Longwood University’s information systems and security (ISYS) students are benefiting from a relationship with one of the world’s best graduate programs in their field.

Four Longwood students—all of those who applied—have been accepted into Carnegie Mellon University’s graduate program in information systems, which was ranked No. 1 in 2013 and this year is ranked No. 2 by U.S. News & World Report. Three of them participated last summer in a highly competitive, all-expenses-paid research internship in CMU’s ITLab program.

This summer, five Longwood students are participating in the internship program, which accepts only 20 students. Participation in the internship boosts a student’s chances of being admitted to the graduate program and guarantees at least a 50 percent scholarship for those who are admitted.

"We have essentially set up a pipeline to the No. 1 graduate program in the world in information systems," said Dr. Randy Boyle, associate professor of information systems and security, who developed the Longwood-CMU relationship.

Boyle is confident that Longwood students will continue to apply for the internship, which includes a $3,000 stipend and covers all expenses, and graduate school at CMU, located in Pittsburgh. "Word of mouth about the internship is spreading, and I am inundated with requests for information," he said.

In the seven-week ITLAB internship, first held last summer, students work closely with professors in doing research and taking two courses, for which they receive academic credit. Boyle is pleased that even though the number of partner institutions whose students were eligible to apply doubled, from 12 to 24, the percentage of Longwood participants increased from 20 to 25 percent.

"The internship is like an extended interview for grad school," said Boyle. "Our students have solid technical skills before they go—they have to first take the networking and cyber security classes—and I tell them to dress professionally every day, treat it like a job and work two hours longer than anyone else."

All four Longwood students who applied to the internship last year were accepted. Five of the eight who applied this year were accepted.

"Longwood students are disciplined and diligent in their work," said Dr. Sean Beggs, who directs the two major programs in CMU’s graduate-level School of Information Systems and Management. "I noticed that last summer, as did the other faculty and other students."

Beggs included Longwood as an internship partner because of a relationship with Boyle that began about five years ago when the latter, while on the University of Utah faculty, sent several students to CMU’s graduate program in information systems.

"This is built around relationships with trusted faculty members like Randy," said Beggs, who visited Longwood in November 2013 to recruit students at a graduate fair. "I feel fortunate we have this relationship in place and hope it continues. It’s a great experience for both."

The Longwood students who have been accepted into CMU’s graduate program are Richie Bavis, Hannah Flaherty, Ben Peters and George Werbacher. All but Bavis participated in last year’s internship. Nick Baragar, who did the internship, has accepted a job and will apply to CMU’s graduate program after a year.

The students who will participate in this year’s internship, June 13-Aug. 2, are ISYS majors Kaitlyn Bartlett, Ryan Bergquist and Matthew Slack; Bradley Foster (criminal justice) and Kyle Sachs (computer science).

"This relationship with CMU is opening doors that have never been opened before, and it’s making a huge change in these students’ lives," said Boyle.

In addition to the stipend, the internship includes a meal allowance, round-trip airfare to Pittsburgh, university housing, tuition for both courses, and all required books and related course materials.

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