Management Information Systems: Masters Degree, Training & Online Course Info

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What kind of job can you get with a master's degree in management information systems? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and management information systems degrees.
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Studying Management Information Systems: Degrees at a Glance

Management information systems studies explore ways to use technologies for the improvement of business operations. This is an area of study that includes some technical instruction to go along with training in business concepts. Common topics covered in management information systems training include networking, information security and databases.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information systems managers were expected to see employment growth of 18% during the decade of 2010-2020, which was about as fast as the average of all occupations. A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum requirement to become a computer and information systems manager, but the BLS noted that many of these professionals had graduate degrees. The BLS mentioned that the healthcare, cloud computing and information security fields were all projected to have solid demand for information technology managers.

Master's Graduate Certificate Program
Who is this degree for? Individuals seeking mid- and high-level management positions in the field of information technology Students looking to enhance their current careers with graduate-level training in management or information systems
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Chief information technology officer ($232,000 - with about 10 years of experience)*
- Information technology auditor manager ($110,000 - with 7 years of experience)*
- Computer and information systems manager ($118,000)**
- Information technology supervisor ($75,000)*
- Information technology director ($163,000 - with 8 years of experience)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years, full-time About 1 year, depending on how many courses you take
Common Requirements - Set of 6-8 core information science courses
- About 3-5 concentration or elective courses
- Information systems project
- Roughly 4-8 courses focused on technology and management concepts
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- GMAT or GRE scores
- Background in business and programming
- Bachelor's degree
Online Availability Yes Yes

Sources: *Salary.com (October 2012 figures), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).


Master's in Management Information Systems

The master's program in management information systems (MIS) is designed to give you information technology skills that can be applied to a business setting. Upon completion of the program, students should be able to design, install, protect and manage a variety of computer and information systems technologies. Some schools offer concentration options, such as software design, security and information assurance, project management and business management. This type of master's program is generally meant for students who wish to pursue jobs in the business industry.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Employers may prefer management candidates who have master's degrees over those who only have bachelor's degrees
  • Can lead to high paying career options (chief information technology officers earned a median salary of about $232,000 in 2011)*
  • Most of these programs can be completed in a year

Cons

  • Not a hard requirement for many mid-level information technology management positions
  • Few programs require an internship or offer many hands-on learning opportunities
  • Programs are designed for professionals who wish to work at businesses and organizations and are not generally intended for students interested in research or teaching careers

Source: *Salary.com figure as reported October of 2012

Common Courses and Requirements

MIS master's degree programs generally require you to complete a set of core courses, including business telecommunications, financial accounting, database management and project management. The latter part of the program features your specialization or elective courses, which might include:

  • Software systems management
  • Cloud computing
  • Risk management
  • Computer forensics
  • Networking systems
  • Business programming

Although a few programs may be completely based on coursework requirements, you'll find that programs typically incorporate an information project or capstone in the curriculum. A few schools may give you the option to complete a thesis project instead of a capstone course, but this option is somewhat uncommon in MIS programs.

Online Degree Options

The master's degree program in MIS is available completely online. The distance-learning format of this program is practically the same as the on-campus version. You won't have to worry about missing out on many hands-on learning opportunities by choosing the online format, but keep in mind that you probably won't have any optional internship opportunities through online programs.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Professionals in the information technology field need to keep up with the constant changes in technology to stay ahead of the competition, which can be challenging. Joining a professional organization like the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) can give you access to networking opportunities, workshops, seminars and other resources that can keep you up-to-date with the latest trends in information technology. AITP also has student chapters at a number of different schools, so you can begin taking advantage of these resources before you graduate.


Graduate Certificate in Management Information Systems

The graduate certificate program in MIS can often be completed at your own pace as long as you finish it in 3 years. Although the program is generally designed for students who already have an undergraduate degree in a business or information systems field, this program can still be useful for people who don't have a background in information technology. Most schools allow you to count the coursework you complete in the certificate program towards your master's degree requirements, should you choose to stay in school. You can expect fewer admission requirements to get into a graduate certificate program as compared to a master's program, since you generally only need a bachelor's degree to qualify for admission.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Most programs can be completed at your own pace, allowing working professionals to pursue the certificate without having to leave their jobs
  • May take less time to complete than a master's program
  • Can give you a competitive advantage over other applicants who only have a bachelor's degree
  • Courses can usually be applied to a master's program if you wish to continue your graduate education

Cons

  • Rarely a requirement for most information technology jobs
  • May have fewer course options than a master's program
  • Since you'll only be taking a few courses, you probably won't become an expert in any particular specialty within MIS

Courses and Requirements

The certificate program is focused on coursework, so you won't be required to complete a project or an internship. Your course options vary between programs; some schools have a list of required courses that you must complete to earn the certificate, while others may allow you to choose some of your courses from a list of approved electives. Here are some examples of course options you might have:

  • Database design
  • Project management
  • Organizational behavior
  • Information systems
  • Business communications
  • Networking

Online Course Info

You can complete the MIS certificate program in an online format. Some schools may have a hybrid option, which would allow you to take some courses online and some courses at the campus. The distance-learning program is generally equivalent to the on-campus one, but you may have limited course options, since some universities only offer particular electives in a classroom setting.

Standing Out with This Certificate

If you're looking to get an edge over other applicants who have similar experience and education, you may want to look into getting certified. The exact certification that's right for you depends on your career goals, but a number of different organizations have relevant options for information technology professionals.

For information technology project managers, the Project Management Institute offers the Project Management Professional designation to project managers who have at least 5 years of experience (bachelor's degree holders only need 3 years of experience). Individuals who plan on working with Microsoft technologies might be interested in the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist credential, while those people working with networks often might want to look into the Cisco Certified Network Associate designation. You can obtain most certifications by passing the required exams and meeting the education and experience prerequisites. Certifications may also need to be renewed periodically.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership
      • MS - Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Business Intelligence
  • Evanston, IL

    Northwestern University

  • Online Programs Available
    6. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • BS in Business (Management Information Systems) / MBA Dual Degree
      • MBA (Technology Management)
  • Nashville, TN

    Vanderbilt University

  • Online Programs Available
    8. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA in Information Technology Management
      • International MBA in Information Technology Management
      • MBA in Business Intelligence
      • MBA in Six Sigma
      • MBA

Featured Schools

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Organizational Leadership
  • MS - Management

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems
  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

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Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

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Saint Joseph's University

  • MS - Business Intelligence

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Excelsior College

  • BS in Business (Management Information Systems) / MBA Dual Degree
  • MBA (Technology Management)

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Southern New Hampshire University

  • MBA in Information Technology Management
  • International MBA in Information Technology Management
  • MBA in Business Intelligence

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