Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /var/www/ on line 208
Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) | Context - Context
Online Master of Computer Information Systems
Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) In Context

The Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) degree is an advanced degree suitable for those who want to take a leadership or management role in the information technology (IT) field. An IT manager is responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing computer-related activities within a business or other organization. With expert knowledge in the field, they are often tasked with finding the best solution for a range of computer system problems. They work closely with other managers to offer top-level support, and may also be responsible for being a bridge between other business leaders and a more specialized team of IT developers.

Like many IT careers, information systems managers are in high demand. Because of the need for IT managers in almost every field, the expected job growth for IT managers is 15% between 2014 and 2024. [1] The average income of IT managers is also reflective of the demand, with an average salary of $135,800. [1]

To effectively manage the information technology requirements of a business or other organization, you need an in-depth knowledge of what systems are available and how they might be deployed. The Master of Computer Information Systems gives you this knowledge and more.

Who might choose to earn an MCIS degree?

The information systems degree is often pursued by those who have worked in the field and wish to advance their careers. [4] Of all the information systems degrees granted, only 26% are master’s degrees, [5] so it can set you apart from the majority of those working in information technology.

Most of those in an MCIS program are experienced in information systems and computer technology, and most hold an undergraduate degree in a related field. [6] The MCIS offers career advancement potential and additional training for handling management roles within IT. Most programs will expect students to have a fundamental understanding of information systems and technology before they start.

Why earn a Master of Computer Information Systems degree?

Computer technology is an integral part of modern business. With more business being conducted via computers and online, businesses rely on trained and knowledgeable professionals to manage the complicated information technology systems they employ. [7]

IT managers and other information systems managers serve a vital role within the businesses, whether it’s a small firm, international corporation, nonprofit organization, or government agency. This is because they must keep systems and data secure. [8]

An MCIS degree can impart this vital knowledge. MCIS grads can become experts in computer information systems, how to keep them secure, and how to ensure that data is protected. In recent years, the importance of protecting intellectual property has grown, as has the need for those able to protect it.

A Master of Computer Information Systems degree offers employers proof that you are committed to reaching the top of your field. It shows that you’re ready and able to take on a leadership role, combining a technical understanding of computer systems and their security with a management-level understanding of how organizations work. [9]

Like many IT degrees, the MCIS offers a good return on investment, with average salaries of more than $100,000 and a high demand for qualified candidates. [10] In fact, Forbes lists computer information systems as one of the most valuable college majors. [11]

Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) Career Advancement
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, computer and information services managers are in a fast-growing field. While the national average for projected job growth between 2014 and 2024 is 7%, computer and information managers are expected to have a growth of 15%, which is also greater than for other management roles. [13] This growth isn’t just limited to a single job title. It is expected that more than 2 million new jobs will be created across STEM categories from 2014 to 2024. [14] As the overall field grows, the need for managers also grows.
What careers are available with an information systems master’s?

Computer systems manager

These professionals work for a business or other organization and are in charge of implementing, maintaining, and expanding the information technology used by the organization. [15] They might be in charge of a team of other information technology experts and developers and may be expected to be the face of information technology within the organization. This role often combines both technical and business knowledge.

Computer information scientist

Computer information scientists work to develop technology and information systems. [16] They use expert knowledge of existing systems to expand and develop technology to meet future needs. These professionals might work within a business, tech firm, or for an academic organization.

Library information managers

For both public and private institutions, a library can house a variety of data. An information manager creates and maintains a system for retrieving this data. [17] The computer information systems master’s degree is useful for this role as it relates to the management of data in a complex and dynamic environment with multiple users.

Computer information architects

Computer information architects are responsible for developing the computer infrastructure used by an organization. [18] They need to know the best way to plan and deploy technology across a business. This often includes both single-user computers networked together as well as a larger system for organizing and protecting data. Those with an MCIS degree might be in charge of a larger team of information and computer architects.

Database administrator

These professionals are in charge of ensuring that access to a company’s data is both protected from unauthorized use and available to those who need it. [19] To maintain and develop a database system, they need a high-level understanding of both computer information systems and data security. Because of this, an MCIS degree is often an ideal entry to the field.

