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We live in the digital era, so it’s smart to go back to school and get an education focused on some kind of computer science. One of the best choices you can make is a Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) degree. This degree is an interesting specialization because it combines business understanding with programming knowledge of traditional computer science pathways. Information systems experts need to be able to organize and translate vast amounts of data and parse how different computer systems integrate and operate with each other.
Using this know-how, information systems specialists can improve businesses, manage entire networks of computer systems, or protect a complex computer system from security threats. In many cases, MSIS degree-holders affect these changes by taking charge of a small group of people. Very few large-scale business projects happen as a result of one person, so being able to head a team of IT professionals is critical for success in the private sector. MSIS degrees also prepare students to lead teams of like-minded individuals to get real results. There’s an element of people skills required to excel with an MSIS degree, as a result.
However, the field also demands an understanding of information technology and computer science at a level higher than that of the average person. Rather than focusing on small-scale issues or specializing in any type of programming, MSIS professionals usually have a great understanding of computer systems on a holistic scale. They can see how smaller computer systems interact with one another to have large impacts on businesses or entire economic sectors. An MSIS degree is somewhat generalized, yet a bit specialized at the same time. There are many career opportunities for people who hold an MSIS degree. This is what makes it attractive; it allows for some flexibility and versatility in a career field that traditionally has its workers hunkering down in front of a computer for most of the working day.
While you’ll still spend a lot of time interacting with code and thinking about programming, there’s a broader aspect of the field that attracts many business-oriented professionals as well as tech-heads. As a result, your coworkers are more likely to be diverse and engaging. Because it’s fairly interdisciplinary compared to other, more specialized master’s degrees, an MSIS degree typically has coursework that draws from both IT and business frameworks. Classes are therefore mixed in most programs, so you don’t spend too long focusing on only one aspect of the degree.
In addition, this versatility allows for most universities to offer dual MBA options, so students can combine a focus on information systems with business or business analysis to be more attractive to employers after graduation. These degrees typically don’t take too long to complete, compared to their single-degree counterparts, so they’re a good choice for dedicated professionals who want a leg up against the competition from fellow graduates.
See Also: 10 Best Master’s in Industrial Engineering
COMMON APPLICATION AND ADMISSION QUESTIONS
What’s required to earn an MSIS degree? For starters, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field to even qualify for the vast majority of master’s programs. While it’s true that there are a few master’s programs in information systems that will accept an applicant before he or she has earned a bachelor’s in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or a similar field, these are few and far between. Your best bet is to focus on completing your bachelor’s degree before applying to a master’s program. The bachelor’s degree will prepare you for all of the core knowledge needed to complete an MSIS curriculum, and it’ll ensure that you have a solid foundation in computer science and programming before dipping into more complex topics.
Master’s MSIS programs typically have extremely demanding application requirements. Many universities want at least two years of work experience before they are willing to consider a particular candidate for a master’s program position. This is because these programs are often extremely competitive, and the limited number of slots per semester must be filled with the best possible candidates. Other master’s programs require certificates or other proof of knowledge of certain programming or mathematical skills, depending on their focus or the stated purpose for their graduates. More generalized MSIS master’s programs may not have these particular requirements. Candidates must also usually have a high GPA in their bachelor’s work. While this GPA minimum will vary slightly by the university, most require a minimum of 3.0 or higher to be considered. If you don’t have a GPA this high and have already completed a bachelor’s degree, you can always take an additional class or two and perform well to boost your overall GPA.
In addition to the above, most master’s programs, not just MSIS programs, require applicants to submit at least two letters of recommendation from teachers or employers. These letters don’t need to be very complex, but they are vouching for your character and studiousness, so the program knows you are worth the spot. You’ll also need to take the GRE for the vast majority of MSIS programs. The Graduate Record Examination is a test taken on the computer and is primarily multiple-choice. Studying for this is recommended, as nearly passing the GRE is often not enough for many master’s programs. Lots of universities have minimum GRE score requirements for all program applicants.
