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What Does a Career in Management Information Systems Entail?

Management Information Systems is a field that sits at the juncture of business and technology. It seeks to aggregate data on nearly every aspect of a commercial enterprise so that managers can analyze and assess things like inventories, sales, and other financial matters. Essentially, MIS is about analyzing data.

While the name might seem to indicate that Management Information Systems careers entail hours and hours of coding or otherwise dealing with technologies that move data, MIS professionals deal with the data itself. While many MIS professionals surely write scripts or macros that sort the numbers according to various business or economic models, very often they spend more time applying the results that back come from those models. For instance, an investment banking firm might base its business on a particular formula that evaluates corporate value, but on a day-to-day basis, the MIS analysts are only applying that formula to their clients and comparable companies.


Components of A Successful Career In Management Information Systems

A successful career in Management Information Systems is built on a foundation of academic achievement. During your undergraduate years, seek to study at the very best schools that have top accreditations. Though your major might be MIS, you can also select a minor that compliments your learning. Some good options include accounting, management, mathematics, computer science, finance or hospitality management.

Once you've completed your undergraduate degree and have a few years’ experience under your belt, it would be wise to begin a graduate program. Many MIS professionals opt for an MBA with an MIS concentration. Other degree options include a Masters in Healthcare Informatics, Cybersecurity, Accounting, or even a graduate degree in MIS.

MIS professionals will also want to join a professional association. Membership in one of these associations will provide resources that help keep them on top of their profession. You might find beneficial courses and even certifications that help bolster your resume. Associations also offer opportunities for networking, fellowship, and leadership.

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How to Earn an Online Degree in Management Information Systems

What can you do with a Degree in MIS?

A degree in Management Information Systems can open a world of opportunity. MIS majors work as business analysts, systems analysts, business intelligence analysts, and even in tech support. Students graduating with MIS degrees are in high demand for a field that is growing by leaps and bounds, and professionals are finding compensation to match their skills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that occupations related to Computer and Information Technology are receiving median salaries that range from $52,000 for tech support professionals to $114,000 for computer research scientists. If you apply your skills to financial analysis and business consultation, you might earn a median salary of $84,300 but then receive extra compensation in the form of bonuses.

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Typical Management Information Systems Degree Requirements

management_information_systems_degree_requirements To achieve a degree in MIS, you must take a series of required, core courses. Every department will be a little different, but once you decide to major in MIS, start taking the requirements first. It can be awkward to go back and take intro courses if you jump ahead prior to declaring your major. There are a few other things to consider when declaring the major.

First, you may have to receive admission to your university's business school, where many MIS departments reside. These business schools often have strenuous admissions requirements that include a high GPA.

The requirements for your MIS degree will include a set of core courses that all students must take. These courses will reflect the overall philosophy of your department and will serve as the foundation for your degree. These courses can include, but are not limited to:

  • Programming, I & II
  • Database Design and Management
  • Systems Analysis and Design
  • Business Data Communications
  • Technical Writing
  • Accounting
  • Calculus
  • Statistics

Typical Management Information Systems Certifications Needed

management_information_systems_certifications_needed Management Information Systems is a relatively new field that doesn't yet have any professional certifications associated with it, specifically. However, you can pursue certifications based on your career goals. For instance, if you intend on applying your knowledge and skills to an Information Technology profession, you might pursue a few certifications, such as:

  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate Systems Networking
  • Certified Ethical Hacker
  • Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor
  • Cisco Cybersecurity Specialist

Academic Standards for a Management Information Systems Degree

An MIS degree can be quite demanding. If the MIS degree is administered by a business school, it's likely that you'll need to achieve a high GPA to qualify as a student. For instance, some undergraduate business schools require either a high B or an A average from your college courses or your high school transcripts.

Exam/Experience Needed for a Management Information Systems Degree

While there is no specific exam or experience requirement for MIS professionals, you should consider pursuing as much experience as you can during your time in school. Look for online management information systems programs in that offer internship opportunities. When you are researching schools, ask the admissions counselors about the department's relationship with community companies. They should have a list of possible companies to contact relating to a potential internship. That internship might lead to a job down the line. If not, the experience and references will certainly help pave the way to future success.

