Accredited Online Associate Degree in Management Information Systems

Compare Degrees, Coursework and Career Potential

Ideal for individuals with strong technology skills and an interest in computer science, an online management information systems associate degree provides learners with basic, foundational knowledge of the discipline. A typical course of study prepares degree-seekers for entry-level employment in the industry or for further education and training in a related field.

Created with prospective learners and working professionals in mind, this guide answers the question what is management information systems and goes on to look at what students can expect from most programs. We discuss job possibilities and salary potential, look at the admissions process and common courses, and delve into the benefits of online learning. The guide also provides important information on learning objectives and accreditation that will help prospective students find the right program to achieve their goals.

What is a Management Information Systems Associate Degree?

Management information systems focuses on the interactions among people, decision-making processes, and technology within organizational contexts. A subset of both information technology and administrative management, the discipline blends project management and computer science to increase value and profits in business settings by coordinating the use of information and other data assets.

An online management information systems associate degree develops the initial knowledge and skills necessary for learners to begin a career in this thriving industry. The job outlook and salary potential for working professionals in information systems continues to grow at an impressive rate, especially for those with formal higher education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for computer and information systems managers will increase by 11% between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations nationwide.

Prospective learners in management information systems should note that an associate degree in this field generally acts as a preparatory credential, a springboard for further education and training. The degree often qualifies learners for entry-level employment in management information systems, but many lucrative career paths require a bachelor's in a related field of study. Many learners pursue an online management information systems associate degree as a means of jump-starting their career and expediting future education possibilities.

Why Earn an Online Management Information Systems Degree?

Most students earn an online management information systems associate degree for a combination of personal and professional reasons. The list below outlines just a few of the benefits often associated with this course of study.

Career Exploration

Some learners obtain this degree because it offers a good route to explore professional interests and possible career options in the future.

Preparatory Education

An associate degree provides preparatory training in the field. Many learners enroll with the aim of transferring to a four-year institution in the future.

Broadening a Skill Set

The course gives learners ample opportunity to broaden their core skill set in information technology, computer science, and other adjacent areas.

Convenience

Online learning offers flexible and accommodating course options specifically designed for busy learners and working professionals.

Personal Accomplishment

Some learners earn an online management information systems associate degree because it provides a sense of personal accomplishment and expands their professional portfolio.

Career and Salary Potential with an Associate Degree in Management Information Systems

While no degree automatically guarantees a job or salary, several different career paths remain available to learners pursuing an online management information systems associate degree. The jobs listed below represent a sample of different occupations many graduates obtain. Most are full-time, office-based positions that require hard skills in project management, programming, information security, and database architecture. Career paths may require additional training, education, or professional certification.

Web Developer

Median Annual Salary: $69,430

Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 13%

Professionals in this field design, create, and manipulate websites. They generate the overall look of a given site and manage technical aspects like capacity and performance, upload and download speeds, new user traffic, and redirects. They may also create content for websites. Some web developers work independently, but many work as part of a larger team within an organization.
Computer and Information Systems Manager

Median Annual Salary: $142,530

Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 11%

These information technology managers plan, implement, and coordinate all of the computer-related activities for their organization. They determine technology goals in conjunction with other personnel and work with their team to achieve those goals by using new tools and adapting existing tools. They usually manage a large team and generally possess a bachelor's degree in the field.
Computer Systems Analyst

Median Annual Salary: $88,740

Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 9%

These analysts monitor and examine their organization's computing resources. They ensure that these resources support the organization's larger goals and often work to develop solutions that increase efficiency and productivity. Most computer systems analysts hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field.
Software Developer

Median Annual Salary: $105,590

Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 21%

Software developers create programs and design applications for computers and other electronic devices. Some work to create programs designed to perform a single task, while others develop large-scale software that undergirds their organization's networks and computer systems. These professionals typically work in large firms or startups. Most software developers possess strong programming skills and a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field.
Database Administrator

Median Annual Salary: $90,070

Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 9%

These professionals manage an organization's database and work to safeguard its sensitive electronic information and other digital assets. They often use specialized software to store, retrieve, and organize data related to their organization's business activities. Most database administrators work full time for large companies or organizations. They typically hold a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.