Many standard MSIS programs require the completion of 32 to 48 credits, although this will vary greatly by the university. They usually take between one and a half to two years to complete, though many online programs allow students to complete their degrees in a shorter amount of time if they take on more classes in a given semester. Due to the rigor of the coursework, however, some universities may only allow students to take a set number of classes at a time. Finally, many MSIS programs, like other master’s programs, have limited start dates relative to the ones you may expect from a bachelor’s program. Lots of schools only have master’s start dates in the fall, rather than the fall or spring. Keep these dates in mind if you want to apply for a master’s program beginning soon. Application dates are usually 6 to 8 months prior to the semester start.
WHAT ABOUT FINANCIAL AID & SCHOLARSHIPS?
Master’s degrees are usually quite expensive. While two full years of study are cheaper than four years, many credit hours in master’s programs are more expensive than their bachelor counterparts. This can add up to quite a lot, but there are plenty of financial aid options available if you require it. As with bachelor’s degrees, you should always apply to the FAFSA prior to any new school year. The FAFSA compiles your information for government review and can let you know if you qualify for any of the most common government grants or loans. This is the only way to access some programs, like the Pell Grant, or to receive subsidized loans from an entity as trustworthy as the U.S. government. You’ll also want to check with any school to which you are thinking of applying to see if it has any program-specific scholarships or grant opportunities. Lots of programs are tied directly to their subsidiary school, such as a particular university’s School of Engineering. These grants are excellent sources of financial aid, since they are usually only applied for by your fellow master’s students rather than the student body as a whole. Many programs have small contests that require you to write an essay or provide proof of your talent for cash prizes that you can put toward your studies.
In addition, many universities have their own scholarships and grants for anyone studying either on-campus or online. Schools receive donations from alumni and many other sources and will funnel this revenue into scholarship programs, among other things. These grants and loans aren’t usually very much, but many students, through careful planning, are able to pay for all or most of their education by combining many small grants each semester.
Finally, don’t neglect the internet as a whole. There are plenty of other organizations beyond your home university that offer financial aid opportunities to struggling students. Another way to offset the burden of educational expenses is to look into work-study opportunities. Computer science classes and information systems programs are usually filled with working professionals, so they focus on post-graduation employment opportunities more than many other types of programs. As information systems programs usually come from engineering or business schools, this is especially true for you. Work-study programs typically ask students to work part-time either as a teaching assistant (in a teacher assistantship) or for a business associated with the university. While you work, you study and complete your education while having some or all of your costs paid for by the university or your employer. The details of each work-study program vary, of course, but they are usually quite worthwhile. Be aware that these programs are also quite competitive, as many of them award a small stipend to help students cover their living costs. You’ll also need to balance your studies with working between 15 and 20 hours each week at your job or assistantship.
HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE WITH A MASTER’S DEGREE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS?
Thanks to the rapid expansion of the computer and digital industries, the need for skilled workers in virtually all types of computer science is greater than ever before. Earning a master’s degree in information systems, as opposed to just a bachelor’s, is a surefire way to earn more money both immediately and over your lifetime. Specifically, MSIS degrees prepare students for both more technical computer science work, better data analysis that is more valuable to the private sector and government operations, and for managing smaller teams. Managers, in particular, usually make much more than independent workers or contractors and have great job security, since they have much more responsibility wherever they are employed.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics back up these claims. Over the last year, salaries for computer systems analysts, which is only a bachelor’s degree profession, have averaged around $90,000 per year, with a 9% job growth outlook. Should you have a position like this with a master’s degree, you’ll almost certainly be paid more as a result of your greater experience and expertise. This job calls for examining computer systems for organization and optimizing them for better efficiency or profit. But you can do even better. Information security analysts, another position that only calls for a bachelor’s degree but which usually requires more work experience or greater expertise, make close to $100,000 per year just starting out. This job is growing at a rate of 32% per year, which is much faster than the national average. These men and women are focused on security, which is a growing concern due to rising rates of malware and hacking threats across the Internet.
