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What is a Management Information Systems Degree?
The field of management information systems (MIS) is the bridge that links business and technology. While MIS is rooted in computers, networks, and databases, it is really about creating synergy between people, technology, and organizations.
MIS professionals have to understand the intricacies of the enterprise for which they are designing an information system so that they can tailor that system to the enterprise’s specific needs. Their work may involve enhancing fraud detection using data science, measuring the impacts of green building practices, tracking health data to help athletes reach peak performance, building an e-commerce website, or streamlining the shopping experience at a retail store by improving self-checkouts. MIS students learn to solve problems like these by creating information systems solutions. They learn to become overseers of information technology (IT) infrastructure and technical strategy.
Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems – Four Year Duration
Bachelor’s degree programs in management information systems provide students with the knowledge and skills required to apply technology to solve business problems in a professional MIS environment. The curriculum covers the process of planning, designing, managing, and using information technology. It commonly combines several instructional methods, including hands-on computer experience, lectures and discussions, lab assignments, applied projects in the business community, case studies, and field trips. The bachelor’s is the most common degree held by MIS practitioners.
Here is an example of a typical bachelor’s level MIS curriculum:
• Fundamentals of Information Technology in Organizations – introduction to the fundamental terminology of the hardware, software, and the people involved with computer based information systems; hands-on computer lab in word processing, database, spreadsheet, and Internet microcomputer applications
• College Algebra – introduction to the fundamental concepts of algebra to provide insights into the nature and application of mathematics and help students develop mathematical reasoning skills
• Statistics – the basic principles and methods of statistics; techniques and applications in real-world problem solving and decision making; topics covered include probability, sampling, experiment design, and hypothesis testing
• Macroeconomics – overview of the economy as a whole and how government can affect the economy; topics include principles of markets, the price system and supply and demand, business cycles, inflation, unemployment, fiscal policy, the Federal Reserve System, different approaches to economic growth, and the foundations of international trade
• Microeconomics – overview of the interactions between the consumer and the producer; the theory of markets, supply and demand, and the price system, the costs of production, ways to increase the competition in markets
• Financial Accounting – understanding the concepts and practices of accounting to interpret and analyze the financial accounting reports of businesses; topics include basic financial statements and cash flows, receivables, inventories, assets, liabilities, stockholders’ equity, and time value of money concepts and computations for decision making; international accounting practices
• Introduction to Operations Management – introduction to the fundamental concepts and techniques of production and operations management for both service and manufacturing organizations; topics include product and service design, capacity planning, design of work systems, location planning and analysis, material requirements planning, supply chain management, enterprise resource planning (a system of integrated software applications that standardizes business processes across finance, human resources, procurement, distribution, and other departments), inventory management, total quality management, scheduling, and project planning; tools and processes used in operations decisions such as forecasting, breakeven analysis, and critical path method using available software
• Principles of Finance – application to financial decision making of mathematics, statistics, economic theory, and accounting procedures; time value of money and the relationship between expected return and risk, and how these ideas are used to value bonds, stocks, and other financial securities, and to make capital investment decisions
• Management Principles and Practices – examination of the success factors which lead to effective performance in the roles of planner, decision maker, organizer, leader, motivator, controller, and manager of a diverse workforce
• Principles of Management Information Systems – defining the role of information systems in organizations and the roles of information systems staff and end-users in developing and maintaining computer systems; managing databases, telecommunications, hardware, software, and e-commerce; MIS theories in the organizational setting including infrastructure, transaction processing, operational reporting, and executive information systems (a management support system that facilitates senior executive information and decision making needs)
• Marketing Principles – the factors involved in creating a marketing plan, including consumer behavior principles, market segmentation, product life cycle, packaging, branding, pricing, advertising, sales promotion, public relations, personal selling, product distribution methods, and laws affecting marketing practices
• Information Systems Analysis and Design – methods for the analysis and design of IT applications; methods for creating graphical models of IT project requirements; examination of system development life cycle (SDLC); tools for identifying user requirements and developing applications that meet organizational technical needs
• Applications Development – developing and revising applications, the prototyping process, the future models of application development
• Management and Use of Databases – developing and accessing internal and external information resources; ensuring the availability of appropriate data; interrelating and applying data to typical business problems; database design; protecting and managing information resources
• Telecommunications and Internet Management – overview of the range of available network and telecommunication technologies and how they can be used to facilitate information access and distribution at all levels of an organization and through the Internet; telecommunications trends and how they alter the ways that organizations gather information for decision making
• Retail Information Systems – examination of the use of retail information systems applications to improve retail store operations; topics include retail data and the stock-keeping unit (SKU), merchandise planning and IT, purchasing and replenishment and IT, post-season analytics; hands-on exercises with retail management software
• Supply Chain Information Systems – examination of the role of information systems applications involved in supporting supply chain and logistics operations; topics include electronic purchasing, warehouse management systems, warehouse technology, bar coding, transportation systems, and mobile solutions for distribution and field force automation (an extension of field service software that allows technicians in the field to document information, which then automatically syncs with the main system, giving all users access to real-time data on a mobile interface)
• MIS Capstone – a comprehensive project that integrates and applies the concepts from the courses in the MIS curriculum
Master’s Degree in Management Information Systems – Two Year Duration
The MIS master’s degree program continues the theme of undergraduate studies at an advanced level: a combination of a solid technical information systems foundation and appropriate business skills. Some programs allow master’s candidates to focus on a particular concentration, such as business intelligence and data analytics, data management, health informatics, cybersecurity, or project management. Admission requirements typically include courses in programming, database, systems analysis and design, and business data communications.