Online Associate's Degree in MIS

An online associate degree in management information systems is a great way to launch a career. With AA holders commanding an average salary of $61,000, it's quite possible to begin a career with a two-year degree, save some money, and then move on to complete a bachelor's, then a master's degree. In fact, you could augment your associate degree with certifications such as an MSCE and watch your career blossom. As you work towards your AA degree, you might take courses such as:

Online Associate’s Degree Sample Courses

  • Information Systems
  • Programming
  • Spreadsheet Applications
  • Networking Technology
  • SQL Server
  • E-Commerce
  • Operating Systems

Online Bachelor's Degree in MIS

A bachelor's degree is probably where most professionals launch their MIS careers. BS in management information systems holders in the field command an average of $76,000/year. During your time studying Management Information Systems, you can augment your studies with business courses, or even courses in the computer science department. Your choice of major and minor concentrations will help round out your resume and make you as hirable as possible to employers. Your MIS degree can include some or all of the following courses, though your program may have other offerings:

Online Bachelor’s Degree Sample Courses

  • Statistical Analysis for Business
  • Management Principles
  • Database Design
  • Operating Systems
  • Project Management
  • Programming in Python

Concentrations Knowledge Management, Health Informatics, Economics, Finance, Leadership and Management, Marketing, Information Processing, and Marketing Education,

Online Master's Degree in MIS

An online master's degree in MIS will take your career to the stratosphere, starting with an average yearly salary of $85,000. With this degree you will be groomed for a spot in the c-suites and compensation to match your status and responsibilities. Alternatively, you might consider an MBA with a focus in MIS. Weigh your alternatives against your career and academic goals. You can always return for an executive MBA at a later date. In the meantime, your MIS Master of Science will include courses such as:

Master’s Degree Sample Courses

  • Software Design
  • Business Communications
  • Ethics and the Internet
  • IT Audits
  • Systems Security
  • Enterprise Data Management
  • Data Mining
  • Big Data Analytics

Concentrations MBA with MIS concentration, Business Intelligence, Enterprise System Management, Security and Information Assurance, Data Analytics, Big Data Management and Analytics, Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Management of Information Technology.

Earning Potential for Management Information Systems Degree Fields and Occupations

With each level of academic achievement, you will be able to earn more. Consider your education an investment that will pay off the more you add to it. When you start out with an associate degree you can earn a decent salary. However, when you move up to a bachelor's degree, your salary will improve, as will your job title. You might move into management, even upper management. Once you complete a master's degree, you'll be primed for the c-suites or you'll be prepped to move out on your own as a consultant or a small business owner. Here are the average salaries you might expect to associate with your degree level:

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Field of Study Entry Level
Associate in MIS $61,000
Bachelor's Degree $76,000
Master's Degree $85,000

Management Information Systems Fields of Study Median Salaries

Cybersecurity This field teaches you how to keep businesses and individuals safe from malware and hackers. Given how important our computer data is becoming, this field is more and more important with every day.

Entry-Level Median Annual Salary Mid-Level Median Annual Salary
$55,000 $74,669

Computer Forensics Computer crime is on the rise. No longer do bank robbers wear ski masks, they use high-technology to drain accounts. You’ll learn how to investigate cybercrimes that have occurred. Forensics specialists work for both private enterprise and law enforcement agencies.

Entry-Level Median Annual Salary Mid-Level Median Annual Salary
$52,557 $70,109

Networking Everything is connected, and employers need people who can keep the connections intact and viable for business purposes.

Entry-Level Median Annual Salary Mid-Level Median Annual Salary
$48,600 $56,160

Computer Science CS majors delve deep into computer code and research the limits of technology. Artificial Intelligence is a large topic in CS departments, as is quantum computing. With a CS degree, you'll be at the vanguard of technology.

Entry-Level Median Annual Salary Mid-Level Median Annual Salary
$55,955 $82,141

Electrical Computer Engineering ECE majors work with hardware and software that operates cellphone networks, manufacturing machines, and more. This field is generally broken into three areas: communications, software development, or hardware engineering.

