Why Pursue a Master’s in Information Systems
Today’s information systems manager needs to have a thorough command of technology, security, and computer systems in addition to an understanding of business concepts. It is a great choice for people who want to advance into technical or managerial careers.
The information systems field covers different areas, including information security, computer networking, decision support systems, database management, and systems design and analysis. Studying management information systems at the master’s degree level enhances your skills while offering an opportunity to earn more by building on computer science fundamentals. Such knowledge will prepare you for a career in different areas, including business analytics, IT project management, and web development.
In addition to introducing advanced computer science concepts, a master’s program in information systems introduces additional skills, including problem-solving, decision-making, and communication skills.
Pursuing a degree in computer information systems will help you bridge between the technical aspects of IT and the real-world applications of technological innovations. Pursuing an MSIS program equips you with expertise in:
- Using communication, teamwork, and leadership skills in breaking down technical information to help the organization align computer systems and tools with business goals
- Applying project management skills in achieving business goals
- Finding new tools and technologies to increase the competitiveness of the business
- Managing the implementation of new technology in the organization
In addition to developing the above expertise, here are some of the top reasons you should consider a graduate degree in information systems:
- You improve your competitiveness in the industry, thus are capable of attracting a higher salary. With a master’s degree, you are ready to take on senior management and technical roles, thus setting yourself apart from others in the IT job market pool.
- Taking a master’s program will advance your career, allowing you to branch out into more interesting paths.
Information system master’s programs cover topics such as:
- Information system strategies
- Data management
- System development
- Information technology management
- Technical services management
- Customer relationship management
- Business foundations for IT
- Business data analytics
- Information security
- Business data mining
- Managing cloud computing
Some of the careers opportunities a master’s in information systems offers include:
- Information systems manager who is responsible for a company’s computer systems. Some of your responsibilities will include tech-related research, development, and productivity in an organization.
- Business analyst where you help organizations in implementing technology solutions.
- Computer systems analysis where you will be responsible for analyzing procedures, user requirements, and problems and develop strategies an organization could adopt to optimize existing technology resources.
- Data analyst where you will be responsible for collecting, processing, and analyzing data to draw meaningful conclusions.
- System analysts who are responsible for solving business problems using information technology.
- Business application developer.
- IT consultants.
- IT development project manager.
- Business intelligence analyst.
What will You Learn in a Master’s in Information Systems Program?
A master’s in information systems can be a great way to advance your computer science degree or another related technology degree. The class load you can expect from the graduate degree program will depend on the university and the flexibility of their courses. However, most information systems management programs require you to complete between 32 and 48 credits to complete the program.
The exact credits you need will depend on the university, so be sure to check that out when choosing the program best suited for you. You can expect to complete an MSIS program in between 18 to 24 months. You could check whether the institution offers an accelerated program to allow you to complete the MSIS degree in a shorter time. Most of these programs, especially from recognized institutions, have a competitive admissions process; therefore, you need to start your applications early enough (some institutions require you to send an application 6 to 8 months before the start date).
Different institutions have different common core, elective, and specialized courses you can pursue. These courses build upon the basics you learned in your bachelor’s degree, including different information system types and foundations of computer systems. Here are some of the courses you might expect if you are an MSIS student:
- Information systems analysis and design cover major modeling techniques, subsystems developments, physical and logical design.
- The information visualization course introduces the principles of information visualization. This course will require you to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- The project management fundamentals course deals with operational and conceptual issues in project management, as well as the possible problems and solutions.
- The financial decision-making course introduces you to corporate financial management to help you in making effective decisions that will maximize the organization’s value.
- The data management course focuses on data and database management. You will learn strategic data planning, data design, data management functions, database schemas, and design, data quality approaches, data analytics, data mining, and strategic data policies.
- The digital innovation course educates you on methods organizations can adopt to leverage new technologies.
- The information technology strategy course focuses on techniques one can apply to align a business with information technology. This course will cover different areas, including business and IT strategy, strategic alignment, and business infrastructure.
- Business analytics course equips you with analytical skills to help you analyze and solve complex problems using data-driven techniques. This course covers areas such as regression models, optimization models, and descriptive statistics, among others.
- The data analytics and machine learning course will introduce you to the applications of data mining and algorithms in solving real-world business problems. Some of the areas this course covers include artificial neural networks, machine learning, and algorithm evaluation techniques, among others. This is a good elective course, which could build upon the knowledge you gained through an AI degree.
Some institutions also allow some specialization courses, which could include:
- Business intelligence and analytics
- Cybersecurity risk management
- Project management
- Business process management
Most masters in information science programs require you to strengthen your classroom skills through internships to help you excel at your job post-graduation. Depending on the institution, you can take different internship options depending on one that is most convenient. Your institution could offer some support and guidance on finding internships and the best institutions that offer you relevant experience in your field. In addition to gaining relevant work experience, an internship allows prospective employers and working professionals to determine whether you are an ideal candidate to work in their organization.
You will also need to work closely with your institution to determine the work opportunities and internships that qualify for the program. Some of the skills you will develop include:
- Analytical skills to help you analyze problems and identify the best way to deal with these problems
- Critical thinking skills to help you identify relationships between ideas or facts
- Communication skills to help you relay messages to executives, colleagues, and subordinates; verbal, nonverbal, and written communication skills are important.
- Business skills to help you implement strategic plans to meet the organization’s goals
- Decision-making skills to help you make decisions about IT resource allocation in the organization
- Leadership skills to help you lead and motivate IT teams
- Organizational skills to help you coordinate different projects for the organization’s smooth running
- Collaboration skills will allow you to work with other teams and departments in your organization. Collaboration skills are important whether you are working remotely or in an in-office setting.
