Master of Science in Networking and System Administration for Microsoft® Certified Systems Engineers

This is a distance-learning programme that allows holders of the MCSE qualification to proceed directly to earn a master’s degree without having to hold a bachelor’s degree. The EAU-earned component consists of a portfolio of existing professional practice and a supervised practicum. Candidates must have five years of network experience.

Program rationale
EAU’s M.Sc. for MCSEs is a highly innovative and unique programme in higher education worldwide.

The M.Sc. for MCSEs is designed for experienced network professionals who have both verifiable experiential learning and have completed the MCSE qualification. In 2002, Australia’s Charles Sturt University became the first institution to announce the introduction of a Master of Science for MCSE holders, according the MCSE half the required credit for a master’s degree and thus eliminating the requirement that such individuals hold a formal bachelor’s degree. In 2007, EAU became the first university to develop such a programme via the medium of non-traditional distance learning, creating a programme totally tailored to the individual and their workplace environment.

It is anticipated that a wide range of network professionals will be interested in a programme which is directly tailored to their workplace competencies and that meshes directly with their professional lives, at reasonable cost. Such a programme offers an excellent opportunity for employers to upskill their workforce and recognize the learning and achievement that often occur informally within a networking setting.

Entry requirements 
Candidates must have completed:

  • the full Microsoft® Certified Systems Engineer programme leading to final certification

In addition, they must hold a full-time or part-time position in systems administration and/or networking  for at least the duration of the practicum component of the programme, and should have at least five years (or part-time equivalent) of experience in a similar setting to draw upon. This programme is not suitable for those who do not have such experience or who are not currently employed in such a position. The employer will need to provide a senior member of staff to act as on-site mentor for the practicum component, which may incur additional fees payable from the student to the employer or member of staff for this supervision. For the purposes of the program, “senior member of staff” is defined as a serving employee who is employed in the capacity of Network Administrator, Head of Department or a more senior position, or who has ten years of uninterrupted experience in systems and networking or part-time equivalent.

How the programme works 
The student will be assigned a Mentor by EAU.

Part 1 – Portfolio of existing professional practice 
The student will be required to prepare a portfolio of existing professional practice comprising a detailed survey of experience in systems/networking and computing issues arising from it. The portfolio should be fully annotated to focus on skills developed and learning experiences encountered, with an emphasis on professional development as a network professional within the practical environment. It will be expected that colleagues/line managers/mentors will also contribute to the portfolio through supporting affidavits. The portfolio should function as a reflective element of the programme in which the student’s professional history is encapsulated. The portfolio is assessed by the University.

More guidance to preparing an APEL portfolio is given here.

Candidates who complete part 1 successfully will qualify for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma in Networking and System Administration.

Part 2 – Supervised practicum 
Working under the supervision of a workplace-based mentor, the student will complete a practicum of not less than six months, in which their professional practice will be assessed in a reflective setting. Essentially, this aspect of the programme concerns the assimilation of a second portfolio, but with the difference that this portfolio is concerned with a specific period of assessment. The student should set out the aims of the practicum at the outset, focusing particularly on practical projects and likely challenges, and explain in detail the nature and aims of the work they are to undertake. These aims should in turn form the basis of discussion with the mentor and the agreement of what amounts to a learning contract in an employment setting. Outcomes should where possible consider the overall contexts of the network environment within a holistic IT strategy for the organization. Where an outcome is not achieved, it may still provide a valuable learning experience. The focus of the practicum is on a holistic assessment of the systems/network engineer as a functioning professional, and it may quite properly include any relevant projects undertaken outside the formal workplace itself.

The practicum is assessed by the workplace-based Mentor and ratified by the University.

Candidates who complete parts 1 and 2 successfully will qualify for the award of the M.S. in Networking and System Administration.