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What is an MBA in Information Systems?

Today’s world is rich with new technology. New apps and services are big one week and forgotten the next, hype is an expectation, and constant innovation is simply the norm. Before we’ve fully digested one fad, another always seems to come along. For many, this is simply the reality of today’s world but for others, such as professionals who work with information systems, keeping a finger on the pulse of technical developments is crucial for success.

Constant change can be a major challenge. In turn, companies increasingly need qualified professionals to help them keep up.

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An online MBA in information systems is a solid, valuable degree with diverse career options that can quickly pay for the cost of education. Demand for professionals holding an online MBA in information systems is only increasing, boasting a projected faster than average job growth rate of 15% through 2024, and a prospective employment rate deemed “excellent” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

An MBA in information systems online program is convenient for students looking to earn a degree without having to attend classes on campus. Once you’ve determined the best online schools for information systems degree program for your needs and schedule, you can complete your information systems master’s degree online in just two years.

Demand for professionals holding an online MBA in information systems is only increasing, boasting a projected faster than average job growth rate of 15% through 2024.

This degree provides professionals with two extremely important, highly desirable, and all too rare employment elements: stability and opportunity. Regardless of the economic climate, the need for information systems professionals remains steady since companies must maintain or upgrade computer systems, company intranets, and other information system tools just to stay afloat. As technology continues to progress at a rapid rate, the demand for information systems professionals must keep pace. Given the current demand for professionals in the field, you’re even more likely to see greater career opportunities and salary increase as you gain more education in the field.

By obtaining an information systems MBA online, you can earn approximately $24K more annually than you would with only a bachelor’s degree in information systems — for an entry level position. Upon completing of an online MBA in Information Systems and gaining a decade or more of experience, your annual salary could increase by almost $34K!

Comparison of Information Systems Master’s Degrees

Although they share similar foundations, there are notable variations among master’s degree in information systems programs. Deciding on which program you pursue should in part be dependent upon career your goals and desired job functions. For example, a master’s in computer information systems combines technical computer information system skills with organizational and managerial skills, whereas systems engineering programs focus on identifying operational needs and designing solutions. An MBA in information systems allows for even greater career flexibility — with this degree, you could land a role developing, implementing, or managing all information systems for a business, or working in fields like design, product development, or even marketing.

Degree Description Average Salary (1-4 years experience) Length
Master’s Computer Information Systems This degree combines technical aspects of computer information systems with organizational and managerial functions. The curriculum emphasizes implementing and designing complete databases; identifying new technology that aligns with company strategy and improves company efficiency and revenue; and effectively introduces, manages, and directs newly-found information technologies into the company and employee workflow. In addition to training and managing company employees in current computer information systems, professionals in this field guide employees through updates and changes, and train employees on new technology. This degree is ideal for professionals who prefer more technical work or those who enjoy training and managerial functions. $67,619 1.5 – 5 Years
Master’s Systems Engineering A systems-centric program that prepares students for all angles of information systems, with focus not just on identifying needs, but creating, implementing, and managing an information system specifically developed for the company. Students learn how to not only identify operational needs, but to design systems to meet those needs by drawing from several disciplines. This degree is especially ideal for professionals seeking government jobs, as many graduates land jobs in fields such as cybersecurity, aerospace, aviation, and defense. $80,473 2 Years
Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in Information Systems This program emphasizes effectively incorporating information systems into business operations in order to identify growth potential and differentiate a business by utilizing a large variety of business intelligence acquired by data collection. This is achieved through a few different channels, such as social media and applications custom designed to build customer relationships and to create data-mining tools (along with entire systems). Students acquire the skills they need to standardize and organize business processes through information systems, employing information systems to maximize business efficacy and overall growth. Since one or more information systems are at the core of every business facet, career opportunities are plentiful, and very specific niches have developed. This situation makes information system professionals particularly desirable employees and may set the stage for professionals to go on to become independent consultants. $64,945 1.5 to 2 Years

Although the curriculum varies by school, graduates from online MBA information systems programs develop shared core skills and competencies. In turn, graduates from information systems programs share similar foundations, which are ultimately crucial for successful careers in the field. Listed below are examples of key courses likely to be found in the curriculum for most online MBA information systems programs, competencies developed from those courses, and examples of how they’ll benefit your career.

Course Competencies Developed Occupational Skill Level
Data Modeling Accurately build databases; provide support; analyze and understand relationships between data and business functions; and prepare and report results

TITLE: Geographic Information Systems Analyst

SALARY: growth of 7%

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Monitor, interpret, and process flow of information between all areas of business to solve problems, make decisions, and provide answers based off of steadily incoming data

TITLE: Information Systems Manager

SALARY: growth of 18%

IT Security & Infrastructure Respond to security/data breaches promptly and effectively; secure intranet/database design; and assess and analyze risks for preventative action

