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At my school there is apparently a Computer Science degree, which is located under the "department of natural sciences", while Management Information Systems is considered "business".

Besides the usual descriptions that can be found about both jobs, I was wondering how the job of MIS actually differs from say, that of a software engineer or programmer. Just curious, thanks

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closed as primarily opinion-based by MichaelT, GlenH7, durron597, gnat, Ixrec Oct 17 '15 at 10:14

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Great answers below, but would like to add that MIS makes a much more interesting university class than career choice. The only person I know of who got a job with an MIS degree also followed it up with an MBA and PMBOK certification later. She was a project manager. – maple_shaft Oct 19 '11 at 11:16
up vote 1 down vote accepted

From the single MIS class I took at UTD, it seems to be a general business degree with a focus exploiting computer systems to reduce tedium. we focused heavily on the supply chains and system inputs and outputs, talked about things such as processes from an extremely high-level overview, "learned what a database was for", and had a bunch of different documents (requisition request, product order form, etc) we had to memorize.

The emphasis was on automating real world processes using pre-existing systems

I assume (and the key word there is ass-u-me), that most people that get an MIS degree will go into management or finance, and work closely with managing data on a computer, and won't end up doing much system analysis / design / development.

I've since changed my major to Computer Science, and I'm getting a lot more training in systems design and development, rather than systems exploitation.

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systems design & development as in Operating Systems research? – Dark Templar Oct 19 '11 at 7:20
There are operating systems classes involved with Computer Science (here at TAMU-C we only have one required OS class). When I refer to systems analysis and design, I mean the design of software systems, be it operating systems, business systems, or rendering systems. Sys Analysis & Design is used to convey what a software system should do, not how it does it. Keep in mind that Computer Science degrees still require you to know how to implement systems as well as design them. :) – Christopher Harris Oct 19 '11 at 7:26
So basically that means you will be able to do the high-level work one day, doesn't it? I'm wondering because I'm very interested; how employable is that (to focus more on design and less on implementation)? – Dark Templar Oct 22 '11 at 20:46
I'm assuming this site has some credibility... although I have nothing to prove that. – Christopher Harris Oct 22 '11 at 22:49

MIS is taught in many universities. I advise you to look at the program description of the major institutions to see what possible careers are.

My personal opinion is that MIS may be a good study as an MBA specialization or a post-graduate degree rather than an undergraduate degree.

MIS graduates, as far as I know, are not intended to be programmers. So they either be part of management or analysis activities. Management and/or analysis require real-life and business specific expertise. This kind of expertise is usually absent from the graduate's background. As a result it is hard to find a position that the graduate would fit in without re-training.

I suggest you check with other students in that major, your advisory and friends as well as job boards to try to measure the real demand for this degree.

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MIS typically means using database, reporting & business intelligence platforms as well as their specific business knowledge to analyze and answer questions about a business unit or function. Typically this is not much overlapped with software development or with quantitative analysis. Often MIS teams are part of finance or process design teams, or they may be part of a specific product segment or function. They may develop business process scorecards, financial reports and they spend a lot of time doing ad-hoc reporting/research requests for managers.

They often need a range of skills; it is not unheard of to develop a new database and ETL jobs to populate it just to create a specific set of new reports, at least in the MIS teams I have worked with. This work provides a quick and dirty answer to the business, and then the development teams will get involved in incorporating this information into a more robust business intelligence or data provisioning system.

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