Why Earn a Master’s in Management Information Systems (MIS) Degree?
A master’s degree is vital for anyone interested in holding a management-level position, as an undergraduate degree is unlikely to be enough. If you’re looking to enter an information technology management position as a database administrator or security manager for computer information systems, then you really need to consider earning an online master or traditional master’s degree, and a Master of Science in Management Information Systems program (MS-MIS) might be just the thing. Even if this isn’t your current plan, it may be a good idea to start your online learning and work towards earning an online master's, where you can take a few core courses a year until you’ve finished enough to earn the information systems degree. Online master programs can also be taken as accelerated degrees and be finished more quickly than some traditional information systems programs. Your employer might pay for some of this and, if you show an interest in taking on more responsibility, might even be willing to cover the entire cost if it means gaining a well-trained employee who’s up-to-date with the technical skills on the latest education in databases, data science, knowledge management, security, and other important information systems technologies.
Online and traditional management information systems degrees may include core courses in general education and more targeted business coursework in many of the following subjects.
- Information Systems Design and Decision Support
- Information Security
- Business Intelligence and Analytics
- Modern Database Applications
- Systems Analysis
- Data Analytics
- Business Analytics
- Supply Chain Management
- Computer Science
- Management of Information Technology
- Information Systems Project Management
- With a Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MS in MIS), you will be eligible for the best positions. Because upper management jobs typically require experience, you are more likely to qualify if there is an internship or work experience requirement to your information systems degree program.
- Many schools partner with local corporations to hire students directly after graduation, so you may work an internship at a company and have a job waiting once you graduate. Of course, this doesn't work the same way if you earn an online master's degree.
- A master's degree will qualify you for the highest income levels within the field of information systems management as well as many other fields like database management, operations management, supply chain management, risk management, project managers positions and more.
- As you take online programs, eventually you will be eligible to earn online certificates and similar credentials to showcase your expertise in the field, allowing you to expand your employment prospects.
- An online master's in management degree will allow you to switch fields if you find yourself dissatisfied with your career because a graduate degree covers many employment areas.
- A master's degree takes time, even one you earn an online master's degree, and you must be able to commit yourself to your education. With the requirement that you already have a bachelor's degree to attend, the total time spent on your education will most likely be over half a decade before graduation, though some online programs are accelerated.
- Your degree will be expensive and may take a considerable period of time to pay off, even if you attend a state university. This means it will possibly take longer for students to see a return on your educational investment, and it will take even longer if students attend particularly expensive colleges and universities or if you attend online but only part-time.
- Because the information technology field is constantly evolving, you will need to continue your education after earning your graduate degree. You will have to attend seminars and learn about new technology every year if you want to keep up with the management of information technology. Online lectures and courses are often available through professional associations, but less common from local colleges and universities.
- You still may not have enough experience in the field to qualify for the position you want, so you'll have to work your way to the top.
- Most people in this field work over 40 hours per week and it's easy to get burned out.
Overview of a MIS Master's
What Management Information Systems Master’s Degrees are Available Online?
When looking for an online or traditional master's in management information systems program, it's important to look at the curriculum of each MIS program you are comparing. Because this is a graduate degree, it may be listed as a business degree concentration or under the umbrella of information technology (IT); you should check both areas of a school's academic degree programs page.
Look at the prerequisites for each program and confirm they mesh with the core courses or business coursework you completed (or will complete) in your bachelor degree program. Keep in mind, if you choose a program in the information technology (IT) arena, you may also have to choose a concentration of study such as management of information technology, project management, supply chain management, modern database applications, systems design and decision support, systems analysis, business analytics, or something else. Luckily, these programs do not vary much between their traditional or online counterparts.
Keep in mind that an online Master of Science in Management Information Systems program may have the same curriculum in different schools but hold a different title. Generally speaking, an arts degree will have more leeway in electives, a business degree will have more focus on the business aspects of a career, and a science degree will have more focused electives to choose from. A technology degree may be lacking in some management courses, so see if what you have planned to take is available as an elective. In some cases, this can affect whether or not you take a degree fully online or through a hybrid program, with online and in-person courses.
