterprise architecture is a great way to open the door to new career options.”

 

 

A gift from the Enterprise Architecture Center of Excellence (EACOE) to Kent State University’s new School of Digital Sciences is funding the courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The EACOE is a practitioner-based association for the EA profession and is focused on establishing professional standards, conducting research, providing information, and promoting professional and career development. The association offers practice-based certification, professional networking and knowledge-development opportunities. The EACOE is donating to Kent State a five-year license to use its courseware in the School of Digital Sciences’ curriculum, a gift valued at $3.2 million.


Kent State’s new master’s program is designed for working professionals or new graduates who have a degree in a related area, and who want to round out their technical knowledge with topics outside of their degree area. The master’s program launched in August, and 15 students are currently enrolled.


Denise Bedford, who is currently the Goodyear Professor of Knowledge Management at the College of Communication and Information at Kent State and also a certified enterprise architect, says that while there are a number of good training programs available to professionals, most are just five-day courses. “If a company wants to have people who are really well-trained and thoroughly trained in enterprise architecture, it takes more than five days.” Bedford serves as a faculty member in the School of Digital Sciences. (In our feature, Agile Business Begins with a Formal EA Program, Bedford and other experts will discuss how businesses can support technology, organizational and business goals by formalizing internal enterprise architecture efforts.)


The EA concentration at the graduate level consists of five courses, including an introduction to EA. A course description for that reads:

 

Facilitates the alignment of IT and IS (information systems) investment decisions with business goals. Enterprise architecture is increasingly used in industry as a result of the continued emergence of new technologies and ongoing pressures to re-engineer business processes to achieve improved efficiency and greater customer focus. Enterprise architecture identifies the main components of an organization and the ways in which these components work together. The components include performance and strategy, people, business capabilities, applications, technology, knowledge and information, as well as financial and other resources. 


The university also will offer courses on business architecture, management of Enterprise Architecture, data architecture and application architecture. To earn a Master of Digital Sciences degree with a concentration in EA, students must successfully complete 32 credit hours of graduate courses. In addition, Kent State’s graduate EA program is being delivered online.

 



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