Growing Importance of IT Architecture Discipline in Digital Transformation Leads to a Proliferation of Programs Among Colleges and Universities in North America

Technology architecture continues to evolve much like the software and technologies it is designed to manage. And technologists are quick to note what that could mean in the future. 

They agree that the pressure is on for enterprise and solution architects to produce results faster and more cheaply. Meanwhile, the use of multiple clouds and AI is making the role more challenging, especially for established companies operating legacy systems. The result is a shift in focus from conceptualization and planning to faster delivery and a more pragmatic approach. 

Some technologists suggest there’s now a greater demand for solutions architects than the more comprehensive approach taken by enterprise architects. Others suggest that the term “Enterprise Architecture” (EA) may be falling out of fashion. Instead, it’s now referred to as organizational design, business design, enterprise design or digital design.   

Amal Alhosban, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, Flint, said chief information officers are doing more than ever. They’re now charged with understanding the business and technology architecture. They also establish information governance structures and credibility while investing in IT. 

“All of these roles take more skills than ever,” she said. “Leadership roles are much broader today than before. The main reason is integrating the company’s departments under [enterprise resource planning].”  

The Rise of Solutions Architecture 

The demand for solutions architecture has outpaced EA and grown to become one of the more popular approaches employed by engineers compared with EA.  

Unlike the broader, more holistic view of enterprise architects, solution architects target specific business problems. The resulting connection to both workflow and data flow issues have contributed to their rising popularity, according to Scott Alexander Bernard, a veteran enterprise architect and adjunct instructor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Software Research. 

“People don’t see the money in enterprise architecture right now, but they do get something from solutions architecture,” he said. “People want tangible victories and my [enterprise architecture] stuff takes time.” 

Enterprise architects ensure that the new projects don’t jeopardize the integrity of overall architecture, said enterprise architect Jason Uppal, owner of the Toronto, Ontario-based WhiteSparrow firm. 

As a result, the demand for enterprise architecture experience coupled with hands-on cloud native technology skills has risen sharply. The situation is far from static, something Paul Preiss, the founder of IASA Global, elaborated on. 

“There has existed, for some time now, both a massive demand and wedge between enterprise and solution architects. The overall need for digital advantage must have methods by which both mid-term, solution level, benefits can be gained and longer term, enterprise level, fitness can be managed in a rapidly changing ecosystem,” said Preiss. 

The specializations and roles of architects are becoming more essential to corporate delivery but also to health and human safety, privacy and legal issues. Thus, it is necessary for architects to be educated and developed through standardized competencies, which are shared by practitioners.  

This is true of all professions, and technologists can no longer avoid it. As long as architects retain their technology and business competencies to the degree necessary, they will remain in great demand for decades to come.” 

Twenty Colleges and Universities Offering IT Education that You Need to Know About 

The industry’s needs and expectation have caused many colleges and universities to reconfigure the IT education programs they offer. For that reason, we took a snapshot at what is being offered, listing below 20 institutions in alphabetical order that one should know about. 

(Editor’s Note: An extended international list will follow. Let us know if your college is offering Architecture courses.) 

1. Boston University

The Massachusetts university’s Metropolitan College offers an enterprise architecture course as part of its Computer Science program. It’s designed to build upon the strong technical foundation of BU’s MSCIS and MSCS curricula by providing students with the CIO-level management perspective and skills. The course covers both the migration of legacy enterprise systems and new enterprise architecture development, vendor selection and management, cybersecurity in the enterprise, and complex system integration. Click here for more information

2. Carnegie Mellon University

The Institute for Software Research, Executive and Professional Education, offers training courses in the concepts of EA, including major frameworks, program establishment, implementation methods, documentation products, and maturity measurement. The courses review the history and major approaches to EA. The series includes hands-on assignments designed to produce a Web-based EA repository and to populate it with common documentation products and artifacts. Also, students explore ways to link EA repository information for analysis and decision-making. The objective is to integrate strategic, business, and technology planning to achieve the organization’s goals. Click here for more information.

 3. FEAC Institute

The virtual university, which is headquartered in Colorado, provides self-paced online courses as part of an enterprise architecture certification program. The program is designed to give students exposure to the Enterprise Ontology and a range of framework and methodology choices with specialization in the Department of Defense Architecture Framework and the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework.  Click here for more information.

4. The Feld Group Institute

The Dallas-based institute provides an Operationalizing Enterprise Architecture course for enterprise architects, leaders of enterprise architecture, portfolio/domain architects and business architects. The program focuses on enterprise architecture required for business agility. It begins with a discussion on why architecture matters, including the history of architecture and the evolution of patterns. Participants will learn about the importance of all three transformation outcomes: business, architecture, and productivity. Real-world case studies are used to highlight key principles. The course wraps up with the importance of leadership to drive change within the organization. Click here for more information.

 5. Florida Tech

The Florida university provides a graduate certificate to students who complete the four-course sequence. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, physical sciences, computing or mathematics from an ABET-accredited university. Applicants with degrees in other fields will be considered on a case-by-case basis and be able to move into the Florida Tech master’s degree program in systems engineering, if desired. Click here for more information.

