Curriculum & Courses

Students Who Enrolled Prior to Fall 2019

Students who enrolled in the program prior to fall 2019 should refer to the pre-fall 2019 course listing.

36 points for degree completion Combination of on-campus and online instruction
Executive Master’s Schedule* 16 months to complete**
Capstone Project Seminar

* International students are responsible for ensuring they have read and understand the University’s student visa application eligibility and requirements. Please note that it is not permissible to enroll while in B-1/B-2 status. Enrollment in this program does not meet the full-time requirements for an F1 student visa.
** Three on-campus multi-day intensive study.

Program Structure

The Master of Science in Information and Knowledge Strategy is an accelerated virtual program framed by three in-person intensive study periods in New York City.

Intensive study on Columbia’s campus in New York City gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in classes and build a supportive network of their global cohort, faculty, alumni, and leading practitioners in the field. Each of the three four-day intensives is anchored by core course requirements, and classes feature frank conversations with thought leaders and practitioners, lectures, group discussions, projects, and professional development opportunities. Activities often include off-site tours and events. Because the intensives connect directly to the program’s other components, full participation is critical for degree completion.

Between each intensive, students participate in scheduled weekly synchronous class meetings delivered on a distance-learning platform that supports and fosters a high level of interaction between and among students and faculty. Electives from the IKNS program are offered online during the summer using the same model and platform. (Electives from other programs may be offered via in-person rather than virtual classes.)

Time Commitment and Expectations

The program is designed for senior working professionals who are eager to apply their learnings to their profession for an immediate impact. The coursework is rigorous and requires a firm commitment to weekly engagement in course meetings and assignments. Our most successful students use good time management practices to balance this part-time program with the demands of their professional and personal lives.

Required courses outside of intensive study meet online one weeknight per course during the fall and spring terms. Elective IKNS courses meet online one weeknight per course during the summer term. For each course, students should allocate a minimum of 10 to 12 hours per week outside of class times during each term for readings, asynchronous online lectures, exercises, and other assignments.

Degree Requirements

Candidates for the master’s degree are expected to complete the degree requirements within 16 months (four consecutive terms, including summer) with an overall grade point average of 3.0 (B) or better. The 36-point program consists of eight core requirements (three points each), two electives (three points each), and a capstone project (six points).

Upon successful completion of the program, students receive a Master of Science diploma bearing the name and seal of Columbia University.

Required Program Sequence

Core Courses

Campus Practicum (“Intensive Study”). 3 points total (1 point per intensive)


Scheduled during the first, eighth, and sixteenth months of the program, intensive study brings students together in New York City for an intensive series of lectures, seminars, workshops, career advisement sessions, and networking events facilitated by Columbia faculty, administrators, and industry professionals. Students are required to attend and actively participate in all practicum events.

Foundations for the Knowledge-Driven Organization. 3 pts.


Knowledge-driven organizations increasingly dominate the economy. What are their attributes? How do they find and leverage mission-critical knowledge? What vision and strategy guides their development? This course tackles these questions to help students understand how to lead their own organizations on the journey to become knowledge-driven.

Knowledge Processes, Practices & Governance. 3 pts.


What are the processes and practices that help us develop, retain, and share knowledge effectively to make our knowledge-driven organization a reality? How do we build smart knowledge stocks and enable knowledge flows? And, what are the information governance guidelines that allow us to do so responsibly? What are the privacy, security, and other legal implications of these knowledge stocks and flows? In this course we explore answers to these questions from the perspective of a leader of a knowledge-driven organization.

Leading Business Analytics for the Enterprise. 3 pts.


How do organizations leverage both their own data and external information to transform their business? Emphasizing the need to continually innovate and understand customers, this course explores the vital role of business analytics and big data. It also addresses the critical skills and capabilities an organization needs for success, including leadership, culture, methods and tools for becoming data driven, while also balancing human judgment. Lectures, readings, cases, and guest speakers consider the impact and challenges of gathering, storing, analyzing and providing access to insights to facilitate effective decision making. Students use a business analytics maturity model to frame and define the right investments to grow their organization’s ability to compete on analytics.

Leading Collaboration. 3 pts.


In a world of increasing complexity, the age of the lone genius is over. Now work happens in teams. Those teams may be globally distributed, involving people with a variety of expertise, work styles, and culture. Research shows that diverse, highly credentialed teams create some collaboration challenges. At a larger scale, organizations are now collaborating with other organizations, government agencies, volunteers groups, and even competitors in shared pursuit of even more ambitious mission and strategy. In this course, we look at the components of healthy collaboration and what it takes to design and lead a healthy collaboration, regardless of its size.

Digital Product Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 3 pts.


Exponential growth of information and data—combined with software that can understand and learn from analytic experience—provides entrepreneurs with tremendous opportunities to bring innovative customer-focused solutions to market. While there are no direct paths to bring a new product idea to market, there are easily identifiable milestones that can guide the way from idea generation to product profitability. This course will explore the process of early stage development of knowledge-driven, data-intensive digital products like Pandora, Netflix, Watson and Trip Advisor. The goal is to create a hands-on entrepreneurial experience at its most elemental and visceral level—ideation, brainstorming, interacting with customers, building a founding team, developing a business model, managing risk, investigating competitors, and pitching the business to potential investors, and creating an interactive mobile app prototype (a design proof of concept for your business idea) through an iterative user-centered design process. Students will be exposed to all the pressures and demands of real world start-ups by participating on teams tasked with creating deliverables required to launch a new business. The user experience skills and methods that are taught in this class are in demand by employers and startups across nearly every industry, and reflect the latest best practices used to create today’s most widely used and award-winning digital products.

Effective Knowledge Strategy and Services. 3 pts.


Drawing on examples from a variety of organizations, this course will focus directly on strategies for building a successful knowledge service or product for organizations or institutions. Topics will include talking to management about products and knowledge services, performing process improvement, building sustainable stakeholder relationships, crafting knowledge services that improve the top and bottom lines, communicating knowledge services, measuring success, building communities of practice, and creating a reflective practitioner environment through the use of stories. Students will get hands-on experience diagnosing and proposing knowledge strategies that help their organization to improve its effectiveness and competitiveness

Digital Workplace and Digital Transformation. 3 pts.


How do organizational leaders invest in digital technologies and capabilities to catalyze digital transformation? Moreover, how do corporations and institutions create an effective portfolio of digital investments that are aligned — continuously over time — with the organization’s mission and strategy? This course provides an introduction to digital transformation, and the modern (digital) “place” of work, such as intranets, search appliances, analytic dashboards, enterprise social media, mixed reality, and content management. Feeding the digital workplace are “sources of record,” including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), HR systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), IoT sensors, and digital marketing. Finally, we look at likely future scenarios for work and how organizations can prepare for digital transformation and beyond.

Capstone Project Seminar. 6 pts.


The IKNS Capstone project is the culmination of the students’ immersion in this executive-level program, and an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the cross-disciplinary curriculum. Working individually and in small teams, students do a consulting project for an organization seeking to improve its decision-making and execution using the core competencies taught in this program. Clients benefit from applied and scholarly research, analysis, and insight from students, who, guided by faculty, bring considerable professional and academic credentials. Students benefit from applying their learning in an environment that is at the same time realistic and supported by IKNS faculty and sponsors, and from getting exposure to a new industry, function, and network of practitioners. Capstone projects showcase IKNS student learning, and can be conducted virtually (outside of New York, and/or in New York with remote students). Industry and nonprofit “sponsors” are curious, motivated, well-networked professionals who can help the students bring to light the insights and vision of their organization. Student projects might include:

  • Improving knowledge-sharing patterns and incentives
  • Designing a business analytics competency for decision-making
  • Improving or introducing knowledge networks or communities
  • Improving or introducing collaboration processes
  • Redefining information architectures, taxonomies and tagging for maximum engagement
  • Expanding the repertoire of tacit knowledge sharing approaches
  • Introducing knowledge-based products as incremental revenue streams
  • Defining a knowledge and information governance model, and expanding the capacity to act
  • Defining a KM vision from the ground up, with roadmap, program, and technology evolution

The Capstone Project Seminar involves introductions to research methods, team-collaboration, consulting basics, and project management. Student work entails secondary research, expert or employee interviews, model development joint design of processes, operations, and technology; analysis and improvements to content or technology, new product or practice planning, and client training and presentations. Students strive for not just lofty strategies, but practical action.

Elective Courses. 6 pts total (3 pts per elective).

Take elective courses offered through the program, or with the approval of the Academic Director, through other School of Professional Studies master’s programs in subjects such as Strategic Communication, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Enterprise Risk Management, and Applied Analytics.

Networks and Collaboration. 3 pts.


How do we effectively use team and network collaboration for impact? Collaboration, through networks, communities, alliances and project teams, is essential to organizational life. While the need for collaboration is widely recognized, we sometimes take the view that "all collaboration is good," without assessing the costs and benefits. This course looks at what it takes to convene effective collaborations across individuals and organizations. Through classroom and online dynamics, students learn how to better facilitate collaborative knowledge-sharing, innovation and change. We also examine techniques and tools for defining, diagnosing, and driving social capital and effective knowledge networks (also called "communities of practice") within and across organizations. Students will learn to measure, diagnose, and improve their organization’s collaboration model and individual networks as a resource for eliciting and spreading insight, human capital development, and problem-solving.

The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.