According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for computer and information technology professionals are projected to grow 13% through 2026, which is almost double the national average for all occupations. Most of these new jobs require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field.
This page offers an overview of management information systems online degrees, including details about the application process, common courses, and potential careers. It also provides guidance on career advancement.
Overview of Management Information Systems Degrees
Management information systems (MIS) professionals use technology to meet organizational goals. For example, professionals may use an MIS to coordinate and monitor the work of a project team to improve performance and profits.
Students who pursue an MIS degree online often possess strong computer skills and a desire to work in a managerial or leadership capacity. MIS programs usually feature coursework in technical areas, like computer programming, and more business-oriented studies in subjects like enterprise information and strategic decision-making.
Graduates with an MIS online degree enjoy diverse roles in the public and private sectors, including computer network architect, database administrator, and computer systems analyst. With additional work experience after earning your bachelor's, you qualify for more advanced roles, such as a computer or information system manager.
The BLS projects strong growth and high earnings for MIS jobs. In 2017, the median computer and information system manager earned $139,220, which is more than triple the median salary for all jobs. The BLS projects employment for these roles to grow 12% through 2026.
You need a high school diploma or GED to earn an online bachelor's in management information systems. Many schools require applicants to maintain a certain GPA during high school, usually at least a 2.5. Some schools require students to submit results from the SAT or ACT.
Along with your transcripts and test scores, your program may request up to three letters of recommendation from former teachers, employers, or community leaders. Choose recommenders who can speak to your qualifications and give them at least two months to complete the letter.
You may also need to write a personal essay for admission. This essay, usually around 1000 words, should outline your academic and professional goals while highlighting your experience with information technology.
Some online schools assign an admission adviser to support prospective students through the admission process and some schools request to interview applicants before admission.
What Will I Learn?
To earn a management information systems degree online, you typically must complete 120 credits. Roughly 40 of these credits come from general education classes, covering subjects like mathematics, humanities, and the social sciences. Another 40-50 credits are major-specific courses, such as information technology service management, business intelligence and reporting, and computer platform technologies. To satisfy the final 30-40 credits, students take elective courses.
Most full-time students earn their bachelor's degree in about four years, while part-time students may need up to eight years to complete the degree. Students with transfer credits may graduate in less than four years.
Below, are six courses commonly offered in MIS bachelor's programs.
Introduction to Data and Information Management
This course combines an introduction to the theory and importance of information management, with the opportunity to develop skills designing information systems. Students explore topics like data quality, data security, and the use of relational techniques.
Introduction to Structured Query Language
Structured query language (SQL) is behind many information systems; MIS students must develop expertise in this programming language to succeed professionally after graduation. This course introduces the basics of SQL, particularly with relation to data manipulation, management, and analysis.
Enterprise Information Systems
An enterprise information system allows businesses to integrate their operations. For example, a company may use an information system to help a sales department and supply chain management department collaborate. This course primarily focuses on how to optimize the flow of data through these systems.
This course provides an overview of how modern companies use digital platforms to support their work. Students study eCommerce activities, digital marketing efforts, strategies for online businesses, and methods for securing electronic payments and transfers.
Business Intelligence and Reporting
In this class, students learn how to use data to inform business decision-making. They review common tools and techniques for creating reports, explore visualizations to convey their findings, and learn how to translate complex information for nontechnical audiences.
Management Information Systems Capstone
Capstone courses allow students to apply their learning to a real-world setting. A student may, for instance, partner with a local nonprofit organization to create a new information system that allows them to better address community needs.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems?
An online MIS degree combines instruction in computer programming, system architecture, and business administration. The degree offers diverse professional opportunities, whether you plan to work exclusively with technology and information or use your expertise in these areas to contribute to broader business decisions and strategies.
MIS students gain skills in analyzing and using technology, understanding the needs and structures of organizations, and communicating effectively in professional situations.
To troubleshoot problems and design solutions for information systems, students pursuing an online MIS degree learn how to use programming languages such as SQL, Java, Python, and C++. They also develop skills in working with computer hardware and networks.
