Business Information Systems: Bachelor, Associate & Online Degree Info

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What kind of job can you get with an undergraduate degree in business information systems? Find out associate and bachelor degree program requirements, online options and information on courses and careers in business information systems.
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Study Business Information Systems: Degrees at a Glance

Typical business information systems programs combine business and information technology in a way that addresses the needs of today's companies and organizations. Earning a degree in this discipline can enable you to take on the role of creating and maintaining the technology needed to achieve a company or organization's business objectives.

Because these degrees are broad, there are a variety of jobs in many industries that you might consider, which will vary in job outlook. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that computer support specialists would see an 18% employment growth from 2010-2020, which was slightly above average. Network and computer systems administrator positions were estimated to increase by 28% over the same period, while database administrator should see a 31% employment growth. Computer hardware engineers and financial managers were predicted to see a nine percent employment growth, according to the BLS.

Associate Bachelor
Who is this degree for? People interested in entry-level private or public sector jobs working with information systems Individuals who want entry or middle-level careers in business technology in a variety of industries
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Computer support specialist ($52,000)*
- Network and computer systems administrators ($74,000 with experience and professional certification)*
- Database administrator ($74,000)*
- Computer and information systems manager ($126,000)*
- Computer hardware engineer ($101,000)*
- Computer systems analyst ($82,000)*
- Financial manager ($120,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 3-5 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60-80 credit hours
- Exams and essays
- Professional or field requirements (in certain programs)
- About 110-140 credit hours
- Liberal arts coursework
- Exams and essays
- Professional or field requirements (in certain programs)
- Foreign language requirement
Prerequisites High school diploma or a GED -High school diploma or a GED
- Minimum GPA requirement
Online Availability Rare Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate in Business Information Systems

In an associate degree program in business information technology, like the Associate of Science in Business Information Systems, you'll learn how to design, develop and implement the technology infrastructure for a company or organization. In addition to this, you'll gain a foundation in establishing and maintaining the technological environments needed to run a business successfully in today's technological world. Skills in management, communications, critical-thinking and problem-solving, as well as database networks and computer system maintenance are all generally topics that will help you gain entry-level positions in the workforce. However, a bachelor degree or higher is needed for many jobs in this field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Getting an associate degree in business information systems can take two years or less
  • You can either use this degree program to gain an entry-level position with a company or to continue your education in a bachelor degree program
  • Some programs offer paths to gain industry certifications and hands-on experience

Cons

  • Most business information systems jobs require at least a bachelor degree
  • Credits from your associate degree program may not transfer to the bachelor degree program of your choosing
  • Online programs from accredited, not-for-profit institutions can be difficult to find in this field

Courses and Requirements

Although there are similar courses in different associate degree programs in business information systems, because the field is so broad, you'll often encounter different specialized subject areas. Some programs even offer tracks to gain certain information technology (IT) certifications. A few classes that you could end up taking are:

  • Business law
  • WAN and LAN administration
  • Software applications
  • Organizational management
  • Technical writing skills
  • Fundamentals of database administration
  • Microeconomics
  • E-commerce
  • Marketing principles
  • Database management systems

Online Degree Options

Accredited, not-profit online business information systems associate degree programs are few and far between. However, earning an associate degree in a more general field, such as business, computer science or IT, may be helpful when applying to similar work positions. In related online programs, like the Associate of Arts in Information Systems, you can study related topics of business and technology to prepare for your career or education studies.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

The BLS notes that pursuing professional certification to go along with your associate degree in business information systems can help you pursue job opportunities. For example, the International Institute of Business Analysis offers the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA) designation, which will require work experience, minimum hours in the knowledge areas, references and professional development. You can also find industry certification from organizations like Microsoft.

Bachelor in Business Information Systems

A bachelor degree program in business information systems, such as the Bachelor of Business Information Systems, will typically train you to become a professional business executive with the ability to manage simple and complex computer systems. Graduation can lead to careers in business as an information systems manager, systems administrator, computer programmer, computer support specialist and many other computer systems related positions. In order to successfully apply for administrative or management positions, however, you'll usually need several years of work experience.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A bachelor degree in business information systems will give you the skills needed for a wide variety of business and IT-related career tracks
  • Should you choose to increase your pay and job opportunities by earning a master's degree, a bachelor degree in this field can be solid prerequisite
  • There are many online programs available in this field

Cons

  • Earning your bachelor degree can cost a lot of money and take at least four years
  • Although a bachelor degree can meet minimum education requirements, many employers require years of work experience that you may not have yet
  • Certain employers prefer or even require a master's degree for advanced positions

Courses and Requirements

Much of the coursework that you can expect from a bachelor degree program in this discipline is designed to help you develop and manage technological infrastructures for companies and organizations. Some of the courses you might take include:

  • Principles of self-management
  • Information systems and project management
  • Java programming
  • Web application development
  • Networking, systems and security

Online Degree Options

If you don't have the schedule to attend traditional college programs because of work, family or other obligations, you can still earn your bachelor degree in business information systems online. There are a number of accredited programs to choose from. In some cases, you may be required to attend a certain location for proctored testing for some of your courses. In addition to online options, there are also accelerated programs designed for working professionals.

Stand Out With This Degree

Once you've earned your bachelor degree, it can be integral to have taken steps to stand out from the pack. The following are a few suggestions for your consideration:

  • Earn your certification in specific software and operating systems like Microsoft SQL Server or Linux +
  • Gain knowledge and experience in the sector you want to work in, such as education if you're interested in becoming a senior manager of information systems for a public school district
  • Complete a paid or unpaid IT/computer technology internship while earning your degree, or over a summer break, which can help you gain experience and add a boost to your resume

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