Why Earn a Master’s (MS) in Computer Information Systems?
While a bachelor’s is an entry-level degree in the computer information systems or information technology field, an online or traditional master’s in information systems will allow you to advance as far as possible in your career. Whether you want to move into research or management, a master’s can get you where you need to go, while also providing you a deeper level of knowledge in your specific area of interest. While there are things you need to consider before starting your master’s degree, you’re likely to find that earning the degree will help you achieve your goals in the long run. A Master of Science in Computer Information Systems will focus on project management in the information technology field, but this two-year program may also offer students computer and business coursework and core courses related to software development, data analytics, computer and information systems, business information systems, business analytics, and more.
- By earning a master’s, you will gain more earnings
- Most employers prefer a master’s degree over a bachelor’s
- You will have a wide array of opportunities available with an information systems master's degreee
- You can advance to earn a PhD
- This degree holder will be in high demand soon
- You can choose to earn a dual degree with a bachelor's and an MS in Computer Information Systems program and obtain your master's degree much faster or you may find an accelerated online program that can be completed quickly
- You will earn more respect by holding an MS in Computer Information Systems degree than a bachelor's in information technology
- There is some competition for computer information systems
- It is quite costly to obtain this degree, even online
- It takes longer to acquire than a bachelor’s
- You can get many jobs with just a bachelor's degree
- The enrollment process is quite daunting with so much to submit and exams to pass
Overview of a Master's in CIS
What Computer Information Systems Master’s Degrees are Available Online?
- Master’s in Data Science Programs
This degree program is available in over 30 universities and offers students an education that covers computer science and mathematics topics. Some of these degree programs offer specializations like data engineering, artificial intelligence, or analytics, while also teaching problem solving skills and perhaps even a rundown of business information systems and business analytics. Graduates will have an understanding of both the application and theory of data science techniques. Some of these programs may be accessible through online formats, but the more hands-on learning there is, the less likely you are to find online courses.
- Online Master’s in Business Analytics
A Master of Science in Business Analytics is a STEM graduate degree that combines concepts from statistics, data science, information theory, business intelligence, and computer science geared towards commercial applications in business information systems and business analytics. Graduates might find work in information technology project management or as information systems managers.
- Master’s in Information Systems (MSIS)
A MSIS is a specialized master's degree program designed to teach students the business savvy and technical expertise necessary to design, maintain, analyze, manage, and deploy information systems in government, industrial, and non-profit settings. These lend themselves to online learning quite well.
- Master’s in Computer Science (MCS)
The MCS is a professional master's degree designed specifically for computer science professionals who are currently working in government, business, or another role in the industry and would like to advance their careers. These can also be found online.
- Master’s in Computer Engineering
Computer Engineering blends the academic disciplines of computer science with electrical engineering to create new computer systems. Graduates combine their knowledge of software with computer hardware to create new computer components and improve existing designs. These programs may be found in hybrid (online and in-person courses) and fully online programs.
- Master’s in Cyber Security
A Master of Science in Cyber Security is typically a type of professional postgraduate master's degree that focuses on the study of cyber security. Universities award this master’s degree in many countries and they are quite common as online programs.
While some colleges make it very easy to apply for an online CIS program, others may make it more difficult, even for students looking to access online learning. The following are some of the things that may be required to enroll in a Master’s of Science Computer Information Technology program:
- Must hold a bachelor’s degree (most schools prefer a bachelor’s from a regionally accredited university or college)
- Possess general knowledge of computer programming and computer network basics (some schools may require students to take an MIT 300 test).
- Prerequisite courses may be suggested for those without a bachelor’s degree in CS/IS or relevant work experience.
- Some schools may ask students to submit their graduate examination SAT or ACT scores.
How long does it take to earn a Computer Information Systems Master’s Online?
Earning an online master's degree in computer information systems requires that students complete 30 to 40 credits, which can take an average full-time student 1.5-2 years to earn; although some may take longer depending on many factors, including their schedule restrictions. When you consider the length of time it takes to earn a bachelor's, it should take approximately between 5 and 7 years to earn your online master’s degree. There are dual-degree programs for those who wish to earn their online master’s, which combine both bachelor’s and master’s programs and can be completed in as little as 5 years.
Potential Careers in Computer Information Systems with a Master’s
- System Administrator, Computer / Network
The responsibilities of a computer/network system administrator are to maintain organizations technological systems. A system administrator must be able to manage various tasks; be flexible; install, configure, upgrade, and maintain server operating systems and applications; develop and document the standards and procedures; have good communication, both written and verbal; and troubleshooting skills. They are also responsible for handling confidential data and information. There are even certain government positions that require a security clearance.
Average Salary - $61,200
- Computer Systems Analyst Salary
Computer systems analysts use computers and other digital systems to automate functions for manufacturing, distributing, and other similar functions. These professional analysts use their excellent analytic skills to use computer technology to streamline processes and achieve maximum efficiency and accuracy.
Average Salary – $69,500
- Computer Network Architects
Network architects are in charge of designing and reviewing network capabilities and requirements for their organization. They are also responsible for developing or utilizing high-level design plans for optimal network implementation. These architects must pay close attention to detail and have excellent organizational skills to prevent network incompatibility and issues. They report escalated issues and their progress to either the network administrator or the supervisor of their department as needed.
Average Salary – $121,800
- Software Developer
Software developers are experts in developing computer applications for users to perform specific tasks on computers or other devices. In addition, they may also develop, utilize, or customize existing systems that control networks or run devices. A software developer generally works in an office setting.