Entry-Level Median Annual Salary Mid-Level Median Annual Salary
$66,579 $110,000

Management Information Systems Occupations:

  • Business Analyst Analysts scrutinize businesses for many reasons. Sometimes they seek to assess a value of the venture for the purposes of a merger/acquisition. Other times, the analysis is intended to reveal inefficiencies. Analysts frequently perform this function for two-three years before returning to graduate school for an MBA or a master's in MIS.
  • IT Consultant These professionals assess the information technology of a given company and decide where it may need an upgrade or whether or not to roll out new security protocols, etc. Other IT professionals work in-house for a company where they maintain databases, networks, and individual workstations.
  • Technical Support This can cover a wide range of job descriptions. Some tech support professionals troubleshoot desktops while others work on server-side applications and hardware. Technical support workers are most visible in offices where they fix printer routers, help people with their networking connections, and generally troubleshoot for the company or department.
  • Web Developer Web developers work to create websites and internet solutions for businesses and individuals. They sometimes work as designers and optimize front-end experiences. Other times, they work on the back-end of websites to ensure that ecommerce apps work properly, or build custom plugins to give a site unique functionality.

  • Systems Developer Systems Developers are programmers who create new applications or who work to customize existing systems for specific uses. They might create operating systems for proprietary devices or systems, such as an MP3 device or a cellphone. Others might work on debugging that code or running tests to find weak spots, or bugs, in the programs.
  • Business Application Developer While essentially performing the same functions as many other developers, business application developers often create proprietary mobile or web apps for their employer. Some may create mobile apps for a retailer, for instance, which will deliver coupons or other information to customers. They might also create network applications so that teams can collaborate and work on projects from remote locations.

Management Information Systems Salaries by Occupation

Entry-Level Median Annual Salary Mid-Level Median Annual Salary Late-Career Median Annual Salary
Business Analyst $63,800 $81,400 $97,300
IT Consultant $62,200 $85,400 $111,900
Technical Support $53,800 $75,100 $95,700
Web Developer $50,600 $66,700 $77,200
Systems Developer $61,000 $67,300 $86,000
Business Application Developer $59,200 $80,200 $92,100

Important Questions to Ask (FAQ)

How long does it take to earn a Management Information Systems bachelor's degree online?

An undergrad MIS degree should take you approximately four years to complete. However, many students these days take up to six years to complete a four-year degree. Try to complete your degree in as timely a fashion as possible. However, if you need to take time off to work, seek positions in your chosen field.

In fact, with a little luck and hard work you might be able to land a position in an IT department that might even offer tuition assistance. Regardless of any such benefits, you should work towards making every job count towards your MIS studies and career aspirations. When you finally do graduate, your resume will be full of academic achievement and relevant work experience.

How much does an online Management Information Systems bachelor’s degree cost?

College is not cheap. You can cut your expenses with scholarships and by attending public, in-state institutions. Online options at public institutions can also be more affordable, where available. You can also cut costs by taking your core courses at a local community college.

Still, in all, you should expect to pay a total sum somewhere between $30,000 and $300,000 for a four-year college degree. The lower figure assumes you take courses from a community college and the top figure is an estimate based on top private universities.

Management Information Systems Bachelor's Degree Coursework

Your bachelor's MIS coursework will be demanding. Some of the courses you might take will include, but are not limited to:

  • Managing Information Systems
  • Business Data Communications
  • Healthcare Information Systems
  • Systems Security Management
  • Detecting Deception
  • Supply Chain Logistics
  • Web and Social Media Analytics
  • Human Resource Management

Does the online school have the major(s) you’re considering?

This is a matter of utmost importance. Even if you are attending a community college with the aim of moving on to a four-year institution later, you should seek one that offers courses that will lead to an MIS degree. However, if the community college doesn't offer MIS-specific courses, you could also consider courses in Computer Information Systems or even Computer Science.

When you move on to a four-year college or university, that school should have the specific major you desire. You should also leave open the possibility that you could change your mind, so look over the entire course catalog for major programs that you could consider as a back-up or for a minor. Many students begin college intent on one field until they take an elective in some other department and find their true calling.

How many students graduate “on time,” in four years?

