By pursuing an information systems MBA, students gain both sought-after technical experience and managerial skills. Students take courses in business fundamentals while honing skills in information technology. This combination of computer and business knowledge leads to high salaries and executive titles. Employees boasting these skill sets can take advantage of various career options across many industries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that demand for computer and information systems managers will increase 11% between 2018 and 2028, far outpacing the national average for all occupations. Graduates with an information systems MBA benefit from this growing job market.
On this page, readers can find information on information systems careers and degree programs, including common courses and scholarship opportunities.
Careers in Information Systems
Information systems professionals work with the technological aspects of a corporation, nonprofit, or government entity. As society increasingly depends on computers, technology, and cloud-based work, demand for information systems specialists flourishes across industries. Top industries for computer and information systems managers include computer systems design, management of companies and enterprises, and insurance carriers.
Graduates with an online MBA in information systems can qualify for a variety of choice positions in the field, with employers increasingly seeking managers and top executives with an advanced degree.
IT directors oversee the information technology departments of organizations. Working with other managers, they suggest improvements to their organization's technology to benefit the company's business goals. They also work to enforce any computer-based policies the company institutes. IT directors may supervise IT-related positions, hire employees, and handle department budgets. The BLS reports that IT directors earned an average median wage of $142,530 in 2018.
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Often specializing in data science, robotics, or programming, computer and information research scientists invent technology-based solutions to common issues. They work across industries, including business. They may work with scientists and engineers, invent programming languages, conduct experiments, and analyze data. They may also publish articles about their work in scholarly journals. The BLS reports that computer and information research scientists earned an average median wage of $118,370 in 2018.
Network and Computer Systems Administrator
Network and computer systems administrators oversee the operation of their company's computer networks. They ensure that the technology operates properly and troubleshoot any problems that may occur. They work with managers to install the proper network tools for their organization's needs, and they may manage hardware, such as desktop computers, mobile devices, and servers. The BLS reports that network and computer systems administrators earned an annual median wage of $82,050 in 2018.
IT Security Manager
IT security managers focus on protecting computer networks and cloud-based data for an organization. They must stay apprised of current cybersecurity threats and understand what risks those threats may pose to their company. Working with other managers, they develop technology-related security protocols, investigate issues, and enact damage control if breaches arise. They may also educate staff on protecting the data they manage. The BLS reports that IT security managers earned an average median wage of $142,530 in 2018.
Chief Information Officer
Chief information officers, or CIOs, work with top executives to direct all aspects of technology for their organizations. Taking a big-picture view of their company's needs, they set goals and implement technology changes as necessary. Day-to-day tasks may vary depending on the size of a company; a large organization may hire a CIO to focus largely on the company's business operations, while smaller companies may require CIOs to supervise IT staff directly. The BLS reports that CIOs earned an average median wage of $142,530 in 2018.
How to Choose a Program in Information Systems
Finding the right online information systems MBA program can pose a challenge. Students should consider their career goals and research programs that fulfill their needs. While curriculum remains an important consideration, online learners should also consider their particular situation.
Some students may need to work full time or manage personal obligations, necessitating part-time study, while others may wish to complete their degree rapidly, pursuing full-time study and/or an accelerated program. Accreditation, course delivery style, affordability, and available support services are also important considerations.
Ask for information on how lessons are delivered in the program
Students should consider program delivery style when researching online programs. Some programs run asynchronously, meaning that participants may watch lectures and complete weekly assignments without logging in at a specific time. Other programs require distance learners to participate in real-time sessions. Students seeking maximum flexibility should opt for an asynchronous program.
Get details on what support is available to students
Distance learners rely on support from the school they choose. Technical support can determine the distance between success and struggle in an online environment. Students attending class on campus can typically access resources like career services, tutoring assistance, and library support. Prospective students should consider which resources matter most to them, and inquire as to the type of support an institution offers online students before committing to a program.
Estimate your expected program costs
Most prospective students consider cost an important aspect of the search for the right information systems MBA program. Some programs allow all distance learners to pay in-state or otherwise reduced tuition, while others charge additional rates for online courses. Program length can also impact cost, with accelerated programs potentially costing less -- though these programs may prevent students from working. Prospective students should also consider any on-campus requirements, such as immersion events, which may require travel costs.
Ensure the school's admission requirements align with your expectations
When looking at potential schools, prospective students should consider admission requirements. Some programs require students to demonstrate a background in business or technology, while others are open to any undergraduate major. Additionally, some programs require minimum undergraduate GPAs and/or GRE scores. Applicants with professional work experience may seek out programs that allow standardized test waivers for candidates with related professional experience.
Compare student outcomes data
Student outcome data includes information on how much debt students typically leave a program with, the percentage of graduates who secured employment within 3-6 months of finishing the program, and/or the percentage of students who received wage increases while studying. These types of tangible outcomes can serve as markers of a good program -- and a program that emphasizes career services.
Look for partnerships with local businesses and communities
Community engagement and local business partnerships can serve as markers of a good information systems MBA program. Students may work with businesses through internships or capstone projects. When local businesses find value in these programs, students can expect the degree to offer the relevant skills that employers seek. These partnerships also provide networking opportunities and valuable professional experience.