The real money and opportunity come in management, which your MSIS degree will adequately prepare you for. Computer and information systems managers make closer to $140,000 per year. These jobs are growing at a rate of 11% per year, which is still faster than average, even if it doesn’t reach the astronomical rate of an information security analyst. These managers coordinate other computer science experts and manage plans for growth or optimization. It’s clear from the data that there are plenty of jobs for those with expertise and a solid education. These jobs are highly lucrative, and they aren’t going to go away anytime soon, especially as the nature of the work isn’t at risk of being replaced by automation.
There are virtually unlimited job opportunities in this field, because both the U.S. government and the private sector are employing more information systems experts than ever before. The government has a variety of defense and economic projects that are constantly evolving, and there are lots of things to do in many businesses across multiple sectors. You don’t even have to work for a computer science firm, since virtually every business has an online or digital component these days. Although an MSIS degree will be fairly technical and specialized, your opportunities for actual employment are as varied as someone with a generalized business degree.
NOTABLE FACTS ABOUT MSIS DEGREES
An MSIS is a great degree to hold because its related careers are set to grow in the future. Considering that there will be more than 50 billion connected devices by 2020, it’s more likely that the need for skilled information systems managers will only continue to grow as time passes. The BLS reports that these kinds of jobs are likely going to grow by around 12% in just the next few years. In a time when much of the economy is in flux, job security shouldn’t be underestimated. Most MSIS degree holders work in computer systems design or related services, but many others work in finance, insurance, or in general information-oriented occupations. Still more focus on the management of companies and enterprises, and others enter the manufacturing sector to lead teams of workers in producing goods or services.
Because of the array of duties and responsibilities that an MSIS prepares students for, most professionals work at least 40 hours per week to come up with solutions to various problems or to ensure that things are operating as needed. This is a field for people who enjoy working in a profession they are passionate about. Firms and companies are continuing to expand their operations to the Internet and other online platforms. It’s become a common development for businesses to create their own websites to drive further business, just as it’s more common for larger organizations to combine branches and teams into more streamlined operations continually. All of these developments require skilled managers to oversee the teams and keep things running smoothly: a perfect fit for an MSIS degree holder.
Overall, there has been no better time to get an MSIS degree and jump into this rapidly growing field, one that is filled with opportunity and the possibility for great success. If you enjoy computers and business and have a mindset for managing a team and finding creative solutions to problems, this might be an ideal fit for you.
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Check out our ranking of the top 10 best online Master’s Programs in Information Systems!
#1. UNIVERSITY OF UTAH
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS (MSIS)
The University of Utah has a proud tradition of team sports, although online students can’t take advantage of this aspect of the school; however, they can benefit from the extremely diverse faculty and student body that provide a variety of viewpoints and new experiences, no matter how they finish their education. Originally established in 1850 as the University of Deseret, the University of Utah is the state’s oldest institution of higher education. Over time, it has produced many world-famous alumni, including several Nobel Prize winners and Turing Award winners.
Utah’s program is one of the few that accepts applicants who have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree. These students must complete a 3-credit hour prerequisite class called Introduction to Information Systems. In addition to the strict requirements that one finds for most master’s programs, the University of Utah also requires students to submit a one-minute video recording to introduce themselves to both their peers and their teachers. This is a required part of the application process, so be prepared. Start dates are available in both the fall and spring semesters.
Students can enroll in the MSIS program full- or part-time, depending on their schedule. The online format allows for ultimate flexibility and is open 24/7, so students can make their studies work around practically any schedule. However, this flexibility is bolstered by a structured curriculum that follows the same template and timeline as the on-campus version of the program. As a bonus, students can take advantage of one-on-one virtual career coaching at any time. This can be helpful if a student is struggling with their course load, or if they decide against finishing the degree.
UOnline is the university’s interactive system for completing courses delivered electronically. Many assignments rely on peer reviews and forum-based posting, so completing all classes and interacting with both the instructor and one’s fellow students is fairly intuitive. There are also several guided online discussions, as well as online office hours for each class. The program requires students to complete a capstone project, which provides valuable hands-on experience and gives graduates something real to use to demonstrate their expertise to future employers. This project, plus all of the credits earned for the classes, add up to a typical total of 30 credit hours.
