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Information systems degrees prepare students to improve organizations' business operations through technology.
Prospective students with strong analytical and leadership skills who excel with computers and business strategy should consider information systems degrees.
With bachelor's in information systems degrees, graduates enter a job market ripe with possibilities. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, jobs for computer and information systems managers should grow by a healthy 10% from 2019-2029. Degree-holders can pursue roles in many industries and excel in a rapidly evolving field.
Readers can anchor their school research using our ranked list, which highlights the best information systems degrees. This excellent resource for degree-seekers provides detailed information about each program. Our guide also discusses degree expectations and careers in computer information systems.
What Is Computer Information Systems?
Computers entered the business world during the 1970s, though they did not make their way to individual users until the 1980s. With cloud-based computing a modern staple of business across industries, organizations need robust information systems to manage their digital operations and protect against cyberattacks.
With a degree in computer information systems (CIS), graduates qualify for many fulfilling jobs. Security managers and IT directors need backgrounds in CIS. With experience, employees can advance to roles as chief information officers. Related jobs include information security analysts and network and computer systems administrators.
The BLS reports that 461,000 computer and information systems managers worked in the country as of 2019, with employment projected to grow by 11% from 2019-2029. Top-employing industries for computer information systems managers include computer systems design and related services, management of companies and enterprises, scientific and technical consulting services, and insurance carriers.
Prospective students interested in both computers and business may gravitate toward information systems degrees. CIS managers need strong analytical and decision-making skills to help them solve problems. First-rate communication skills also help CIS employees explain situations to managers who may lack specific technical proficiency.
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Why Get an Information Systems Bachelor's?
With a bachelor's degree in information systems, graduates can pursue many job opportunities. An associate degree can pave the way for certain positions, and a bootcamp can provide foundational coding knowledge to help students grasp the basics. A bachelor's degree adds business skills to computer expertise. Graduates complete their programs with a strong understanding of how to apply their technical skills to improve their prospective organizations.
Other benefits of pursuing a bachelor's degree in information systems include:
- The BLS projects an 11% employment growth rate across all computer and information technology jobs from 2019-2029. With a bachelor's degree in information systems, graduates enjoy healthy choices in the job market.
- In a field that continually produces new advancements, CIS professionals must keep their knowledge current. Information systems degree-holders secure the foundations they need to understand and implement changes in technology.
- Salary Potential
- A bachelor's degree qualifies graduates for jobs that garner a median pay starting at $80,000 as of 2019. Depending on the role and level of experience, CIS employees can earn even higher salaries.
What To Expect From Bachelor's in Information Systems Programs
A typical bachelor's in information systems provides students with the skills they need to run complex computer systems in business environments. Program participants learn to build databases and manage networks while balancing department budgets and supervising teams.
Most information systems degrees require about 120 credits for graduation. While requirements vary, students can expect to complete around 45-60 credits in the major. Most bachelor's degrees take four years to finish, though timelines differ. Some enrollees may transfer community college credits toward their degrees, reducing program length.
While tuition costs vary greatly between programs, enrollees in public, four-year institutions paid an average of $20,958 for tuition and related fees as of the 2018-19 academic year.
Concentration options in the computer information systems degree include cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. Related degree options include computer science or business administration. Coursework typically covers business information system development, database management, cybersecurity, and various business and management principles.
A prospective student needs a high school diploma or GED certificate before they can apply for an information systems degree. Admission requirements vary among schools, and some programs set minimum GPA requirements. Applicants may need to submit standardized test scores, sometimes with minimum score expectations such as a 1230 SAT or 25 ACT composite. Other programs waive standardized testing entirely.
While each school requires different materials, each candidate can expect to submit an online application along with transcripts and an application fee. Standardized tests, recommendations, and essays may also appear among application requirements. To streamline the admissions process, a degree-seeker can create an application through Common App and submit to multiple schools at once.
Some information system degrees expect students to enter with a minimum number of college credits, such as those earned through associate degrees or certificates. Prerequisite requirements may include trigonometry, pre-calculus, accounting, and economics.
Degree and Concentration Options
Prospective students can choose from several types of computer information systems degrees. A bachelor of science tends to emphasize the technology side while also providing business basics. With a bachelor of business administration in information systems, enrollees engage in a more robust business core with computer-related concentration courses.
While the degrees overlap in career options, individuals interested in executive management positions might consider more business-focused degrees. Computer science offers another possible degree path, though the curriculum diverges drastically. The section below describes the differences and similarities between computer science and information systems in more detail.
Degree-seekers can also find concentrations within information systems programs through official specializations and carefully selected electives. Cybersecurity specializations cover information security and web application security. Artificial intelligence focuses on areas like machine learning, data analytics, and game programming.