Make sure the program is accredited
Accreditation serves as a crucial marker for any advanced degree. Generally considered the most rigorous type, regional accreditation evaluates the merits of a college or university as a whole. Examples of regional accreditors include the Higher Learning Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Business programs can obtain programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
Speak with current students and alumni
Most programs allow prospective students to speak with alumni or current program participants about their experiences. Prospective students should ask to speak with others who engaged in or completed the curriculum, as these conversations can provide valuable insight into the way a program runs. Former students can speak to aspects they enjoyed, challenges they faced, and variations between a school's outward image versus the actual experience as a distance learner.
Information Systems Curriculum
Information systems MBA curricula vary depending on the program. Students should research required courses to make sure the curriculum aligns with their career goals. The list below offers a few examples of courses that students may find in an information systems MBA program.
- Data Modeling
- Data modeling involves analyzing information to identify trends and patterns that may help make business and technology decisions. Data modeling courses may examine tools and software programs, data mining techniques, and common methods of analysis. Students explore projects related to marketing, finance, healthcare, and other common industries. Assignments often require students to apply the data to run diagnostics or other models.
- Project Management
- Courses in project management teach students to develop processes to produce deliverable products. Topics include team management, global project management, communications, and stakeholder relations. Courses may handle topics that arise in technology project management across a variety of industrial sectors. Some courses involve the completion of hands-on projects.
- IT Security and Infrastructure
- IT infrastructure involves common organizational models for technology-related communications in business across formats that include video, voice, and data. Students learn to implement and maintain secure IT networks for their organization and handle the changes of a rapidly changing field. Security may deal with topics that include confidentiality and integrity, cybersecurity, disaster response, and risk management in information technology from the standpoint of a manager and an IT professional.
Comparison of Information Systems Degrees and Specializations
Depending on their individual career goals, students may select from a variety of degree types. Different degrees carry different requirements, program lengths, and career possibilities. An MBA in information systems combines business foundations with technology skills, while other degrees focus more heavily on computer knowledge. The table below offers details about a few potential degrees related to information systems and typical career paths for graduates.
|Degree Type||Description||Potential Career Paths|
|Master's of Business Administration (MBA) in Information Systems||An MBA in information systems emphasizes the intersections between business, management, and technology. This program explores how to incorporate information systems into business operations to identify growth potential and differentiate a business by utilizing business intelligence acquired through data collection.||Leadership roles in startups, computer network analyst, network administrator, head of information technology department|
|Master's in Information Systems||This degree emphasizes the technical aspects of computer information systems. Students learn how to implement and design databases; identify new technology that aligns with company strategy and improves company efficiency and revenue; and introduce, manage, and direct newly found information technologies into the company and employee workflow.||Database administrator, information security analyst, training and development manager|
|Master's in Database Systems||Master's in database systems learners study data mining, security, warehousing, and modeling. Courses emphasize skills in database administration, including classes on creating databases and security projects and mining existing industry data to identify quality issues.||Computer systems architect, network architect, database administrator|
Cost and Length of an Information Systems Degree
Program affordability represents an important consideration in the search for any degree program. The overall cost of a program varies depending on school location, program length, public or private status, and on-campus requirements.
Students should evaluate tuition costs, weighing them against potential salary earnings, and research whether distance learners receive reduced tuition rates. Some schools allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates, while others offer reduced rates for regional residents. In addition to tuition and fees, students should calculate costs for books and other learning materials and any travel costs associated with in-person requirements.
The length of time spent in a program can relate directly to the costs involved. Students can typically complete an online information systems MBA program in 1-2 years. Some programs allow flexible completion times, while others require students to complete the degree within a specified period of time.
Information Systems FAQs
- What can I do with an MBA in Information Systems?
- Graduates with an MBA in information systems can choose from a variety of career paths, including IT management and direction, network administration, and executive management. With a foundation in management, graduates boast a strong understanding of how technology works to serve their organization's goals.
- What concentration should I get my MBA in?
- Prospective students should consider their career goals to choose the right MBA concentration. In addition to information systems, MBA concentration options include finance, entrepreneurship, management, marketing, healthcare, accounting, and human resources.
- Which MBA course is best to become a CEO?
- It depends. Prospective students aiming to work in a particular industry, such as finance or healthcare, should hone their expertise and management acumen to best qualify for such a position. A CEO can potentially come from any concentration, given the right experience.
Information Systems Scholarships
Visionary Integration Professionals Women in Technology Scholarship
Women pursuing careers in computer science, information technology, information systems management, or a related field may apply for this $2,500 award. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, answer an essay question, and demonstrate participation in community and extracurricular activities. They must also be enrolled or accepted to a bachelor's or master's degree program.
Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship
Sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution, this $2,000 award can potentially be renewed after the first year with reapplication. Full-time MBA students in an accredited program can apply with a minimum 3.25 GPA.
AfterCollege Engineering and Technology Student Scholarship
AfterCollege offers a $500 award to students studying in any area and level of technology, engineering, or mathematics. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. The application requires transcripts, work experience, a list of accomplishments, and a list of hard and soft skills.
Eli Lilly and Company BDPA Scholarship
Minority students studying information technology can apply for this one-time $4,000 award. Sponsored by the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation, the application requires candidates to submit a photo, transcripts, recommendation letters, and a 500-word essay.
Ralph W. Shrader Graduate Diversity Scholarship
The $3,000 Ralph W. Schrader award is open to women and minority students enrolled in accredited graduate degree programs in science and technology. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.5 GPA and submit transcripts along with a resume, recommendation letters, and a short-answer essay related to financial need.