New graduate program trains working professionals in identity management, security

Elizabeth Huang

UT has launched a new collaborative master’s degree program with the goal of keeping people safe from identity theft and fraud. 

The Master of Science in Identity Management and Security (MSIMS) program started in January and is designed for working professionals, and 13 students are currently enrolled. Classes for the two-year program meet once a month on weekends, program manager Katie Stephens said.

Information school dean Andrew Dillon said the program is needed and important because of increased reliance on digital transactions to exchange personal information.

“Many businesses and government agencies require a secure means of ensuring that the people they are dealing with are whom they claim to be, and that personal information is appropriately managed in the process of sharing records,” Dillon said in an email. “Identity theft is a rapidly growing crime which all organizations must tackle. Currently, there is no formal education for professionals who can provide solutions to the problems of managing and protecting personal identity information, so this program is designed to serve as appropriate career preparation for information professionals.”

Suzanne Barber, director of the Center for Identity, said students in the program will learn valuable skills to combat identity theft and fraud and protect people’s privacy.

“Students will gain the skills needed to make policy recommendations, risk management assessments and technological decisions about the collection, storage and use of personally identifiable information within corporations and government agencies,” Barber said.

The MSIMS program is also unique because it is a collaboration between the School of Information and the Center for Identity, Barber said. Students learn from experts in technology security, organizational psychology, policy, law, records management and risk and communications. In addition, students do not have to be from the School of Information to participate in the program.

“Professionals from a wide range of undergraduate backgrounds and experience in different market sectors are encouraged to apply,” Barber said.

Associate professor Ken Fleischmann, who teaches “Identity in Society and Communities,” said the students’ experiences enhance the program.

“People bring many different perspectives to the classroom, allowing us to have robust discussions about a very complex and critical topic in society today: identity,” Fleischmann said. 

Barber said the program’s first class is made up of professionals who are strong in their fields.

“I hope that it continues to grow and attract candidates who can be thought leaders and game changers in identity management and security,” Barber said.