Source: BLS

Earning an Associate in Management Information Systems Online

This section outlines a typical course of study for learners interested in an online management information systems associate degree. The section includes information about the application process, common core courses, average timeframes for completion, and general learning objectives shared by most programs.

Application Process

Most schools with an online management information systems associate degree follow the same general application process. Prospective students should familiarize themselves with the admissions criteria to best facilitate the process.

All applicants must provide evidence of a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate. Most schools require that applicants submit official academic transcripts with a minimum GPA in the 2.5-3.0 range. Applicants can request copies of their transcripts by contacting the educational institutions previously attended. Some requests involve a small fee, and schools may require ACT or SAT scores.

Many schools also require letters of recommendation from qualifying individuals -- typically previous employers, teachers, or mentors -- who can assess the applicant's potential for academic success. A short essay or personal statement written by the applicant usually accompanies these letters. This brief document should outline the applicant's personal and professional goals and speak to their fit within the prospective program.

Applicants must submit these materials via the school's online application system. Programs may also require an application fee, typically in the $50-$75 range. Applicants will be notified of a decision after application review.

Common Courses

Information Systems Analysis and Design

Learners in this course gain foundational knowledge of the field by engaging in the analysis and logical design of management information systems and business processes. Topics include systems development life cycles, project management, cost-benefit analyses, information retrieval techniques, and systems design.

Computer Networking

This course provides an introductory overview of computer networking applications by focusing on local area networks, wide area networks, and intranets. Students learn about network hardware and technologies, client and server operating systems, server management and administration, network security, and cloud computing.

Database Management Systems

Material covered in this course offers a working understanding of the major database management approaches in the industry. Learners use basic administration principles to practice file organization methods, query languages, database concepts, and transaction processing. The course concludes with an original, applied database project.

Systems Security Management

Students in this course learn about the major models for assessing and monitoring high-level security risks within large networks and databases. Course content provides working knowledge of common issues and techniques related to the protection of information and other digital assets.

Project Management

This course explores the basic fundamentals of project management, including planning and delegation, systems control, resource allocation, and performance metrics. Students learn to plan, manage, and implement key project management skills by developing a final project in conjunction with their colleagues. Other topics include behavior management, team building, and cultural diversity.

Average Online Degree Length

Earning an online management information systems associate degree offers distinct advantages to learners interested in reducing their time in school. Most online programs easily accommodate busy working schedules by using flexible learning technologies that encourage access anytime, anywhere. Self-directed students can log in to engage content and complete assignments at their convenience with minimal disruption.

Most management information systems programs require 60 credits. Students can typically complete the degree in 18 months or less, depending on outside factors like employment and enrollment status. For example, full-time learners will likely finish quicker than average, while part-time learners and working professionals may take a bit longer. Learners who take full advantage of summer and winter course offerings can also reduce their time to completion.

Some programs also offer accelerated course options that expedite the course of study. These offerings typically involve an intensive, concentrated class schedule. Courses finish much quicker than others, but they also place more immediate demands on students' time.

Skills, Traits, and Knowledge Gained

An online management information systems associate degree develops preliminary analytical, technology, and managerial skills necessary for professional success. Learners with some experience or interest in computing, information technology, and business administration make the best prospective candidates. Depending on the school, students can also tailor their course of study to meet their long-term career goals.

Learners can expect a typical program to provide basic, working knowledge of information systems fundamentals. This includes database management, networking procedures, information security, and organizational administration. Core courses in the program develop this knowledge base. They also encourage hard skills in systems analysis and evaluation, analytical problem-solving, mathematics, and critical thinking.

