'Information systems' are defined as networks that people, groups and organizations use to collect, organize, store, interpret and disseminate various types of data. In today's workforce, functioning information systems rely heavily on the use of computers, software and information technology. The personnel who oversee these systems are known as computer and information systems managers, also known as CIS managers or IT managers for short. They are responsible for not only monitoring and evaluating information systems, but also developing and implementing tools, programs and techniques used in different stages of data processing.
What are the best information systems management programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Florida State University||Tallahassee, FL|
|2||Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh, PA|
|3||Webster University||Saint Louis, MO|
|4||Florida Atlantic University||Boca Raton, FL|
|5||The University of Texas at Dallas||Richardson, TX|
|6||University of Maryland Global Campus||College Park, MD|
|7||Auburn University||Auburn, AL|
|8||Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University||Daytona Beach, FL|
|9||New Jersey Institute of Technology||Newark, NJ|
|10||Colorado State University||Fort Collins, CO|
Most CIS managers begin their careers by studying information systems at the collegiate level. One popular degree option is the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a specialization in management of information systems (MIS). Unlike standard master's degree programs, the MBA in MIS pathway takes a business-oriented approach to the subject matter; the curriculum will include finance and economics, strategy, marketing and other core business studies, as well as coursework in tech-based areas like database management and office technology. Some MBA in information systems management programs culminate in a capstone course, which allows students to apply their new skills and knowledge to a comprehensive research project. These programs may also require internships, where students receive hands-on training and coaching from experienced professionals. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their MBA in information systems management online, rather than in a classroom. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and often enjoy the same number of post-graduate job opportunities. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule of most online programs is also ideal for students with commitments ― such as employment or childcare ― that may conflict with campus-based learning.
Learn more about what you can do with an online MBA in information systems and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE MBA IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
MBA in information systems management online programs are designed to build on the foundational areas of undergraduate studies while also introducing new, more complex theories and approaches to CIS management. The curriculum will delve into topics like database administration, computer programming information technology and project management ― all with an emphasis on real-world business challenges and solutions. Other coursework will address niche areas of business administration, such as finance and accounting, strategy, project management, supply chain logistics and marketing. Additionally, capstone courses and internships can provide real-world work experience for students who do not have an extensive background in the corporate sector.
WILL AN ONLINE MBA IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online MBA degree programs offer a flexible, easily accessible alternative to traditional college education. Students can download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of home. Current technology also enables them to study away from their desktop computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices. For added convenience, online MBA students can usually coordinate internships at sites that are relatively close to their current residence.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MBA IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT?
Common job titles for MBA in information systems recipients include CIS or IT managers, database administrators, network administrators and project managers. And because the MBA is so highly regarded among top executives, this degree can serve as a gateway to advancement into top-level positions. Additionally, many information systems MBA graduates go on to work outside the corporate sector in fields like healthcare and education, as well as government agencies.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MBA IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master's in information systems management programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online master's in MIS, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.
2020 Best Accredited Online MBA in Information Systems Management Programs
Florida State University
|Tallahassee, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
FSU was founded in 1851, making it the oldest continuously operating higher education institution in the state. Graduate students can enroll in the university's online master's in management information systems, taking two asynchronous courses at a time to earn their degree in under two years. Graduates are prepared to occupy leadership positions in fields like e-commerce, business intelligence, and IT management.
FSU's program covers core topics like database development and systems analysis/design. Learners also delve into corporate information security, learning how to prevent cybersecurity threats. Students personalize their curriculum through five electives.
Applicants must submit an up-to-date resume, two recommendation letters, and a personal statement that responds to designated prompts. FSU grants GMAT/GRE waivers to prospective students with exceptional academic (e.g., a minimum 3.4 GPA) and/or professional achievements.
Carnegie Mellon University
|Pittsburgh, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 89%||
CMU offers several career-focused degrees, including an online master of science in information technology with an information technology management concentration. Designed for professionals in the field, this program allows students to work full time while earning a degree in two years.
Core courses include database management, IT project management, and e-business technology and management. Students also develop object-oriented programming and data analysis skills for Java. Participants pursue specialized interests through elective courses like cloud computing and geographic information systems.
CMU offers fall, spring, and summer entry dates. Applicants must submit GMAT or GRE scores, a professional resume, and two recommendation letters. They must also submit a 1,000-word personal statement.
|Saint Louis, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Located just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, Webster offers more than 50 graduate programs, including an online master's in information systems management. By completing this 36-credit program, students learn to integrate people, communication tools, and business processes to help organizations achieve their strategic goals.