Information security analysts

Working directly for businesses and as independent contractors, information security analysts offer essential guidance on protecting data. [20] The computer information systems degree provides the background to understand the potential problems faced by a company as well as strategies for how to solve them. This role is particularly fast-growing as companies and other organizations rapidly begin to understand the value of their data. With concerns about security and potential attacks by hackers and criminals, an information security analyst offers advice and strategy for protection. Because of this, the demand for information security analysts is growing even more than the information technology field as a whole, with expected job growth of 18% between 2014 and 2024. [21]

Where do CIS professionals work?
With an MCIS degree, you will be part of a fast-growing field. Because of the universal need for computer information systems, there are opportunities to work for a variety of organizations. [22]

Top 100 companies

The world’s largest companies rely on an expert team of information systems managers. Whether this is a bank requiring security and structure for its customers’ financial information or a medical company needing protection of its intellectual property, computer information systems are at the core of all operations. At these companies, the MCIS degree may allow you to work alongside other information technology employees as well as executives.


With an ever-changing roster of patients, a hospital’s information technology infrastructure can be a matter of life and death. In this type of role, you would need to manage detailed and confidential patient data, as well as internal systems. To ensure that the hospital’s computer and information technology systems are up to date, you may need to meet with medical professionals and specialist technology suppliers. An MCIS will help prepare you for the data security and data management aspects of this role.


One career path with a computer information systems degree is consulting. Whether working as a freelance consultant or for a consulting firm, you’ll have the opportunity to work for a variety of companies. You will be a problem solver and give advice on the best information technology solutions. Because you’ll be working with different companies and organizations, you’ll need to be flexible and may be required to travel. However, this can be a great choice if you like to keep things changing and want to use your computer systems and data security skills as broadly as possible.

Tech giants

As an information systems manager in a tech giant, you’d be expected to stay up to date on all the latest changes in the industry. You may be responsible for the protection of data used across the globe, or confidential information for millions of users. Working for a tech giant may also give you the opportunity to work in research and development, expanding existing technology in new ways.


Be it local, state, or federal, the government relies on data security. With an information systems master’s, you’d be able to fill a government role related to information technology systems. This may be ensuring that data is secure from cyberattacks and cyberterrorism, or it may mean that you plan network upgrades and database development. Government agencies and bodies, such as police forces and school districts, also require data security and information systems managers. These roles allow you to play an active part in your community while also doing the work in which you are an expert.

Nonprofit organizations

Nonprofits require their membership data to remain secure and may need information systems to manage their work and financial information. In working for a nonprofit, you would help structure, maintain, and improve its IT infrastructure, ensure its databases meet its needs and security requirements, and more. For larger nonprofits, this may be a global task, managing the organization’s computer activity around the world.


Information systems master’s degrees are also a great way to get into research. If you find that you love working with developing technology, or working to improve and change information systems, you may want to look for a role in research. As a researcher in information systems, you would develop new ways of using existing technology and help test new technologies. This could be anything from developing a new device and operating system to planning the way data is used in a new gaming system.


If you love being in a research environment, you might also want to consider working for a university. Many universities conduct their own research, which may be used by any of the other types of employers discussed. At a university, you would likely be working on new or existing research projects while also having the opportunity to teach others. Universities also need information systems analysts and data security experts for their operation. This might be working within a university’s library system, working to maintain and improve how its admissions department’s records are kept, or overseeing a large network of computers.

Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) Curriculum
While every MCIS program will vary, all will require you to complete certain core course and additional elective courses. These will provide advanced knowledge of computer information systems while allowing you to specialize in one area. As admission requirements for most MCIS programs will expect you to have some background in the field, whether through a related bachelor’s degree or through experience working in information technology, any core courses will be advanced levels. [23]
Typical core courses for a computer information systems degree

Most core courses are related to computer information systems. This includes how they’re developed and built, how they’re maintained, data security, and how businesses and other organizations rely on information systems. Some of the common core courses are detailed below.