Average Salary – $71,900
- Computer and Information Research Scientists
Computer and information research scientists complete computer-related and information reports while overseeing research efforts on behalf of their organization. They also help process data and complete investigative tasks to gather information, and therefore, should have a good eye for detail.
Average Salary - $115,700
Options to Advance
To work in the computer information systems industry, all that is really required by most employers is a bachelor’s degree. However, an online master’s is always better to have for advancement and should increase your earnings. Advancing to earn a Ph.D. often isn’t worth the time or money to earn unless you are considering teaching, conducting research, or becoming a computer scientist. Other positions you can advance to are; Software Engineer, Research Scientist, and Senior Software Engineer.
Best Master’s of Science in Computer Information Systems (CIS) Programs
New Jersey Institute of Technology
The New Jersey Institute of Technology offers CIS graduate degree programs for students interested in an advanced degree. They also have graduate degree programs for anyone interested in continuing their education after obtaining a four-year degree.
- Master of Computer and Information Sciences
- Master’s in Engineering Technologies
Georgia Institute of Technology
If you wish to major in Computer Information Systems, Georgia Institute of Technology’s main campus is a popular choice, where roughly 458 students are enrolled in classes to obtain this degree. The setting is located in a large urban center that is perfect for young people seeking excitement, networking, and exploration.
- Analytics — Online Degree (OMS Analytics)
- Computational Science and Engineering – Online Degree (MS)
- Computer Science – Online Degree (OMSCS)
- Cybersecurity — Online Degree (OMS Cybersecurity)
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University is a great choice for those who want to study Computer Information Systems in a large city. Graduates who earn their master’s degree in computer information systems from Carnegie Mellon University make 22.6% more than the average CIS graduates.
- Master’s in Information Networking
- Master’s in Information Security
University of Pennsylvania
Students interested in Computer Information Systems should check out the University of Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania offers CIS graduate degrees and is one of the largest schools in Pennsylvania.
- Computer and Information Science
- Computer and Information Technology (MCIT)
- Computer Graphics and Game Technology (CGGT)
- Applied Mathematics and Computational Science
James Madison University
James Madison University is a great choice for students pursuing a master’s in Computer Information Systems. Students who obtain the CIS degree make around $60,600 in the early stages of their career and roughly $104,100 at the mid-career level. Harrisonburg, Virginia is ideal for people who enjoy the fast-paced urban lifestyle.
- Computer Science: Information Security (MS)
Traditional Schools Offering a MS in Computer Information Systems
Northwestern University, in Evanston, occupies a campus set on 240 acres that overlooks the beautiful Lake Michigan. There are currently 21,000 students enrolled in 12 institutions.
- Master of Science - Information and Knowledge Strategy
- Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science
- Master of Science (MS) in Computer Engineering
- Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT)
New York University (NYU)
New York, NY
NYU is ranked as one of New York’s largest private colleges, with institutions in Brooklyn, Washington Square Park, and Greenwich Village. The school also hosts international campuses in Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and additional sites around the world that have study abroad programs. In 1831, NYU’s inaugural class had only 158 graduates. Today, the student population has reached over 59,000.
- Computer Engineering (Engineering)
- Computer Science (Arts & Science/Courant)
- Computer Science (Engineering)
- Computer Science Education (Steinhardt)
- Computer Science & Economics (Arts & Science)
- Computer Science & Mathematics (Arts & Science)
The University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is based in Tampa, occupying the former Henderson Air Field's bombing range area. USF ranks as one of Florida's largest institutions, with 50,577 students enrolled in over 40 graduate school programs at 14 colleges. The online master's degree program in information technology is made available by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and encompasses 30 credits. The curriculum spans 21 elective courses and nine core credits. To earn this degree, students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and pass a comprehensive exam.
- Master of Science in Computer Engineering
- Master of Science in Computer Science
Boston University (BU)
BU sits alongside the Charles River, in the heart of the city, serving a student population of over 33,000 in 17 institutions. In 2002, BU started offering online programs and since then students have been completing many degrees online. The master's in computer information systems was developed in 2004, with those who worked full-time in mind. The program prepares students for careers in computer networks, health informatics, data analytics, IT project management, database management, and security.
- Computer Engineering (BS, MEng, MS, Ph.D., minor)
- Computer Information Systems (MS)
- Computer Networks (GRAD Cert)
- Computer Science CAS/GRS (BA, BA/MS, minor, MS, Ph.D.)
- Computer Science MET (BS, accelerated degree completion program, UND Cert, MS, GRAD Certs)
Iowa State University
ISU’s Department of Electric and Electronic Engineering have two options available for aspiring information security tech professionals; a master of science or a master of engineering. Both programs require 30 credit hours of study, in an 18-hour core curriculum focused on security practices, networking, and computing ethics.
- Master’s in Computer Engineering
- Master’s in Computer Networking [CRT]
- Master’s in Computer Science
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a master’s in information systems worth it?
No matter your original field, if you want to move into IT management, this degree can provide you with all the knowledge you need to work in a business with an IT department. In these programs you will usually learn all about the function of information systems, business analytics, business process design, database management, project management, security management, systems analysis, system design, and more. This degree is similar to one in database management, but with a larger, more holistic view of the running of an entire company. This view of the organization, coupled with all the IT knowledge you need to run said organization is what makes this degree so powerful. It can help you get into whatever role you desire.
Is a computer information systems degree hard?
This degree, especially if you are trying to move into computer science from another field, is somewhat difficult. This is due to the fact that it is very technical in nature. There will be a strong math component no matter where you choose to earn your degree, and you will have to take courses that cover algorithms, database administration, network design and theory, operating systems, system analysis, and more. This is why you should be prepared to put plenty of time into studying when you start one of these programs.