Choosing a Computer Information Systems Degree

Find degrees in management information systems: certificates, bachelor's and graduate degrees.

information systems manager with flow chart

Well-educated and highly trained information systems managers are essential in nearly every type of organization. Not only do they oversee the technical needs of a company or organization, they play a critical administrative role, determining what technology is implemented within a company and managing other IT professionals. If this is your career goal, a computer information systems degree is the first step to consider.

Computer Information Systems Degrees

Regardless of your ultimate career goal, possessing the appropriate education is critical. Nearly all managerial jobs require a bachelor's degree or higher—a fairly high financial and educational investment. Which degree options are most affordable? Online computer information systems degrees, as well as traditional on-campus programs, offer affordable training options for starting your career in information systems management.

Bachelor's Degrees

Though employers may prefer a graduate degree for management positions, a bachelor's degree is the base requirement for a position in information systems management. Common education options include undergraduate degrees in a computer-related field such as computer science or information science, or a bachelor's degree in management information systems (MIS). These programs are commonly offered in business school and include courses in various aspects of business and management, as well as courses in technology. A bachelor's degree generally takes four to five years of full-time study to complete.

Master's and MBA Degrees

At the master's level, there are two major options for affordable online computer information systems degrees: a Master of Information Systems Management (MISM), or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Broadly speaking, an MISM places emphasis on both technical expertise and managerial know-how; an MBA focuses on developing skills that will be useful in a corporate environment, while also offering the opportunity to take specialized courses in computer information systems management. Master's degrees usually require about two years to complete.

Doctoral Degrees

Doctoral degrees in computer information systems management are generally administered through a business school or college. They may be PhD programs that focus on original research in the field, or DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) programs, which emphasize practical applications of research. Both types of doctoral degrees normally require a written dissertation.

Certificates and Certifications

There is a not-so-subtle difference between a certificate in computer information systems management and a certification in a particular IT specialty. A certificate is usually a graduate-level specialty credential providing a solid background in fundamental information systems management topics. It may be earned at the same time as your master's degree or separately. Certifications usually demonstrate expertise in a highly specific area of hardware or software, and can be a valuable addition to any IT professional's resume.

Finding out what degrees or certificates you need is easy if you know what you want to do. Consider which careers in information technology you would like to pursue, and begin your education with a specific goal in mind.