  • Information Technology and Project Management: This course provides a fundamental understanding of the strategy and management of information technology projects.
  • Programming/coding languages (e.g., Python or Java): In an information systems management role, you may not be responsible for day-to-day coding and programming, but it is essential knowledge for the role. This course will give you a strong background in programming and coding, allowing you to lead in development projects and know how, why, and when to use different coding languages. Most MCIS degree programs will expect you to choose at least one coding language to become expert in, but will allow you to study multiple languages.
  • Application software infrastructure and development: This course will give you knowledge of how to create business applications and software packages for an organization. This includes the hardware development, operating software, communications applications, and more.
  • Database design for business: Databases are an important part of many businesses, and this course will teach you about creating and managing complex databases for business use. Most MCIS programs will expect students to design and implement a database system from start to finish.
  • Business data and IT communications: Information technology and data communications are essential to any information systems role, and this course will give you a full understanding of communications and computer networks. This course often provides an overview of networks, including security, wireless technology, and management.
  • Information systems analysis: Most information systems master’s programs will require you to complete a course looking at information systems analysis. In this, you will cover subjects such as system feasibility and requirements analysis. This type of course generally aims to give you the understanding of how to respond to the needs and limitations of a business’ information technology. This will also cover topics such as data security and database use.
  • Ethical considerations and policy: A growing number of computer information systems programs also require a course covering ethics and policy. With the importance of data security in both private and public sectors, and across all areas of business, this course prepares you for some of the more difficult questions of data security.
  • Capstone project: As a final core requirement, most information system master’s programs will require a capstone project. This will give you the experience of applying the knowledge you’ve gained from other courses. This project can be a reflection of your preferred direction, and it is often a way to demonstrate your abilities to future employers. Capstone projects may be completed alone, although some colleges will allow you to work with other students for a collaborative project.
Elective courses

Elective courses can give you a more in-depth knowledge of different subjects related to information systems. While each program will offer a different selection of elective courses, below are some of the more common types of electives you can expect to find.

  • Big data/data mining: Managing data is a key part of any computer information systems role. This elective course will give you an understanding of the concept of big data, as well as the concepts underlying data mining and investigation.
  • Advanced level programming: Along with the core requirement of coding and programming languages, you may want to have a more in-depth knowledge of one or more types of programming. This may include programming of applications, web-based coding, or any other element of programming that will be used in a business environment.
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence: Covering both theory and practice, this elective will teach you about the growing field of machine learning. This may include topics such as robotics, symbolic programming, and development of algorithms.
  • Software development and design: Many businesses require software to be developed for internal use only. However, these still require the same level of development and design as applications for universal use. This elective will teach you the essential elements of creating software and applications.
  • Computer information systems architecture: As an information systems manager, you will be responsible for planning and maintenance of internal network systems for a business. This elective will give you additional training in determining the best system for an organization.
  • Business systems analysis: This course is an ideal choice for many MCIS students as the concepts of business systems analysis can be applied to most career paths. In this course, you will gain better understanding of business operations and how information technology and computer systems work within a business.
  • Cryptography: The importance of data protection has made cryptography a popular elective for computer information systems students. In almost any IT role, having an understanding of cryptography can be important. Advanced cryptology courses are also offered as secondary electives in many MCIS degree programs.
  • Data security: Along with cryptology, data security has become a popular elective for MCIS degree programs. This elective will offer you the detailed information required to keep data safe within a system you manage. This elective course can include basic concepts of data access and protection, as well as more advanced concepts of intellectual property.
  • Network security: Related to other security topics, network security courses will prime you for management of complex computer and network systems. These elective courses can cover topics such as access controls, system attacks, and firewalls.

The Master of Computer Information Systems isn’t a standardized program across different universities, so you may find that a particular college offers a slightly different curriculum than another. When choosing which program to apply to, you’ll want to look at that college’s particular coursework requirements. Depending on your preferred specialization, you may want to look for a program that pays particular attention to that area of computer information systems.

Some of the more common MCIS specializations are detailed below.

  • Analytics: Covering topics such as probability and statistics in information technology, this area may be right for you if you want to pursue a career as a data analyst, systems analyst, or consultant.
  • Business Intelligence and Project Management: In this field, you can learn about business in general and computing. This may be a good choice if you want to hold a management position within a business as a company’s head of information systems.
  • Database Management: This area covers everything related to databases, including development and deployment. It offers a flexible career path, as databases are used by many different types of organization.
  • Health Informatics: Covering topics such as biomedical science, integration of specialist imaging machinery into IT networks, and the specialized ethical and data access rules of health care, this is the ideal choice for those looking to follow a health care IT career path, which offers salaries at the higher end of IT management.
  • Information/Data Security: This fast-growing specialization offers you the ability to help protect organizations against cyberattacks. Data security is a rapidly changing area with new threats arising every day. Because of the importance of information security, this can make you very in demand in the job market, either as a consultant or within a tech company.
  • Information Systems Management and Networks: Network management can be a way to work in almost any industry in business. With an average salary of more than $79,000, information systems management is higher paid than many fields. It covers topics such as network structure and security.
  • Web Application Development: This area can cover a wide range of topics, with the focus being applications used online. This field is highly competitive but can be a great choice if you want to work for a development company that offers application development to other firms, or for a tech giant.
  • Data Mining: Focusing on how to automate pulling data into an information system, this is a specialization that will allow you to enter a variety of fields. Regularly working alongside database development, in this role you will a valuable asset for many businesses, which is reflected in the mid-range salary of around $85,000.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Always an interesting area for those looking to pursue a research career, artificial intelligence specializations look at machine learning and ways to automate systems. There is a lot of growth potential in this field, with the opportunity to earn more than $100,000.
Fieldwork for the computer information master’s

