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Western Kentucky University


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WKU-O Undergraduate Programs


Systems Management (SM) is the professional major for career-focused students. Modern organizations are growing more complex and need people who have a "Systems Perspective". This is the ability to understand the big picture, adapt to change, and manage accordingly. The SM major is designed to prepare graduates with the knowledge, skills, and values to effectively apply managerial principles and tools in diverse organizational settings.

The SM program emphasizes professional skills including: problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and computer fluency suitable for a 21st-century worker. In addition, SM majors select an area of Professional Concentration to provide them with additional training in a related area of interest. Students take elective concentration courses in addition to their Systems Management classes. All of this helps make the SM graduate highly competitive for a wide variety of positions.


• Administrative Services

• Airline Travel Management

• Armed Forces (Commissioned and Civilian)

• Arts, Entertainment, Media Management

• Automotive/Motor Vehicle Sales

• Automotive/Motor Vehicle Service Management

• Banking

• Building and Grounds Management

• Claims Adjustment/Appraisal*

• Computer/Information Systems Management

• Computer Support Specialist

• Construction Planning/Management

• Consulting

• Customer Support Management

• Technical Writing

• Employment/Recruiting Management

• Energy/Utility Management

• Food Services/Hospitality Management

• Healthcare: Business Office Management

• Healthcare: Medical Records, Informatics

• Healthcare: Support Services/Operations

• Hotel/Restaurant Management

• Human Resources

• Insurance*

• Industrial Production/Supervision

• Law Enforcement/Corrections

• Logistics/Transportation Management

• Meeting/Convention Planning

• Non-Profit Organization Management

• Personal/Home Health Care*

• Production/Operations Management

• Property/Community Association Mgmt.

• Purchasing Management

• Quality Assurance/Safety Mgmt

• Real Estate/Mortgage*

• Retail/Wholesale Management

• Sales: Account Management

• Sales: Industrial/Technical/Professional

• Security/Protective Services Management

• Sports/Recreation/Fitness Management

• Training/Instructional Development

• Tourism Management

• Warehousing/Shipping Management

• Waste Management

...and many more

*These fields may require specific coursework

Areas of Concentration:

Administrative Systems

In this program, you will learn to manage data systems and related facilities for processing and retrieving internal business information; select systems and train personnel; and respond to external data requests. You will learn how to plan and manage information resources and knowledge in organizations, government agencies, and corporations. You will study various information systems, such as those used for personnel, finance, and business data, systems planning and integration, data storage and security, and business systems networking. You will also learn about report preparation, computer facilities and equipment operation and maintenance, operator supervision and training, and management information systems policy and planning.

Characteristics associated with success in this major include a strong interest in computers, computer programming, and computer software systems. You should:

• have excellent computer skills

• be creative and enjoy using logic to solve problems

• be a good communicator, both orally and in writing

• like working with a group and understand how people think and behave An internship or summer work in this field may increase your chances of finding a job after graduation.

You will need to take further training throughout your career, especially to prepare for promotion into management positions.


Criminology Systems

In this program, you will learn about crime as an aspect of society. You will study the psychological and social forces, which cause people to commit criminal acts. You will also look at the criminal justice system in the United States and its treatment of criminals. You may begin your studies by taking a general course in sociology in order to better understand the influence of culture and society upon behavior. You will also take psychology to develop a foundation of knowledge about individual and group behavior. Later your studies will focus more specifically on topics related to criminology such as criminal law, social value systems and the theory of punishment, and social attitudes and policy.

Characteristics associated with success in this major include a strong interest in our culture and society, and an understanding that behaviors and attitudes are related to time and social groups. You should:

• have the desire to help people with problems

• be able to work well with others

• have good verbal and written communication skills

• be a strong decision maker

• be curious and analytical

• be able to manage stress effectively

An internship or summer work may increase your chances of finding a job in this field. Further training may be required throughout your career.


Digital Media Systems

In this program, you will focus on the design, development, marketing, and regulation of digital media. You will learn the basics of computer programming, graphic design, and audio and video production. You will also learn animation, and how to build websites, and how to create DVDs. You will study multimedia as a business, including communication regulations and laws, and how to market and distribute media. You will learn how people use and interact with media to send out messages, sell products, and entertain. To do this, you will learn to manipulate graphics, use sound, and design and market materials using the latest communications technology.

Characteristics associated with success in this major include an interest in designing, developing, and marketing, using images to convey a message, and persuading others to your views. You should be:

• skilled in computer technology

• a creative and independent thinker

• a good decision maker

• able to communicate clearly with others

• good at planning and organization

• able to work to deadlines


Fire/Rescue Administration

In this program, you will learn how to perform firefighting and related activities. You will study fire prevention and control and develop the skills to reduce the risk of fire in all types of environments. You will receive instruction in the operation of firefighting equipment and methods of controlling and extinguishing all types of fires. You will study fire rescue techniques and methods of handling various kinds of combustible and hazardous materials. You will also study regulations, which govern fire protection, and public relations techniques used to advise people about safety procedures and fire prevention policy.