TITLE: Information Systems Analyst

SALARY: growth of 3%

Once you’ve completed your information systems MBA online program, you’ll have plenty of choices when it come time to choose a more specific career. Below are some of the most popular career choices among recent information system MBA graduates.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst Median Salary: $50,594
  • Architecture firms
  • Environmental programs and organizations
  • National parks
  • Government agencies and branches
  • Water and sewage treatment plants
  • Geology and archaeology foundations and programs
GIS analysts gather and analyze large sets of geographic or spatial data, place it into user-friendly mediums like charts, maps, reports, and presentations, and validate and maintain GIS databases.
Information Systems (IS) Analyst Median Salary: $63,916
  • Small businesses and large corporations
  • Government agencies and branches
  • Communication firms
  • Branches of the military
  • Hospitals
IS analysts serve as leaders for technology-based projects at their company or organization, providing and translating important information to others through complex data queries. Tasks include coordinating procedures as related to the company’s information systems, troubleshooting technical difficulties, and identifying ways to make processes more efficient.
Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) Analyst Median Salary: $63,598
  • Mid-sized businesses to large corporations and employers, such as hospitals or nationwide banks
  • Government agencies and branches
  • Branches of the military
  • Consulting and recruiting firms
HRIS analysts manage human resource databases and networks. They ensure the HRIS is accurate and reliable, assist in the design and implementation of new system features and configurations, and act as a security administrator for the HRIS. They troubleshoot system issues, complete reports and presentations as needed, and train employees to use the HRIS.

If you’ve decided that an MBA in information systems is right for you, your next step is to narrow the list of schools you are interested in. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you through this process.

  • Search for schools in your area

    Even though you are looking for online programs, it can be helpful to choose a school that is within a 100 mile radius of your home. Online students often report that they enjoy having the ability to visit campus if they want to. In addition, schools often partner with local businesses, meaning a school in your area will have a better chance of helping you find a job close to home.

  • Compare student outcomes data

    Many schools will readily provide this information on their website; however, if you can’t find it, be sure to contact the school and ask for it. This data should include graduation rates, employment rates, and the compensation levels of recent graduates. When looked at side-by-side, this information can give you an easy glimpse of program quality.

  • Estimate the expected costs of your programs

    Prospective students often underestimate the total cost of their program. Make sure you calculate the total number of credit hours you will need to graduate, and multiply that by cost per credit hour. Do not forget to include the cost of supplies, internet, and time you will spend not earning an income. Additionally, compare financial aid options, different schools may offer better financial aid packages and/or scholarships that can offset the cost of education.

  • Check that classes will fit in with your schedule

    One of the central benefits of online education is flexibility. However, some programs will require set meeting times, synchronous workshops, and mandatory campus visits. Be sure that you are aware of all time commitments and that they will fit into your current schedule.

  • Look for partnerships with local businesses/hospitals

    The main objective of getting your MBA in information systems is to find a secure job with a healthy salary in a field you enjoy. To that end, attending school that is well connected with local hospitals and businesses can be a fantastic leg up upon graduation. Many of these partners will offer internships to students that can lead to full-time employment or provide the network and experience you need to get a job elsewhere.

  • Make sure the program is accredited

    Accreditation is the formal review process that ensures a school is offering a reputable program adhering to minimum academic standards. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the national agency that accredits for undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs in business and accounting. By checking a program’s status with the AACSB, you can be confident you are receiving a recognized, quality degree. Employers generally will not hire job candidates who possess a degree from a school that is not accredited, and schools will not accept academic credentials from an unaccredited program.

  • Talk to current students and/or recent alumni

    One of the best resources when it comes to making a final decision on an online MBA in Information Systems program is actual students and graduates. They can give you an unbiased, real-world take on how the program has served them, what they have liked, and what they have disliked. Ask an admissions counselor to put you in touch with a current student or recent alumni. Alternatively, use LinkedIn or Facebook to find and reach out to people.

Upon completion of an information systems MBA online program (and depending on the specific duties and responsibilities of the position you accept), you may still be required to obtain and maintain certain types of licensure or certifications. While this may seem burdensome at first, remember that every extra bit of experience and education you earn makes you stand even further out from the competition! Examples of popular and valuable certifications include:

Liscense Description
Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) Granted by the ISACA (formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association) and named one of 15 top paying certifications in 2017, CRISC-certification is awarded to qualified information system professionals responsible for designing and managing an organization’s risk management system.
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Also issued by the ISACA, this certification is a highly regarded credential that is awarded solely to qualifying information systems professionals who manage, develop, and oversee information security systems at enterprise levels (or who have established best practices in organizational security).
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect – Associate This certification is tailored to the needs of information systems professionals who have experience designing on the AWS platform with at least one year of designing AWS systems. This certification is aimed at solutions architects, SysOps administrators, and developers who use AWS.

A high job growth rate isn’t the only benefit out there for learners who seek to complete an online MBA with information systems concentration — there’s also the possibility of receiving a little extra cash to help fund that new degree. If you want a career in information systems and you’re on the hunt for scholarships, you’re in luck because scholarship amounts in this field continue to grow, with some reaching into the $50,000+ and up range. Examples of great scholarships for learners pursuing graduate degrees in information systems include: