The field of information systems management offers both exceptional salaries and above average employment prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median network and computer system administrator earned $81,100 in 2017, more than twice the median salary for all other occupations. Information security analysts earned even more, boasting a median salary of $95,510 in 2017. In that same year, computer and information systems managers earned a staggering median salary of $139,220.
The BLS projects that positions in the computer science and information technology will grow 13% by 2026, with some positions projected to grow even faster: For example, the BLS anticipates the need for nearly 30,000 new information security analysts by 2026, a growth rate of 28%. Earning a bachelor's in management information systems (MIS) can give you the tools you need to succeed in this flourishing field.
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Should I Get a Bachelor's in Management Information Systems?
Most jobs in information technology and systems management, especially the most lucrative positions, require a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field. While you may qualify for some roles with professional experience alone, an undergraduate information systems management degree provides a quicker and more reliable way to enter or advance in the industry.
In your first two years, you should expect to take a liberal arts coursework in areas like history, communication, and the social sciences alongside foundational technology classes in software design and development, database management systems, cloud computing and big data, and web application development for businesses.
As you advance in your studies, many programs allow you to choose a concentration within the field. For example, you may want to specialize in data networking and take courses in network security and information security planning. Alternatively, you may want to prepare for a career in information assurance by studying cybersecurity and digital forensics.
In addition to the skills and knowledge you develop through your coursework, MIS degree programs offer student services that can give you a competitive edge in the job market. Many programs help place students in internships to bolster their resume and give them the opportunity to earn practical experience. Colleges and universities also leverage their alumni networks to match students with mentors who offer professional guidance and facilitate connections.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Management Information Systems?
An management information systems degree prepares you for multiple career paths. You can work to protect your organization's computer networks as an information security analyst. You can build and maintain computer systems as a network administrator. Or, you can take on a leadership role as a computer and information systems manager, helping to shape and implement your company's technology strategy. No matter what role you pursue, careers in information technology demand strong analytical and technical skills and the ability to translate complex concepts to colleagues and customers who do not share your level of expertise.
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
Computer and information systems managers create and implement plans related to an organization's computer or technology-related activities. For example, they may develop and oversee a health information system for a hospital. Most employers prefer to hire candidates with at least a bachelor's in a related field, such as a management information systems degree.
Median Annual Salary: $139,220
Projected Growth Rate: 12%
- Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts design and modify an organization's computer systems to help it function more effectively and efficiently. Analysts often specialize in systems related to a particular industry, such as financial or engineering computer systems. Though not always a requirement, most computer systems analysts hold an undergraduate degree or higher.
Median Annual Salary: $88,270
Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- Database Administrator
Database administrators store and organize data using specialized software. They also ensure that those with authorization can access the data and that those without authorization cannot. Generally speaking, administrators do not design the systems they maintain. They usually hold a bachelor's degree in an information technology, computer science, or similar area.
Median Annual Salary: $87,020
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts protect their company's computer networks and systems. To do so, they monitor their networks for external breaches, simulate attacks to look for potential vulnerabilities, and educate others in their organization about security best practices. Most information security analysts hold an MIS degree or similar academic training in a computer-related field.
Median Annual Salary: $95,510
Projected Growth Rate: 28%
- Computer Network Architect
Computer network architects build data communication networks. This can involve linking several computers on a local area network or using cloud computing to connect a much larger number of devices and users. Because of the extensive technical and business knowledge required to succeed in these roles, most architects hold a bachelor's, and many choose to pursue an advanced degree as well.
Median Annual Salary: $104,650
Projected Growth Rate: 6%
How to Choose a Bachelor's Program in Management Information Systems
Many schools offer MIS degrees, making it difficult to know which program best meets your unique needs. To help narrow your search and better understand your own priorities, start by asking yourself some of the questions below.
To begin, do you want to study online or on-campus? In an online MIS degree, you design how your studies fit alongside other professional and personal obligations. For example, you may want to complete coursework exclusively at night or on weekends in order to keep a full-time job. An on-campus program, on the other hand, may better serve recent high school graduates or students who worry that they lack the self-discipline to succeed in a less structured, online environment.
What can you afford? A bachelor's from a public college or university may cost significantly less than one from a private institution, and you can potentially save even more by earning an associate degree at a local community college first.
Do you want to specialize in a particular area? You may want to study computer forensics in order to work as an investigator for a government agency, but not all programs offer concentrations or coursework in this area.
What does your program require for admission? Generally speaking, you must hold a high school diploma or GED to apply to an undergraduate program, but some schools may also require students to maintain a certain GPA or earn a minimum score on a standardized test like the SAT.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Management Information Systems
Schools seek out programmatic accreditation to demonstrate that individual programs they offer, such as an MIS degree, meet a baseline of academic standards and adequately prepare graduates for careers in their field. Given their emphasis on the use of technology for business purposes, many bachelor's programs in management information systems receive programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP).