Although most MCIS degree programs don’t require fieldwork, some offer it as an option. This is often in the form of an internship for a business in a related field. However, depending on the program you are in, you may be offered the opportunity to complete other types of fieldwork.

You may be expected to complete a capstone project as part of your degree. This will often be completed over the course of your final year or possibly the final two years of your program. Other types of experiential learning projects may include working alongside other researchers on an existing research project.

Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) Admissions Requirements

For most MCIS programs, you will need to have a background in computer science or information systems. This may be in the form of a related undergraduate degree. It may also be through previous work experience.

While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) Alternate Degrees/Fields of Study
The Master of Computer Information Systems isn’t the only degree that might be of interest to you. There are other related degrees that overlap with the MCIS in some ways, such as the following:

Master of Computer Information Science

With a focus on the science behind computer information, this degree program might be a good alternative if you’re interested in a research or development career path. This degree doesn’t offer the same level of business preparation as the MCIS, but you will have more technical and programming coursework.

Master of Information Technology

This degree gives a more in-depth background in the networking and systems management aspect of many job roles. If you want a career in IT management, but aren’t as interested in some of the more theoretical aspects of the MCIS, this might be a good alternative.

Master of Information and Data Science

If your focus is on data handling, the MIDS may be an alternative degree to consider. This degree will give you more opportunity to focus on subjects such as machine learning and information systems. It is a popular choice if you’re looking to go into a research career or focusing on data security and data mining.

Master of Information Management

A broader degree similar to the MCIS, the Master of Information Management has more focus on topics like databases and data mining. It is also a good alternative if you’re interested in working as a consultant, offering organizations advice on how they manage and protect their data.

Master of Business Administration dual degrees

If your primary interest is business management, an MBA dual degree program might be appropriate. These programs offer both advanced IT education and business skills. These programs require an additional time commitment but can be a good alternative if you’re focused on a business management role.

Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) Relevant Industry Associations/Organizations
There are many industry organizations for those in the information technology field. If you’re considering an information systems master’s, connecting to these organizations and associations can give you added value as you pursue your degree. These organizations can also offer a sense of community. With each offering an active web community and face-to-face events, they can give you the opportunity to connect with other information systems professionals and researchers.

Society for Information Management (SIM)

Aimed at senior-level IT professionals, SIM is one of the most respected IT membership organizations. It offers networking opportunities, including the Advanced Practices Council meetings and Regional Leadership Forums, as well as industry guidance. Many IT professionals value the online resources available through SIM’s website. These include white papers and other publications. [24]

Association for Information Systems (AIS)

The Association for Information Systems is another respected membership organization for information systems professionals. It focuses on being a leader in promoting information systems research and best practices. However, it also offers guidance for education and scholarships. Its website offers a wealth of resources, including the organization’s journal and a library of affiliated journals and conference papers. [25]

Computing Research Association (CRA)

With a firm focus on research, the CRA is a great resource for prospective MCIS students. Its aims include broadening the scope of computing research, including its impact on society as a whole. This goes hand in hand with its focus on talent development. If your interest is in computing policy, the CRA also aims to be a top resource for government bodies in all areas of computing and information systems. [26]

Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Bridging research and practice, ASIS&T works to help researchers with career development. This means it’s a great resource for MCIS students as they move from education to the world of business. In doing this, ASIS&T also works to maintain guidelines or best practice, drawing on both the professional practice and research sides of questions. Founded over 80 years ago, ASIS&T now has groups in 50 countries. This makes it one of the largest information systems membership organizations. [27]

Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) Accreditation

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) Licensure and Certification

Most MCIS-related jobs won’t require any specific licensing. However, there are many types of certifications information technology professionals can hold that will make them more attractive to potential employers.