Students may also find options within a BS in information systems to focus more on business administration, shoring up program requirements with additional courses in accounting, marketing, and entrepreneurship.
Comparing Information Systems to General Computer Science Degrees
|Bachelor's in Information Systems||Bachelor's in Computer Science|
|Focus||Applying existing computer-based solutions to business problems||Understanding how computers work, designing programs, developing new technology|
|Career Paths||CIS or IT manager; management consultant; computer systems analyst; database administrator||Software engineering or development; database administrator; programming|
|Coursework||Business information system development; operating systems; security||Programming languages, algorithms, software development|
|Admission Requirements||GPA minimums and standardized testing often waived; prerequisites in math, accounting, economics||2.0-3.0 minimum GPA; SAT or ACT scores; prerequisites in math, science, English|
|Credits||120 total, 45-60 in core||120 total, 30-50 in core|
|Length||2-4 years depending on transferred credits||Typically four years|
Popular Information Systems Courses
Prospective students can expect to find differing curricula among the schools on their research list, but most programs share some similarities. An information systems degree typically includes a major core with both computer and business courses, plus general education requirements. Students can follow their interests by choosing electives, which programs sometimes combine into concentrations.
A computer information systems degree may also include a capstone, a hands-on project that solves a business problem through technology. Popular course requirements include:
- Information Systems
- As a required staple of the major core, this course covers information systems such as hardware, software, and data. Focusing on CIS applications in business environments, course subjects explore what makes information systems crucial in today's business world by addressing strategies, challenges, and management techniques.
- Principles of Finance
- This course provides students with theory and practice in financial management. Students learn how to calculate the value of an organization and its assets, plus fundamentals of investing, budgeting, risk management, and capital projects. Graduates can apply this knowledge when proposing new technology for employers.
- Business Law and Ethics
- Sometimes offered as an elective or as two separate classes, this course covers legal principles around contracts, sales, corporations, regulations, and partnerships. The ethics component explores moral decision-making from a managerial standpoint.
- Network Security
- This course teaches students to recognize cyberattacks and protect against them. Topics cover network infrastructure security, authentication applications, and cryptography. With cyberattacks commonly affecting businesses today, employers look for CIS workers who excel in security.
- An information systems degree may require a major-specific statistics course. Enrollees learn statistical data collection, frequency distributions, sampling theory, and probability, as they apply to business and economics. The course also covers hypothesis testing and data-graphing methods.
How Much Will a Bachelor's in Information Systems Cost?
Degree-seekers in public, four-year institutions paid an average of $20,958 for tuition, room and board, and other costs as of 2019. Factors that can influence a program's cost include school location, online versus in-person studies, and institutional prestige.
Students who opt to study at public universities in their states of residency can take advantage of lower tuition rates than those who study out-of-state. Private schools rarely differentiate tuition rates based on residency status, but their per-credit rates may run higher. Institutions with prestigious names also tend to carry higher price tags.
Distance learners can find lower rates in many programs, as schools often charge in-state or otherwise reduced tuition for online programs. They also reduce living and board, materials, and potential travel costs. Degree-seekers can fund their studies through scholarships, grants, and loans. The link below offers more information about how to finance an information systems degree.
Jobs for Bachelor's in Information Systems Graduates
Graduates with bachelor's degrees in information systems qualify for lucrative positions that blend technology and business.
As demand grows for many computer and information technology jobs, degree-holders can find ample opportunities. Computer systems analysts earned a median salary of $90,920 as of 2019, while computer and information systems managers earned a median income of $146,360 in the same period.
With professional experience or further education like an MBA, employees can qualify for advancement opportunities. Chief executives, for example, earned a median pay of $184,460 as of 2019. Computer and information research scientists, who typically hold master's degrees, earned a median income of $122,840 as of 2019.
Computer and Information Systems Manager
Encompassing titles like chief information officer and IT director, CIS managers help make large-scale technology decisions for their organizations. They collaborate with other executives to set goals, assess potential costs, and propose new projects. They also monitor changes and work to stay current with technology trends to improve their businesses.
Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts map the way their organization uses technology. As experts in particular industries, they compile reports recommending more streamlined ways to use current computer systems. They also suggest acquiring new hardware or software, implement new systems, organize necessary training, and run tests.
Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts perform crucial work for their organizations by protecting networks and data against cyberattacks. They employ defensive measures like firewalls, test networks to determine their safety, and monitor threats. They also make plans for disaster recovery. With cyberattacks on the rise, BLS projections indicate explosive growth in the field from 2019-2029.
