Computer Information Systems vs. Computer Science: Which Degree Is Right for You?

As digital solutions advance, the need for computer science and information systems professionals has increased significantly across sectors. This has had a large impact on the labor market and the outlook for certain computer systems and information systems (IS) careers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for computer and information systems managers is expected to increase by 16% between 2021 and 2031, a rate that’s much faster than the national average for all other occupations.

Beyond this job, there are many other in-demand career options for the practical application of skills, knowledge, and interest in computer networking and software development. That being said, these options are only possible if you start pursuing the right degree.

If you are thinking of going back to school for an advanced degree, but aren’t sure if you should consider a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems or a degree in computer science, several factors can help you decide. One of which is understanding what each degree program covers.

What Is Computer Information Systems?

Computer information systems is a field of study focused on real-world applications for computer science (CS). Information systems professionals work on identifying, developing, and testing business and solutions-based applications for different types of computer systems.

People in this field look for new ways to use technology and improve efficiency and decision-making within their organizations. Information systems students will learn about areas such as web development, programming, database concepts, information security management, and algorithm design.

What Is Computer Science?

Computer science is a broad field of study focused on computers and computational systems. Computer science professionals work primarily on designing, building, and maintaining different types of computer programs — including operating systems, databases, websites, and mobile apps.

Computer science degree programs combine the fundamental elements of computing theory and practice. Students in these programs will learn about subjects like database administration, database design, coding, calculus, artificial intelligence, software engineering, numerical analysis, network architecture, and application development.

Computer Information Systems vs Computer Science Degree Programs: What’s the Difference?

Computer science and computer information systems degree programs share some notable similarities, but they are still fundamentally different areas of study. Examining the differences between computer science and computer information systems degree programs can help you determine the best path for you.

Mathematical Focus

Both management information systems (MIS) and computer science (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. Management information systems programs involve a fair amount of mathematics, but are more people- and business-focused than computer science.

It’s common for computer science majors to switch over to information systems programs 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

Computer science degree programs focus heavily on the fundamental aspects of computational design and development, while MIS programs examine how computing systems can be utilized in business. For example, while computer scientists may work on designing and developing a particular program, information systems professionals will look for ways to integrate that program into their organization’s operations.

Because of this, information systems programs combine aspects of business and management training with elements of computer science, offering a different set of outcomes for graduates. While a CS degree can provide you with a greater understanding of foundational tech concepts, an MIS degree can help prepare you for both IT and business roles.


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, and understand why the major is in demand.

Again, the BLS reports that the job outlook for MIS degrees is growing at a rate of 16% —  much faster than the average. In 2022 alone, the number of IS jobs was estimated at 509,100, and it continues to grow.

A computer science degree program —while more broadly focused —also has a wide range of valuable applications in the professional world, including data engineering, software development, artificial intelligence, robotics, and more. The BLS projects that the demand for computer and information research scientists will grow by 21% from 2021 to 2031.

What Can You Do With a Computer Information Systems Degree?

Earning a degree in computer information systems can help prepare you for a variety of fulfilling and lucrative careers. A Master of Science in Management Information Systems can open up even more opportunities. Each of these has a different outlook and scope of responsibilities:

  • Computer and information research scientist: These professionals design, test, and implement new uses for computing technology, to solve complex organizational processes. They can work in a variety of industries, including business, finance, and healthcare.
  • Database administrator: These professionals create and oversee systems that store and secure important organizational data. They commonly work for web design and security firms, or for organizations that manage large amounts of data, such as colleges and insurance companies. According to the BLS, employment of database administrators and architects is projected to grow by 9% from 2021 to 2031.
  • Network systems administrator: These professionals are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of computer networks. They commonly work for companies that specialize in computer system design and related services, but they can be employed by any type of organization that utilizes computer networks in their operations. According to the BLS, employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow by 3% from 2021 to 2031, slower than the average rate for all occupations.
  • Network architect: These professionals design and build data communication networks, such as local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. They are commonly employed by web services companies, but can also work in-house for organizations in a wide range of industries. According to the BLS, the employment of network architects is projected to grow by 4% from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

It’s important to remember that this list is far from all-inclusive, and a degree in computer information systems can help you prepare for a wide range of business and technology-related roles in addition to those discussed here.

What Can You Do With a Computer Science Degree?

Because computer science is such a broad and important area of study, a CS degree can lead to a variety of potential outcomes. If you’re interested in computer science, identifying a desired career option early can help you determine which areas to focus on in your coursework:

  • Computer programmers: These professionals write, edit, and test code that enables computer applications and software programs to function. They often work for web services and computer design companies, but they can also be self-employed. According to the BLS, employment of computer programmers is projected to decline by 10% from 2021 to 2031. Fortunately, the BLS projects that the need to replace these departing workers will create about 9,600 new job openings for computer programmers each year.
  • Software developers: These professionals computer applications and programs. They often work for employers such as software publishers, financial institutions, and insurance companies. According to the BLS, the employment of software developers is projected to grow by 25% from 2021 to 2031.
  • Web developer: Web developers are similar to software developers in some ways, but their work is focused on websites and web applications that run on internet browsers, rather than computer programs for desktop and mobile devices. According to the BLS, the employment of web developers and digital designers is projected to grow by 23% from 2021 to 2031.
  • Information security analyst: These professionals plan, implement, and test security measures designed to protect organizations’ computer networks and systems. They are often employed by business-to-business web security firms, but can also work in-house for organizations such as financial institutions and insurance companies. According to the BLS, employment of information security analysts is projected to grow by 35% from 2021 to 2031.

Of course, there are many different specializations to choose from when studying information systems or computer science. If you’re interested in either field, planning your concentration and coursework around your career goals can help you ensure that you’re qualified and prepared for the job you want.

To learn more about your different options for information systems and computer science degree programs, visit us online or talk to an enrollment advisor about your desired career path.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Computer and Information Systems Managers”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Computer and Information Research Scientists”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Database Administrators and Architects”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Network and Computer Systems Administrators”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Computer Network Architects”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Computer Programmers”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Web Developers and Digital Designers”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Information Security Analysts”