Designing management information systems to improve company efficiency requires knowledge of how organizations function. Students in MIS programs learn how teams and departments collaborate, how information is shared across an organization, and how a company can ensure the quality and security of its data.
Finally, MIS graduates must know how to communicate their findings and recommendations to colleagues and clients who do not share their technical expertise. These programs emphasize the development of written and oral communication skills.
Potential Careers and Salaries
After earning an information systems management degree online, you are prepared for many careers. For example, you can work as a computer network architect, designing and building the communication networks that allow your company to share data. You can also work as a database administrator, focusing on how to organize and improve access to information among your colleagues or clients. Additionally, you can take on a senior-level role, such as computer or information system manager, using your expertise to determine and implement organizational strategy.
Below, is key information on five common careers for MIS graduates.
Information Technology (IT) Manager
Annual Median Salary: $139,220
IT managers plan and direct an organization's computer-related activities. They may supervise a single department or act as a member of a company's senior leadership team, usually with a title such as chief information or chief technology officer. Some of these positions may require an advanced degree.
Business Analyst, IT
Annual Median Salary: $88,270
IT business analysts, also known as systems analysts, design and improve an organization's computer systems. They must possess technological expertise and an understanding of business administration.
Annual Median Salary: $81,100
Systems administrators focus on the day-to-day operations of an organization's computer and communication networks. They may implement new hardware or software solutions, typically in collaboration with a business or systems analyst rather than independently.
Business Systems Analyst
Annual Median Salary: $82,450
A business systems analyst, also referred to as a management analyst, works to improve all aspects of an organization's efficiency rather than exclusively technological efficiency. Most of these roles require at least a bachelor's degree.
Annual Median Salary: $103,560
Software engineers design computer programs and applications. They may work for a company, creating tools to help employees share information more easily, or as an entrepreneur, building a new product. Although not always required, most software engineers hold a bachelor's degree in a computer science-related field.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Management Information Systems?
For most entry-level and mid-level roles in management information systems, you do not need a graduate degree. A bachelor's degree, coupled with strong technical skills and work experience, qualifies you for lucrative roles.
However, when hiring for managerial positions, some employers prefer candidates with completed coursework in business administration. You can potentially meet this requirement through elective classes during your undergraduate studies, though a master's in business administration is a stronger signal of your expertise in this area.
You can also advance your career by earning a certificate. Certificate programs allow you to hone new skills and demonstrate expertise to future employers. Many schools allow you to transfer credits from these programs toward a master's degree.
Accreditation for Management Information Systems Bachelor’s Programs
When reviewing online MIS programs, look for accreditation status. Accreditation ensures that a college or university meets high academic standards. If you attend an unaccredited school, you may not qualify for certain financial aid opportunities, and future employers and schools may not recognize your degree.
Your program may hold one of three forms of accreditation: regional, national, or programmatic. Nonprofit schools usually hold regional accreditation from a body like the Higher Learning Commission. For-profit schools may seek national accreditation from an agency like the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, an organization that oversees many online programs. ABET, formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, is the primary programmatic accreditor in management information systems.
To learn your school's accreditation status, review the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's online directory.
Management Information Systems Professional Organizations
Online MIS degree students and graduates benefit from joining professional organizations. Through national conferences and regional events, these organizations help members share best practices and network with colleagues. Many organizations also offer online professional development resources, such as webinars, digital toolkits, and online courses for formal certification. As a recent graduate, you may benefit from a professional organization's career center, which often features job listings and advice on finding a new position.
Association for Information Systems
The AIS represents information systems professionals from more than 100 countries worldwide. Members can attend four international conferences, read the latest research, access a variety of career services, and participate in special interest communities online and in person.
Association for Computing Machinery
The ACM is the world's largest educational and scientific computing society. The association's website offers professional development resources, access to nearly a dozen scholarly journals and publications, and special interest groups in areas like information and data management.
The Information Management Forum
The IMF provides a space for information technology executives to share best practices and ideas. In addition to online collaboration, the group organizes an annual conference, offers consulting services to members, and hosts a job board.