#2. AUBURN UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Although it began as East Alabama Male College, Auburn has evolved far past its initial charter. It was originally a liberal arts school with a heavy religious focus but has since become a public university. It was the first coeducational school in Alabama. The name was changed in 1960 to reflect the university’s greater diversity and the inclusion of a wider variety of programs and classes, which extends beyond the original liberal arts focus. The campus is located in the town of the same name. Today, it employs more than 1300 full-time faculty to handle over 30,000 students each year. Many of these teachers specialize in online education, so even the digital programs are up to a higher standard than others.
Auburn’s MSIS program consists of 30 credit hours of coursework, earned across 10 courses worth three credit hours each. There are three required courses that all students must take, plus a final project course that includes completing a capstone project to improve students’ skills and knowledge. However, there’s a good degree of freedom built into the capstone project, so students can solve a particular problem in their specialization or area of interest. The program’s schedule also includes a relative degree of flexibility. Most students complete work in two years or less, but the university allows three years or more if a student requires some extra time for his or her studies, or has a difficult work/life balance to juggle.
To determine the optimal course schedule for their needs, students work with a faculty advisor who helps to determine an ideal scheduling system. Working together, students and advisors plan out all courses for the entire year in advance, even before a student commits to the program. This is an excellent system for helping students make the most of their time. Auburn also offers a dual MBA program that can be completed online, combining information systems expertise with another topic, either industrial and systems engineering or finance. Both of these are phenomenal options for specializing in the engineering sector or in the world of finance. With this option, a student’s final degree is a Master of Science in Business Administration. Those who choose to pursue a dual MBA program will likely extend their studies to three years, although the same schedule flexibility remains, so hard-core students can complete everything quickly.
Further benefits of Auburn’s program include a host of career services for new graduates. Auburn can help students network following graduation, and it provides one-on-one career coaching, including mock interviews and assistance with social networking skills. Developing as a professional is made easy thanks to the faculty’s expertise.
#3. IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Iowa State University has recently begun offering an online MSIS degree, after decades of offering the program only in person. The Ivy College of Business, which offers this degree at Iowa State, was only established in 1984. Though it is one of the newest colleges developed for this type of program, the college’s relative youth has helped it stay relevant for modern students. Iowa State is a school with a lot of accolades, and for good reason. The curriculum is rigorous but fair, offering a balanced focus on science and business. It’s among the top 16% of AACSB-accredited programs, according to U.S. News & World Report and has been ranked by the same organization at No. 23 among public U.S. MBA programs.
Iowa State’s curriculum is taught by a faculty that is experienced in the fields of information systems and business analytics. It runs the MSIS program in ways that emphasize the benefits of understanding large-scale information systems and applying that knowledge to help businesses run themselves more efficiently to generate greater profits. The program requires 30 or 33 credit hours, depending on students’ elective choices. A core curriculum of five specific courses is required of all students, although they may choose from among four courses for the last three, giving them some flexibility and the ability to specialize.
Any student accepted into the program has up to seven years to complete all coursework, although completing it in the standard two years is certainly possible if one maintains a rigorous schedule. There’s also an MSIS/MBA double major program available for students who would like to improve their employment opportunities or salary cap. Iowa State also offers plenty of certificates, which can be used to secure positions in associated fields or to qualify for higher responsibility positions. These certificates include finance, business analytics, supply chain management, entrepreneurship and innovation, and enterprise cybersecurity management.
Anyone concerned about job placement after graduation would do well to look at this program, as it boasts a 100% employment rate within six months after graduation. The program also offers a special one-time scholarship of $5000 for Iowa residents who enroll. Iowa State has plenty of graduate business career services for students to explore. The comprehensive career management services are specialized for those who graduate from the business school and to have master’s degree programs, so they work on getting graduates into jobs that are worthy of their expertise and degrees.
Iowa State has partnerships with various employment recruiters and hiring managers. This gives students a foot in the door in some of the best companies in America, including Google. Outstanding graduates are more likely to be hired by top employers as a result of these career services. There are also plenty of opportunities for internships, thanks to this employment network.
#4. UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS
MASTER OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas is the most important school in the state’s higher education system. It has a student body of about 27,000 and offers a whopping 210 academic programs. Most of the students attend school in person, meaning the university’s online programs often have small class sizes. This allows instructors to focus more on individual educational needs. U of A has a full-time faculty of 1401 teachers a quite low student-to-teacher ratio.
Admission to the program is extremely competitive, so it is critical that prospective students apply early and make sure their application is as airtight and impressive as possible. The program also has a relatively odd start date; rather than beginning in the fall, as most other master’s programs do, this full-time MIS program begins in the summer, with an application deadline of Nov. 1 of the previous year. The program can be completed in only one year, if a student is enrolled full-time, making it an excellent choice for those who want to jump into their next career as quickly as possible. A part-time program option for working professionals is also available; it is typically completed in less than two years.
Overall, the University of Arkansas’ MIS program is one of the fastest, in terms of typical completion times. This is a 30-credit hour program that offers four areas of concentration. Students can specialize in enterprise resource planning, management blockchain enterprise systems, software engineering, or information technology management, if they want to lead their own teams in the future. The curriculum focuses on how to manage and understand IT systems and problems from a global perspective, preparing students for careers anywhere in the world.
Both the full- and part-time programs require students to meet with their professors online on certain days of the week. The part-time program is a little more relaxed in this respect, as it only requires students to meet with the rest of their class and/or instructor one Saturday per month. Students can also take the part-time program blended online or in-person format, if they live near the university campus. In addition, the part-time program offers a GRE waiver during the application for applicants who have at least five years of quality work experience. This program’s overseers also work extensively with professional employers to seek out tuition reimbursement programs.
The program curriculum is intense and effective. Many graduates go on to work for important companies such as FedEx, Hewlett-Packard, or Intel, thanks to the U of A’s strong networking opportunities and focus on combining business sense with IT knowledge. Career fairs are offered twice per year, so students can seek out future employers and make connections to springboard into a lucrative profession as soon as they graduate.
Overall, the part-time MIS program is incredibly flexible when it comes to its application requirements and scheduling, making it one of the best programs for working adults or professionals who cannot take too much time off each month.
#5. DREXEL UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Drexel offers a large number of online degrees and has a well-vetted online master’s program for just about any degree a person can imagine. Its instructors are well-versed in online teaching techniques, and most of the faculty hold degrees in whatever field they are teaching. As a university focused on new horizons and new technological offerings, Drexel was the first school to require that new students have microcomputers starting in 1983. It’s been offering fully accredited online bachelor’s and master’s degrees since 1996! That’s much earlier than many competing universities and is just another example of how Drexel has led the way toward new means of perfecting the e-learning experience and allowing anyone to earn a degree from anywhere in the world.
Drexel’s program has been ranked No. 15 among the best online graduate computer information technology programs by U.S. News & World Report. Perhaps because of this standard, admissions criteria are fairly high. A 3.2 GPA is required, which is a little higher than the 3.0 students will recall from many other master’s programs. However, the program does accept students with slightly lower GPAs, if they have work experience that can showcase or demonstrate their aptitude for the program.
The program has four start dates, one for each season of the year, making it easy to jump in regardless of when a student discovers it. The university’s online interface is intuitive and easy to use. For testing, predetermined windows are set up on certain days of the week, allowing students to take exams using proctored software that measures their progress and ensures that everyone completes the task fairly. Aside from these testing dates, students can usually complete all of their work at their own pace.
The university offers several extra tools to its students, such as 24/7 tech support and the award-winning online W.W. Hagerty Library. The library has a career center where students can network with future employers and other students and a writing center where they can receive one-on-one tutoring and assistance with essays or simply learn how to improve their everyday writing.