Sample Required Courses
• Advanced Database Management
• Advanced Systems Analysis and design
• MIS Project Management and Implementation
• Information Systems Design and Development
• Business Information Security
• Data Warehousing
• Corporate Information Planning
• Accounting Controls and Procedures
Sample Elective Courses
• IT Security Controls
• Customer Relationship Management Technologies
• Artificial Intelligence
• Natural Language Processing
• Human-Centered Computing
• Pattern Recognition
• Financial Statement Analysis
• Foundations of Entrepreneurship
• Multinational Marketing Management
• Logistics and Distribution Management
• Database and Computational Tools in Big Data
Degrees Similar to Management Information Systems
Degree programs in accounting prepare students for the work of gathering, recording, analyzing, interpreting, evaluating, and communicating financial information. This includes examining accounting records, reconciling accounts, preparing financial reports, and completing tax returns. The typical curriculum includes classes in mathematics, business management, business communication, business research, finance, and economics.
Business administration is about overseeing a business’s finances, staffing, and contract negotiations. Degree programs in the field, therefore, teach students how to plan, organize, and direct all the activities of an organization.
Degree programs in cyber security provide students with foundational knowledge and skills in computer science, computer programming, cloud computing, information technology, big data, and digital forensics. Within the discipline are specializations such as database applications, systems and network administration, and data recovery.
Data science students learn how to combine domain expertise, programming skills, and knowledge of mathematics and statistics to deduce worthwhile insights from data, which analysts can translate into substantial business value.
Entrepreneurship students learn how to build, promote, and manage their own or others’ businesses. Common classes are entrepreneurial finance, foundations of entrepreneurship, investor relations and funding, new product design and development, and business plans.
In very simple terms, the finance field is about helping businesses, organizations, and individuals make money. Degree programs in finance, therefore, teach students about investing, financial and estate planning, risk management, interest rates, insurance, and taxes. Their objective is to produce graduates who are ready to help both commercial and retail clients reach their short- and long- term financial goals.
Human Resources Management
Degree programs in human resources management teach students how to plan and coordinate an organization’s workforce. Courses cover recruitment, interview, selection, and hiring processes; management of workplace health and safety, payroll, training, and employee benefit programs; and dispute mediation, disciplinary actions, and dismissal procedures.
Students of international business study business from a global perspective. They learn how to work cross-culturally, how to manage multinational businesses, and how to turn local and national companies into international corporations. Coursework often includes some foreign language studies, as well.
This degree field is focused on activities undertaken by businesses to promote the buying or selling of products and services. Students study advertising and promotion, marketing communications, international marketing, marketing management, sales and sales management, consumer behavior, marketing research, and marketing strategy.
Computer Software Engineering
Degree programs in software engineering teach students how to apply engineering principles to software development. Students learn how to design, build, test, implement, and maintain computer operating systems, as well as applications that allow end users to accomplish tasks on their computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices. The typical curriculum includes several programming languages, operating systems analysis, and website design. Most programs begin with core engineering classes like mathematics, chemistry, and physics.
Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management (SCM) is the management of the lifecycle of materials and products through a business, from manufacturing to distribution and returns. It is a balancing act. It is about balancing inventory, service delivery, profit margins, and customer loyalty. It is about both operational and financial efficiency. What this means is that the supply chain manager is a multitasker and degree programs in the field teach students how to perform every task that the job entails.
Skills You'll Learn
Of course, management information systems students come away from their degree programs with the technical knowledge of computer programming basics, systems analysis, IT business strategy, IT legislation and governance, data science, web analytics, and cyber security. But throughout their studies they also tend to cultivate a fairly wide set of skills that are transferrable to the work world as a whole:
• Analysis and problem solving
• Attention to detail as well as envisioning the big picture
• Bridging technology and business
• Developing and implementing ideas
• Evaluating functionality of systems
• Keeping up to date with new technology
• Logical thinking
• Managing budgets
• Managing and training staff teams
• Multitasking , organization, prioritization, and time and resource management
• Social media
• Verbal and written communication
What Can You Do with a Management Information Systems Degree?
MIS grads find career opportunities wherever computers are used in business, industry, and government. Here is a snapshot of some areas of specialization and possible job titles:
Design and Development – writing and testing code for applications and software programs to function properly; testing applications and programs to ensure expected results
• App Developer / Designer
• Business Intelligence Specialist
• Software Engineer
• System Architect
IT Management – planning, coordinating, and directing computer-related activities in an organization; helping to determine technology goals of an organization
• Information Systems Manager
• IT Consultant
• IT Manager
• IT Project Manager
Network / Systems Analysis – bringing together business and information technology by designing computer system solutions and procedures that help business operate more securely, efficiently, and effectively
• Computer Systems Administrator
• Enterprise Information Analyst
• Information Security Analyst
Data / Business Analysis – gathering and organizing information / data about a problem to be solved or a procedure to be improved; developing solutions and alternative practices; recommending new systems, procedures, or organizational changes
• Business Process / Data Modeler
• Data Scientist
• Database Administrator
Operations Management / Supply Chain – planning, overseeing, and coordinating the operations of a company, including acquiring goods and services from external services, managing relations, and improving a company’s use of resources
• Operations Manager
• Supply Chain Manager
Systems Support – analyzing, troubleshooting, and evaluating computer network problems; providing assistance to people and organizations using computer software equipment
• Infrastructure / Security Support Specialist
• IT User Liaison
• Technical Support Specialist
Technical Sales – focusing on complex and technical products for businesses; working directly with customers to meet their needs and product specifications
• Account Manager
• Business Development Associate
• Sales Consultant
Website Management – improving web presence for a business, agency, or organization
• Search Marketing Specialist
• SEO Specialist
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