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

The UAB Collat School of Business offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in management information systems. However, many will wonder if a management information systems degree is worth it. Computer science and information systems are two distinct fields of study, and it’s important to know the basic differences between an MIS degree and a CS degree  when choosing the right computing topic for you.

CS degrees are about computers and coding; the curriculum covers subjects like hardware, programming, algorithms, and data structures. By comparison, MIS is about the information being served by the computer to its users, and is a major component of modern business analysis. Information architecture, database design, and systems analysis are the focus of an MIS program. The two programs do overlap, however; both build software engineering skills, for instance. For future students still having trouble deciding what to do, there are many reasons to study management information systems over computer science.

MIS Is Less Mathematical

Both MIS and CS career tracks require some math aptitude, but the CS degree is essentially a mathematics degree, while MIS is administered by university-level business schools, like the UAB Collat School of Business. Management information systems programs involve a fair amount of mathematics, but are more people- and business-focused than computer science.

Shadow image of a hand working on a laptop

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.

Traditional Business Focus

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 established rules. Management information systems, though, is a newer field with a greater focus on tangible solutions. Businesses make use of MIS majors for roles involving administration and management of a company’s data. In addition, it is a major foundational occupation of professionals who practice advanced business analytics methods.

MIS Is in Demand

MIS is a more vocational degree, directed toward real-world application instead of theory. It’s very easy to see the practical applications of the work in the business world compared to CS. The major is in demand and has many careers open to it, as businesses everywhere can put MIS skills to good use. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job outlook for MIS degrees is growing at a rate of 11%, much faster than the average. Last year, the number of IS jobs was estimated at 414,400, and it continues to grow.

MIS degrees open up access to jobs that are readily available and do not require overly specialized knowledge, such as fluency in various programming languages. A common MIS occupation is business analyst, where MIS training is used to predict trends and help businesses plan ahead. Business and systems analysts use information systems techniques to gather, report, and analyze various metrics that are then used to help inform an organization’s decisions. Other common roles include network administrators and managers, who build and maintain information technology frameworks for businesses to use; database management is often a big aspect of these roles.

Great Benefits

While not quite stacking up to computer science majors in terms of average salaries, management information systems majors still command respectable pay. The BLS reports that the average salary in 2018 came out to $142,530 per year. MIS majors can pursue interesting, approachable, and vital jobs with their major and be paid handsomely for their efforts.

Some MIS majors choose to advance their skills and take mathematics, engineering, and computer science classes to further build their skill set. MIS is one of the most optimal majors for continuing education; the nature of the work means that schedules can be flexible and accommodate remote working as well as career-building activities that other business roles might not have access to.

If these aspects of MIS seem appealing, then the UAB Collat School of Business Bachelor of Science in Information Systems program would be a great fit for you. If you are interested in the practical applications of technology or in exciting, fast-paced jobs that use changing technologies to help people and businesses, consider pursuing a degree in MIS.


Recommended Readings:

Why Ongoing Professional Development in IT Matters

Information Systems vs. Information Technology: Which Degree Is the Right Path for Me?



Computer and Information Systems Managers by US Bureau of Labor Statistics