The curriculum includes courses like basic finance for managers, IT project management, and procurement and contract negotiations. The program culminates in a research-focused capstone project. Webster also offers a dual-degree track that allows students to earn a master's in information systems management and an MBA concurrently.
Applicants need a 2.5 minimum GPA. Webster's business programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Florida Atlantic University
|Boca Raton, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
FAU maintains its flagship campus in Boca Raton, enrolling nearly 30,000 students every year. The university offers over 170 programs, including a fully online MBA in management information systems. The curriculum requires 43 or 55 credits, depending on whether or not a student has an undergraduate business degree.
Required courses include advanced managerial economics, leadership and organizations, and global environment of management. Students also complete four specialized electives, choosing from options like web-based business development and management of information security and assurance.
While applicants do not need to submit GMAT or GRE scores, they must have at least four years of work experience. FAU's College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
The University of Texas at Dallas
|Richardson, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 72%||
UT Dallas is a public research university that offers more than 140 degrees and certificates across eight schools. Graduate students can enroll in a master's in information technology management program. Distance learners can complete the entire program online or take some courses on campus.
The program's 36-credit curriculum divides evenly into core courses and electives. Students choose from more than 20 elective courses, including options like agile project management, applied machine learning, big data, and accounting information systems and configuration.
UT Dallas grants GMAT/GRE waivers to prospective students who earned a bachelor's degree from a program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business with a minimum GPA of 3.6.
University of Maryland Global Campus
|College Park, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 86%||
UMGC offers over 85 programs, including an online master of science in management with an information systems and services specialization. Faculty developed the 36-credit curriculum with input from industry experts and employers, emphasizing practical applications of IT theories and practices.
Students take core courses like financial decision-making for managers and organizational behavior. They also learn about specialized topics like internet multimedia applications, information systems sourcing, and expert systems analysis and design. The program culminates in a strategic capstone seminar.
Applicants must have a regionally accredited bachelor's degree. However, they do not need to submit GMAT or GRE scores. UMGC accepts up to six transfer credits, and distance learners can graduate in about 18 months.
|Auburn, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 78%||
Auburn was established in 1856 as the first land-grant college in the South. Today, the institution offers over 140 programs, including an online master of science in information systems. Designed for working IT professionals, this 30-credit program prepares graduates for leadership roles in government agencies, multinational corporations, and research centers.
Program coursework covers topics like predictive modeling, enterprise management of big data environments, and advanced programming application development. Students also learn how to perform in-depth information risk analyses with regards to security policies, confidentiality, and ethics. Participants round out the program by completing a comprehensive capstone project.
Admission requirements include GMAT (preferred) or GRE scores, a current resume, and two recommendation letters. Auburn also prefers applicants with relevant work experience.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
|Daytona Beach, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
ERAU serves about 14,000 students each year. The university offers more than 40 graduate programs, including an online master's in management information systems. Throughout a 30-credit curriculum, students gain the technical knowledge and research skills needed to analyze how businesses use data to make projections, develop strategic goals, and drive profits.
Required courses include strategic planning and information visualization in decision-making. All learners in the program pursue a specialization in either information technology management or business intelligence and analytics. Students who choose the business intelligence and analytics specialization can earn joint professional certification from the SAS Institute.
ERAU accepts applications on a rolling basis. The university offers ample financial aid opportunities, tuition discounts for military personnel, and a flexible transfer policy.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
|Newark, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
Based in Newark, NJIT powers distance learning with the Canvas platform. The university's online programs include an online MBA in management information systems that is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. This program focuses on information security, preparing graduates for careers as database administrators, cybersecurity analysts, and IT managers.
The 48-quarter-credit curriculum includes courses like enterprise resource planning and supply chain management. Students also learn how to use executive information systems and databases to turn complex data into competitive intelligence. Learners can gain hands-on experience by participating in a 7-10-day international trip to locations like Argentina, China, or France.
Applicants must submit GMAT scores. Through flexible scheduling and accelerated courses, distance learners can earn their master's in information systems management in 18 months.
Colorado State University
|Fort Collins, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
CSU powers distance learning with the Canvas platform, offering over 40 undergraduate and graduate programs. Graduate students can complete CSU's online master's in computer information systems in 18 months. Designed for IT and non-IT professionals, this 33-credit program teaches students to turn data into actionable information to improve organizational efficiency and profitability.
The program's curriculum covers core business topics like project management and technical communication. Students personalize their studies by choosing six electives. Elective options include business application technologies, agile management and product development, and cybersecurity.
The program offers five entry dates each year. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and adequate GMAT or GRE scores. Prospective students must submit a statement of purpose, a current resume, and three professional recommendations.
