You have superb computer science-related knowledge and skills, which large businesses and organizations could benefit from. Does this mean that majoring in management information systems (MIS) is the way to go? Will getting your hands on a bachelor’s degree in it turn your dream job into a reality?
Management information systems is a good major in that it’s in the STEM field, which means more career opportunities and higher earning potential. It’s particularly suitable for degree-seeking students who like to enter the world of business or the realm of computing and information technology (IT) or both.
If you are planning on majoring in MIS, don’t miss reading the entirety of this post.
Below, you will come across all sorts of helpful information geared toward future MIS students like you. But before anything else, let’s give an answer to this critical question…
MIS vs. IT: What’s the Difference?
Both management information systems and information technology prepare students to enter the workforce where everyday tasks involve the use of computer systems and networks. However, IT is more on data collection, storage and access, while MIS focuses on the utilization of IT in the world of business.
Due to the fact that MIS and IT have something to do with computers, networks and related technologies, a lot of people make the mistake of using them interchangeably.
Looking closer, however, will let you know that there are marked differences between the two.
MIS, simply put, is all about hardware and software that make up a computer system serving as the backbone of the operations of a business or organization. You can think of MIS as a cross between business and information systems. It’s for this reason exactly why MIS majors take courses such as:
- Human resource management
On the other hand, IT is a much broader field that covers the use of computers, storage and networks as well as the various processes involved in handling data, from creating, storing, exchanging to securing. In a nutshell, IT majors study a lot of the things that MIS majors study, with the exception of business-related ones.
There are a few other similarities between MIS and IT. For instance, in both majors, undergraduate students learn about computer programming, cybersecurity, web design and digital media.
Both of them equip students with good communication, analytical thinking and problem-solving skills together with technical expertise in computer systems and networks. As a result of the many similarities between the two majors, it’s not unlikely for many bachelor’s degree holders in MIS and IT to share the same career paths after graduation.
What Kinds of Students Major in MIS?
In most instances, degree-seeking students who major in management information systems are those who are into computing and related activities as well as businesses and organizations and how they function. They are also good at analytical thinking, problem-solving, communicating and team playing.
Choosing the right major is important not only for having the best possible college experience but also for taking on the most rewarding and fulfilling careers throughout one’s lifetime.
So, in other words, you should see to it that MIS is right for you before declaring it a major.
Unfortunately for many college-bound teens who are undecided, choosing the right major is easier said than done. As a matter of fact, it is said that up to half of all first-time, first-year college students are undecided. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a part of the statistics.
Want to have an idea of whether or not you should declare MIS as your major? All you have to do is check out the following questions and answer each one with either a “yes” or “no”:
- Are you curious about computer hardware and software?
- Did you take AP Computer Science in high school and absolutely loved it?
- Do you have a strong interest in business and finance?
- Have you always had a strong attention to detail that lets you spot what others miss?
- Do family and friends count on your problem-solving skills?
- Can you handle stress quite well and work very well under pressure?
- Are you someone who is comfortable with working as a part of a team?
If you answered “yes” to most or all of the questions above, then feel free to put MIS at the top of your list of potential college majors — or let it be the solitary entry on it.
But to be certain, you should be willing to do the following and more as a professional after graduation:
- Designing and implementing computer systems
- Maintaining computer systems and networks routinely
- Implementing and checking security measures to keep sensitive data safe
- Backing up data, applications and systems
- Assisting authorized personnel with system and software functionality
- Training users on how to use new or improved applications
Is MIS Hard in College?
The reason why management information systems is a hard college major is that it’s certified as a STEM field — STEM majors are known to be some of the most challenging. As a matter of fact, reliable MIS degree programs offered by US institutions are maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Just because everyone could benefit from many wonderful high-paying careers that can result from majoring in MIS doesn’t mean right away that anybody can choose to major in it.
Due to the fact that MIS is a difficult major, you should check beforehand that you are cut out for it.
Refrain from assuming that having a fondness for computer hardware and software and networking and many other related things is enough to make you successfully complete a degree program in MIS. Not too many college-bound teeners are aware of the fact that MIS has a very strong math component.
But there’s good news for people who are not math wizards: MIS mathematics is more focused on the business kind, which is why some of those who major in computer science, which has tons of hardcore math, switch to MIS. So, if you want to have a STEM career but math is not your most favorite subject, an MIS major may be a great choice for you.