Characteristics associated with success in this major include an interest in safeguarding the lives of others and the ability to observe situations keenly in order to react quickly to dangerous situations. You should:

• have confidence in yourself and know that you will be able to maintain an objective frame of mind, even in the face of tragedy

• be physically fit, very agile, and have good manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination

Because teamwork is very important in this field, you should be able to

• work well with others

• follow the directions of others or give directions in a clear, understandable manner


Government Systems

In this program, you will develop the knowledge and skills useful in government and community service positions. You will take courses which describe the theories, principles, and practice of providing services to a community. You will also learn how to organize government organizations and communities for social action, develop networks among government and community agencies, and use resources to furnish information, instruction, and assistance to community members.

Characteristics associated with success in this major include a strong desire to improve the lives of others. You should be:

• able to listen to and understand people of different backgrounds and personalities

• a strong, effective communicator, both orally and in writing

• analytical, logical, and creative in solving problems


Geographic Information Systems

In this program, you will learn about the interrelationship of people, natural resources, and plant and animal life. You will study how individuals are affected by and adapt to changes with their environment; identify the existence of natural resources and their impact on cultural and economic growth; and examine how people are distributed across the earth and the ways in which population movements can define historical, economic, and cultural development. You will also study mapmaking and the application of mathematical and computer techniques to the science of mapping geographic information. You will study cultural geography, cartographic methods, computer-assisted cartography, remote sensing, and applications to specific industrial, commercial, research and governmental mapping problems.

Characteristics associated with success in this field include interest in solving problems and studying the relationship of people with their surroundings. You should:

• have good computer skills

• be able to collect and analyze data

• enjoy working in a team setting as well as alone

Field study and internships may increase your chances of finding a job in this field. Further study may be necessary to advance your career opportunities.


Healthcare Systems

In this program, you will learn how to develop, plan, and manage health care operations and services within health care facilities and across health care systems. You will study planning, business and financial management, public relations, human resources management, and health care systems operation and management. You will also learn about health care resource allocation and policymaking, health law and regulations, and applications to specific types of health care services.

Characteristics associated with success in this major include an interest in helping others and working with people. You should:

• be capable of taking charge and solving problems in a creative, logical way

• enjoy working with computers to collect, analyze, and interpret data

• be able to communicate well, both orally and in writing


Law Enforcement Administration

This program prepares individuals to apply theories and practices of criminal justice to organizing, managing, and directing law enforcement agencies; including police departments, sheriff's departments, and private protective services. You will receive instruction in sociology, business, statistics, criminal justice policy, and criminology. You will also learn about crime prevention, law enforcement, the criminal court system, and management theory.

Characteristics associated with success in this major include a strong desire to help people with problems and to enforce the law. You should:

• have the ability to work well with others

• have good verbal and written communication skills

• be a strong and careful decision maker

• be curious

• have good stress management skills

An internship may increase your chances of finding a job in this field. Further training may be required throughout your career.


Human Resource Development

In this program, you will learn to apply training, organizational development, and career planning and counseling skills to the design, management, and evaluation of programs to improve individual productivity and job satisfaction, and organizational effectiveness. This includes instruction in psychology, organizational behavior, principles of adult education, occupational counseling, and skill testing and evaluation. You will also learn program design, consulting practice, organizational development, and applications to issues such as training, management development, customer service, and total quality management.

Characteristics associated with success in this major include an interest in improving the quality of employee life within the workplace and working with people and numbers. You should be:

• a leader who can also work well as a part of a team

• a logical thinker who pays close attention to detail

• able to understand statistical concepts and data

• able to communicate well, both orally and in writing

An internship may increase your chances of finding a job in this field. Further training may be required throughout your career, especially as preparation for promotion to upper management positions.


Industrial/Manufacturing Systems

This program prepares individuals to apply basic engineering principles and advanced manufacturing technical skills in support of industrial operations. The major includes instruction in optimization theory, human factors, organizational behavior, industrial processes, industrial planning procedures, computer applications, quality, and technical document preparation. Graduates achieve positions of leadership in business and industry while practicing innovation in the global marketplace.



Designed to provide you with an understanding of leadership roles and responsibilities at various levels within different types of organizations.

Whether running your own business or working with large groups in a multinational company, you can use these principles to help you understand how your organization can function most effectively.

Careers in Leadership Studies can include, but are not limited to: event planning, managing various businesses and organizations, and recreational leadership; or students will have the interdisciplinary background to pursue other professional graduate degrees.


Military Systems

This program prepares individuals to undertake advanced and specialized leadership and technical responsibilities for the armed services and related national security organizations. This major includes a description of the Military Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC), although ROTC programs alone are not designated college majors. ROTC programs are offered in conjunction with a major in a non-military subject, such as engineering or political science. A very small number of schools, primarily U.S. military academies, offer a degree in military technology. You will learn about weapons systems and technology, communications, intelligence, management, logistics, and strategy. You will learn about the history and science of warfare and study and practice the psychology and strategies of leadership, as well as learn how to operate various weapons. It is important to understand the global picture as it relates to military science. You will therefore also study world history and political science. As a part of your major, you will participate in military training and tactics. Military Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs are regulated by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Army, Navy/Marine Corps, and Air Force. The ROTC program focuses on the theory and practice of military science and life in the U.S. armed forces, and prepares postsecondary students for entry into the armed services as commissioned reserve or active duty officers. ROTC is designed to help college students finance their education and prepare for careers in the Army, Air Force, or Navy/Marine Corps. Students receive a scholarship for tuition, and money for books and fees. They may select your own major in college. In return, students agree to serve on active duty for at least four years after graduation. They enter the Navy or Marine Corps as a second lieutenant. Students are required to participate in drill instruction, summer training, and other service-related activities.