6. Fordham University

The New York university’s Gabelli School of Business provides an Enterprise Architecture track as part of its information systems program. The EA track is designed to prepare students to design and build systems — and to implement them, manage them and leverage them. Students who complete the program will understand how to create new business processes. Coursework will equip them to handle enterprise-wide integration, enable information sharing, devise novel services and create innovative business models. This track also includes course options about information technology applications within a specific industry, such as health care. Click here for more information.

7.Kent State University

Ohio-based Kent State offers an EA graduate certificate as part of its School of Digital Sciences. The EA program focuses on the business processes and technology infrastructure needed by an organization and the design of software systems that are aligned with the processes and infrastructure to support the goals of the business. It’s designed to prepare students for careers such as solution architect and application or technology architect. Click here for more information.

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The university’s Sloan Executive Education division offers an online course that covers enterprise architecture without using the name. The title of the six-week program says it all: Organizational Design for Digital Transformation. It takes a deep dive into the foundational dimensions of digital transformation. The key dimensions enable organizations to leverage technology. The program also explores how business leaders can influence organizational mindset to change deeply held, traditional practices. Click here for more information.

9. National Defense University

The Washington D.C.-based university’s College of Information and Cyberspace offers a four-course architect certificate and an eight-course enterprise architect certificate. Click here for more information.

10. National University

The La Jolla, Calif., university offers an enterprise architecture course as part of its College of Professional Studies’ computer science program. It explores the design, selection, implementation and management of enterprise IT solutions. The focus is on applications and infrastructure and their fit with the business. Students learn frameworks and strategies for infrastructure management, system administration, data/information architecture, content management, distributed computing, middleware, legacy system integration, system consolidation, software selection, total cost of ownership calculation, IT investment analysis, and emerging technologies. Click here for more information.

 11. Northeastern University

The Boston-based university offers an Enterprise Architecture Planning and Management course as part of its Information Systems Program. Defines IT strategies for implementing business-driven and company-wide technology-based modernization programs. The course also offers students an opportunity to learn how to construct enterprise architectures and use them as road maps to budget scarce capital investment resources to IT development projects. Click here for more information.

12. Penn State University

The university offers an online Master of Professional Studies in Enterprise Architecture program. The EA degree is not focused solely on the technocentric side of enterprise architecture; it is an interdisciplinary degree that covers business and engineering, information sciences, and project or portfolio management, offering participants a broader, more comprehensive perspective. Click here for more information.

 13. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The New York-based university offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science. In 2018, the incoming freshman class of computer science majors was the largest for any major in the 194-year history of Rensselaer. The university’s degree requirements enable students to focus on specific computer science topics and provide opportunities for open-source software development. Click here for more information

 14. Ryerson University

The Toronto university’s Chang School of Continuing Education offers an enterprise architecture certificate program via both online and in-class learning with university-level degree credit courses. It offers students the opportunity to apply all, or most, of the credit earned through the certificate as transfer credits to the BComm program at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management, subject to admission. Click here for more information.

15. Stevens Institute of Technology

The New Jersey-based university provides a graduate certificate in enterprise architecture and governance that applies traditional systems and engineering approaches to a broader class of human-centric systems of which a technical system is only one part. Click here for more information.

16. University of Denver

The Colorado university offers an EA course for students to learn how to integrate information and communications technologies to support business goals. The course provides an overview of the global, enterprise-wide architectural framework that drives business decisions regarding selection and implementation of ICT systems and solutions. Topics include supporting and transforming global value chains; e-business designs; creating enterprise architecture; and the various methodologies, tools and techniques used in the design and implementation of the enterprise architecture. Click here for more information.

17. University of Michigan, Flint

The course is focused on the design, selection, implementation and management of enterprise IT solutions; the fit of applications and infrastructure within an organization.  Infrastructure management, system administration, data architecture, content management, distributed computing, middleware, legacy system integration, system consolidation, software selection, cost calculation, investment analysis, emerging technologies. Click here for more information.

18. University of Toronto

The Canadian university’s school of continuing studies provides a certificate with three required courses. They’re designed to provide participants with ways to align business strategy with IT, sustain business growth and ensure good governance and best practices are being applied. Students also discover various accepted methodologies. Click here for more information.

19. University of Washington, Tacoma

UW offers a Foundations of EA course to students in the masters in computer science and systems program. It covers basic aspects of both enterprise and architectural thinking, including the software to technology to solution architecture continuum, role of EA in business and IT alignment, architectural styles and techniques for capturing and documenting architectures. A following course focuses on strategy development, use of standard frameworks for EA and experiential learning through case study and project. Click here for more information.

20.University of Maryland, global campus

A study of enterprise architecture and frameworks, including the transition of current business processes and functional systems to an enterprise solution. The aim is to analyze how enterprise architecture and resulting enterprise systems support an organization’s ability to adapt and respond to a continually changing business and competitive environment. Click here for more information.


Calnan is a veteran journalist, who has written about technology for 20 years, most recently as the beat reporter for the Austin Business Journal. 

About Christopher Calnan 5 Articles
Christopher Calnan is a veteran technology journalist, who most recently spent 10 years with the Austin Business Journal covering the technology beat.