These days, students who graduate within four years are becoming quite rare. In fact, when the government studies how long students are taking in college, they assume a six-year graduation window. According to the statistics, students who attend highly competitive colleges tend to graduate within six years far more often that students who attend open-enrollment institutions. Women are also more likely to graduate within six years.

What kind of accreditation does the online program hold? How is it regarded in the field?

management_information_systems_accreditation_program Your MIS program should be through a fully accredited institution. When you look for the best MIS program, make sure that you note their accreditation. Since many MIS degrees will be offered through a business school, check on that school's accreditation. Business schools are eligible for national accreditation through two main agencies:

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business:
The AACSB is often considered the gold standard for online business schools. They have been accrediting undergraduate and graduate programs since the early 1900's. Their standards are thus more academic and traditional. They place high value on the research of faculty as well as their credentials.

Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs:
Another top accreditation comes from the ACBSP. Founded in the late 1980's, the agency responded to the rising popularity of MBA programs. Their approach to accreditation is focused more on pedagogy and student outcomes than faculty achievements. The schools they accredit are often considered teaching colleges. Though an ACBSP-certified institution is perhaps not as prestigious as one with AACSB credentials, you just might receive more attention and better instruction.

Regional accreditation is a third option for your MIS education. While not as esteemed as a national credential, your college should have at least this sort of certification. Without the minimum of a regional accreditation to certify your education, your graduate school application is unlikely to be very successful.

Software/Technology/Skills Needed

As an MIS professional, you will work with software and other technologies at a very high level. Since many MIS graduates move into positions as business analysts, you will probably need to master spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft's Excel or the open source alternative, LibreOffice Calc. To truly succeed, you should master skills such as using and writing macros.

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Since MIS majors essentially work with people through data, you will want to hone your communication skills. Make a point of taking business communications or a technical writing course. It will work to your advantage to seek out leadership positions, as well. Your student government or campus clubs and associations may offer students excellent opportunities.

Management Information Systems Scholarships

  • Paul S. and Shirley Goodman Award
    This scholarship is awarded to doctoral candidates in the Eller School at the University of Arizona. The prize varies from year to year, but the funds will surely be a benefit while you complete your dissertation.

  • Joelle Benson STEM Scholarship
    Undergraduates in the Eller School at the University of Arizona should apply for this award. The scholarship provides $1,250 per semester to outstanding students in the field. The award's namesake has gone on to achieve great things with Dell EMC Global and hopes to foster success in younger generations.

  • Edison Scholars Program
    Science and technology loving high school seniors with a cumulative 3.0 (or better) GPA are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. The total purse is $40,000 which is divided between 30 winning students. The $1,333 will surely help get any first-year student started with tuition assistance or help purchasing expensive MIS textbooks.

  • HIMSS Foundation Scholarship
    Amount: $5,000
    Deadline: January 28, 2021

    This scholarship is awarded to one undergraduate and one graduate student who is studying healthcare information systems, or a related field. Management Information Systems surely qualifies. To apply, your primary activity must be your studies. The undergraduate student should be an incoming junior and both applicants must be a HIMSS member in good standing, though not currently sitting on any boards nor employed by the foundation.

  • Women Techmakers Scholars Program
    Formerly known as the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Program, recipients of this program will find that there is more to gain than some cash for college. The program includes a retreat where you'll meet fellow scholars and mentors from Google. Women involved in STEM and related fields are encouraged to apply. This program could be a real stepping stone to success.

Professional Management Information Systems Organizations

  • ACM
  • CMG
  • AIS
  • IRMA


“Association for Computing Machinery”(ACM)

This association supports members with publications, conferences, volunteer opportunities, and seeks to include everyone under its umbrella. The association actively encourages women and minority members, as the field tends to lean towards white males. Its learning opportunities are vast, and they even will offer course recommendations for students who are aiming at particular careers such as Information Systems, Software Engineering, and Computer Science.



“Computer Management Group” (CMG)

CMG essentially operates a large tent under which tech experts can gather to network and discuss issues related to their fields. Through the organization, you can study towards certifications, courses, and webinars that are all available at a discount to members.



