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4 Reasons to Get a Degree in Information Systems Instead of Computer Science

If you’re interested in a dynamic career that offers the satisfaction of helping people use computers as tools, an Information Systems (IS) degree might be the perfect choice for you. It’s important to know the basic differences between an IS degree and one in Computer Science (CS).

Not surprisingly, CS is about computers, and the curriculum will cover things like hardware, algorithms, and data structures. Java is the native language of CS majors. IS is about the information being served by the computer to its users. IS majors write in PHP and SQL more than Java. Information architecture, database design, and systems analysis are the focus of an IS program. The two programs will overlap around software engineering practices.

Information Systems is Less Mathematical

Craig Smith, an IS graduate, says, “I can sum up the difference in one word: Math.” Both career tracks require some math aptitude, but the CS degree is essentially a mathematics degree, while IS is administered by university-level business schools, like the UAB Collat School of Business.

It’s common for a CS major to switch to IS because the high-level math is overwhelming. This makes IS a good choice for those who want to work with computers but aren’t fascinated by mathematical theories and complex equations.

Fluidity and Change are Exciting

Because of that difference, CS has all the characteristics of mathematics: it is solid, provable, unchanging, and offers single correct answers and logical streams of thought. New developments in math fields always build on old thought, and old theories are never removed. Information Systems, though, is always changing. New programming ideas don’t necessarily evolve from existing ones; they might be developed completely from left field. Old ideas might be scrapped entirely. The world of IS is appealing to people who enjoy the challenge of constant change and are excited, and not intimidated, by the idea of constantly learning new things.

Information Systems is Immediate

Is is a more vocational degree, directed toward real world application instead of theory. It’s very easy to see the applications of the work in the business world, for instance. CS can be very theoretical. CS majors are learning about the algorithmic interpretation of problem sets. They’re studying the logic and math behind the calculations that underly the programming. It’s not always easy to make connections between the deep interior of computer thought and its real-world applications.

Information Systems is About Humans

While CS is concerned with computers and how they work and think, IS is about doing things with computers. The computer itself is simply a tool to get human work done. If working with people, meeting their needs, and helping them carry out their goals is important to you, an IS degree will give you a more direct line to that satisfaction.

If you are interested in the practical application of technology, or if you are interested in exciting, fast paced jobs that use changing technologies to help people, get a degree in IS. This degree will open up to you broad opportunities in exciting careers.

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