While most information systems master’s programs do not directly prepare you for the exams to earn these certifications, the content of your coursework will overlap with the subjects covered in them. The particular certifications you may want to pursue depends on what area you want to focus on in your career.

Specialized certification

There are some specialized types of accreditation offered to information systems professionals. Holding one or more of these certifications may help with your job search once you have completed your master’s in information systems. [28]

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

One of the most recognized and desirable certifications is to be Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC). It is also one of the most rigorous assessments of an IT professional, looking at the ability to manage risk in financial institutions. As such, this is particularly sought after for those hiring IT professionals in the finance industry.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)/Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Like CRISC, being a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) can also help make you more desirable to hiring managers. This is because these certifications demonstrate your skills in information security, something important in almost any IT role.

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

As a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) you will have demonstrated your auditing abilities, which can be helpful in any related role. This may be particularly helpful if you are considering consulting work. For the CISA and CISM or CISSP, your choice of elective coursework will help prepare you for certifications.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

Another certification that can be achieved after your MCIS degree is Project Management Professional (PMP). This offers potential employers proof that you can handle management of a project from start to finish.

Software and systems certifications

Along with these certifications, the programming and app development electives you take may prepare you for other certifications. Microsoft, Oracle, and Cisco all offer certifications on their products. These can help set you apart from other candidates when you apply for jobs in the IT sector.

The information systems field often introduces additional certifications, and the MCIS program specialization you choose may help prepare you for them. Like any certification, these may help you in your career advancement.

History of the Degree

Like most information technology degrees, the information systems master’s is a relatively new addition to most universities. However, it is a rapidly growing program, as students are often drawn to the way it bridges business and information systems subjects.

In 2006, as part of its work on information systems master’s education, the Association for Information Systems produced a model curriculum for the MCIS and other degrees in the field. Since publication, this has become a valuable resource as the programs expand to more colleges. [29]

The expansion of the MCIS is also occurring in tandem with an effort by universities to attract more women and minorities to information systems degrees. Many universities offer incentives for those from underrepresented demographics to enroll in information technology programs.

One way this expansion is being aided is through online and blended programs. This means that many colleges are offering an online information systems master’s degree. With some or all of the coursework completed online, this is an excellent choice for a mid-career professional looking to achieve an additional qualification.

Master of Computer Information Systems (MCIS) Tuition and Fees

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A Master of Science (MS) in Computer Information Systems program combines technical skills in information systems with strong managerial competency to help graduates effectively operate and oversee an organization’s IT department.

A Master of Science in Computer Information Systems (MSCIS) is designed to strengthen current executive leadership as well as prepare aspiring IT professionals for management roles across a range of disciplines. Students who earn an MS in Computer Information Systems learn not only technical expertise but also the ability to manage and lead complex computer science and information technology systems.

Computer science master’s degree students focus on the study of technical and theoretical courses including robotics, computer vision, intelligent systems, and bioinformatics. A degree in computer science provides students with knowledge of computer operating systems, coding, computer networking, computer architecture, and database design.

Computer information systems focuses specifically on how businesses manage and apply technology in their organization. A master’s degree in computer information systems focuses on how technology can be used as an instrument to define, deliver, and achieve business goals. This type of master’s degree provides theory on principles of organizational issues and information systems, but focuses less on application technologies, software methods, systems infrastructure, and computer hardware and architecture. Most computer informations system programs devote a handful of courses to core business topics to enable the graduates to be IT-focused business professionals. [30]

Not necessarily, although having a background in computer science does help. Some master’s degrees offer a course or lab to help career changers or people without bachelor’s-level experience make the transition before starting graduate-level course work.

No. However, the IT field is very competitive, and the skills you gain from an MS in Computer Information Systems degree are highly sought after. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there stand to be an estimated 53,700 new IT manager positions by 2024. [31] To help boost your employability in these upper-tier jobs, a master’s degree may give you the push you need.

Yes, many organizations require that IT managers have a graduate master’s degree, and the CIS degree is a common choice. A master’s program can provide graduates with a solid business foundation as well as a strong understanding in information technology-related courses. [32]

An MBA is more a general degree for business professionals than a CIS master’s degree. A MS in Computer Information Systems with a concentration can provide graduates with skills that are directly related to area of interest within the IT field.

