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Do You Know Your Degree? Understanding Information Systems

Many invest in a college education or higher degree to broaden their career prospects and gain the skills and knowledge appropriate for a higher-income position. However, navigating the vast array of degree choices and programs can prove confusing, at times misguiding students into a major that does not suit their goals.

With technology and computer-related degrees becoming increasingly popular and consequently more specialized, students might find that their program does not offer what they wanted.
Information Systems, Information Technology (IT), and Computer Science degrees are distinct, separate programs with different approaches and end goals. If you’ve enrolled in an Information Systems degree program, here’s what to expect:


A master’s degree in Information Systems generally falls under either the science or business school of a college. Unlike Computer Science or Information Technology, this degree applies computer information to the work environment and management.

Students take communications, business, and networking courses as well as software design, engineering, and various higher mathematics classes. Essentially, you learn how the technology works and when to use that technology in a business atmosphere.

Job Opportunities

In the most popular related career, Information Systems Managers supervise other computer professionals, but also take part in computer technology projects encompassing all priority and skill levels.

Duties extend to scheduling and budgeting tech projects, figuring out a business’ computer and technological needs, and leading the maintenance of information technology systems.

IS Managers may also decide which technology systems justify investment, collaborate with other computer professionals to create original systems, and troubleshoot when necessary.

An Information Systems degree holder should especially look to the healthcare industry, as facilities have switched to and increasingly depend on computer-based record keeping and patient care.

Expected Pay

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a $120,950 salary, or $58.15 hourly rate, as the 2012 median pay for Information Systems Managers. Employment growth expectation from 2012 to 2022 is 15 percent, which is higher than most occupations’ average growth.

Since competition and innovation drive these jobs, demand does not fluctuate much. To compare, IT professionals such as computer analysts and security specialists earn closer to $77,000 and $67,000 respectively.

How to Prepare

In hiring for Information Systems positions, employers generally require a bachelor’s or master’s degree and about five years of related work experience. Those well-suited to an Information Systems degree are not only tech savvy, but exhibit excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

High school students preparing for a college or university program in Information Systems should strive to reach advanced math courses such as Calculus, and hone their English skills. In addition, strongly consider speech or foreign language courses for better communication skills.

Lastly, take advantage of any computer science classes offered. If unavailable, volunteering in the computer lab or tutoring students in computer skills looks great on college applications.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Collat’s online bachelor’s and master’s programs in science and business perfectly train students while allowing them to maintain and expand valuable work experience. As such, it’s the perfect choice for someone pursuing an Information Systems degree.

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