Project Guidelines


The MSIS project is a scholarly, integrative experience that serves as a:

  • Capstone/practicum activity; to pull together the skills acquired through course work.
  • Meaningful piece of work; to demonstrate the students' skills for placement and recruitment purposes.
  • Means to introduce the students to formal research methods such as design science research (depending on the interest of the student and the supervising faculty).

MSIS projects are conducted by the students under faculty supervision. It is a two semester process with specific deliverables and timelines.

You should use the following sequence of activities when undertaking your project.

Preliminary Stages

  • Preliminary work should be undertaken prior to registering for the planning course.
  • Discuss your preliminary ideas with the faculty member with recognized expertise in your selected area of work (your specialization).
  • Invite a faculty member to become your project supervisor.
  • Complete the Project Idea Approval Form, including a brief (maximum 1 page) description of your idea and a preliminary timeline, submit this to your supervisor, and obtain approval of the idea (Approval is indicated by his/her signature on the Project Idea Approval Form).
  • Obtain approval from the MSIS Program Coordinator and have him sign the form.
  • Important: You will not be able to register for INFS 788: Planning without these approvals.
  • With your supervisor's help, select your project committee. A committee includes your project supervisor and a minimum of two other individuals, one of whom must be another MSIS faculty member. You may also select faculty members outside of the MSIS program and external reviewers when appropriate.

Types of MSIS projects

In general, there are two types of projects as follows:

  • System development project. In this project students must plan, design and implement a real-world information systems project synthesizing the skills and knowledge learned throughout the program. Students are expected to apply the theoretical concepts learned in their coursework to an actual computer systems problem.
  • Research project, which can be further divided into:
    • Design science research which shares several characteristics with system development with respect to the need for planning, designing and implementing an IT artifact.
    • Social science research which typically (though not necessarily) involve formulating a research hypothesis, developing a survey instrument, conducting a survey, statistically analyzing the survey results and discussing and drawing conclusions based on your findings.

The process

The process can be divided into three stages as shown in Figure 1: a preliminary stage in which you formulate your project idea, a planning stage in which you further define the scope of your project and develop a plan for your project, and an implementation stage in which you execute your project. The following sub-sections provide a detailed description of each of the stages.

msis project guidelines

Stage 1: Project idea

Before beginning your project and prior to registering for the first project course INFS 788: Planning, you must have your idea approved by your project supervisor and the MSIS Program Coordinator. Your program advisor is not automatically your project supervisor. Your project supervisor should be a faculty member with expertise in your selected area of work.
Your project idea is your responsibility. It is a requirement for graduation. Most ideas have come from coursework and class or team discussion as well as from your workplace. If after completing most of your coursework and interacting with faculty, you do not have a viable idea for a project, widen your horizons. Review the bound reports in the library. Do a literature search in your area of interest (what is making news). Discuss IT needs or problems with other units on campus with which you have worked (who has a problem or need that you can address).
Are there any not for profit groups with which you work that may have a problem or need that can be solved? Talk with faculty about research areas. Keep looking and talking.
Once you have an idea (or a set of ideas), you can proceed with the process as follows:

  • Discuss your preliminary ideas with the faculty member(s) with recognized expertise in that specialization.
  • Ask a faculty member to act as your project supervisor.
  • Complete the Project Idea Approval Form. This must include a brief (maximum 1 page) description of your idea and a preliminary timeline. Submit this form to your supervisor, and obtain approval of the idea. (Approval is indicated by his/her signature on the Project Idea Approval Form).
  • Obtain approval from the MSIS Coordinator and have him sign the Idea Approval form.
  • With your supervisor's help, select your project committee. A committee includes your supervisor and a minimum of two other individuals, one of whom must be another MSIS faculty member. You may also select a faculty member outside the MSIS Program, DSU Administrators, and/or external reviewers when appropriate.

Please note the following:

  • You will not be permitted to register for INFS 788: Planning without these two approvals.