In order to have an idea of what it’s like to major in MIS, check out the following core courses you might have to take, which can, of course, vary from one college or university to the other:
- Business-driven infrastructure design
- Contemporary business applications development
- Database management systems
- Fundamentals of marketing
- Introduction to business financial accounting
- Managerial communication
- Managing in a digital world
- Project management for business
- Strategic management
- System design and implementation
- The legal and ethical environment of business
- Web application development
Noticed that there are many different business-related core courses MIS majors might have to take? Well, as mentioned earlier, MIS is half information systems and half business.
At some institutions offering a bachelor’s degree program in MIS, undergraduate students have the option to choose from a number of concentrations. By selecting one, you can gain in-depth knowledge about a specific area of the discipline as well as obtain additional transferable skills vital for having even more career options after graduation.
The following are some common examples of MIS concentrations:
- Business intelligence and data analytics
- Data management
- Global IT leadership and management
- Health informatics
- Information assurance concentration
- Internet technologies
- IT audit and control
- Project management
What Can You Do With MIS Majors Degree
Because of the many soft and hard skills an MIS degree program imparts, graduates can take many career paths where intensive knowledge of information systems and business is fundamental.
The following are some of the things that you can do with your bachelor’s degree in MIS:
Computer systems analyst
- Median annual salary: $99,270
- Job outlook in 10 years: 7%
What computer systems analysts do is carry out a thorough examination of a business or organization’s computer systems. Afterward, they come up with ways to improve efficiency. It’s also a part of their job to search for new technologies that might be able to help increase the productivity rates of their clients or employers.
California employs the most number of computer systems analysts (57,910). Other states employing a lot of computer systems analysts are Texas (52,790), Illinois (25,470), Florida (24,260) and New York (24,120).
Operations research analyst
- Median annual salary: $82,360
- Job outlook in 10 years: 25%
MIS majors serving as operations research analysts are responsible for identifying problems encountered across industries, ranging from business to healthcare, using computer science, mathematics and, at times, even engineering.
More than 100,000 jobs are held by operations research analysts, and 27% of them work in the finance and insurance sectors. While they spend a lot of time in offices, these professionals also travel to meet with clients and observe processes. Math, analytical thinking and communication skills are important for operations research analysts to have.
- Median annual salary: $98,860
- Job outlook in 10 years: 8%
As the job title suggests, the primary role of database administrator entails the creation and organization of systems where important or sensitive data can be stored and secured. They are also tasked with ensuring that authorized personnel can access pieces of information they require without any trouble.
Some of the highest-paid database administrators in the US are those that work in New Jersey, each one earning a median salary of $124,930 per year. Massachusetts, Washington and New York are also high-paying states.
Network and computer systems administrator
- Median annual salary: $80,600
- Job outlook in 10 years: 5%
Organizing, installing and supporting computer systems such as local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs) — such is what network and computer systems administrators do. Since almost all of today’s businesses and organizations rely on all kinds of data communication systems, these professionals are integral to day-to-day operations.
Having excellent communication and team-playing skills is important for network and computer systems administrators to have. It’s for the fact that they usually have to work with other professionals in the world of IT.
- Median annual salary: $77,200
- Job outlook in 10 years: 13%
Simply put, web developers are the ones who create and maintain websites. It’s not uncommon for some web developers to specialize in certain areas of a website’s construction. For instance, some may focus on coming up with the framework (back-end web developers), while others may concentrate on the technical features (front-end web developers).
In the US, California employs the most number of web developers (12,620). Other states where many web developers work include New York (7,140), Texas (5,610), Florida (4,330) and Wisconsin (3,940).
- Median annual salary: $74,975
- Job outlook in 10 years: 13%
Often considered to be holding entry-level job positions, IT technicians are responsible for many different tasks, all of which to ensure that the computer systems being used by businesses and organizations are in tip-top shape. IT technicians do anything from installing and fixing hardware to configuring and troubleshooting software.
Besides a bachelor’s degree in IT, MIS or a related field, it’s also a must for IT technicians to possess certain qualities such as communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and detail-oriented skills.