The program has a regimented curriculum, but a flexible pace. Students can complete just one course per term, or opt for a full-time load of nine or more credits per quarter. Classes are organized into four 10-week quarters per year. By the end of the program, students have completed 45 credit hours of study. Despite this higher credit hour requirement, most students are able to complete the program in two years or less.
There’s also lots of flexibility when it comes to choosing classes. Although students do have to follow a required course list that includes nine required classes, there are more than 20 classes from which each student chooses four additional courses. This allows for specialization and a focus on what interests the student. Everyone can tailor their education to something that will suit their future career upon graduation.
#6. MARIST COLLEGE
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Marist is a smaller than average school, but that doesn’t lessen its overall quality or importance. It’s ranked No. 8 among regional universities for the northern United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Because it only has about 1400 graduate students, many of the online courses have a small teacher-to-student ratio, which gives students a quality, personal education, as opposed to the crowded programs found elsewhere. Its accolades continue in the Princeton Review, which has named it one of the best colleges in the country. Money magazine named Marist one of the best colleges in the nation, as well.
Marist has both lighter and more restrictive admission requirements than several competing universities. Specifically, its GPA requirement is not as high as many other schools’, but Marist does require applicants to have completed a prerequisite course in statistics before even applying to the program. Marist also requests that students specify any programming languages they already know, so it can better decide if the applicant is a good fit for the program.
Marist offers several financial aid opportunities to its students. There are a number of graduate-specific scholarships for students in this particular program, and an alumni tuition benefit for those who have already graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the school. Marist is also home to several corporate and organizational partnerships that can lead to internships after graduation, or work-study programs depending on the company you work with. Check its financial aid page to learn more about other grants and loans.
Marist’s degree program teaches students all they need to know to balance both managerial skills and technical IT knowledge. It places a strong emphasis on the managerial aspects of businesses that rely heavily on technology, making it a particularly satisfying program for students who know they want to become managers of their own companies or team leaders for other firms at some point in the future. Many of the classes reflect this focus. Lots of them are real-client based, meaning they use scenarios or examples from real-world cases to show students the best possible path forward in a variety of business situations. These classes are excellent for helping students get as close to hands-on experience as possible before they graduate and begin working on their own.
The program offers three concentrations, so students can tailor their degree to suit their career goals or interests. These are information systems management, business analytics, and computer networks and security. The first concentration is the most business-oriented of the three and is one of the foundational paths forward for anyone who wants to become a chief information officer someday.
The second pathway, business analytics, helps students see the broader ramifications of technological decisions and helps them enact change throughout an entire organization through smart IT applications. The courses in this concentration provide hands-on experience with many software tools and analytical methods.
The computer networks and security concentration is ideal for students who want to focus on security professions. They learn how to assess infrastructure for a large, IT-dense company accurately and have the chance to use some of the technology in a state-of-the-art networking lab.
Because of the flexibility of the program and the focus offered through the three pathways, students’ credit hour requirements vary. Most students have earned about 36 credit hours by the time they graduate.
#7. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN – DEARBORN
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS
The University of Michigan at Dearborn is an excellent place to earn an MSIS degree. Ranked the No. 2 online MBA program in Michigan by U.S. News & World Report, it has a program that balances rigor and customization very well. The program is a hybrid of online and on-campus learning, so it is only a good fit for students in the Dearborn area. The hybrid aspects of the program bring the personal touch of an in-person classroom and the flexibility of online learning together. Hybrid programs are even rarer than online-only programs, but this might be a great fit for a student who needs a little extra flexibility compared to traditional programs but has trouble staying focused during online-only programs.
The Dearborn campus is beautiful and packed with lots of resources students should take advantage of to succeed. There are multiple networking opportunities and career fairs throughout the year, plus a dedicated internship and career management center. These can help with finding employment after graduation, or smooth the process of setting up a work-study program to help finance one’s education. Students come from all across the U.S. and many foreign countries. The student body is diverse and involved, boasting 130 student organizations. The College of Business is home to eight of these. There are also several competitions held each year, which students can enter to make their name known, or simply become involved in the community. Many of these are great places to meet new friends and interact with potential future workmates.