- An eagerness to learn: when working in the technology field, you must have an eagerness to learn new technologies and concepts to remain competitive in your field.
- Creativity to help you identify and develop out-of-the-box solutions to problems
Potential Careers with a Master’s in Information Systems
A master’s in information systems prepares you for exciting opportunities where you can apply technology, management, and leadership skills.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 11% growth in computer and technology occupations in ten years between 2019 and 2029. The increasing adoption of cloud computing and related technologies across many industries is fueling the growth of these job opportunities. Some of the career a master’s degree in information systems prepares you for includes:
Information systems manager
As an information systems manager, you will be responsible for identifying the information needs of an organization and developing strategies to meet these needs.
Information systems architect
Your responsibilities as an information systems architect include documenting an organization’s IT needs and recommending the right IT tools and software to help meet certain business goals.
Software developers design, modify, write, and debug software and applications for organizations. You will also be responsible for creating new applications to meet different goals. Software developers are in high demand throughout the world, and the demand is projected to continue rising, thanks to the continued adoption of technology across different spheres of life.
Information security analyst
Information security analysts are in high demand as governments and organizations rely on computer systems. Your job as an information security analyst is to plan and manage security measures that secure an organization’s computer systems. Becoming an information security analyst could allow you to work with financial institutions and defense organizations, including the Department of Homeland Security. Data analytics skills are important for you to work as an information security analyst as you need to understand different data patterns and their implications.
A database administrator is responsible for managing an organization’s database. Some of the responsibilities of a database administrator include upgrading software, managing backup systems, modifying system structures, among other responsibilities.
Computer system analyst
A computer system analyst career combines IT and business. Working as a computer systems analyst helps you learn how businesses use technology and the steps businesses can take to implement technology cost-effectively. Your responsibilities will include the installation of new units, employee training, and troubleshooting problems.
As a web developer, you will be responsible for developing new designs and coding sites to ensure they are easy to navigate. This career requires great attention to detail, creativity, and communication skills.
Technical support specialist
A technical support specialist helps clients and customers resolve technical problems that arise while working with hardware or software, a technical support specialist must have good communication skills and good problem-solving skills to remain relevant in their career field.
Top Industries You Can Work in with an MSIS Degree
Almost every industry uses information systems to some extent, but here are the top industries where professionals with an MSIS degree are in high demand:
The hospital information systems market is a growing industry, thanks to the vast amounts of data hospitals must deal with. Apart from clinical data, hospitals are dealing with legal, administrative, and financial information, thus creating the need for an information systems specialist to help improve care delivery, reduce costs, and reduce medical errors.
Developments in aviation manufacturing and research are part of the driving forces behind industry-wide adoption of networking and online systems, thus the need for experts well versed with these systems.
Consumers today can complete financial transactions entirely online. This means that businesses in the financial sector have to develop systems that streamline these transactions while keeping customer and business data safe. The growing threat of cybercriminals means that players in the financial sector have to rely on experts who can keep their business systems safe.
Manufacturers are increasingly relying on information systems, including computer integrated manufacturing, computerized machinery, and other innovative solutions. As manufacturers adopt tech-enabled manufacturing tools, the demand for industry experts will also increase.
How to Choose a Master’s in Information Systems Program
Choosing a master’s in information systems program can seem daunting, especially if you have no one to guide you on the steps to take when finding the program that meets your personal and career goals. While most people will pursue their master’s after gaining some work experience, others might choose to pursue a master’s program right after their undergrad degrees. Regardless of your situation, here are some of the questions to consider when choosing a master’s in information systems program:
- What are your reasons or motivations for pursuing the program? The decision to pursue a master’s program should be the next logical step in your career and personal goal, not something imposed upon you by outside influences.
- What career opportunities does a master’s program offer you? Do you wish to pursue these careers?
- What are the costs vs. returns of pursuing a master’s degree
- What are the course requirements and duration? Do you meet the entry requirements? Are you ready to commit to the time it takes to complete the program?
- What are the most reputable institutions with the accreditation to offer Masters in Information Systems?
- What flexibility does the program offer?
A common question that arises amongst students is whether to pursue their master’s the traditional way or to take an online program instead. While both systems have their benefits, students have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages based on their circumstances before deciding on the format in which they want their masters delivered.
Some of the benefits of an on-campus program include:
- You have a personal interaction with the instructors and students, which is ideal for students who value such interaction with teachers and peers. This interaction also allows for real-time feedback as you can ask the instructor a question and get a response immediately.
- You can build closer connections with fellow students and instructors in a traditional setting than you would online. These networks could be important in your career.
Traditional programs, however, have their disadvantages. These include:
- You have to attend classes as per the set schedule, meaning you have to readjust other commitments and responsibilities to accommodate your classes.
- Traditional master’s programs might be inaccessible
- These programs tend to be expensive, especially for out-of-state students
- The benefits of pursuing an online program include:
- These programs tend to be cheaper than their traditional counterparts
- The flexibility in scheduling your classes makes it possible to keep up with other responsibilities and commitments while advancing your education
- Online programs are convenient as you can access them at your own time and any location, thus eliminating the need for commuting
- If real-time classroom interaction is distracting, online learning could be an ideal alternative that suits your learning style better
- The asynchronous nature of communication in online learning eliminates the need for technicalities such as booking appointments to communicate with your instructors. You can simply send an email and wait for a response when the recipient is available
However, online master’s programs are not for everyone. Some of the cons of pursuing your masters online are:
- You need the discipline to manage your time well and complete your assignments as required
- You might experience technology problems such as operation failures which could disrupt your learning
Completing a master’s in information systems opens up career opportunities you could explore in the technology field. These programs equip you with the skills and knowledge required to take on more advanced roles while increasing your earning potential.