Yes. Tuition does not include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.

The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA.

There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships you’re qualified to be awarded. [33]

Many institutions offer an MS in Computer Information Systems degree online.

Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that it was earned online.

Yes, typically schools follow the same curriculum for their online programs as they do for their campus-based programs.

Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.

Typically most universities do not require you to take the GMAT. However, if you have taken the test, you may be able to strengthen your application by submitting your results.

Most universities require that you have some programming knowledge, including experience in languages such as Java, C, C++ or C#, in order to take IT courses at a graduate level. However, some universities offer a course that prepare students without a technical background to succeed in the entry graduate courses for MS in Computer Information Systems programs.

No. Most MS in Computer Information Systems programs do not require prerequisite courses to enter the program. However, some programs offer a conditional course to prep non-IT professionals for graduate studies.

Students that graduate with an MS in Computer Information Systems degree gain skills that require them to be highly technical executive IT leaders. They have advanced technical skills along with in-depth knowledge of management, problem-solving skills, and strategic thinking.

When looking for a curriculum in MS in Computer Information Systems, you should first look at the core curriculum that offers a mix of business courses and IT courses. When it comes to choosing electives or specific concentrations, you should ensure that they align to your career goals. A curriculum in MS in Computer Information Systems will reflect emerging IT industry trends and offer relevant courses meeting the current demands.

The broad learning goal for an MS in Computer Information Systems curriculum is to equip IT leaders with skills in current and emerging technologies along with the skills to manage those technologies. The MS in Computer Information Systems curriculum is a combination of a core business acumen and knowledge of foundational IT skills. Concentration and elective courses explore digital trends in today’s job market and can help you develop a solid understanding of how to utilize them to run an organization.

Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees. The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and class itself. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.

Programs that offer concentrations provide graduates a specific field of study within the IT field. Concentrations can include data analytics, IT project management, health informatics, computer networks, security, and more. Within these disciplines, graduates learn the intricacies of each field and how to manage them in a business setting.

A program that does not offer concentration usually focuses on general aspects of IT. These master’s programs offer a wide range of courses to choose from as electives, including health care management, analytics, systems development, and social media analytics.

According to a McKinsey & Company, by 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions. Therefore, concentrations that focus on data analytics and database management are expected to be in high demand. [34]

Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.

There are. The regional accreditation commissions are based in the United States. You’ll encounter other accreditations depending on your chosen concentration. For example, an MS in Computer Information Systems with a security concentration could be accredited by the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS). Another example is the Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC) for a concentration in project management. [35]

Accredited programs are, in general,more prestigious, reputable and respected. When earning a degree from an accredited program, the quality of education tends to be higher than that of a non-accredited program.

Unfortunately, it probably will. Lack of accreditation could mean lack of licensure — and no job. It may also mean a lower-quality education and less prestige associated with your online MS in Computer Information Systems degree.

It’s possible. You may not be able to obtain licensure for a number of positions, and you may have fewer job prospects, but you still have the potential to be employed. Many positions open to you without a degree from an accredited program will closely mirror baccalaureate opportunities, so it is worth finding a program with the proper accreditations.

While a Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) accreditation is extremely important for those that chose security as a specialization, regional accreditation is also worth your consideration. There are a number of regional accrediting organizations that oversee higher education institutions in their areas:

  • Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE) [36]
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE) [37]
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) [38]
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) [39]
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) [40]
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC) [41]

SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses. [42]

Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. [42]

Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.

Start with a cost-benefit analysis based on the price of the degree and potential ROI. Weigh the full cost against the positive outcomes you expect as a graduate, which may include a boost in earning potential, upward mobility, or job satisfaction.

No — attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.

There are various careers available to graduates who have earned an MS in Computer Information Systems. Organizations across various industries require professionals to lead IT departments from the C-suite. Roles can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Computer and Information Systems Managers
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists
  • Computer Network Architects
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Database Administrators
  • Information Security Analysts
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators
  • Software Developers
  • Web Developers
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Graduates from MS in Computer Information Systems degree programs are in demand, and the global marketplace is constantly looking for skilled IT professionals. Organizations are always seeking to hire professionals who have a master’s degree like the MS in Computer Information Systems to lead their IT departments.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for a computer information systems manager in 2014 was $127,640, and according to the Robert Half Technology 2016 Salary Guide, people with careers like data architect can command salaries ranging from $127,250 to $175,500.