MSIS Technical Competencies

Technical areas in which incoming MSIS students should have a baseline familiarity are listed below. You should have the skills and abilities to accomplish the following tasks (if you are not comfortable with these tasks, then you should take INF 6080 Fundamentals of Information Technology). If you are comfortable with the majority (i.e., 80-85%) of these tasks, but have an area you need brush up on or learn more thoroughly, please consider whether you will be able to make time and invest in learning the skills or knowledge while in the program. If this describes you, in your personal essay, please also consider identifying the competency in which you are not quite proficient, and describe how your previous experiences with technology and/or learning new technology skills and concepts will enable you to succeed.

Computing knowledge in a Windows or Mac environment

  • Understand the system configurations of a computer, e.g. its platform, OS, processor, RAM, etc.
  • Know basic computer maintenance
  • Use portable or cloud-based storage devices and transfer files among them
  • Be able to install firewall, anti-virus software to protect security and privacy
  • Install and uninstall software
  • Be able to record videos and take screenshots

File management, backup

  • Know how to create and assign meaningful names to folders on a computer storage media to help organize files
  • Know what a (ASCII) text file is
  • Know the general rule about file names, and know how to interpret file extension names (the combinations of letters that come after the filename, like "docx" and "pdf") and directory locations (where a file is saved in your computer, portable storage, or on a server)
  • Know how to compress and uncompress files: making files smaller--compressing them--so that they take up less storage space on your computer and can be sent to others more easily via email and returning compressed files to their "original" size--uncompressing them.
  • Know how to upload and download files to/from a server computer using secure FTP client program (SFTP: stands for "Secure File Transfer Protocol")

Standard Productivity Software

  • Use word-processing software (like MS Word) to produce a professional document
  • Use spreadsheet software (like MS Excel) to perform automatic calculations, run simple statistics, and produce charts for data presentation
  • Use presentation software (like PowerPoint) to create professional presentations
  • Can collaborate with others in an online environment


  • Use a database management system to open an existing database file/table and make simple changes
  • Use a database management system to create linked tables (e.g., relationships)
  • Use SQL for simple data manipulation (e.g. SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE)


  • Know a (server) computer's address on the Internet so that a user can access it
  • Know the difference between domain name and IP number, and know how to check out a server's domain name from its IP number or vice versa.
  • Know common Internet applications and their corresponding protocol(s), like Web and its protocol HTTP


  • Know what type of file an HTML document is
  • Know the general structure of a webpage as indicated by the use of tags
  • Know how to view the source code of a webpage: the "source code" of a webpage is a list of computer instructions that govern how information is presented on a webpage
  • Know what a URI/URL is
  • Know the meaning of every single component in URL
  • Given a webpage located on a web server, know how to give the user the correct URL to access this webpage
  • Know what a CSS (Cascading Stylesheet) is, and know the relationship between CSS and HTML