Occupational Safety and Health

In this program, you will learn mathematics and science principles and develop technical skills to assist engineers and other professionals who work in quality control and safety. This includes monitoring job-related health and safety standards, enforcing hazardous materials management and removal, and maintaining product quality and construction standards. Some programs develop the skills necessary by studying the workplace and creating systems and procedures, which will ensure that workers are functioning in a safe and healthy environment. Other programs teach students how to analyze production specifications and develop procedures to ensure that products conform to design specifications and have no defects. This program includes instruction in safety engineering principles, inspection and monitoring procedures, quality control systems, industrial safety, and environmental health and human behavior.

Characteristics associated with success in this major include a strong sense of curiosity and an interest in learning how things are made. You should:

have ability in math and science

• have good written and oral communication skills

• be a logical thinker and able to solve problems

Many colleges offer internship programs which provide students with the opportunity to work for a company while they are attending classes. In this way, students gain valuable on-the-job experience while they are receiving academic training. Further training may be required, especially for advancement in your career.


Technical Sales

In this program, you will focus on preparation for professional careers in merchandising and marketing operations, such as auctioneering, vehicle marketing operations, financial services marketing, hospitality and leisure marketing, and special products sales. You will study such topics as public speaking, salesmanship skills, marketing of automotive, marine, and aviation supplies, marketing research, promotional campaign organization, and hospitality operations. You will learn how to plan, promote, and distribute goods and services. You will learn about all the important aspects of a sales and distribution operation which is related to products which have not been described elsewhere in this system.

Characteristics associated with success in this program include an interest in business and in seeing that goods and services are delivered to the general public in a stimulating, yet efficient way. You should:

• be creative and persuasive

• be able to work successfully with others

• possess and use good decision-making strategies

• think logically and be able to solve problems

• be self-confident, energetic, and ambitious

You may require further training throughout your career.


Technical Writing

In this program, you will focus on the theory, methods, and skills needed for writing and editing scientific, technical and business papers and monographs. You will learn how to write for specific markets and industries. Technical writing uses the sentence structure and organization of classical English writing, combined with the terminology and jargon of the business and scientific worlds. Technical & Business Writing bridges the gap between literature and business.

Characteristics associated with success in this field include a strong interest in the uses of the English language in technical and business writing. You should have an analytical mind and good organizational skills.


Technical Training

In this program, you will learn how to teach technology education/industrial arts programs at various educational levels, including computer education. The program begins with courses specific to the subject matter. In upper level courses, the focus shifts to lesson planning, instructional techniques for communicating the subject matter, assessment and evaluation techniques, and supervision and discipline strategies. The final phase of the program is an on-site student teaching practicum. You will first observe an experienced teacher work with students at your selected educational level. You will work with the supervising teacher to plan your lessons, and then you will teach those lessons to the students. The supervising teacher provides ongoing advice, support, and evaluation of your performance at this time.

Characteristics associated with success in this major include interest in helping others. You should:

• have good health and physical stamina

• be able to work well with others

• have good organizational skills

• be motivated to help others succeed

• have excellent communication skills

• be a leader

Individuals wishing to teach will need state certification, which requires one semester of successful student teaching at the desired educational level. Generally teachers must continue their education beyond the bachelor's degree in order to keep their certification.



  WKU COURSES                                                                                              

 SM 300 Systems Management & Practice

 SM 346 Business Resource Development

 SM 347 Intro to Business Telecommunications

 SM 348 Business Systems Architecture

 SM 443 Business Intelligence

 SM 444 Information Systems Management

 SM 446 Security, Risk and Threat Management

 SM 447 Electronic Commerce

 24 hours of SM concentration courses – can be obtained from KCTCS 


Because of transferring credits and WKU-O course offerings, the length of time to finish this program differs for each student. It is important to meet with a WKU-O advisor as soon as possible. Bring an unofficial copy of transcripts from all previously attended colleges and/or universities. It is also important to determine your availability to take courses: part-time, full-time, summer term.

WKU-O Academic Requirements:

  • 120 college-level undergraduate semester hours including the following:

- 44 semester hours of General Education

- 30 hours must be earned in residence (at WKU), at least 16 of which must be completed after the semester in which the student earned a cumulative total of at least 90 hours.

  • Students must earn a minimum of 54 semester hours with WKU to graduate with honors.
  • Students must apply for graduation upon the completion of 90 semester hours.
  • Students are to meet with an advisor each semester.


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 Last Modified 9/24/14