Often employed by firms that take on corporate clients, management consultants analyze organizations' systems and suggest improvements. To enact more efficient operations, they assess financial data, technology, equipment, and personnel to recommend positive changes. They may focus on specific industries or specialize in areas like information systems.
Choosing the Right Computer Information Systems Program
Students can use our list of the best information systems degrees to bolster their research and compare different types of programs. However, each person's aspirations differ. Degree-seekers need to consider factors like accreditation, cost and financial aid, and program culture before committing to a school.
Every student should ensure that the school they choose holds accreditation. Regional and national accreditation assess the school as a whole. Because regional accreditation generally depends on more rigorous standards, some master's programs do not accept bachelor's degrees without regional accreditation status.
Cost also factors into the decision-making process for many degree-seekers. Prospective students should consider weighing tuition rates against available financial aid. Online programs may cost less than their in-person counterparts. The location of a school can affect its cost, so applicants should calculate cost of living and travel expenses into their overall budgets.
Students may also want to determine the culture of their prospective schools. By speaking with current enrollees and alumni, degree-seekers can discover whether a program offers a collaborative atmosphere or a more competitive environment. Prospective students might also want to explore whether a school values diversity by considering the makeup of the student body and the faculty.
Degree-seekers can find exciting opportunities in the world of online education. This increasingly popular option allows learners to access their top-choice schools without uprooting their lives. With distance learning, students can balance home lives, responsibilities, and employment while pursuing their studies.
With no complicated supervisory requirements or in-person internships, an information systems degree translates well to an online environment. Students can learn business and computer foundations through online lectures, group projects, and forum discussions.
Online degrees require the same time and attention as on-campus programs, so prospective students should consider their ideal learning environments. Some prefer a busy campus life and lively face-to-face discussions, while others excel in a quiet atmosphere.
Online programs may run courses in real-time, with meetings occurring through video conferences, or they might present materials asynchronously. Students should consider these preferences while researching programs. Individual strengths that lend themselves to successful online learning include strong time management and self-motivation skills.
15 Best Bachelor's Degrees in Information Systems
Compare the top 15 information systems degrees and choose the best program to launch your career path. For more information on how we rank these programs, click on the link below.
What the Best Information Systems Programs Have in Common
Colleges and universities strive to develop distinctive information systems degrees. Despite their differences, top programs share these key attributes:
- They are accredited. Accreditation demonstrates that schools meet or exceed academic quality standards. Institutional accreditation can be regional or national, with regional accreditation maintaining more rigorous standards than national accreditation. All schools on this list have earned regional accreditation from one of these bodies: the Higher Learning Commission (HLC); the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) ; the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) ; the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU); or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Program-specific accreditors assess departments and programs according to strict industry standards. Keep an eye out for information systems programs featuring these accreditations: the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and theAssociation to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
- They promote academic excellence.The quality of a school's academic programs accounts for 40% of its ranking on this list. Retention and graduation rates contribute to our rubric, as they reflect how institutions set learners up for success. We also consider faculty statistics to gain insight into potential student experiences. For example, Howard University maintains a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which suggests that students can receive relatively individualized attention.
- They maintain a high reputation. A school's reputation reveals how well its programs prepare graduates for positions in their field. A positive return on investment may indicate curricular strength. Another good indicator, admissions yield, shows how many admitted students chose the school's program over others. With over half of all admitted students enrolling for the 2019 fall semester, Pittsburg State University features the highest admissions yield in this list.
- They are affordable. This attribute constitutes 20% of the total score. We compare each school's estimated costs to the percentage of students receiving aid and the average aid package size. Arizona State University-Polytechnic ranks highly in affordability due to its net in-state cost of $12,388 for the 2020-21 academic year.
Frequently Asked Questions About Information Systems Degrees
Is information systems a good degree?With courses that build computer skills and business knowledge, an information systems degree provides a strong foundation for students to pursue exciting career paths.
Can I get an information systems degree online?Yes. Most schools offer excellent online information systems programs through bachelor of science and bachelor of business administration degrees.
Can you become a software engineer with a computer information systems degree?Not usually. Students who want to work as software engineers or computer programs should pursue computer science degrees rather than information systems degrees, which focus on business and management in addition to technology.
What can you do with a degree in information systems?Computer information systems degree-holders can pursue careers as CIS managers, security managers, management consultants, and IT directors. They may also advance to roles in executive management.
How much do you make in computer information systems?CIS graduates qualify for many high-earning jobs, with median salaries ranging from $85,260 for management consultants to $146,360 for computer and information systems managers as of 2019. With experience, CIS professionals can qualify for exciting advancement opportunities.
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