Department of Information Sciences and Technology and Northern Virginia Community College advancing partnership

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For years the Department of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) has included a large population of community college transfer students. Now, with the NOVA ADVANCE compact that bond will be strengthened and improved.

The ADVANCE partnership between Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and George Mason University (Mason) gives NOVA students targeted, personalized support to complete their bachelor's degrees in a timely manner and save money. In addition to cost savings, the benefits of the program include an aligned curriculum, access to facilities and events, no additional application, co-enrollment, and more.

“Enrollment in IST has always included many transfers from NOVA, we want to help them earn a four-year degree if that is their goal,” says Khondkar Islam, associate chair for undergraduate studies in IST. “The BS in Information Technology is a strong well-established program and we want to build on its success. With the ADVANCE program, transfer students will be better prepared for taking the next step.”

Islam believes that this strong connection and its pathways can help change the perspective of students who might not otherwise consider a four-year degree.

“We are excited to have the Information Technology program under ADVANCE,” says Kammy Sanghera, interim director of Mason’s Institute for Digital Innovation. “The seamless transition from NOVA to GMU not only ensures student success but also creates a stronger talent pipeline in demand-driven IT pathways,” says Sanghera, who also serves in Talent Ready Initiative for Fairfax County/Northern Virginia.

For the last two years, with strong support from IST faculty, Islam and Sanghera have spearheaded the department’s efforts to align the courses and promote the program. Part of the program’s major thrust is its emphasis on increasing diversity and improving success rates for first-generation students.

IST, one of the three core departments of the newly established School of Computing, is one of the largest departments at Mason and the BS in Information Technology is one of the most popular majors. Last year the major enrolled 1,760 students and awarded more than 300 bachelor’s degrees.

The programs in IST embrace many features of the information technology landscape. Students with the degree can prepare for jobs in assorted areas including cybersecurity, cloud computing, database technology and programming, web application development, networking, and more. With the ever-growing need for more and more technology professionals, the programs are poised to meet the challenges.