Students also study managerial techniques and learn how to lead a team; they also learn how to plan, coordinate, and implement high-level technology projects in a timely manner. When combined with refined social and interpersonal skills, the technology and project management knowledge acquired during the program positions learners as versatile and desirable job candidates.

Most management information systems programs at this level do not offer specific specializations, but this does not mean that learners cannot explore potential interests or areas of expertise. Management information systems is a diverse, adaptable discipline with broad applicability in professional contexts. Through free electives and other opportunities, degree-seekers can begin to build an expert skill set that coincides with their professional goals.

Accreditation for Management Information Systems Associate Programs

Prospective learners should always check that potential schools hold proper academic accreditation. An independent, quality assurance process, accreditation ensures that a school and the programs it administers meet acceptable standards of excellence. Accreditation typically comes in three forms.

Regional accreditation, the most popular and reputable form, typically goes to academic-oriented schools like private, nonprofit institutions and public, state-owned colleges and universities. Independent, nongovernmental bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation confer regional accreditation. Agencies recognized by these same entities confer national accreditation to for-profit institutions.

Programmatic or specialized accreditation acts as an additional credential for specific programs within a school that already possesses regional or national accreditation. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology grants specialized accreditation to programs in technology-related fields, including management information systems.

Some programs do not possess programmatic accreditation. If a potential program does not hold this credential, learners should make sure that the school holds national or regional accreditation.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Many graduates seek out networking opportunities and career advancement tools. The professional organizations listed below provide a plethora of useful resources that can help in this regard.

Many organizations support working professionals by hosting conferences and annual events, disseminating relevant publications and scholarship, providing job boards, and housing information on the most recent developments in the field. These resources can help students and recent graduates stay up to date with the latest news as they work to land a fulfilling job in the industry.

The Association for Information Systems

Founded in 1994 as an international, nonprofit association, this organization supports working professionals in more than 90 countries. AIS serves society by advancing knowledge and promoting excellence in the practice and study of information systems. The association also hosts regular conferences, conducts research, and provides a job index and other professional development resources.


The Information Resources Management Association

This organization advances the concepts and practices of information resources management in modern business. IRMA achieves this mission by hosting peer-reviewed scholarship in the field and enhancing knowledge through continuing education opportunities. IRMA also maintains a regular newsletter and listserv for its members.


Society for Information Management

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, this organization supports information technology executives and other working professionals through a robust network of local chapters throughout the U.S. SIM offers awards and grants, provides professional development resources and relevant publications, and sponsors local events that promote excellence and innovation in the field.

Next Steps: Continuing Your Education

With a few exceptions, most careers in management information systems require additional training and education beyond a two-year degree. Many learners choose to continue their education after earning an online management information systems associate degree. This section discusses some common educational options following graduation, including transfers and additional degree paths.

Transferring to a Four-Year Degree Program

Many learners obtain an online management information system associate degree with the intent of going on to earn a bachelor's degree in the future. A relevant two-year degree can serve as a useful stepping stone in this regard. In fact, most schools expect that learners will ultimately transfer to a different program or institution to complete their education.

Most programs offer easy transfer pathways and maintain articulation agreements with other institutions to facilitate this process. Prospective students should consult the specific policies of potential schools before enrollment to ensure that they make the best decision given their long-term goals.

Additional Degree Paths to Consider

Other learners choose alternative degree paths and transfer to another institution. Options vary depending on each student's professional goals and career plans, but the paths outlined below represent popular options for those looking to obtain management information systems jobs.

  • Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems: This degree serves as the most obvious and natural option. Enrolled learners continue their course of study and work to obtain credentials that qualify them for most occupations in the field.
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology: Learners interested in developing further expertise in information technology may choose to earn this degree. This degree broadens their career prospects and focuses on computer science expertise.
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: Students may choose to complement their technology expertise with high-level business acumen. With this degree, learners combine technology skills with administrative competency in corporate contexts.