Check the requirements for practicums and internships, as well as any other requirements aside from coursework. It may be a good idea to make a spreadsheet for different school curriculums so you can see the difference in each program before you enroll in your school of choice. This can also greatly affect your choice of online, hybrid, or in-person management information systems degree options.
The most important thing to look for is accreditation. Most scholarships, grants, loans, federal funding, and employer education funds require attendance at an accredited school.
Here are some examples of Master degree titles:
- Master's degree in Management Information Systems (MIS)
- Master of Science Network Management
- Master of Business Arts Management Information Systems
- Master of Science Technology Management
While requirements will vary depending on your school and program of choice, you’ll likely need to hold a minimum GPA of 3.0 throughout your bachelor degree program. Your bachelor's should also meet all prerequisites of the program you wish to take, and it is vital that your new online degree is from an accredited school program.
You will need to send your transcripts to your school of choice and submit a resume; some schools require you to take the GRE or a similar exam. You may also need to submit letters of recommendation, a resume, and similar materials. Non-refundable application fees, a statement of intent, and entrance essays are also required at most schools. If English is your second language, you may be required to submit test results from a language equivalency test; if your bachelor’s degree is from another country, there may be an issue with all credits being accepted. These requirements are the same for online and in-person degrees.
How long does it take to earn an online Management Information Systems Master’s?
An online master's degree is typically between 30 and 45 credit hours, and the average completion time is between one and a half and two years. When included with a bachelor degree program you can expect to spend between five and seven years in college before you earn your graduate degree. You might be able to shorten your degree time by taking courses during the summer as well as during regular semesters.
Many people enter the employment arena once they hold their management information systems bachelor’s degree and continue to take evening or weekend courses to earn their master's degree. Many employers will pay their workers to attend school, so this type of program can be quite lucrative and is something you should look for if you're already working in the IT field and considering a return to school. Many graduate schools recognize that their students are employed full-time, so you might want to look for a program that offers flex time or similar attendance perks for working students.
Potential Careers in Management Information Systems with a Master’s
With a master's degree you will have a wide range of career choices within the field of IT. The following examples are just a few of the positions available to graduate degree students who hold a master's degree in management information systems; the average annual salary is included for each example. Keep in mind the salary is an average and may be considerably higher or lower in the area where you live.
- Information Security Analyst:
You’ll analyze a system for flaws and issues in its information systems security, as well as install and maintain software that protects sensitive information from outside attacks. You may also need to develop best practices and security standards for corporate use, may develop simulated attacks to identify possible security issues and weaknesses.
Average Annual Salary: $72,700
- Software Applications Developer:
A software applications developer is in charge of computer information systems development. You will customize or design computer application software, optimize existing software by modifying it or removing errors, and evaluate software needs within a company or corporation to determine feasibility. You may also develop and test software for system testing and validation.
Average Annual Salary: $63,300
- Database Administrator:
You’ll administer and test computer database systems and indicate user access levels for various segments of a database. You will also apply security systems to maintain the integrity of a database, and coordinate and correct changes and errors in computer databases.
Average Annual Salary: $74,000
- Computer Systems Analyst:
You’ll develop and test system designs and enhance the compatibility of a system to share information. You may analyze data issues to improve computer systems, consult with upper management to choose relevant software and hardware, and develop and test system design features for customized use.
Average Annual Salary: $69,500
- Management Analyst:
You'll use your management skills to work with business administration to determine how well a business is effectively managing projects with their business processes. You will conduct onsite interviews and observations of business practices and business processes to determine personnel and equipment needs, advise management on profitability aspects of systems, advise optional practical training for employees on a specific topic or area of business, compile and analyze data pertaining to a specific issue or needed improvement. You may also create presentations and reports so that management and human resources can understand the results and recommendations of investigations.
Average Annual Salary: $67,400
Options to Advance
Although your master's degree will put you at the top of the field in management information systems the field of computers is constantly evolving. An information systems manager should stay abreast of developments within the field of technology and business systems and should consistently take classes, seminars, and similar continuing education courses to stay competitive with new management information systems graduates in the field. Look for major changes in the field (such as a new language or technology innovation) and stay informed as to which certifications you might earn to show you are staying on pace with new advances in your field of choice.