The MSIS program is much more flexible than a traditional, campus-only degree. Students can enroll full- or part-time during the fall and winter semesters, when most of the courses are offered. There are also a few courses offered during the summer; taking advantage of this window may allow students to complete the program in less than one year of study. In addition, prospective graduate students can get a jump start on the master’s program if they are currently an undergrad at the university by applying to the program before graduation. Some of the graduate credits can be taken during the final semester of the undergraduate program, in this case.
Overall, the program requires 30 credit hours, 21 of which come from core courses. The University of Michigan’s MSIS program focuses mostly on the IT half of the degree, although it does offer some courses in business intelligence and analysis. It’s a great program for those whose interest is mostly in the computer science aspect of the field, rather than the business side.
#8. NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN BUSINESS AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS
The New Jersey Institute of Technology is the state’s only public polytechnic university. It services about 11,000 students each year. Its online educational programs are robust and intuitive, and the programs are usually bolstered by several industry internships. NJIT is a school well-known for providing more prosperous futures for students from all types of backgrounds. The New York Times ranks the university No. 1 nationally for students’ upward economic mobility. There are also more than 130 student clubs and plenty of community service projects to join, where students can meet people from a diverse array of ethnic and economic backgrounds.
NJIT offers two degrees in the general area of information systems. The first is a traditional MSIS degree that has a core curriculum focusing on business analytics and mining. It also emphasizes the understanding of systems design, so students can bring their IT knowledge to bear on business problems to help businesses evolve and improve over time. Students in this track also take several courses that help them make user interfaces more efficient and intuitive. They choose from among four electives to create areas of specialization in their class schedules.
The second path is a Master of Science in Business and Information Systems. While this is still a STEM degree at heart, it places more of an emphasis on understanding business systems and developing managerial sense than the former degree option. This an excellent choice for students who want to focus on government or nonprofit organizations, or for those who are more interested in the managerial aspects of the degree as a whole. The classes reflect this focus by covering topics such as accounting, finance, marketing, and business operations, in addition to some IT-focused courses. Like the traditional path described above, this path also offers four specializations so students can tailor their degree to their interests or future plans.
As both degrees are relatively interdisciplinary, applicants from any field are welcome to apply, so long as they hold some kind of bachelor’s degree. NJIT offers several “bridge courses” for students who need to shore up any core knowledge before proceeding into the program’s main curriculum. It is entirely possible to have a Bachelor of Arts degree, take a few bridging courses, and then move into the main MSIS program. That kind of flexibility is difficult to find at most other universities. Whichever degree a student chooses, all require 30 credit hours of study.
Finally, students can further enhance the MSIS degree with a professional management option. This option adds an additional six credits to the study plan. These credits will largely be taken up by a capstone project, a two-semester MS thesis, or a co-op experience in a real work environment. The purpose of these extra credits is to provide students with managerial experience before they graduate, to improve their readiness to take on a team-leading position once they have earned the degree. This is an excellent choice for students who are returning to school in hopes of taking on a higher position in the company they already work for.
#9. LIBERTY UNIVERSITY
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Liberty University offers a standard MSIS degree that takes advantage of a healthy online curriculum and well-studied faculty to give graduate students exactly what they need to succeed. It offers a wide variety of advantages that make its online component one of the most flexible and easy to appreciate online study experiences. Liberty is an ideal choice for those who have an awkward schedule or who must constantly juggle multiple responsibilities. This is a 100% online program that offers 8-week courses. It takes most students about one and a half years to complete the full 36 credit hours. However, students can always truncate this timespan by transferring in up to 50% of the degree total; this is a much higher proportion of transferable credits than many other universities allow.
There are eight start dates throughout the year, making it one of the easiest programs to jump into whenever it is convenient. Classes also feature no set log in times, nor are there any face-to-face meetings needed for graduation. The degree can be finished on a student’s own schedule and in their own time. The coursework prepares students to bring information-related training to business problems and helps them develop a broad perspective to solve those issues for companies, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations. Students choose between two specializations, depending on their interests.