WHAT ELSE CAN I EXPECT FROM AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT PROGRAM?
|Timeline||18 months to 2 years|
|Program Costs||$10,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition|
|Concentrations||Business Administration, International Business, Information Technology, Network Administration, Database Administration, Project Management, Healthcare Management, Education Administration, Nonprofit Management, Marketing and Advertising, and Human Resources|
|Accreditation||Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)|
Employment Outlook for MBAs in Information Systems
The employment outlook for information systems managers is quite strong, due to both the widespread use of computer-based systems and the high demand for qualified, MBA-holding job candidates. The following table looks at the unemployment rates for IT managers, database administrators and other occupations that rely on information systems.
Job Placement: Master's in Information Systems Management
|Occupation||Unemployment Rate (2016)|
|Computer Network Architect||0.6%|
|Computer Systems Analyst||2.4%|
|Computer Systems Administrator||3.1%|
|Information Security Analyst||3.9%|
Source: U.S. News & World Report
The average unemployment rate of all nine occupations listed is 2.44%; comparatively, the national unemployment rate for all industries is currently set at 4.7%.
Graduates who receive an MBA in information systems management enjoy relatively high earning potential. According to the 2016-17 PayScale College Salary Report, MBA in MIS degree-holders earn a median annual salary of $64,600 during their first five years on the job and $118,000 after a decade in the workforce. How do these projected earnings stack up against other tech-oriented MBA fields? The table below compares MBA salary expectations at the five- and 10-year benchmarks.
|MBA Degree Field||Median Entry-Level Salary (0-5 Years)||Median Mid-Career (10+ Years)|
|Management Information Systems (MIS)||$64,600||$118,000|
|Information Technology Management||$68,600||$116,000|
|Information Systems (IS)||$70,100||$112,000|
|Supply Chain Management||$71,400||$108,000|
|Health Care Administration||$59,900||$95,900|
As the table shows, MBA students with MIS specializations experience roughly 82% salary growth between the entry-level and mid-career stages. However, an employee's specific job title will also affect career salary growth. Other factors to consider include employer size and city/state of employment. Using PayScale data, the next table looks at 20-year salary growth for five of the most popular career paths in information systems management.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)|
|Information Systems Manager||$61,700||$76,591||$87,577||$98,034|
|Information Systems Analyst||$58,834||$67,756||$72,948||$84,747|
All five occupations listed reported a career salary growth rate of at least 31%. Information systems managers experienced the highest growth rate: a 58.9% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Database developers placed second with 51.5% career salary growth, followed by information systems analysts with 44.0% growth.
MBA Career Opportunities
Students who leave graduate school with an MBA in information systems management will be qualified for dozens of supervisory roles in the private, nonprofit and government sectors. Four popular career choices among MIS MBA grads are outlined below.
Computer and Information Systems Managers: Also known as CIS or IT managers, these employees supervise the day-to-day computing and IT operations at companies, organizations and government agencies. They work closely with organizational leaders to develop objectives related to information system and database management, and then develop tools and programs to help carry out goals quickly, effectively and efficiently.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators: These administrators oversee their organization's various networks, databases and other information systems. They monitor traffic to ensure networks are secure and high-functioning, perform software and hardware upgrades and develop programs to optimize their organization's data storage capabilities.
Database Administrators: Also known as DBAs, database administrators work use an array of tools, programs and organizational methods to keep information secure, up-to-date and easily retrievable. They perform routine tests to protect sensitive information from hackers, cybercriminals and other data-stealers, as well as technical issues like computer viruses and hardware malfunctions.
Computer Systems Analysts: Computer systems analysts develop and evaluate different tools, platforms and programs used to collect, store and access data. They must have extensive knowledge of a company's background and day-to-day operations in order to create systems that effectively address current problems and concerns.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary||Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$131,600||15% (+53,700 jobs)|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$77,810||8% (+30,200 jobs)|
|Database Administrators||$81,710||11% (+13,400 jobs)|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$85,800||21% (+118,600 jobs)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
MBA Professional Organizations
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to information systems management is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for information systems management professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.
Data Management Association International: Founded in 1980, DAMA International today represents thousands of members worldwide. The association hosts more than 70 global chapters on six continents, and hosts dozens of international events every year.
DBA International: This nonprofit trade association currently works with employees of roughly 575 database-oriented companies. Membership benefits include discounted professional development courses, business planning guides and reduced entrance fees for industry events.
International Association of Administrative Professionals Established in 1942, the IAAP today offers certification in areas like organizational behavior and strategic planning. The association's website includes a vast resource library, job listings and a comprehensive industry events calendar.
Financing Your Online Master's in Information Systems Management Program
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.