Instead of programmatic accreditation, some schools may focus exclusively on maintaining regional or national accreditation, both of which speak to the academic standards across all of an institution's offerings. Check the Council of Higher Education Accreditation online database to make sure your program or school holds either ACBSP, regional, or national accreditation.
Bachelor's in Management Information Systems Program Admissions
To earn an undergraduate MIS degree, you must first hold either a high school diploma or GED. You must also request that your high school or GED provider submit an official copy of your academic transcripts to the programs to which you plan to apply.
In addition, many schools require you to submit a resume, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose outlining your academic and professional goals. Some schools also ask that you submit your scores from a standardized exam like the SAT or ACT. Finally, most schools charge a small admission fee, though some applicants, especially those with demonstrated financial need, qualify for a waiver.
After submitting your materials, a school may contact you to arrange an interview, conducted either in-person or remotely. Online programs and public institutions tend not to rely on interviews. To improve your chances of admission, try to apply to at least three different schools, including a "safety school," or a program you feel confident will admit you.
- Minimum GPA: Some schools may require a minimum high school GPA, usually around a 2.5. Students with lower grades can often apply for provisional admission, giving them the chance to demonstrate their academic commitment during their first year.
- Application: When applying to bachelor's programs, check to see if your school participates in the Common App. This single application system allows you to apply to multiple programs at one time. Make sure to begin your application well in advance of the deadline.
- Transcripts: To submit transcripts, contact your high school or GED provider directly. You may need to provide contact information for the programs to which you plan to apply. Most high schools do not charge to send transcripts, though they may require several weeks to process your request.
- Letters of Recommendation: Schools may request up to three letters of recommendation from former teachers, employers, or volunteer supervisors. Find recommenders who can speak to your unique strengths, giving them at least two months to draft your letter.
- Test Scores: Many, but not all, schools require that you submit your scores from either the SAT or the ACT. If you received a low score, consider retaking the exam or using your application to highlight other areas of accomplishment.
- Application Fee: Most schools charge a small application fee, usually $50-$100. Schools may waive these fees for individuals with demonstrated financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's Program in Management Information Systems?
Although MIS programs share similar coursework, they also differ in notable ways. For example, some programs offer a single, prescribed course of study, while others allow students to personalize their learning by selecting from a list of concentrations or electives. Some programs require a full four years of study, whereas students in other programs can test out of certain subjects to earn their degree faster. Finally, tuition and other education expenses can vary considerably from program to program.
|Accounting Information Systems||Companies must maintain a lot of data for accounting and auditing purposes. In this concentration, students develop the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to create and manage the systems necessary to house this data. Coursework covers subjects like accounting, auditing, and information technology control frameworks.||Business intelligence analyst, accounting information specialist|
|Data Networking||Data networks allow computers and users to safely and easily share information and other resources, an absolutely critical part of nearly any modern business operation. Students studying data networking explore topics like network security, virtual private networks, business data communications, and information security planning.||Data communications analyst, network engineer|
|Database Administration||Database administrators play a key role in ensuring that organizations can access and use data to guide decisions. Students in this concentration prepare for those roles by taking classes in subjects like object-oriented programming, database design using the Oracle platform, web enterprise technologies, and information systems project management.||Database developer, data management specialist|
|Information Assurance||Closely related to the field of information security, information assurance involves providing data to authorized parties. To develop the knowledge and skills necessary for this, students take coursework in network security, risk analysis, contingency planning, cybersecurity, and computer and digital forensics.||Business risk analyst, systems administrator|
|Health Information Systems||Healthcare organizations generate enormous amounts of patient data. Not only must systems managers facilitate access to this data for caregivers, they must also adhere to strict privacy laws and regulations. Students specializing in this area take coursework in health informatics, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and data mining for research.||Senior compliance officer, director of database security|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Management Information Systems Program
In an undergraduate MIS degree, you can expect to take 30 credits of general education courses and 30 credits of electives in any subject you choose. The five courses below represent some of the most common foundational classes taken as part of your 60-credit management information systems major.
- Information Systems Design and Management
Usually offered as one of the first major-specific courses, this class provides students with an overview of the issues and technologies associated with information systems design and management. Students learn to conduct a basic needs assessment, analyze software capacity, compare a variety of security features, and use decision-making applications.
- Basic Programming
In this course, students receive an introduction to object-oriented programming, learn how to design interactive Windows applications, hone their GUI design skills, and explore common programming structures such as switches, conditional statements, iteration, loops, and error debugging. The course primarily uses Virtual Basic as an initial programming language.
- Database Concepts
This course covers the basics of relational databases, including terminology, integrity, normalization, structure, and manipulation. Students compare and contrast relational database systems that used in professional practice. To take this class, students typically need a working understanding of the SQL programming language.