The first specialization, information assurance, helps students develop data security strategies and prepares them to work in IT security professions. Students learn plenty about managing security teams and solving problems with small groups of people. The other specialization is in technology management. It focuses on teaching students to understand how to coordinate larger development teams and manage programming tasks. Neither path requires a thesis, but both do require students to complete a capstone course that calls for developing and finishing research projects to demonstrate student expertise.
One noteworthy difference that separates Liberty University from its counterparts is its Christian focus. Its religious, ethical framework is present in most of the coursework whenever the classes deal with ethical issues. Legal questions or social issues are mostly presented in ways that adhere to traditional biblical ethical ideals. As a result, the community tends to be highly religious and incredibly close. Students and faculty share a common interest in their faith, making it easier to network effectively and find friends or mentors for life.
As a result of its tight alumni network and many generous donors, Liberty has a wide variety of scholarships and other financial aid opportunities that anyone in need may take advantage of. There are several grants related to specific geographical locations, some regarding certain churches, and others that students can apply for with an essay. All students should be sure to check out the university’s financial aid page to see what aid they may qualify for.
#10. UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER/ANSCHUTZ MEDICAL CAMPUS
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS
CU Denver educates more than 15,000 students annually and has a profound impact on all kinds of business sectors worldwide. It has an extremely diverse student body and offers more than 100 degree programs. The Business School, which oversees the MSIS program, also has strong connections with over 300 businesses. It’s a great program to get into for those who want ample opportunities for employment after graduation. This MSIS program requires students to complete at least 30 credit hours of work, although the final total may be slightly more if prerequisites or an extra class or two are required for specialization. The program permits both full- and part-time schedules and is delivered entirely online. Three start dates, in the fall, spring, and summer, provide plenty of opportunities to jump in whenever it is convenient.
The program offers eight specializations, although only three are available entirely online; this is above and beyond the number of specializations offered by most other MSIS programs. As a result, this is a great program for someone attending school with a specific career in mind after graduation. No matter which specialization a student chooses, each offers hands-on software projects, a great advantage when it comes to learning the details of IT work and business analysis. The three specializations that can be completed entirely online are business intelligence, web and mobile computing, and enterprise technology management.
A dual-degree option that pairs an MSIS with a degree in Business Analytics is also available. The degrees complement each other wonderfully and can be completed without adding too much time to a student’s class schedule. This is also an excellent way to prepare for taking a job in the private sector or for leading a team as a Chief Intelligence Officer. Students also have access to the university’s Business Career Connections team for the rest of their lives; this team of professional advisors has more than 10 years of recruiting and advising experience. They have connections to hundreds of businesses and can help students network to find their next job opportunity, putting them in touch with industry leaders as they advance in their careers. This excellent benefit continues to yield benefits years after graduation. Career events are scheduled throughout the year, and students can take advantage of career workshops to make their social media presence more attractive or perfect their resumes. The team will even email students job announcements every month, to keep students abreast of new developments or possible pathways to greater success.
The university has strong internship connections with several important companies, such as DaVita, Newmont Mining, and Vizient. These internship opportunities can even translate to credit toward a degree, allowing students to complete the program in a shorter amount of time. There are plenty of financial aid options available, as well. Current students can apply for specific scholarships every semester, so schooling could, theoretically, become less expensive with each passing term. The MSIS program offers specific scholarships and awards, too.
OTHER NOTABLE PROGRAMS
#11. Nova Southeastern University
Location: Davie, Florida
Net Price: $25, 867
#12. Mississippi State University
Location: Starkville, Mississippi
Net Price: $16,670
#13. University of Maryland – Baltimore Campus
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Net Price: $17,141
#14. Northwestern University
Location: Evanston, Illinois
Net Price: $27,540
#15. Central Michigan University
Location: Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Net Price: $14,372
#16. Tarleton State University
Location: Stephenville, Texas
Net Price: $12,352
#17. South University – Savannah
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Net Price: $21,213
#18. Milligan College
Location: Elizabethton, Tennessee
Net Price: $20,362