Stage 2: Project planning

Register for INFS 788: Project Planning. Design your project and prepare the written plan. The Project Plan is the resulting product of the planning stage. It describes what you are going to do, what your project is all about. It includes information on the problem you have identified, research (a literature search) you have undertaken about this problem and how it is being approached by others. It describes how you plan to solve the problem, i.e., your approach or plan of action. It also includes a description of the anticipated deliverables, e.g., program, database. The plan is a detailed document that includes the following sections and information:

  • Introduction
    • This should be a very brief overview of what you are proposing to do in this project and why you are doing it.
    • Statement of problem or question.
    • This answers WHY?
    • What problem have you identified and are addressing in this project?
    • Include a review of the current situation (or literature review) to answer what is going on in this area or discipline now.
  • Objectives (Goals, purpose)
    • This answers WHAT?
    • What do you plan to achieve?
    • What is the desired outcome of this project?
    • This describes what you are going to do. The next section describes how you will do it.
  • Scope of the Project (Scope of work, Plan of action, Activities)
    • This answers HOW?
    • Describe how you plan to achieve the objectives; discuss the activities you have identified that will help reach your desired result. These are the specific activities you will undertake to solve the problem or meet your objectives. Include here the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and Gantt Chart.
    • Here you describe how your project or idea will differ or improve on what is being done and how you intend to accomplish this.
  • Deliverables
    • Describe what you will actually have once you have completed your project. For example, this could be a database, a website, a program, etc. Be specific.

Stage 3: Project implementation

Important: You will not be able to register for INFS 788: Implementation without signature approval of your Proposal Plan Approval Form.
Register for INFS 788 Information Systems Project - Implementation (2 credit hours)

In this semester, you will put your plan to work. The end product will be your proposed deliverable and a formal written project report. During the semester, you are expected to keep in contact (in person or electronically) with your supervisor to enable him to monitor progress on the project and provide feedback before the final presentation. You should keep your committee informed of significant milestones or program modifications.

Once you have completed your project, developed your deliverables and reached your conclusions, you must prepare a written report. It has to be submitted to your committee before a date for presentation can be set. Your committee should have your almost final version at least three weeks prior to the beginning of finals week (two weeks before your desired presentation date).
If you cannot complete the revisions in the semester in which you are registered for the implementation phase, you must register again for 788: Project Continuation for one credit hour. You will register for this course each succeeding semester until your project has been approved. You cannot graduate without project approval.

The deliverables

The final deliverables for the project are:

  • Project results. Project results vary depending on the type of the project. For a system development project or a design science research project, project results include the planning, design, implementation, and evaluation of an IT artifact, e.g., a working information system or a prototype demonstrating the skills and knowledge learned in your coursework. For a research project, project results include developing a research methodology, collecting the data, analyzing the data and drawing conclusions.
  • Detailed structured written report describing that project and deliverables. While the plan described what you were going to do, the report tells what you actually did. You will build upon the written plan.
    • Please refer to the project template and the project format, style and preparation guidelines for more information. Copies of the approved report will have to be submitted to the Mundt Library for binding and archiving.
    • Submit the written report at least two weeks prior to the date on which you wish to make your formal presentation (at least three weeks prior to finals week). You will not be given a presentation date until the written report is acceptable by your committee.


You are expected to make a formal presentation on your project at its completion. After your committee has approved the report, your supervisor will facilitate the presentation, reserving an appropriate location and equipment. Most on-campus presentations will be scheduled in the DDN studio so that they can be taped and video–streamed.
Distance students will have to make arrangements for some form of live videoconference. Students and faculty will be invited to all presentations. You are not required to divulge proprietary information

If the project presentation contains proprietary information, and you intend to require your committee and any audience present to sign a non-disclosure agreement, you must inform the committee in advance so they can determine the best course of action. Please view a sample presentation recorded in Windows Media.

You can view other samples below.


Your committee will meet with you after your presentation to inform you of any changes or edits that should be made. After you have made all changes required by your committee, prepare your final written report in accordance the project template. Follow the report format, preparation guidelines, binding and archiving guidelines, and submit it to your committee for formal approval.
The Project Approval Form must be signed by you, your committee, and the MSIS coordinator. Your project supervisor will also check your report to see that the format meets requirements for archiving.

  • You will not be certified for graduation until your project has been formally approved.
  • You are responsible for delivering the original approval form to the graduate office.
  • Deliver the appropriate number of copies to the library for binding and archiving.

Printing and archiving project

Please see the How to Print and Bind MSIS Project page. You also must complete the Binding Request Form at Karl Mundt Library before having your project printed.


Your project will be evaluated on several factors, including how well the project actually integrates what student's are expected to have learned in their other core courses, how well the completed project meets the objectives identified for the project, and how well it meets the course objectives. If the project is implemented, evaluation will include how successful the project is in solving the identified problem or meeting the identified need.

Last Updated: 4/28/14