“Association for Information Systems” (AIS)

AIS seeks to advance the field through increasing the knowledge base amongst its members. Their journals and educational resources allow members to continually learn and improve as IS professionals. They even maintain databases related to jobs that track placements, job satisfaction, and which offer advice on search strategies.



“Information Resources Management Association” (IRMA)

IRMA seeks to benefit its members primarily through being a dispensary of industry and academic journals. With your membership, you'll receive a free subscription to the journal of your choice. Then, you'll be eligible for a 30% discount on additional subscriptions. Books are offered at a 20% discount, and you'll also receive the bi-annual newsletter, among other benefits. Being an IRMA membership is an excellent way to increase your knowledge base while building a valuable library for future reference.

Choosing an Accredited College

To ensure your best career success, you will need to choose an accredited college or university. If their MIS department is in a business school, research that business school's accreditation. When you attend a nationally-accredited program, your degree will open far more doors. Accreditation will also pay off when you decide to apply for higher level education. Non-accredited courses will likely not transfer, and you might need to re-take courses, which is a burden to your time and wallet. Further, if your employer offers tuition reimbursement, ask them for their accreditation standards, if any.

Online vs On-Campus vs Hybrid

You will need to choose between an online, on-campus, or hybrid program for your education. Online education continues to grow and nearly every institution offers at least some online courses. Though traditionalists are skeptical, student outcomes from online programs are equal to their on-campus peers.

When you apply for an online MIS degree, you will want to determine whether the program is asynchronous or not. Asynchronous programs do not have any set schedule for students to log-in and so you can access your class materials any time of the day or night. This is especially important for working students who often cannot make time for scheduled lectures or chatroom discussions. Asynchronous classroom material is a major advantage for online students, a benefit that on-campus students cannot match.

However, on-campus programs still attract the largest share of students. Students find that they get more interaction with fellow students and instructors in on-campus interactions. This can be beneficial when students are assigned group projects and when you need to ask an impromptu question after class. However, online students have equal access to instructors via email.

Hybrid programs, also known as low-residency programs, have arisen lately to address everyone's concerns. Students in low-residency programs are required to attend events or classes on campus at set times during a term. These programs are popular because they offer the asynchronicity of online courses along with the real-world interactions that facilitate professional networking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why major in Management Information Systems?

Well, for one thing, information systems are taking over many parts of business. Corporations need managers who are used to working with copious amounts of data and understand how to communicate effectively with IT departments. Additionally, if you’re interested in technology and business, this is the perfect intersection of the two, and it will keep your career open in a way that can allow you to shift toward either career path later.

What can you do with an MIS degree?

There are many options. Within Geographical Information Systems, you could work as a systems specialist, systems analyst, system technician, or a manager. There is a similar requirement for workers in health information systems, human resources information systems, and security information, event management, and more. And, at the end of each of these career paths, there are management positions waiting for you.

How much money can you make with a degree in management information systems?

Much of this depends on what path you end up following and how high you get into management. GIS technicians generally earn around $46,000/year, whereas a GIS specialist earns $55,000 and a GIS analyst earns around $56,000/year. The average human resources information system analyst earns around $69,000/year while those with skill in security information and event management or clinical information systems earn closer to $77,000. And information system managers earn around $84,000 each year.

Does the College Have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help & Assistance?

Believe it or not, not all colleges offer their graduates assistance with starting a career. Therefore, don't assume that you'll be taken care of once your senior year rolls around. Be sure to discuss job placement resources with your admissions counselor. Also inquire about the likelihood of landing internships through the college's resources. Some colleges and universities maintain close relations with community businesses so that their MIS students are afforded plenty opportunities for experiential learning during their college or graduate school years.

Why You Need to Consider How Rating/Accreditation Can Affect Your Salary

A college's ranking not only determines how difficult it is to gain admission, it also can determine your starting salary. After all, employers are looking for workers who will provide the most return on their investment and the best predictor of success is school ranking.

In fact, it may be worthwhile to attend a program that is higher-ranked but perhaps not an ideal fit academically because you'll find financial rewards after graduation. Studies have even shown that students in more competitive colleges tend to graduate on-time at higher rates than those from less-competitive schools.

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