By maintaining and growing your knowledge base and experience, you will have many options for advancement. Many in this field continue into upper management, so you could pursue positions such as:
- Chief Information Security Officer
- Business Development Director
- Security Manager
- Senior Project Manager, IT
- Senior Software Engineer
- IT Director
As you advance on your career ladder your responsibilities will rise, as will your income. For example, a business development director earns an average salary of $103,200; with bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing that income may grow as high as $192,100 per year.
Best Master’s of Science in Management Information Systems Programs
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana
One of the most well-known schools in the nation to both local and international students, Notre Dame has a mentorship program to ensure each student has the best educational experience possible. Students who graduate from Notre Dame are highly sought for employment by major corporations due to their business intelligence. This includes students with a master's in management information systems.
- MS in Business Analytics, Management Information Systems
- MBA in Management Information Systems
District of Columbia
Georgetown focuses on international applications and includes global operations in its master’s management information systems programs. Centrally located in D.C., with access to nearby government employers as well as major corporations, so you should consider future employment opportunities if you choose to enroll at Georgetown.
- M.S. Information Technology/Systems Management
- M.S. Operations Research/Management Science
Brigham Young University - Marriott School of Business
Marriot provides a more hands-on learning experience in management information systems design and management topics. The master's program MIS courses are 12 months and consists of 33.5 credit hours if one already holds their bachelor’s degree. Because it is not a business degree, you should choose electives that will enhance your business intelligence.
- Master of Information Systems Management (MISM)
Villanova has one of the best business programs in the country and bridges theory and practice to give a well-rounded education. The management information systems program delivers a broad knowledge of IT combined with a solid business base for the best in IT management.
- M.S. Information Technology/Systems Management
The University of Texas McCombs School of Business
Austin is known as the most entrepreneurial city in the U.S. and this is reflected in McCombs' information management concentration program. With this management information systems program, You will learn a solid combination of business and IT management that will put you in the top tier of your field.
- MBA Information Management (IM) concentration
Online Schools Offering an M.S. in Management Information Systems
Syracuse University School of Information Studies
Syracuse, New York
Syracuse offers an innovative approach to their master's in management information systems programs that combines the psychology of business with a solid leadership and IT program. The degree includes human-computer interaction, project management, information policy, information economics, business intelligence, e-business, organizational psychology, and data management.
- Master of Science in Information Management
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Concordia focuses on developing networks as well as knowledge bases, so upon graduation you will have a database of who you know to match what you know about data management. They offer a flexible schedule that includes in-person class options as well as an online master's in management information systems.
- Master's Degree in Management of Information Systems
Metropolitan State University
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Metropolitan has a state-of-the-art program in the field of management information systems. The goal of the program is to prepare you for leadership roles in management information systems as well as other fields of employment that rely on technology. This management information systems program is designed for those working in the field and has some flexibility for coursework.
- Master of Management Information Systems (MMIS)
Colorado State University Global Campus
As their name suggests, Colorado State is focused on the global aspect of technology. Global perspective applications prepare students and international students to meet organizational objectives in both business and technology. It includes technical skills, strategic planning, project management, data science, efficient implementation of IT operations, and the effective use of technical advancements for a well-rounded graduate management information systems degree.
- Master’s of IT Management
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the focus of this degree?
You might be wondering what the difference is between a management information systems degree and a database management degree. And that makes sense. There is overlap between the two. In fact, those earning a degree in MIS will likely take courses in database administration, systems analysis and design, and security management. However, they are also likely to spend some time in their major focusing on business, in addition to their technical skills. For instance, in this degree management information systems students may take MIS courses involving classes in business process design, business analytics, customer relationship management, and project management, among others.
Will an MIS degree involve coding?
The answer to this question may depend on what school or program you attend because some programs may require you to take a course where you learn basic coding while earning your degree. However, the jobs you will earn with your MIS degree are not likely to require much in the way of coding. In fact, you are more likely to be working in a supervisory position and, thus, not do any coding yourself outside of some changes to databases that may be required.