Information security analyst
- Median annual salary: $102,600
- Job outlook in 10 years: 33%
Management information systems majors working as information security analysts are some of the best-paid in the industry. In addition, their work is projected to grow so much faster than average, which is 8%, from 2020 to 2023. Within the decade, on average, it is estimated that more than 16,000 information security analysts open per year.
Since they are the ones who act as sentinels of computer networks and systems, it’s not uncommon for information security analysts to be on call outside of normal business hours when emergencies strike.
- Median annual salary: $110,140
- Job outlook in 10 years: 22%
Simply put, software developers create computer applications or programs. Some employers may prefer those with a master’s. An undergraduate degree also lets software developers climb up the career ladder as project management specialists and computer and information systems managers, both of which oversee software development.
It’s in California where the most number of software developers work — the state employs 228,240 software developers, each one earning a median salary amounting to $146,770 per year.
Best Schools for MIS Degree
Typically, the best colleges and universities for MIS majors are those that offer excellent degree programs in computer science, software engineering, IT and other related disciplines. Many institutions with online campuses also offer bachelor’s degree programs in MIS suited for non-traditional students.
Due to the fact that MIS is a part of the STEM field, it’s of utmost importance for college-bound teens to attend schools known to have reliable STEM programs.
Check out the following and see which ones would make for great additions to your college list:
|INSTITUTION||TUITION AND FEES|
|University of Pennsylvania||$61,710|
|University of Notre Dame||$58,843|
|University of California – Irvine||$13,955 (in-state) and $43,709 (out-of-state)|
|University of Texas at Austin||$11,448 (in-state) and $40,032 (out-of-state)|
|University of Wisconsin – Madison||$10,720 (in-state) and $38,608 (out-of-state)|
|University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign||$16,866 (in-state) and $34,316 (out-of-state)|
|University of Georgia||$12,080 (in-state) and $31,120 (out-of-state)|
|Ohio State University||$11,936 (in-state) and $35,019 (out-of-state)|
|Florida State University||$6,517 (in-state) and $21,683(out-of-state)|
|Santa Clara University||$55,860|
|University of Pittsburgh||$19,092 (in-state) and $34,124(out-of-state)|
|University of Washington||$12,076 (in-state) and $39,906(out-of-state)|
|Pennsylvania State University||$18,898 (in-state) and $36,476 (out-of-state)|
|Worcester Polytechnic Institute||$55,531|
|Texas A&M University||$13,178 (in-state) and $40,087 (out-of-state)|
|Brigham Young University – Provo||$6,120|
As mentioned earlier, you can also work on a bachelor’s degree in MIS online, which is a welcome option if you are already a working professional or can’t fully entrust your kids to babysitters.
Top Online Universities with MIS Program
Here are just a few examples of accredited institutions where you can major in MIS via the internet:
Maryville University Online
- Location: Saint Louis, Missouri
- Cost: $500.00 per credit hour
- Acceptance rate: 95%
- Graduation rate: 69%
- Average starting salary: $42,400 per year
- Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- College ranking: #202 in National Universities (US News)
University of Maryland Global
- Location: College Park, Maryland
- Cost: $312.00 (in-state) and $499.00 (out-of-state) per credit hour
- Acceptance rate: 51%
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Average starting salary: $47,800 per year
- Accreditor: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- College ranking: #1 in Online and Nontraditional Schools (Military Times)
Southern New Hampshire University Online
- Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
- Cost: $320.00 per credit hour
- Acceptance rate: 94%
- Graduation rate: 53%
- Average starting salary: $41,400 per year
- Accreditor: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- College ranking: #1 in Best Accredited Online Colleges and Top Online Universities (Best Colleges)
Colorado State University Global
- Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
- Cost: $500.00 (in-state and out-of-state) per credit hour
- Acceptance rate: 84%
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Average starting salary: $37,700 per year
- Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- College ranking: #266 in Best Global Universities (US News)
Washington State University Global
- Location: Pullman, Washington
- Cost: $554.05 (in-state) and $617.65 (out-of-state) per credit hour
- Acceptance rate: 80%
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Average starting salary: $42,400 per year
- Accreditor: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- College ranking: #302 in Best Global Universities (US News)
Just Before You Major in MIS
Management information systems allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds: computing and business. MIS is a part of the STEM field and requires a lot of business math, which makes it a challenging major. But if you are willing to dedicate time and effort to get your hands on a bachelor’s degree in it, you can expect a big payoff after college.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.