- Data Mining
Data mining involves the identification of patterns within large data sets, whether as a means to better understand customers or discover new treatments to diseases. In this class, students investigate the statistical approaches used in data mining. They also learn to properly prepare data and document results through a data mining case study.
- Cloud Computing and Big Data
Cloud computing holds the promise of potentially unlimited storage capacity and a revolution in information management systems. Students explore both the current reach of cloud computing services and the potential of this information technology paradigm. In addition to its logistical challenges, the course emphasizes ethical issues related to cloud computing.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Management Information Systems?
Most bachelor's programs in management information systems consist of 120 credits. Full-time students can usually earn their degree in about four years.
You can elect one of several options to graduate faster. First, you can transfer previously earned college credits towards your bachelor's degree. With an associate degree, for example, you can transfer up to 60 credits and finish your program in two years. Some schools allow up to 90 transfer credits from other accredited institutions, meaning you can potentially earn your degree in just one year.
Second, some schools allow students to test out of subjects in which they can demonstrate expertise. These tests, also called bypass exams, give students the option to skip over introductory subjects like computer fundamentals, basic computer programming, and the principles of information management systems.
Finally, some online programs feature accelerated tracks that enable students to learn at their own pace. In these tracks, you can advance through a program's curriculum as soon as you master a particular subject.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Management Information Systems?
The cost of your MIS degree varies depending on several factors. For example, attending a public university often costs considerably less than a private institution. Schools in urban areas may charge higher tuitions and come with more substantial costs of living than those in more rural settings. While online students can avoid expenses like room and board and fees associated with on-campus activities, some schools may charge distance learners a technology fee to help defray the costs of online education.
On average, MIS programs charge between $200 and $700 per credit hour. For a 120-credit degree, you can expect to spend anywhere from $24,000 to $84,000 in total tuition. In-state students and veterans can often receive discounted tuition.
To help finance your education, begin by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filling out the FAFSA allows the federal government to determine if you qualify for grants, work-study jobs, and student loans. At the same time, you can pursue private scholarships and fellowships. Organizations offer these awards largely based on academic achievement, community service, and financial need.
Remember, while you do not need to pay back money received in the form of grants or scholarships, you must pay back student loans with interest.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Management Information Systems Prepares For
- Cisco Certifications
Cisco offers certifications in more than two dozens areas, including routing and switching, network security, wireless communication, cloud computing, and industrial networking. Exact requirements vary between certifications, but Cisco generally recommends that individuals complete a self-guided training course before sitting for a certification exam. Exams cost roughly $300 each.
- CompTIA Network+ Certification
A Network+ certification demonstrates your expertise in designing functional networks, maintaining essential network devices, identifying the benefits and drawbacks of existing network configurations, and can support the creation of virtualized networks. To earn certification, you must pass a 90 minute exam consisting of 90 questions. The exams cost approximately $300 each.
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert Certifications
Microsoft also offers certifications to help professionals signal their competency on the company's software and devices. To become a certified solutions expert, you must demonstrate your ability to create innovate solutions across a variety of technologies, both in-person and through the cloud. Microsoft offers discounts on its certification exams to students and educators.
Resources for Management Information Systems Students
MIT makes nearly all of its course content available online through this learning platform. Whether new to the field or an established professional, take advantage of this opportunity to learn from some of the leading scholars in computer science and information technology.
Khan Academy also offers free classes in subjects like computer programming and computer science. These short videos can help you brush up on key concepts in the field.
Babel serves as a comprehensive glossary of computer abbreviations and acronyms, ideal for students relatively new to the field of management information systems.
During both your graduate studies and professional career, you can benefit enormously from writing clearly and effectively. The Purdue OWL offers general writing tips and guidance on citing sources, constructing arguments, and drafting cover letters.
Professional Organizations in Management Information Systems
After you earn your MIS degree, think about joining a professional organization. These groups can help you stay competitive in the job market and connect you with resources and support to address challenges you may encounter in your career. Professional organizations often host networking events for members, provide continuing education resources, and advertise new job openings. Some associations also offer specialized assistance to groups underrepresented in computer science.
AIS works to advance the study and practice of information systems management. It publishes scholarly journals, hosts an annual conference, and provides free professional development webinars for its members.
ASIS&T represents researchers, practitioners, students, and educators in information science. Its career center hosts job listings, guidance from industry professionals, and an overview of potential career paths.
Founded in 1978, AWC serves the interests of women in professional computing roles. Much of AWC's work takes place at local and university chapters across the country. The organization also provides continuing-education opportunities and administers a mentorship program.
One of CompTIA AITP's many goals involves bringing talented new individuals into information technology. It offers career advice, scholarships, and educational resources specifically for young professionals.
IACSIT represents distinguished computer science and information technology scholars from around the globe. The group organizes international conferences on subjects such as machine learning, bioinformatics, and virtual reality.